Friday, January 25, 2013

The Cambrian Question, or why can't the Welsh manage the Welsh?

With the growth of International (nation-vs-nation) Roller Derby, the issue of forming national teams is raised.  For most, the organisation exists already.  Finland, Sweden, and Canada, for example, already have national associations.

However, Scotland, Wales, and England do not.  What they have instead is the UKRDA, which has declared coverage over the entire UK.

The difficulty comes in forming teams England, Scotland, and Wales.  (The Irish question will be left for a future article.)

UKRDA have recently issued a press release explaining their procedures for forming UKRDA-endorsed men's and women's national teams.  Here is where the inherent difficulty makes itself known.


On their website, UKRDA list 28 member leagues.  Of these, 23 are in England, 3 in Scotland, 1 in Northern Ireland, and 1 in Wales.  Thus, the rules listed above are voted on by a majority English electorate.

The rules for UK-based skaters call for only skaters and coaches who are members of UKRDA affiliated leagues. Let us consider only the case of UK-based skaters.

Team England has 23 leagues in its own border from which to choose skaters, plus English skaters from Wales, Scotland, and N. Ireland.  No where is there a set definitition of Englishness for the purpose of selection, but let us assume there is one that the UKRDA has yet to release publicly.


Team Wales, on the other hand, has only 1 league's worth of eligible skaters, plus ex-pats.  Already, this puts them at a massive disadvantage.  There is one more full bouting league in the country, plus a number of other leagues not yet at bouting strength.

As well, it's a massive disenfranchisement of those skaters.  Less than 50% of the skaters in Wales are eligible to represent their nation.  Less than 50% of active coaches are eligible to coach their nation.


This is the difficulty in having a multi-national organisation setting the rules for national team selection.  The goals and priorities of the multi-national organisation may be different to those of the nation they claim to have set a team up for.

A majority English electorate have told the Welsh how they must assemble their team.  This will not be a Team Wales, under these rules it will be Team UKRDA-in-Wales.

Note, too, that the same ratio occurs in Scotland.  More than half of Scottish skaters will not be eligible for UKRDA's Team Scotland.


These facts strongly suggest that, while UKRDA may be a useful organisation for inter-league play, they are not optimal for national teams.  Team England's rules are for the English alone, Team Scotland's for the Scots, and Team Wales for the Welsh.

Until a majority of the Welsh skaters have the opportunity to even ratify the rules of formation for a team competing in their name, no team can rightfully call itself Team Wales.

37 comments:

  1. Amen to this. The obvious response will be 'well, why doesn't everyone just join UKRDA then?' Therein lies the rub, doesn't it? UKRDA has already declared itself lord and master. Why would you pay to bind yourself to such an organisation?

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  2. UKRDA are open to anyone to join. They are recognised by BRSF and therefore by Sport England (who can provide funding, advice etc to the sport).
    There weren't enough skaters to form a Team Wales at the World Cup, so why is it a problem that there aren't yet enough leagues to form one? The voting majority will only change by leagues joining UKRDA and collaborating on decisions like this.
    I hope that we can all come together to grow derby for the future and enjoy events such as tournaments that this collaboration would allow us to have.

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    1. They are open to anyone to join, however it is unlikely that the majority of voters would ever be Welsh. Even if every Welsh skater is on a UKRDA league, the English vote would still dominate any UKRDA decision. My point is that having Team Wales selected by a UK-wide organisation is problematic at best.

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  3. UKRDA just seems like a protection racket to me after this. "Pay £100 or you can't try out for a national team"

    I haven't seen the UKRDA do *anything* for Roller Derby in the UK (oh, sorry, other than have it 'recognised as a sport' - by which they mean the BRSF has deemed us warranting of their attention now the hard work has been done by others...)

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  4. Plus, there are now enough leagues from which to draw a representative team Wales. There is a group of reps from all welsh leagues that were working towards forming a national team. This effort has been swept off the table by UKRDA and instead we are expected to dance to their tune instead, restricting participation to one welsh league and any ex-pats in one of the remaining 27 ukrda leagues.

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  5. I couldn't agree with you more Adam. This problem is worsened when you start to put together male teams. There are no Welsh affiliated men's teams so how are we meant to get a Team Wales together? All the male skaters in Wales would like the opportunity to try out for Team Wales. How is this possible when it may be too late for my team, SWS, to become a UKRDA member.

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  6. Cliff> Surely you could put your own team together. Nobody could oppose your claim to a national team if they couldn't provide an alternative.

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  7. The UKRDA could under this plan ....

