Poaching is a dirty word in banding, but does it actually exist? Being approached by another band and being asked to play for them is deemed as ‘poaching’, however inevitably it is down to the decision of the player in question. I believe the mantra “you can’t poach a happy player” is a good one. Barring being drugged/coerced/blackmailed, if a player leaves to head to a higher section/ better band/ different band for whatever reason, then surely as banders we should wish them well and congratulate them on improving and aiming higher/going for a change. Perhaps there will be anecdotal examples where ‘poaching’ can be proved. However overall I think that it doesn’t really exist. We could perhaps say that abandonment exists whereby a player chooses to leave a band, and the band feels disgruntled about this: perhaps the band has invested a lot of time/effort in the player and had hoped to reap the rewards of bringing a player up. Given that banding is decreasing in popularity, I think positive encouragement and keeping players happy is a better way forward than grumbling and stigmatising players who for the most part, probably look to improve themselves by moving around bands. Of course there are many other reasons why players move, but as I said above, it is more than likely for legitimate reasons. However you look at it, it still falls to the player in question and not to the band which has approached them, as to where they choose to play. So does poaching exist? Or is this a knee-jerk reaction from bands which have lost players to ‘poaching’ and are feeling that their egos are bruised?