Fencing Clubs in the North West of England

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Schools level fencing forms the basis of the sport within a region. It enables professional coaches to parade the results of their bread and butter work in schools, gives those who are perhaps not confident enough to enter a Leon Paul Junior Series event to try a competition and allows parents to take their children to competitions without having to travel the length and breadth of the country.

The North West region used to have a number of school level tournaments but unfortunately these declined and became essentially moribund. However, these have been resuscitated as a series with significant success.

History

There used to be a number of tournaments run for schools-level fencers in the North West, these included:

  • Cheshire Schools — run in Chester this comprised three foil tournaments and a three weapon tournament. The age groups were odd years, i.e. under-11, under-13 and under-15

  • Lancashire Schools — this was normally run in Blackpool and consisted of a single tournament at all three weapons. There age groups were again odd years, but cadet and junior competitions were also run.

  • North West Junior Series — this consisted of a variable number of tournaments run across the region, again the age groups were odd years. The emphasis was on foil but some tournaments also included competitions for the other weapons.

All of these were run separately, though results from each fed into a complex (and ferociously difficult to administer) ranking scheme designed to select fencers for the Cadet Winton Tournament.

All of the tournaments were dependent on local volunteers to run them and though attempts were made to spread the running of at least the NWJS across the clubs of the region the number of people actually running the tournaments remained small.

With the retirement of some of the volunteers, the departure of others and a committee that was not committed to running them the tournaments fell into decline.

The New North West Junior Series

With the advent of a new committee in 2011 there was an attempt to put a new, unified series of competitions together, one or two were run in 2011 but the series itself started in 2012.

Design of the Tournaments

New clubs had started up in the region specialising in épée and sabre, a series of tournaments for foil only was not therefore considered to be satisfactory, each tournament had to be for six weapons.

The next consideration was age groups. Experience from the previous incarnation of the tournaments and of the BYC qualifiers we would almost certainly end up mixing competitors if we ran many different age groups. But limiting the number of age groups would mean that younger fencers could end up fencing much older fencers.

We also wanted to avoid the situation where we had different equipment requirements, i.e. blade sizes, CEN levels for plastrons, and conductive or non-conductive bibs for foil

In the end we chose to go with under-11 and under-14 age groups with the understanding that we would probably have to mix boys and girls but hopefully would be able to avoid mixing age groups.

The age groups are not prescriptive. Organisers can run other age group competitions, providing they run the core competitions.

How Many, and Where?

Initially the aim was to run five tournaments in the year, however Oliver Allmand-Smith of Stormguard UK agreed to provide sponsorship and this has allowed us to increased this to six. These are run two per term, timed to allow coaches to ready fencers for the the tournaments, to avoid exams and other events such as LPJS, EYC or BYC. Given the fluidity of the wider tournament scene that latter is particularly difficult.

Any club in the region can bid to run an event, the only exception being the last in the series which is at Salle Kiss, the home club of the sponsor.

Entry

Some club secretaries are excellent when it comes to passing on information, some decidedly less good. To ensure the maximum entry the aim was to communicate with parents and fencers directly and avoid the email or paper that never gets passed on.

This meant using the Internet as the method for communication. Fortunately the region has a web site which uses an extensible framework which made setting up online entry easy (the software used for the regional web site is Joomla! The online entry system is a package called DT register). No development was necessary apart from the addition of pertinent information for tournaments, such as date of birth, club affiliation and BFA number to the standard registration form supplied by the package.

It also makes centralisation of the collection of entry fees possible, rather than relying on the club running the tournament.

Another advantage is that it also allows an online list of people already registered to be seen.

Finally, since submission of an entry means that you have to provide an email address it means that we can use these to build a mailing list.

Running the Tournament

As the number of people capable of running tournaments within the region is limited we have instituted a "roving DT"; for those clubs unable to run a Directoire Technique. The club remains responsible for booking the hall, laying it out and providing scoring equipment. It is also responsible for checking in, arranging for referees and any other necessary personnel. The flying DT arrives with laptop, printer, program for running the tournament (This is the American program Fencing Time originally at versions 3.0 but now at version 4.0) and entry lists, runs the tournament and provides the results for upload to the regional web site.

