The draw for the prequalifying competition for next season's Bruadar Scottish Men's Championship went up on the Royal Caledonian Curling Club's website yesterday, see here. Twenty-one teams are looking for the available fifteen places in the next stage of the competition, where they will join five teams which get byes through the prequalifiers. The prequalifying competition will be played as three groups of seven in two locations over two weekends, the Lanarkshire Ice Rink, October 30-31, and Lockerbie, November 20-21.
So which five teams go straight through to the main qualifying event, this to be held over three weekends at the Dewar's Centre in Perth, December 17-19, January 21-23 and January 28-30? (Why three weekends, see here). They are skipped by David Murdoch, Hammy McMillan, Ewan MacDonald, Neil Joss and Fraser Hare.
The RCCC Rulebook for 2010-11 says in reference to the Scottish Men's Championship, "(ii) The top eight teams from the previous season’s Scottish Finals, shall gain automatic qualification to these Qualifying Playdowns. The qualified teams must have three players from the previous season’s Scottish Finals named team, excluding any substitute(s) who shall not count."
Neither David Murdoch's declared team for next season (Warwick Smith, Glen Muirhead and Ross Hepburn) and Ewan MacDonald's new side (Peter Loudon, Graeme Connal and Euan Byers), meet these criteria, but get to avoid playing in the prequalifying competition because both have been invited to compete in the European Qualifying Competition which clashes with the first of the prequalifying weekends.
Is this fair and right? That's for you to decide. As I've said before, it doesn't sit comfortably in my book, smacking as it does of 'one rule for some, a different rule for others'.