Band Sizes, Fly-ins and Time for a Rethink on the Worlds Grade 1 Draw

By the Editor

Now that we know that all four performances by Grade 1 bands at the Worlds will count towards the final outcome, is it time for RSPBA officials to have a look at the draw? At the moment a band drawn first holds that playing position throughout what was the Qualifier and into the Saturday. This was seen as being unnecessarily unfair.

With the new arrangements it will be seen as even more so. Is there any reason why a separate draw could not be held for each day?

Imagine you are on first on the Friday ready to roll from first light. Is it really right that you should be expected to appear peering through the morning mist at the same time on the Saturday whilst more fortunate bands with a later draw have a liesurely stroll through breakfast and beyond? Who is best prepared for the forthcoming stresses and demands of the day?

It is highly unlikely that a band would be drawn first on both days but if it happened well, that’s just your luck. But I can see no reason why there can’t be a separate draw for the Saturday. Would only take a few minutes.



Reader Ian Forbes has weighed in on the matter: ‘Having finally changed the format for the Grade 1 Worlds, the next thing that the RSPBA needs to address is the draw system for G1 order of play. 

‘Under the previous unsatisfactory arrangements, a single draw was made for Grade 1, and the draw number stayed with each band throughout both days of competition.  

‘Thus a band with draw number 1 would play first on the Friday (both MSR and Medley) and if qualified play first on the Saturday (both MSR and Medley).  With both days of competition now counting towards the overall result, this draw system will be highly unfair.

‘At the very least, a separate draw should be made for each day of competition. There are alternatives: for example, the Saturday order of play could be based on reverse order or overall position from Friday’s results, and there are other scenarios, but at the very least the single draw system for both days should be discontinued.

‘I do hope the RSPBA have given some thought to this, and that it will not be a last minute panic decision.’

I hope so too Ian and I’m sure wisdom will prevail. One benefit of the ‘meaningful Friday’ is that the top bands are now rethinking their medleys. Keeping the weaker one for the Qualifier is no longer an option. Both selections have to be able to cut it on both days – an inching up of standards adding to the prestige of the championship and good for the audience I feel.

The Worlds is the greatest day in the pipe band calendar. It is without a shadow of a doubt a major success story for the RSPBA and the promoters Glasgow Life.

It is by paying heed to the sensible tweaking suggested above that they have nudged this championship on an ever upward path.

The next big problem they need to address are band sizes. If these were limited to 25 pipers we could have two new Grade 1 or Grade 2 bands in west central Scotland alone. Do your own head count.

Ian K MacDonald and Sean McKeown from Ontario are joining Field Marshal

As for Canada, it is disappointing that their top pipers feel the need to join UK bands in order to play at the top level. Ian K MacDonald and Sean McKeown will, I understand, be joining Field Marshal for the summer and Dave Hilder and his wife Shaunna are flying in to play with Scottish Power.

These super players will enhance these bands no question but when are we going to get the next Grade 1 Canuck collective? These pipers would give a solid core to any new Ontario or BC-based band.

What does their decision to cross the Atlantic say about the state of pipe bands in Canada? Is there a malaise that is not being addressed by the promoters, administrators and commentators?


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2 thoughts on “Band Sizes, Fly-ins and Time for a Rethink on the Worlds Grade 1 Draw

  1. This issue has been “live” since the RSPBA failed to appreciate what it would do to G1&2.
    Simply put this is not the bands fault. It is the associations all the way.
    Yes limit a band to a finate ammount of players. Then let the bands choose how many to play.
    Simple.
    Not for the RSPBA.

  2. what’s wrong with a max of 25 pipers to sign for a band and 20 being the max number to compete, if you want to sign another piper, one has to leave, and the same for the following, 12 snares max for signing, max competing 9 , max signing 2 bass players only one to compete, say, 6 tenors to sign max, max of 4 to compete, level playing field for all, I’m not saying that it has to be, or those exact numbers, but asking, what would be wrong with it,

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