Coming to a game near you…

A new system has been introduced by the International Umpiring Commission for awarding penalties under Article 34 of the Official Rules. I saw it in action for the first time at the Espoirs Qualifier in Spain last month, which makes it easier for all concerned.

The following applies:

Article 34

All EPA umpires have been issued with these cards and it will apply at the Home Nations and EPA Inter-Regional Championships for 2015. To help us get used to the idea, it will be introduced for the Grand Prix Series in order for teams to become accustomed to the idea.

Tony Smith
WPA Executive

European Women’s Pétanque Championships 2014.

The 2014 European Women’s Pétanque Championships was held in Mersin, on the southern coast of Turkey, between 26-28 September 2014. Twenty eight teams took part, including the three “Home Nations” of England, Scotland and Wales.

Team_Presentation
The Welsh Team being announced to the VIPs and audience.

The Welsh team contingent was lead by WPA President Jean-Yves Robic, assisted by National Coach Peter Beresford. The Ladies Team consisted of Jill Brace, Gay Evans and Joanie Roberts.

The teams were all accommodated in the excellent Radisson Blu Hotel in the centre of Mersin, a short distance from the harbour. The organizing committee of the CEP and the Turkish Federation did everything they could to welcome the teams and their supporters, and to make the event the great success it undoubtedly was.

The Championships began with a 5 round “Swiss” system of timed games, and then a round in “poules” dividing into the Championships and the Nations Cup. The playing area was a covered stadium open at two sides and at the top of the stands. The surface could best be described concrete, being extremely hard, with only a small scattering of gravel.

Wales opened with a game against Spain. It was not a happy start as they lost to 13 in fairly short order! The Welsh team was not to know it then but the Spanish team went on to win the Championships very convincingly, inflicting the same result on one of the other Home Nations teams twice! The Welsh team had only played together as a team twice before, and struggled to reach their potential. After the shock of the first round the Welsh team could not at first get into its stride, losing 13-3 to Slovakia, but putting up a much better performance against Russia, where the score of 13-6 to Russia did not fully reflect the improving confidence of the Welsh team.

Wales v Russia Preliminary Round - European Championship
The Welsh Team line up with Russia before play begins.

In the fourth round, Wales were unlucky to lose 10-12 to Sweden.   It was a very close game which Wales could have won.  But the fifth round saw Wales achieve a convincing win, 13-7, against Ukraine, a team which Wales had not beaten before.

The next stage, the untimed games, in the Nations Cup, gave Wales the opportunity to develop their game and use their tactical skills.

First, Wales played outstandingly to beat Sweden 13-12. No mean achievement in that Sweden went on to be Runners  Up to Monaco in the Finals of the Nations Cup. This was another first as Wales had not beaten Sweden before.

In the next round Wales played another tight game to beat Hungary 13-12. It was a very close and highly “tactical” match.  This too was a team that Wales had not beaten before.  It also meant that for the first time ever a Welsh team had reached the Quarter Finals of the Nations Cup in either the European or World Championships.

Expecting to play Estonia, on the Finals day, Wales found themselves drawn against Ukraine. A revitalized Ukraine set off at a strong pace, quickly establishing a 7-1 lead. However Wales refused to give in, and slowly began to fight their way back, recovering to 8-5, but then Ukraine had some good luck when despite Brace shooting out two of their boules with one of hers, a couple of close boules from Ukaine and an unintended, unlucky “assist” from Roberts ended with Ukraine picking up 2 to get to 10-5. Some excellent play from Wales in the next end saw the score at 10-8, after an hour and a half’s play.

At this critical point Ukraine asked the Umpire for a 5 minute “comfort break”, which, despite objections from the Welsh Manager, Robic, the Umpire allowed.  The whole Ukraine team left the terrain (something which they were to repeat in their next game against Monaco). After this disruption the end resumed, with Ukraine taking a point to reach 11-8.

Play
The Welsh Team in action.

What was to be the final end proved close run, and involved first class play from both teams.  Ukraine started with their first boule touching the jack. Brace cleared it with her second shot.

Roberts then pointed, alongside the jack, well within 30 cms of the jack. Ukraine responded with a “semi carreau”, their boule almost touching the jack. Roberts’ second, and Evans’ first boules went behind the jack.

