Selection of marches event now a permanent contest rule
The national council of Pipe Bands Australia has voted to endorse the decision of bands in the recent annual ballot of bands to include a separate Grade 4 selection of marches events in the contest regulations.
National management committee last year introduced a trial rule for the event to encourage bands to return to the competition arena, retain players of long-standing and assist in providing a stepping stone for less-experienced players on the journey to entering the circle in MSR-Medley competitions.
The trial was used with success by two branches in recent months.
Tasmanian branch chairman Tony Coen reported: “At the recent Richmond contest, the SOM went off very well. It attracted all of the state’s bands (except the one that is not yet registered with PBA, but is being worked on) and one or two of those bands hadn’t been in competition mode for some time. St. Andrews Caledonian Band entered a full range of players that consisted largely of first-timers and led by a piper who had no rank, but was proficient enough to guide the rest. That band didn’t win the contest, but its members did gain a lot from the experience.
“Although each band was aware of the conditions, etc. associated with the trial, there were a couple that didn’t completely enter in the spirit of the intention. The band that won the competition contained a number of high graded pipers, whereas others could have done the same, but didn’t. There was a grumble about that in the aftermath.
“Whilst some bands might have the capacity to field enough players that haven’t had expertise on the contest arena, others don’t and therefore the latter doesn’t have a choice, except not to enter. I’m talking of keeping “in the spirit” of the trial rule. Personally, I don’t think that it matters what the make-up of players is, nor does it matter about winning. The experience for first-timers is what counts.
Victorian branch chairman Tim McLeod reported: “There has been significant uptake of this contest element in the recent contest season. A number have bands have used this element to develop young players, or enable older players to return to competition. A small number of bands who have been off the contest circuit for a number of years also took advantage of the opportunity to compete in 2017, and they have indicated they will again do so next year. The additional performances created some pressure on judges and timings were reviewed and adjusted as the season progressed to overcome this problem. The Executive is recommending to Victoria Branch Council that this element be offered at all contests in 2017-2018 Contest Season."