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    1. No they couldn't. There are no Welsh men's teams who are members of the UKRDA. You can't be considered for UKRDA's national Welsh team, without being UKRDA. Therefore there is no UKRDA Welsh team.

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    2. Tiger Bay are UKRDA. Thus, UKRDA's Team Wales is just one league.

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    3. Tiger Bay are a WFTDA apprentice league. To be WFTDA your league has to be women-only competitors. I assumed this meant they have no men's team.

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  8. Wales is part of the UK and I live in Wales and fully understand and accept that it is part of the UK. The UKRDA have got the sport recognised by the BRSF which is no thing to pooh-pooh, and this means that we can get these national teams recognised by the UK governing bodies which is what we want if we want the sport to progress. Also it doesn't matter a damn the representation bsed on locality. If the top 20 skaters all came from port Talbot, then fine. I that's team Wales. The It's not hard to join the team UKRDA. If you want to represent your country get involved and work hard.

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  9. Given they UKRDA currently lists as members just 28 of the over 100 Leagues in the UK, I'm still having trouble figuring out how they can claim to represent UK Roller Derby as a whole, much less ringfence as their own, the appointment of national squads.

    Please don't lose sight of a simple fact UKRDA,without those other 70 odd leagues aboard, any national team you select can hardly be considered as representative of the current state/level of play, here in the UK.

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  10. I just pop by every now an again hoping you have something positive to say about Roller Derby in the UK in general, instead of the usual (seemingly) deliberately divisive stuff!! I think it would be great for all of the skaters & active league members in the UK with such useful opinions/questions/passionate views about national play, to join & help UKRDA steer things, to set things up how the RD community wants it - especially around how member countries feel about national teams: selection/coaches etc. It's not easy - the TE/TS/TI set ups for the World Cup in Canada didn't run smoothly and things weren't all inclusive then either - it's a huge thing to try and get right in a DIY community....which is why a bunch of skaters first got together years ago to try help each other share tips, develop, make sense of this crazy RD world in the first place = UKRDA.

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    1. Not sure how this (http://derbyladder.blogspot.com/2013/01/an-exciting-time-for-derby.html) is divisive, or this (http://derbyladder.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-curious-case-of-co-ed-derby.html). My issues are, firstly, that UKRDA claim to represent all UK skaters, but are only responsible to their members. Those two are not the same. As well, a majority English group are telling the Welsh how their team must form. Finally, those requirements are such that only a minority of Welsh skaters are even represented by their national team.

      I would love to see skaters getting together, but in such a way that their decisions are fair to all skaters, not just those skaters who were part of the decision making process.

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  11. ElectrixZ-avi'n-uJanuary 25, 2013 at 11:55 PM

    I accept the need for a UK governing body for roller derby for general things such as intercontinental matches like a team GB or to react to an act of qestionable behavior within the sport .but I suggest a wrda for Wales erda for England ect... to deal with national issues. Being Welsh and proud to be so and im sure the scots and english will feel the same means I disagree with the idea were not big enough and important enough to make a decision without the rest of the UK about our own national squad if there Welsh born and good enough on skates they should make the national squad never mind if there team pays monney to a governing body. Sorry for the rant but this shit really pisses me off.

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  12. Does the team Wales have to be sanctioned by the UKRDA to enter the tournament?

    "It is also essential that the UK has only one sanctioned representative team (per individual country)."

    This says to me that Wales can give a big fuck you to the UKRDA and form an independent team Wales with it's own criteria for team eligibility (such as being a team from Wales). If Tiger Bay were to side with the rest of Wales on this then the UKRDA would be overruled on the matter.

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  13. You do talk a whole lot of tedious crap, it was boring as hell while you were still in the UK & I think most had hoped that when you left you'd turn your focus to your local area so we wouldn't have to listen to your drivel. We can only lament that's not been the case & lament the fools that think you have anything of worth to say.

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    1. That's a very strong opinion for somebody who can't type their name ;)

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  14. Hopefully all the energy this press release has 'released' will motivate those who are quick to complain but slow to actually do something, actually make a positive contribution. The beauty of Roller Derby is that it is continually evolving and anyone can have a part in its development if they care enough and are prepared to graft; be that on track or on a committee. Personal attacks and slanderous claims are douche bag behaviour - doesn't that go against RD ethos?

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    1. You, Anon, you've got it right. No to douchebaggery, yes to promoting the game. Whatever that means to you. If everyone just puts derby first, and their own interests second, the game will grow by leaps and bounds.

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  15. Some of us have been working very hard for years to contribute to RD. Some might consider being the first English teams in the mrda a notable achievement but it seems it makes us no longer English.