Results

In these days of social media instant access to information is key. Results of the tournaments are normally available on the following day. However, experiments are being undertaken to see if live results can be produced as the tournaments are run. This relies on the availability of WiFi at the venues and the export capability of the program used to run the tournaments.

Because the tournaments are run as a series it is vital that fencers can look at the results from all of the competitions. The web master for the region has developed code that allows the results to be uploaded to a database. This can be interrogated for results by competition, by name or by club. Results are available not just for the current year, but for each of the years the series has run.

Currently only overall results are available, it is not possible to see the results for a particular poule or DE fight. However, we are experimenting with providing a live results service which will give this kind of detail for the latest tournament to be fenced.

Rankings

At the end of the year trophies are presented to the winners of the series. This means we have to have a ranking scheme to decide who has the best set of results.

The ranking scheme uses:

  1. All the tournaments for ranking points, rather than a subset. The aim here was to avoid the situation where the predominant fencers gained sufficient ranking points in the first few competitions to ensure a high place and then not fencing in the later competitions

  2. A formula which calculates the points as the number of fencers taking part in a competition times a position weighting factor. In the first year the series was run the weighting factor was too aggressive and made it difficult for fencers to overtake the the series leaders. This has been changed in the second year and makes for a much more exciting series with lots of position swapping.

The rankings are available online in the same way as the results. The code that was developed to show the results also has routines to show the overall results with the ability to drill down to see what competitions, places and points make up the ranking.

Successes

The series has had a number of successes:

  1. The average entry during the first full year of the series was in the low to mid sixties. So far in 2013 the entry is in the high seventies to low eighties. The highest entries are in foil and sabre with little difference between the under-11 and under-14 age groups. Boys' entries are higher for all the weapons except for foil and this has led to the necessity of mixing boys and girls.

  2. While it would be difficult to assign everything to the series it is noticeable that BYC qualifier entries have increased by some 20% since the series started.

  3. In getting the series off the ground some clubs had to run multiple tournaments. For the second year each tournament is being run by a separate club.

  4. One of the major costs of running a tournament is that of hiring the hall. Thanks to Oliver Allmand-Smith of Stormguard Ltd. there is some sponsorship to cover at least part of the cost of hall hire.

  5. The series provides an occasion on which hub development can be hung. We have already run informal sessions on armoury and introduction to refereeing. A seminar on Hungarian coach education is planned, as is a session on the running of competitions.

  6. The online entry system has provided a list of email addresses which has been used to build mailing lists not only informing subscribers of the NWJS tournaments but also other events occurring in the region.

Problems

Not so much failures, mainly difficulties in actually running the series

  1. The series is now getting to the limit of what can be run in a day. In future it may be necessary to limit the entry in both foil and sabre.

  2. While entries for the foil and sabre are strong, allowing multiple poules or at least a poule unique, the same cannot be said for the épée. For the under-11 category this is not unexpected. However the numbers in the under-14 category are disappointing and we normally end up mixing not only boys and girls but age groups as well.

  3. One of the requirements for running a smooth tournament is to have a sufficient number of referees. Ensuring that there are enough is a perennial problem, even though the level required is not high.

  4. Although there are 30+ clubs in the North West the entry is normally from a small selection of these. Expanding the number of clubs involved and hence the base of fencers is a priority

  5. Similarly although we have managed to get six clubs to run tournaments this has required a certain amount of arm twisting. Expanding the number of clubs willing to run a tournament is also a priority

  6. The series is reliant on a small core of people to actually run it. Two of these intend stepping down, which will leave the series without a coordinator or competition organiser. Succession planning needs to be put in to place to make sure that we do not revert to the previous, moribund state. The intention of the regional committee is to put in place a NWJS coordinator for the series and a hub development initiative on competition organisation is being considered. The aim is for clubs to run their own DT, rather than relying on a regionally provided one.

  7. The series is also reliant on the web master who has incorporated the online entry system into the framework and provided the code to do the results and rankings. Again, the web master aims to step down and succession planning for one or more replacements is required. This has been noted by the regional committee and a replacement is to be sought.

This is a slightly extended and revised version of an article that was distributed to all of the English regional hubs and published in The Sword.

