AUSTRALIA has put forward an expression of interest to host the 2029 Golden Shears World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships.
Sports Shear Australia Association secretary Raelene Laidlaw said the expression of interest was discussed at the Golden Shears World Council meeting in Edinburgh on the eve of the 2023 championships at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, Scotland.
SSAA president Dave Lawrence said after making the expression that there is a lot of work to be done prior to the next world championships at Masterton, New Zealand, in 2026.
“It’s been 18 years since Australia hosted this event at Toowoomba in 2005.
“Prior to this it was held at Perth in 1986,” Mr Lawrence said.
Mr Lawrence said there has been no decision yet on a potential host city should Australia win world council support for a future world championships.
“We are in the early stages of looking at the feasibility,” he said.
Shearing and wool handling as sports in Brisbane?
SSAA’s New Zealand equivalent Shearing Sports NZ has been recognised by its government sports agency Sport New Zealand for 30 years as the national organisation for the sport.
And former SSAA president Steph Brooker-Jones has made enquiries with the Australian Sports Commission about getting SSAA recognised as a national sporting organisation. But the ASC is not currently accepting applications seeking recognition as a national sporting organisation until the next application period planned for March 2024.
Mr Lawrence said the possibility of hosting a shearing and wool handling event at the 2032 Brisbane Olympics has been considered, but he believes a stand-alone event would be a “better showcasing”.
Nevertheless, last week New Zealand Golden-Shears vice-president Ronny King suggested that rather than try to manage 500 Olympic Games sheep into Paris next year or in Los Angeles in 2028, perhaps the 2032 Brisbane Olympics was an option, with venues also south on the Gold Coast and north on the Sunshine Coast.
“The shearing could be held at another venue like they do with other sports,” Mr King said soon after arriving in the United Kingdom for the 19th Golden Shears World Shearing Championships at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh.
“It would be difficult, but not impossible.”
World championships sparks the sport debate
Shearing Sports NZ media officer Doug Laing last week wrote that the world championships invariably sparked debate over whether sheep shearing is a sport.
He said Shearing Sports New Zealand is maintaining the competition of shearing and wool handling is a sport, and like many other sports was developed to formalise the challenges of what goes on in the workplace (the wool shed) and provide a platform for enhancing the skills need for a quality wool harvest, once the backbone of the New Zealand economy.
The first known blade shearing competitions in New Zealand are thought to have been held in the 1860s, with published record of an event in 1868 at Waipukurau, in Hawke’s Bay. The world’s first machine shearing competition is believed to have been that held at the Hawke’s Bay A. and P. Show in 1902, a competition now known as the Great Raihania Shears in memory of first winner Rimitiriu Raihania.
The Golden Shears International Shearing Championships was established in Masterton in 1961 with quick global recognition, and has been held in court-sports venue the Masterton War Memorial Stadium annually ever since, apart from COVID cancellations in 2021 and 2022.
Long-regarded as the “Wimbledon of Shearing”, it spawned the Golden Shears of Great Britain in 1963 at the Royal Bath and West Show Shepton Mallet, Somerset, which also hosted the first Golden Shears World Championships in 1977.
Mr King, who farms on the outskirts of Pahiatua, in Northern Wairarapa on New Zealand’s North Island, is familiar with handling large numbers of sheep, with the Golden Shears in Masterton needing 5000 sheep and attracting over 300 competitors, or 600 in the peak when the New Zealand sheep population was over 70 million, almost three times that of the 2023 flock.
The Golden Shears World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships is held every 2-4 years, and has been hosted at the Masterton Golden Shears four times, in 1980, 1988, 1996 and 2012. The championships has been held in nine countries.