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    1. How is that so? Personally, I was quite excited by that announcement. MRDA are a voluntary association, that only claims to speak for its members--that's the perfectly setup.

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    2. Well the only sdrd or nwo skaters who are eligible for an English mens team are those who will use a loophole so ridiculous as to be embarrassing. Supposedly if you ref a female Ukrda league, you're eligible to play for the men's national team,even if that league doesn't train you to play. If I transfer to Paris though, I can apply :D

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    3. 'Tis a bit strange. Hence my problem with UKRDA claiming to speak for a large group of skaters ("All UK Roller Derby") when, in fact, it's only representative of a small group ("Affiliated Leagues").

      Go to Malmö, though, if you're going to transfer. Those folks rule.

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    4. Herbie - that "loophole" has not been confirmed by the UKRDA, it's all part of the gossip & rumour train that's started.

      I wonder how many people who have nothing positive to say have read the full press release?

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    5. Me, for one. Read the whole thing, read BRSF's website, and Sport England's. It's actually really illuminating reading.

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    6. That was my question if reffing for an affiliated league meant you were eligible, I was considering Ugo Boss who skates for NWO but coaches RCRG. It's not confirmed, but it's the only way the majority of SDRD, TnF, NWO, TiL and LRT could be eligible for Team England.

      No disrespect to the Brummies, but as I said on facebook, we should be putting our best 20 players forward. A Team England without Reaper, Ballistic (would he play for England or Australia?), Darth Sebious, Bruise Brother, Lil Joker, etc isn't representative of English Men's Derby, any restriction on what players can apply for any national team dilutes the national team when this should be a spectacle of talent.

      - Captain Malice
      (My personal opinion, nothing to do with my league)

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    7. NRG are UKRDA affiliated, meaning all of TnF are eligible. At least that's my understanding on the issue.
      In the case of Ballistic it would all depend if he has a British passport or not. If he does, he's eligible to play for England, if he doesn't, he's not.

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  16. I'm pretty sure people don't understand that international structure of roller sport (FIRS) and where roller derby, BRSF, UKRDA, USARS, WFTDA, MRDA etc fits into that big picture and what is being done to try and amalgamate that and bring things together, with the interests of OUR sport, rather than the interests of larger organisations and older roller sports.

    For example - FIRS want to really get involved in RD but don't want the sports committee to have any voting rights in their organisation. Or the "BRFS" coaching qualification that was developed prior to RD even being on their radar - why should we demand our coaches hold something that we had no input in developing? Where the £££ spent to obtain that bit of paper doesn't get put back in to our sport.
    How European leagues are prohibited from joining WFTDA because they are abiding by their national law on equality and diversity. How leagues are having to shake-up their organisational structure to comply (as per previous post on this blog). That'll go down well with FIRS.

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  17. One thing UKRDA is pushing through with BRSF is an RD specific coaching qualification because exactly as your point says - who wants to pay £££ on a 'BRSF qualification that was developed prior to RD even being on their radar'.

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  18. I think it's great Ukrda are pushing for legitimate national teams. However in it's current state with the proposed requirements, it is not yet positioned to command a legitimate national men's team. We had no notice that these plans were being implemented so had no opportunity to participate in the process.
    p.s. Paris is an easier commute ;)

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    1. p.p.s. It's often polite to identify yourself when having a discussion, especially when you have addressed someone by name.

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  19. Can I just ask - before this whole team thing - why do people not want to join UKRDA? What is the rationale behind not wanting to be a part of it?

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    1. Answering only as myself, I would not want to join an organisation that already considers itself in charge of my affairs. I don't trust a roller derby organisation that claims it's power from above, rather than from the skaters. UKRDA claims to already be able to dictate my affairs, but I can pay £100 to have a say in that. It's an untenable position.

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    2. You are wonderfully, factually incorrect. Great journalism there.

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  20. First point no one is mentioning is that UK international based skaters may also be considered for selection to a National team.
    Now if you play for an team abroad it means your team is not a UKRDA member nor do you as player practice your sport in the UK. How is this fair to any UK based skater (UKRDA skater or not?This was done so team England can pick the best skaters available to repesent them. Nothing wrong with this if you want to be the best but there is always a cost. The cost will be UK based skaters. So if you are a member of the UKRDA and you got all excited by the selection criteria think again there is an army of skaters with UK passports or Grandparents born in the UK that represents leagues in the USA and most of those skaters can outplay and skate most of us. So if team England want to take on the best and win the majority of skaters will be from teams based in USA and not England.

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