Shinty bosses drop plan to make helmets compulsory

The threat of a legal challenge has forced the scrapping of plans to eventually make all senior shinty players wear helmets.

The plan, put forward by Kingussie Shinty Club, was intended to ensure that youth players — already compelled to wear helmets and faceguards when playing matches up until the age of 18 — continue to don protective headgear as adults.

In a motion that had been due to go before the Camanachd Association’s annual general meeting next week, Kingussie proposed that as of the 2015 season “all players born on or after 1st January 1997 must wear a helmet and faceguard in all grades of shinty”.

That fact that some young players stop wearing helmets as adults is viewed by many as a potentially-dangerous anomaly. The Kingussie measure had sought to address it, while at the same time placing no obligations on older players not used to the protective headwear.

However, the motion has now been withdrawn after the Aberdour Club suggested such a measure could fall foul of discrimination laws.

In a statement the Camanachd Association said: “This action is in response to earlier concerns raised by members that the resolution, if approved, could result in discrimination amongst senior players on the basis of age that contravenes current legislation. The advice received from (lawyers) Harper Macleod supports that view.”

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Wearing protective headgear remains a matter of individual choice in senior shinty

MEANWHILE, the prospect of impending league reconstruction formed part of the discussions at the Camanachd Association’s end-of-season review meeting in Fort William last weekend.

In what was a poorly-attended meeting, delegates mulled over the proposals to re-establish a 10-team premier league, retain an eight-team national league and expand some of the area divisions below.

At next Friday’s Camanachd Association AGM a simple majority will be required to carry the motion — put forward by the Kingussie and Newtonmore clubs with support from others — and it seems increasingly likely the measure will find favour.

Nevertheless, concerns have been expressed about the prospect of a second consecutive league reconstruction, and the uncertainty that regular change is now placing on clubs.

One of those clubs aggrieved by the recent measures is Kilmallie. In 2013 they won the North Division One championship but due to league reconstruction they did not go up to the premier league. Instead, the Caol club were joined by the demoted Fort William and Oban Camanachd in the new National Division. In 2014 Kilmallie finished third in that division, behind Oban and Fort William — both of whom, under the new plans, will go back up to rejoin a 10-team top flight.