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Trans-Tasman shearing and wool handling test hopes

Sheep Central, June 15, 2022

NSW shearer Daniel McIntyre in the trans-Tasman test at the Golden Shears in Masterton, New Zealand, in 2019. Photo – Shearing Sports NZ.

SPORTS Shear Australia and its counterpart Shearing Sports New Zealand are hopeful of resuming the annual home-and-away trans-Tasman test matches this year.

SSNZ chairman Sir David Fagan said with borders open again after the two years of the COVID-19 disruption New Zealand has been invited to send a team to compete at the Australian National Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Bendigo, Victoria, in October.

It is hoped the Australian team will then reciprocate for return matches at the Golden Shears in Masterton in March.

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SSA immediate past president Tom Kelly said Sports Shear Australia is keen to reactivate the popular competition shearing and wool handling circuit and the trans-Tasman tests. He said Australia also wanted to send a trans-Tasman team of shearers and wool handlers to New Zealand in March.

“It is, but obviously we are just governed by each country’s COVID laws, but we are sitting in a position where as soon as possible we want to have all this reactivated.

“It is such a vital part of the industry.”

Mr Kelly said competition shearing and wool handling will recommence at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo in July.

“We play a pretty big part in keeping regional shows going.

“Competition wool handling and shearing sets a benchmark of quality that showcases the industry to the public,” he said.

Mr Kelly said he believed Sports Shear New Zealand would definitely send a team to the national championships in October if COVID rules allowed the movement of people between the two countries without restrictions.

“They are as keen as we are.”

The New Zealand shearer and wool handler teams won the last trans-Tasman matches between the countries at the Golden Shears in 2020, a fortnight before the first pandemic lockdown. The wins meant New Zealand completed a 2019-2020 season clean sweep after a blade shearing win in Waimate in October 2019 – the first clean sweep by either side since 2014.

Sir David described the prospect of the series being revived in Bendigo as “looking quite likely” but decisions will be made at the SSNZ national committee meeting in Christchurch on August 15-16, when the committee will also decide the processes for selecting the New Zealand team for the 2023 World championships at the Royal Highland Show in Scotland next June.

If the decision is to go to Bendigo, the meeting will have to decide the team composition, with the usual selection process having been also disrupted by the pandemic, which resulted in dozens of competition cancellations, including the 2021 New Zealand Merino championships in Alexandra and the Golden Shears in 2021 and 2022.

The machine shearing team has traditionally comprised the winners of the Golden Shears Open, the national shearing circuit and the New Zealand Merino Championship, the wool handlers being the winners of the North Island circuit and the New Zealand Merino Championship, and the blade shearing winners at the Waimate Spring Shears and the Canterbury show’s Golden Blades.

The annual trans-Tasman series began in the 1974-1975 season, alternating between a new Golden Shears of Australia at Euroa, Vic, and the Golden Shears in Masterton, with two tests each season until 1984, when the competition was suspended because of a boycott by the Australian Workers Union.

It was revived at Perth in 1997, since when the Australian legs have been held mainly in conjunction with the Australian championships and hosted in rotation by the states of Australia.

Wool handling tests were added in 1998 and blade shearing tests, with New Zealand-leg matches in Christchurch or Waimate, were added in 2010.

Source: Doug Laing, Sports Shear New Zealand.

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