The British Youth Champions consist of competitions for under-12, under-14, under-16 and under-18 boys and girls at all three weapons. Entry is through the regions where a qualifying event is held.

The North-West Junior Series is a series of tournaments for under-11 and under-14 fencers at all for boys and girls at foil, épée and sabre. There are six tournaments each year and the results of each are aggregated together to give a series winner for each weapon. These may take place at any North-West club.

  1. All clubs in the North-West Region are encouraged to run a NWJS event. Not only can this provide income for your club it will develop your fencers and officials.

  2. Prospective organisers should contact theThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register an interest in running a tournament

  3. Prospective organisers should be able to fulfil the following requirements:

    • Space for a minimum of eight pistes

    • Sufficient scoring boxes for each piste with some spares. While some clubs may be able to provide these from their own stock it is likely that at least some of these may need to be borrowed from other clubs

    • Someone either capable of running or willing to learn to run a DT using a standard scoring program, e.g. En Garde or Fencing Time

    • Sufficient volunteers to act as "gophers" for the DT

    • Clip boards and stop watches, one for each piste

    The junior series organiser may be able to assist in fulfilling these requirements

  4. The competitions will be arranged on a rolling basis as the British Fencing calendar is updated. Dates should be agreed well in advance with the NWJS coordinator.

  5. The tournaments are sponsored and one condition for this sponsorship is that they take place on a Saturday and not a Sunday.

  6. Age groups will be under-11 and under-14, though this will not prevent individual organisers from including under-9, cadet or junior competitions.

  7. A minimum age of 9 should be enforced, thus for 2013 no competitors whose year of birth is later than 2004 should be allowed to fence.

  8. The competitions will be open to fencers both in the NW and other regions.

  9. A separate section on the NW web site is dedicated to the competitions, organisers should use this to:

    • Online entry

    • Add an entry to the calendar giving details of the event

    • Add a news flash article to announce their tournament

    Information should be added to the website at least 6 weeks before the competition. Instructions and assistance on these procedures will be availablefrom the NW webmaster

  10. After the tournament results should be sent to the junior series organiser and the NW web master to allow ranking tables and the web site to be updated.

  11. The season for the tournaments will run from 1 st January to 31 st December.

  12. Initial rankings for the competitions should be taken from the ranking list published on the NW fencing site. At the beginning of the season the ranking points from the previous season should be used.

  13. Ranking into the DE should be calculated from the pool round

  14. It may be necessary to mix genders and age groups during the pool rounds. If this is done then the fencers should be separated out in to the proper age groups for the DE.

Before the Competition

Before the competition you should ensure that the venue is booked and that there will be someone available to both open it before check-in and close it at the end of the day.

You should also have a supply of non-marking tape. Most sports administrators at the site will be able to sell you this.

If your venue does not have catering then you should consider whether you can supply a basic catering service selling drinks and snacks.

On the Day

On the day of the competition you will need to

  1. Lay out pistes. It is not necessary to use insulated pistes, though if they are available then they should be used for the finals

  2. Organise a check-in, ideally at the entrance to the venue

  3. Organise your catering if you are running it yourselves

  4. Provide a sign-in sheet and sticky labels for all those wishing to take photographs

  5. Organise a list of referees

  6. Provide an area for the DT, preferably where the personnel running it will not be disturbed by fencers or parents

  7. Have sufficient Blu-Tack or equivalent to stick running results on the walls

  8. Have "gophers" who can communicate between the DT and the hall where the competition is taking place

  9. Have someone who is willing to present medals at the end of the competition

  10. Make sure that there will be people left at the end of the day who can take up pistes and be responsible for returning any borrowed or hired equipment

  11. Have someone responsible for collecting lost property and informing the owners of the property or the North-West web master.

  12. Have someone responsible for sending the results to the North-West web master.

The North-West Junior Series competitions are for those who are just starting to compete. They are meant as a "no fear" introduction to the sport for those who feel they are not ready to compete in national level competitions or have no interest in doing so.

What am I Committing to?

