As part of their annual in-person meeting, the FEI Jumping Committee met in Lausanne on May 30-31 to discuss, among other things, the Longines League of Nations rules which are set to be presented to the FEI Board for approval next week and launched in 2024.

The Committee have confirmed their unanimous support and enthusiasm for a concept which they believe will increase the attractiveness of the series for fans and non-equestrian spectators. The format they have devised consists of two rounds; in the first round, all four athletes from all ten teams (and potentially the host nation) participate with the three best scores to count, followed by a second round where only the best eight teams compete in reverse order of scores, carrying forward their penalties from the first round. However, in the second round, only three athletes per team compete and therefore there is no drop score.

For the Longines League of Nations Final in Barcelona, the same format is applied, but with all eight qualified teams competing across both rounds, again with only three riders in the second round and no drop score. It is likely this step has been taken to shorten the competition and appease broadcasters.

Stephan Ellenbruch, chair of the FEI Jumping Committee, commented, “This format is more transparent, and the second round with no drop score will really put every team to the test, as well as offering the fans and viewers excitement and suspense throughout … it’s a real testament to strength of the Longines League of Nations product, that we have had this level of support and endorsement from all our stakeholders and stakeholder representatives throughout.”

Nevertheless, not everyone really is in agreement. During the recent CSIO Piazza di Siena in Rome, a meeting was held on May 30th between various members of the International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC) and a number of chefs d’équipe about the new League of Nations format. Among those present were IJRC representatives Kevin Staut and Eleonora Ottaviani, riders Laura Kraut, Beth Underhill and Nick Skelton, chefs d’équipe Di Lampard (GBR) and Philippe Guerdat (FRA), and Simone Perillo, secretary general of the Italian Equestrian Sport Federation, among others.

During the IJRC meeting, a unanimous desire emerged on the part of all present to request the FEI Jumping Committee to maintain the original Nations Cup format with two rounds with full four-member teams, totalling the first and second round scores, plus a jump-off if necessary. The proposal for two rounds plus jump-off where the first round would serve only to determine the starting order for the second round was rejected.

Having no drop score has also long been a contentious issue stemming from concerns for horse welfare, such as the situation which arose at the Tokyo Olympics where riders whose horses were struggling with the course had to continue for the sake of their nation.

The consultation process for the Longines League of Nations rules has been underway since last October; last week, the FEI launched the bidding process while top partner Longines confirmed their full commitment to the updated series, which sees the top ten nations go head-to-head at five events (locations to be confirmed later this summer), leading into a Final for the top eight nations.

Next steps for the Longines League of Nations include the submission of the rules to the FEI Board for their approval at the in-person meeting on June 6-7, followed by allocation of events to prospective organizing committees.