The South West plays host this weekend to one of the biggest events in this year’s English Petanque Association calendar. The National Championships will be held at the ISCA centre in Exeter, Devon, drawing teams from all over the country.
The championships attract teams from 15 regions, bringing together the crème de la crème of English Petanque players. Over 70 teams will fight it out to be national champions, where winners will have the opportunity to qualify to represent the UK in the European and World championships in 2016.
The event covers the top Ladies, Mens and Mixed teams across three categories, Single, Doubles and Triples in what will be a fiercely contested competition.
Past winner Sue Lawrence commented, “This weekend will see a real battle for the top spot, we’ll see some excellent games and emerging talent, I hope that the weather is good to us. We have some excellent teams representing the East Midlands Region and it would be great to see some of our teams in the finals”
Petanque, sometimes called Boules, has been played in the UK since the 1970’s; historically thought to have originated in Marseilles in France in 1907 but more recently an archaeological find of two balls and a jack dates the sport back to over seventy centuries ago.
The idea of the game is very similar to Bowls where the brightly coloured jack or cochonnet is thrown along the piste to a distance of six to ten metres. The winner is the person, whose (metal) Boules are resting closest to the cochonnet and is usually played on hardcore or gravel.
Former British National Champion and Ladies World Championship GB team member, Tracey Cutler commented “Petanque is a real family sport and has proved a very popular sport across the world, sadly it has never made it as an Olympic sport, but came close in 1990. I started playing the sport in the late 70’s and made it to the 1990 World Championships, where both Thailand and Madagascar fielded strong players closely followed by Sweden, France and Germany.
The English Pétanque Association is the national Governing Body for the sport of Pétanque in England, recognised by Sport England and the international governing body, the Fédération Internationale de Pétanque et Jeu Provençal (FIPJP) which In 2002 was reported to have over 600,000 members across 52 countries.