If your child wishes to take part in the series then you:

  1. Will need to ensure that they have all the requisite equipment

  2. Will need to register them as a member of the one of the Home nations of British Fencing, this will most likely be English Fencing

  3. Will need to register them for each competition since this will require you to sign a disclaimer as their parent or guardian

  4. Will have to pay for the entry to each competition

  5. Will need to get them to the venue at or preferably before the check-in time

  6. May need to provide food and drink for them at tournaments where there is no catering

  7. But most of all, you will need to give them your support at the competitions in which they fence

Can I do Anything to Help?

Volunteers are a mainstay of fencing competitions. If your child's club is staging a tournament then the person organising it will almost certainly be grateful for your help. This may involve laying out pistes before the competition and taking them up afterwards. If there is no cafeteria at the venue then providing home cooking or selling it may be necessary.

If you want to take it further than this then organisers are always looking for people who can referee or repair equipment.

Enjoy the fencing at your club, but would like to fence some other people? Thinking about taking part in competitions but worried that a national level competition might be a bit too strong for you?

The North West Junior Series is just the thing for you! A series of six competitions run throughout the year for fencers in particular age groups at all three weapons. Not only will there be medals for the top fencers at each tournament, but trophies at the end of the year for those who have been most successful in the whole series.

The Series

There are six competitions during the year, two in each of the school spring,  summer  and autumn terms. The competitions will be for all three weapons and will be advertised on this web site.

Age Groups

The series is for fencers in the age groups

  • Under-11 (with a lower limit of 9 years old)

  • Under-14

However individual tournaments may include competitions for other age groups, for example under-9 or cadet (under-17).

Your age is calculated from the 1st of January in the year the competition takes place. So in 2013 under-11 fencers will be born in 2002, 2003, 2004,and under-14 fencers in1999, 2000 or 2001.

Entry

You will be able to enter online on the North-West web site. You will need to be a member of one of the Home country fencing associations since you will need to provide your BFA, EFA, WFA or SFA membership number.

Equipment

Clothing

You will need a full set of regulation clothing, i.e. jacket, breeches (both 350 Newton, they should have a CEN 1 marking on them), plastron (350 or 800 Newton), mask, glove and knee length socks. Because the competitions are electric you will also need body wires. Girls must wear a chest protector.

Blades

Fencing will be electric throughout, the following are the maximum sized blades you should use

Blade Size

Age

Foil

Epée

Sabre

Under-11

3

2

2

Under-14

3

2

2

Format

The format will be one round of pools followed by direct elimination for all age groups.Timings for pools and DE areas follows

Pools

Age

Hits

Time Limit

Under-11

5

2 minutes

Under-14

5

3 minutes

 

Direct Elimination

Age

Hits

Time Limit

Rest After

Under-11

10

6 minutes

2 minutes

Under-14

15

9 minutes

3 minutes

 

Points

Points will be awarded to everyone who competes. They will be calculated as

Points = Number of Entries × Multiplier

The multiplier is given in the table below

 

Multiplier Table

Position

Points

Position

Points

1

25

12

11

2

23

13

10

3

21

14

9

5

19

15

8

6

18

16

7

7

17

17

5

8

16

18

4

9

14

19

3

10

13

20

2

11

12

All other places

1


Final Rankings

The points you score at each competition will be added together and rankings will be given on the North-West web site. At the end of the year final rankings will be published and prizes awarded.

There are a number of tournaments for junior fencers in the region, these include:

  • The North West Junior Series - this is a purely regional set of competitions for under-11 and under-14 fencers at all three weapons. You can find further information on the Information for Competitors page
  • The British Youth Championship Qualifiers - this is a selection tournament for those who wish to be compete for the region at the British Youth Championships
  • Leon Paul Junior Series tournaments - these are national level tournaments for a variety of age groups at all weapons. While the series consists of tournaments throughout the country the ones listed here are held within the region
  • Cadet tournaments - these are tournaments for under-17 fencers held within the region. At the moment there are two of these:
    • The Manchester Cadet Tournament - this is a foil tournament and is part of the European Cadet Circuit. It is meant for fencers who compete or intend to compete at international level
    • The Lancashire BSC Épée Tournament - this is a selection event for those who wish to be selected to fence internationally as part of the British Squad.

 

This section contains articles about the administration of the region, general and committee meeting agendas and minutes, and the regional constitution.

Lancaster University's club of the year in 2010 and 2012!

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