GLOBE-TROTTING expatriate Scotsman, former world champion shearer and New Zealand-based farmer Gavin Mutch personifies the international nature of sports shearing today.
The Southern Hawkes Bay farmer was helping train shearers in the US and had no plans to compete when he landed in Rapid City, South Dakota, this week.
But at the encouragement of the locals, he lined up to ultimately record a convincing win in the US National Sheep Shearing Championships.
According to Google, Rapid City is 7672 miles from Dannevirke, near where Mutch has been managing a farm since moving from Whangamomona, Taranaki, about three years ago.
Mutch arrived in Rapid City with just a pair of mocassins in his kit and would have been happy just helping out; training and encouraging younger shearers.
He judged blades and beginners shearing in the pens out the back, but the locals expected him to compete, after an appearance on All-American Sheep Day at the Black Hills Stock Show, that last year reportedly attracted 331,000 people.
After borrowing a handpiece, combs and cutters, Mutch ended the day by winning a four-man final shearing 12 sheep to defeat five-times US champion Alex Moser by just over nine penalty points.
Although often troubled by a shoulder injury that in November retired him from the Central Hawke’s Bay show final in Waipukurau, Mutch was in charge from the start in the US final. He was finishing his first sheep while Moser and other US finalists, Nolan Abel and Kurtis Mooney, were still on the long blow and yet to start the last side.
Mutch maintained his margin to finish his 12 sheep in 16 minutes 40 seconds, almost a minute but not quite a full sheep ahead of Moser, who finished in 17min 38sec.
Mutch, who also had the better quality points, wasn’t particularly worried about the shoulder on the day, saying: “It’s workable. It was only a 12-sheep final, so it wasn’t too bad.”
Mutch flew to the US the day after beating 2014 world champion and multiple Golden Shears winner Rowland Smith in a 20-sheep final at the Wairoa A and P Show on January 21. He said he has now won events in 11 countries, and wonders what will be next.
Mutch was raised on a farm near Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where he helped with the shearing from about the age of 10. After completing an agricultural course, he came to New Zealand at the age of 17, soon making an impact and becoming Shearing Sports New Zealand’s top-ranked senior shearer for the 2001-2002 season.
He has mainly won events in Scotland and New Zealand, but also in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland France, Norway, Australia, Canada, and now the US.
The 43-year-old father-of-four’s wins include the world championship individual title in Masterton in 2012, the teams title with compatriot Hamish Mitchell in Ireland two years later, and in 2015 back in Masterton he became the only shearer from overseas to win the Golden Shears open final.
He has represented Scotland in seven world championships, in six countries, from 2005 to 2019.
On the current North American trip Mutch has done shearing schools in Canada and South Dakota, is now in Montana for another school, before flying to Oregon for two more.
His absence abroad means he misses the Dannevirke show, the Rangitikei Shearing Sports North Island championships in Marton, and the Aria sports in King Country on Waitangi Day. He returns to New Zealand on February 12, in time to tackle the build-up to the Golden Shears in Masterton on March 2-4 and the New Zealand Shears in Te Kuiti on March 30-April 1.
Source – Shearing Sports New Zealand.
We need to take advantage of the host country having the right to introduce a new sport at the Australian hosted Olympics in 2032.