Aussie and Kiwi shearers and wool handlers chase world fame

Sheep Central, June 22, 2023

AUSTRALIA and New Zealand’s shearing and wool handling team members today started competing at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, Scotland, culminating in the 2023 Golden Shears World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships on Friday and over the weekend.

Team Australia in woolhandling – Racheal Hutchison and Mark Purcell get in shape for the championships. Image – Facebook.

Shearers and wool handlers from the two teams competed at the Royal Three Counties Show in Worcestershire last weekend and continued preparation at local farms.

Australian team manager Tom Kelly has been taking photographs for the Sports Shear Australia Facebook page. Click here to access the Sports Shear Australia Facebook page to see photographs and video of Victorian wool handler Mark Purcell, machine shearers Daniel McIntyre (NSW) and Nathan Meaney (SA), and blade shearers John Dalla (SA) and Andrew Murray (NSW) doing some last-minute preparation. Updates will be posted as the event continues.

In the open wool handling at the Royal Three Counties Show, New South Wales wool handler Racheal Hutchison placed seventh, just missing out on a semi finals berth. She is competing in the wool handling championships events with Mark Purcell.

Australian shearers Nathan Meaney and Daniel McIntyre get some practice in watched by judge Daryl Wallace. Image – Tom Kelly.

This week the team members will participate in the local Royal Highland Show events before the world championships events start on Friday and continue into the weekend.

There will also be a dedicated Golden Shears channel on the Royal Highland Show website from Thursday: and click here for a livestream of events.

Depending on where you are in Australia, Edinburgh time is about 8-10 hours behind Australian time zones.

Sports Shear Australia secretary Raelene Laidlaw said SSA president Dave Lawrence is attending the championships, along with wool handling judge Matt Stasinowsky and shearing judge Daryl Wallace.

She said there are 29 countries represented at the championships.

Program of events – Thursday 22 June Local RHS events

7.30am Junior heats

8.30am Young Farmers heats

9am                       Junior semi-finals

9.30am Intermediate heats

10.30am               Junior final

10.45am               Young Farmers final

11am                     Senior heats

12pm                     Junior and Young Farmers presentation

12.30pm               Break

12.45pm               Intermediate semi-final

1.15pm                 Senior semi-final

1.45pm                 Junior test match (3 Nations)

2pm                       Intermediate final

2.20pm                 Senior final

3pm                       Intermediate and senior presentations

3.30pm                 Novice woolhandling heats

4.30pm                 Novice blade shearing incl. final

5pm                       Novice woolhandling final

5.30pm                 Presentation ceremony

Australia’s blade shearing duo for the world championships, John Dalla and Andrew Murray hone their gear on the local sheep. Image – Tom Kelly.

Friday 23 June Local RHS events

7.30am                 Open woolhandling heats

10am                     Blade shearing heats

11am                     Open woolhandling semi-final

12pm                     Scottish National and open heats

12.30pm               Break

1pm                       Open woolhandling final

1.30pm                 Scottish Nationalo final

4.30pm                 Development test match (3 Nations)

5pm                       Open final

5.30pm                 Presentation ceremony

7pm                       Golden Shears world machine round 1

Saturday 24 June Golden Shear events

7am                       GS world blades round 1

8.30am                 GS world woolhandling round 1

11.30am               GS Development test match

Australian wool handler Mark Purcell practices rolling a Scottish Blackface fleece. The fleeces must be rolled up securely to get maximum points.

12am                     GS world blades round 2

2pm                       GS world machine round 2

3.30pm                 GS world woolhandling round 2

7pm                       GS world machine round 3

Sunday 25 June Golden Shears events

7am                       GS world blade semi-final

7.45am                 GS world woolhandling semi-finals

8.45am                 GS world machine semi-finals

10am                     GS world blade team final

11am                     GS world woolhandling team final

12pm                     GS world machine team finals

1pm                       GS world blade individual final

2pm                       GS world woolhandling individual final

3pm                       GS world machine individual final

4pm                       Presentations

6pm                       Close of championships.