But Evans’ second boule, an extraordinary shot under huge pressure to stay in the game, some how got inside the Ukraine boule, almost touching the jack.

Ukraine then spent a long time considering their options. Any hit on the jack or even a “toucher” on Evans’ boule would almost certainly drive jack and or Evans’ boule onto Roberts and Evan’s other boules, which were behind the jack but in line with it, so any movement of the jack was very likely to take the jack to the two Welsh boules, and quite possibly move Evans’ boule there as well.

Ukraine decided to shoot. Their top shooter stepped up, but her boule went just a fraction over the top of Evans’ “on” boule, and out of the “head”.

The Welsh Team line up with Ukraine before the match.
The Welsh Team line up with Ukraine before the match.

Ukraine’s middle player stepped up. Would she point or shoot? It was risky to shoot as she had not been shooting in the game, and it could be very costly if it went wrong. But she decided to shoot. It was a superb shot, taken very coolly under pressure, and it cleared Evans’ boule cleanly without disturbing the “head”. Ukraine’s next boule landed in front of the jack, but just close enough to settle the outcome of the end and the match, making it 13-8 to Ukraine.

Ukraine went on to play Monaco in the Semi Finals. Monaco won, and went on to beat Sweden in the Finals to win the Nations Cup.

In the circumstances this was a remarkable outcome for the Welsh ladies team, and an historic achievement in terms of final position in the Nations Cup and important victories on the way, after a daunting start. The Welsh players showed great character and determination.

Gay Evans also took part in the European Precision Shooting Championship qualifying round and finished 27th.

Presentation_Evening
The Welsh Squad relaxing after the completion at the presentation dinner.

Dan Murphy, with an additional comment by J-Y Robic.

Sue Ryan – Irish Pétanque Association.

It is with great Sadness that we have to report that Sue Ryan, wife of Jim Ryan, IPA Hon.Treasurer and long time Celtic Challenge participant, has died.

We wish Jim and his family our sincere condolences at this sad, and difficult time.

AGM – 2013

The AGM, which was held at the Cardiff Bay Boule Club has elected a new National Executive comprising:

National President: Jean-Yves Robic.
Vice President: Kon Tomczyk.
National Treasurer: Tony Smith.
National Secretary: Graham Attfield.
National Coach: Peter Beresford.
Press Officer: Judith Smith.

The National Executive and members of the WPA would like to thank Tansy Mayfield and Dan Murphy who have stepped down, for their hard work.

John Humphries 1917 – 2013

Sadly it has been announced over the weekend of the death of John Humphries at the age of 96. John was one of the founder members of the Penarth Pétanque Club with his wife Peggy. John had not played for a number of years, but was always interested in what was happening in Penarth and Wales.

Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.

Details of the funeral have not been announced.

Wheatsheaf play in EuroCup in Metz

EuroCup Report

CEP EuroCupLate in the evening of a bone chilling Sunday in early March at Pen-y-Lan, The Wheatsheaf PC qualified to represent Wales in The EuroCup for Clubs for 2013.  We took up the challenge and were drawn to play in Metz against winning clubs from France, Germany, Hungary and Latvia over the weekend 26th to 28th July, with the top three teams going through, the third being a nominated host, to the second round.  A team of eight: Roger and Judith Morgan; Steve and Jill Brace; Jim and Linda Hutchinson; Basil White and Colin Sweet, together with Colin’s wife and two friends set off in three cars to make the 1,000 mile round trip.  We left Newport on Thursday 25th July at 05.00 to drive to Dover to catch the 10.00 ferry to Dunkirk.  After a smooth 2 hour crossing, we drove through Belgium and Luxembourg before dropping back down into France for the final stint into Metz itself. Going from Luxembourg into France we were only a few kilometers from the point at which the borders of France, Germany and Luxembourg meet at Schengen, which is now a byword for free cross-border travel between EU countries in mainland Europe.

The temperature during the journey was in the mid to high 20’s, which was a far cry from those on qualifying, but still only a taste of what was to come from the weather.  After settling in at the hotel on the northern outskirts, we set off to find the host club.  Despite some false starts we arrived and had some practice on the outdoor pistes.  As we were the only visiting team to turn up on the evening, we were made very welcome by the club members and enjoyed the snacks which they had lain on, together with a few drinks from their club bar.

