14/07/2021- GBR Fencer

Progressive Poules Format – Clarification for Respondents

BF provides additional information in response to concerns over using a Progressive Poules format in B BRCs.

The information below is a summary of information that has been previously provided (see links at the bottom) but is collated in summary to provide additional clarification to aid understanding of the

  1. There will be many BRCs. There will be a few ‘A’ BRCs which will have the largest ranking point multipliers and therefore be the performance focus for athletes wanting to qualify to represent GBR in the current season. These A BRCs will use the poule(s)/DE (with or without repecharge) formats. ‘B’ BRCs will be held around the country throughout the calendar year and are intended to
    a) support the development of athletes seeking GBR selection in future seasons,
    b) provide an opportunity for athletes seeking discretionary selection within this season to improve their rankings, and
    c) provide an opportunity for athletes already selected to practice competitive scenarios as part of their individual training plans.
  2. There are several approved B BRC formats – the intention is that different formats can be used to support the development of fencers at different times of the season.
  3. A fencer is not expected to attend all B BRCs. Thus our expectation is that there will be  some B BRCs held on weekends where an international squad may be travelling. This will provide development opportunities for the athletes that have not been selected (or are not able to travel) which will help the development of those athletes who will make-up future GBR squads.
  4. We are piloting a progressive poules BRC at one B BRC (cadet men’s foil). There are no plans to roll this format out to all B BRCs, however the intention will be to offer this format for some B BRCs in all weapons at appropriate times in the season.
  5. B BRCs have lower ranking multipliers therefore less overall impact on selection and for cadets the ranking will be made up of the best 6 results.


Response to other specific feedback:

‘We don’t need to practice competitive poules, our problem is losing at DEs.’

  1. Very few of our young fencers competing internationally win all their poule fights. Too many of our fencers are averaging around 2-3 wins a poule when they compete internationally. Those athletes that are not sitting in the very top of the GBR rankings are most likely to lose most fights in the poules of international competitions and are then are either cut or lose to a top seeded opposition in the DE. In some weapons the average number of fights won in poules falls to less than 2 and over 40-50% of fencers are cut after the poules.*  Improving poule fencing is therefore a critical area of development for us and that requires more time on task. Not enough of our fencers are able to access sufficient time on task, age appropriate competitive sparring in club environments to deliver results in poules when competing internationally. Progressive poules format is one way to help to fill the gaps – and importantly there are other formats available too which can address other developmental needs when an athlete is confidently progressing through poules.
  2. We anticipate that less than 20% of B BRCs would use this format and at the time of year where more time on task in competitive poules situations would be appropriate (eg post Cadet & Junior Worlds, prior to August break). Thus around 80% of B BRCs will use other formats, leaving athletes with a choice in regard to their individual development and competition planning.


“Fencers can develop using other competitions, they don’t need to be ranking competitions”

Fencers can choose – eg for those fencers that are working to individualised development plans which are focussed on achieving performance in the A BRCs they can of course use other competitions to develop. However, experience tells us that ranking points (even a few) are a driving factor in competition choice and without ranking points, fencers choose not to compete at all.


“People will deliberately lose “

If someone wants to cheat, there are many ways to cheat in fencing and ‘throwing a fight’ can be done under any format for multiple reasons. All members (athletes and coaches) sign up to the BF Code of Conduct and any sport integrity allegations will be taken seriously and result in an investigation followed by appropriate disciplinary action.


“The format of all BRCs should be exactly aligned to international competitions”

In order to prepare athletes to succeed in international competitions it is not necessary to always run identical formats. There are many other sports which use different formats in domestic competition to prepare their athletes. There are many successful fencing nations (including France and Germany) who run different format fencing competitions from the standard FIE format, which allows athletes to develop different skills. The majority of fencers in a classic fencing competition format will be out after 1 poule and 1 full round of DE and this exacerbates the existing developmental gap (see points above). In addition international competitions are often significantly larger than domestic competitions and require athletes to fence larger numbers of fights than they would to win a domestic event. Different formats are therefore needed to develop different skills.


*Data taken from 19-20 Cadet internationals.


Further reading

Covid Mitigations remain in place for July BRCs

Introducing the structured season competition planner 2021-24 

Competition Formats for Cadet & Junior BRCs

Consultation Extended for 20-21 Ranking Schemes

July 2021 BRC Announcement

Consultation Opens for the 20-21 GBR Selection Policy

If you have any further questions about this post, please submit them to us via the form here and a member of the ADP team will come back to you.

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