Big New Zealand contingent in Scotland

At least 18 New Zealand competitors will be in action in the open entry shearing and woolhandling events at the Royal Highland Show today.

They include the six Wools of New Zealand Shearing Sports New Zealand team members preparing for the world championships events starting on Friday (Saturday morning New Zealand time) with the first round in the machine shearing.

At least 12 other NZ competitors are in Scotland while working or as championships spectators, plus at least two competitors from overseas, but now living in New Zealand, will be competing in the events.

Pleasant Point shearer and South Canterbury shearing contractor Ant Few, shears in the RHS open heats on Friday, the second day of the four-day 2023 Golden Shears world championships. He is shown here at the Waimate Shears in 2019. Photo – SSNZ

At the Royal Three Counties Show in Worcestershire last weekend, seven shearers from New Zealand were in the open shearing heats, with New Zealand team members Rowland Smith, of Maraekakaho, and Leon Samuels, of Roxburgh, joined by Jack Fagan, of Te Kuiti, New Zealand UK tour team members Paerata Abraham and David Gordon, of Masterton, Ant Frew, of Pleasant Point, and Masterton shearer Adam Gordon.

Team members, blade shearer Allan Oldfield from Geraldine, and wool handler Ngaio Hanson of Eketahuna, also competed, as did New Zealand-based Cook Islands team members Alex Smith and Keryn Herbert, and senior shearer Clay Harris, of Piopio, and open wool handler Cushla Abraham, of Masterton.

Others expected to compete in Edinburgh over the next two days include team members blade shearer Tony Dobbs of Fairlie, and wool handler Candy Hiri, of Gore, and shearers Liam Norrie, of Cheviot, and Will Sinclair, of Balclutha.

Other world championships competitors based in New Zealand are Chile team member Luis Pincol and Robyn Krause, of Germany.

The world championships teams are limited to two competitors in each category of machine shearing, blade shearing and wool handling, with the six finals (individual and teams) being decided on Sunday.

Tickets for the championships, with competitors from 29 countries during a show that attracts about 100,000 people through the Ingliston gates each day, are reported to have been sold out, with some now being sold via social media.

Ant Frew, who has shorn five seasons in the UK, winning two competitions along the way in a career that included a semi-final placing at the 2017 New Zealand Golden Shears, senses the excitement and passion that goes with the industry and the competition, sometimes referred to as “sheep shit on the brain.”

A South Canterbury shearing contractor who has employed several of the competitors, including from the UK and Germany, said: “I decided to come over for a couple of weeks to catch up with friends.”

“I like catching up with other people that you don’t see very often,” he said. “And it’s good shearing against the best in the world, here and in New Zealand.”

“It will be fast,” he said, looking ahead to the competition, which is expected to open with sunny weather and temperatures up to 22deg, although some rain is forecast for Friday and Sunday.

“They seem to shear faster in the heats thann at home, but there is less wool on them as well,” he said. ”And the crowds really get in behind the shearers here.”

Highlighting the differences for competitors in varying conditions around the world, he said that with the sheep in the UK being softer in the skin, the shearer’s gear “has to be just right” to minimise the penalties from the judges.

Jack Fagan won’t be able to go for a repeat of the speed shear titles he won associated with the 2017 championships in Invercargill and the 2019 championships in Frances, because there isn’t a speed shear at the championships in Edinburgh.

But he will be in the Royal Highland Show’s open-class shearing field, on the back of a final placing at the Royal Three Counties Show in Worcestershire last weekend.

The son of Sir David Fagan, who won the world individual title five times, said: “Everyone is prepped and ready to take on the Highland Show.

“It’s a highly-anticipated event, and we are all looking forward to competing and enjoying the Scottish hospitality.”

The championships were originally scheduled for the show’s 200th anniversary last year, but were postponed 12 months because of the global pandemic.

(From Doug Laing, Shearing Sports New Zealand)



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