When we saw the draw, it was fairly clear that on past form France would come first and Germany second, with third place up for grabs between the other three of us.  Play started on Friday afternoon with France against Hungary and Germany v Wales.  Both ties, consisting of two triples and three doubles, went to form by 5-0 margins.  Latvia had a bye and were nowhere to be seen.  A meal of cold meats, cheese and French stick was provided by the host club.  As we were the only team to stay on for this, there was plenty of it!  A few drinks and some melee games with club members made for a very enjoyable evening.

The Wheatsheaf had their bye on Saturday morning while France played Germany and Hungary took on Latvia.  This gave us the opportunity to do some sightseeing before returning to the pistes to weigh up our main opponents playing their doubles matches.  Hungary and Latvia had each won one triple.  Each won a doubles match easily and the decisive last match was narrowly won 13-11 by Latvia who therefore took the tie 3-2, despite scoring five points less.  Germany won one of their doubles, but France won the tie overall 4-1.

After a lunch break came our first crunch tie against Hungary, to be played in temperatures of around 35oC.  The triple of Basil, Colin and Jim won the first game to finish 13-10.  After a long hard battle Roger, Steve and Jill narrowly lost 11-13.  Basil and Jill won the first double 13-12, while Linda and Jim lost 11-13.  This meant that the tie was decided by the final double in which, after a very long hard game, Roger and Steve won 13-10 to give victory to the Wheatsheaf by 3-2 – Job half done!  While this was going on, France were thrashing Latvia 5-0, dropping only 8 points over the five games.

Now it was our turn to face France and the inevitable hammering.  This duly came in double quick time with a loss of only 5 points over the five games.  However, only one fanny was sustained and they know who they were!  Steve and Jill both drew applause from the 50 or so crowd for carreaus and sustained accurate pointing during their games.  The French players had only two types of shot on their home very rough terrain, boule to boule shots – about 70% carreaus, and a very high point with so much spin that boules stuck to their landing spot spinning for a few seconds after landing, a shot they learn from a very early age!  Germany dispatched Latvia in similar fashion, dropping only 7 points.  After a couple of drinks at the club, we returned to the hotel for much needed showers and a very pleasant meal in the courtyard.  Unfortunately, there were lots of insects in the area also having a pleasant meal – us!  The evening came to a sudden end when a mini whirlwind arrived, followed soon after by a thunder storm with torrential rain.

The storm continued into the night and started again after breakfast.  We arrived at the club complete with full wet weather gear to find that play had been switched to the club’s indoor bouledrome.  Thus the climax of our weekend was played out indoors to the Wagnerian accompaniment of thunder and rain hammering down on the tin roof.

Our triples were drawn with Latvia: Roger, Steve and Jill winning 13-11 and Basil, Colin and Jim losing 10-13, despite having a 9-3 lead at one point!  Jim and Judith lost their double 5-13 and, after a hard fight, Basil and Jill lost 9-13.  Another long game resulted in a win for Steve and Roger 13-10, but sadly the tie was lost 2-3 and Latvia finished third and will host a second round tie with Monaco and Sweden travelling to them – ah, what might have been!

Germany beat Hungary 5-0, giving a final scorecard of:-

  Club Nation

Points

Games

Ties

1 La Ronde Petanque de Metz France +180 254 74 19 1 4 0
2 VFPS e.V Germany +142 238 96 16 4 3 1
3 SK “upesciems” Latvia -110 123 233 6 14 2 2
4 Wheatsheaf PC Wales -121 127 248 5 15 1 3
5 Magyarszeki Onkormanyzati Hungary -91 148 239 4 16 0 4

It had stopped raining by now and after a consoling drink and wishing our new French friends au revoir, we returned to the hotel and on into Metz for the evening.  Metz is a typical beautiful French city with a cathedral, squares filled with cafes and restaurants and large public gardens.  Set on the Moselle and Seille rivers and a canal system, you are never far from a bridge!  A very nice touch was the temporary boules pistes set up in some of the squares for anyone to play on.

The return journey was almost without incident, the exception being a thunder storm with torrential rain causing flash flooding while we were in a motorway services on the M4.  Overall it was a hard but very enjoyable weekend.  For the third time The Wheatsheaf won a tie, and almost repeated the success of 2010 in progressing to the second round.

Jim Hutchinson
Wheatsheaf Petanque Club

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