of the many highlights of the 2015 World Handball Championships in
Calgary were the outstanding performances of Women's & Men's Singles
champions Aisling Reilly and Paul Brady.
There are good precedents, and then, there are bad precedents. Paul Brady’s unprecedented fifth consecutive World Title will stand for a very long time, and he may be the only person to ever challenge it. That is, if he changes his mind and decides to come back for a sixth in 2018. That win and Aisling Reilly’s repeat in Women’s Four-Wall should have been the biggest news from the championships. But the Herculean effort of the hosts and the play of Brady and Reilly aren’t the first things on most folks’ minds when they ask “what happened?”
According to World Handball Council Policy, “The Host Committee is responsible for all aspects of organizing and running the Championships within the parameters established by this policy." Thus, different countries have used different balls, formats, age and skill level eligibilities, and even slightly different rules.
There are some precedents that shouldn’t be repeated.
• In Canada (2015), the Wall Ball events were played with optional eyeguards. Also, some players took advantage of the opportunity to compete in four events in one-wall or four-wall since the R2 software can’t handle the limitation of two in one- and two in four-wall. As a result, it became a scheduling nightmare.
• In Ireland (2012), the court time was so overrun that the scheduling was days off what international attendees had been told they needed to be available to play. Some players never got to play their intended event. Some players stayed through the first round and then left, leaving their partner without a partner. The Host committee allowed players to pick up a new partner or two after winning a round or two with someone else.
Hopefully, good ones are repeated and bad ones are not. This year’s decision by the World Handball Council President to overrule the Host was bad on two counts. The decision reversed the Host’s ruling to not allow a player substitution after a round had been played (won). This one can’t be repeated unless the World Council wants to run and administer any future World Championship.
The situation was a little murkier than that but not much…Paul Brady and Michael Finnegan were the Irish representatives in Men’s Open Doubles and won their first round of play. Brady defeated Charlie Shanks in the quarterfinal round of singles and wasn’t up to playing the quarterfinal round of doubles. The Hosts were told there was a precedent to allow a substitution. After getting more feedback during the course of the match as word spread, the Hosts decided to allow the match to finish and inform the players of the match being played under protest. After more deliberation, the Hosts posted the match on R2 as a default early the next morning. As the day wore on and the semifinal doubles match was about to be played, the Hosts were overruled and Shanks/Finnegan stepped onto the court.
No present or former World Handball Council member contacted was aware of a Host being overruled at any other championship. If handball is to be taken seriously, “tag-team doubles,” especially at the highest level in the World Championships, this precedent cannot be repeated. And, if the World Handball Council wants someone to run its tournament, it will let them run the best tournament they can put together in return for the sanctioning fee paid to the Council.