It’s been a very busy year on the pitch for PE and our members and in this first part of our review of 2019 covering March to September, here are the highlights of the competitions and activities organised directly by us or by our European and World Federations in which we have competed as a nation.
Part two covering October to December will follow.
Thanks to our all players and officials for another enjoyable and successful year. We now look forward to 2020!
Our young players were out early in the season for the NYS Singles and Precision Shooting Championships. Kai Sheffield narrowly defeated Jamie Brooks in the Singles, while in the younger group, Ella Slade was the victor. Kai also won the shooting with an impressive 34 points in the qualification round and then prevailed in the shoot out against Davy Blyton. Ella also made it a double in the younger group precision shooting.
The Semi Finals of the EuroCup took place at Luton and Leicester with Baldock Town, Cobbetts, London and Manston winning through to Finals day.
The inaugural International Women’s Day Doubles was a great success with 32 teams competing at Oxshott after the regionally based qualifying rounds. Southern Counties’ Hassi Leverett (who came up with the idea for the tournament) won with partner Karen Lombard, defeating Mercia’s Carla Jervis and Carole Sheppard in the Final.
Our National Youth Squad (NYS) coaches announced their picks for the respective Squads for 2019 following the selection day held on 13th April where 24 young players attended.
In the NYS ‘A’ Squad, 8 players were successful:
The following players were chosen for the ‘B’ Squad, a developmental squad which was set up to prepare for future ‘A’ Squad membership:
Francesca Evans Jones
The last weekend of the month saw Baldock Town achieve a fourth consecutive victory in the EuroCup after a decisive round against London. The Chiltern club had to turn around a 2-10 points deficit from the initial Singles round, which they achieved by taking both the Triples and then the two Doubles required to secure victory. In the PE Trophy, British Sugar (Anglia) were the winners, while in in the inaugural EuroCup Plate competition, the Duke of Wellington (Kent) came out on top.
The month began with England’s players in El Ejido, Spain for the World Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles Championship. Our coaches were Rowland Jones and Nic Baxter.
In the Men’s Singles, Monty Quaia won two out of his four qualifying rounds, and was unlucky not to make the Top 16, being placed 18th and missing out on a tie break. It came down to a one point difference in his fine BHN (fBHN, calculated on the sum of his opponents BHN, the BHN being the number of games won). Monty only narrowly lost 10-13 to the Swiss player Maiky Molinas, the eventual 2019 World Champion, in the final qualifying round.
Monty registered wins against the USA (13-7) and then Slovakia (13-2) but was then faced with Morocco’s former world champion Abdesammed El Mankari, who regularly features at the highest level of the sport. Although defeated in this match (2-13), the draw for the final round was not kind.
In the Women’s Singles, Sammy Thatcher only won one out of her four qualifying games and ended up placed 34th. She faced some tough competition in the qualifying rounds in the shape of five-times former world champion Yolanda Mattaranz (Spain) and 2016 European Singles Silver Medallist Jessica Johansson (Sweden).
In the Mixed Doubles, it also came down to the fourth qualifying round for Sofiane Lachani and Emma Longstaff to try and secure a place in the Top 16 knockout. Unfortunately, it was not to be, and the team ended up 17th on two wins, missing out in a tie break for the Top 16 by just 1 BHN point. This was to prove not to be the last time in 2019 that an England team would miss out so narrowly on main competition qualification at an elite tournament.
Our team got a fabulous draw in the first round against two multi-World and European champions in the shape of Phillipe Suchaud and Angelique Colombet of France. This is truly pétanque royalty! By the end of this tournament, Suchaud was to capture his 11th World title, matching the number achieved by French legend Philippe Quintais.
In Round 2, England drew Austria and bounced back strongly with a 13-0 victory to immediately offset the previous round’s defeat. Round 3 saw a much tougher proposition with the Swiss pairing of Joel Chevret and Nathalie Poget. Switzerland have long been a strong boule-playing nation, and England had to dig deep from being behind to win 12-8 in the timed game.
England faced Israel in the final match, but never really got going, eventually losing 4-11. Victory gave Israel 8th place in the tournament after the qualification stage with England just frustratingly missing out.
In the Men’s Doubles, Sofiane Lachani and Monty Quaia won two out of four of the qualifying matches and finished 31st in the competition. It was fine margins here, as the pairing were in the Top 16 on the ground in a decisive final match against Ivory Coast with their opponents having just one boule remaining. It was only an unlikely final boule play from the Africans which resulted in England heartbreak.
Monty and Sofiane started their Doubles campaign strongly with a routine win over Ukraine 13-3. They then faced the formidable Belgian pairing of Joel Marchandise and Claudy Weibel, who have a host of titles in elite pétanque, including World Champions, World runners-up and European Champions.
In another riveting match, Belgium finally prevailed 12-10 in the timed game, but the England duo showed that they could compete with the very best. In the third match, England faced Turkey, but held their nerve in a tight game to win 10-8.
The best result for England came in the Women’s Doubles with Emma Longstaff and Sammy Thatcher reaching a long-awaited Quarter Final at World level for our country. They won three out of four of their qualifying games and after round 3, they were ranked 1st. Unfortunately, our team lost 8-13 to the Canadian pairing of Maryse Bergeron and Kassandra Dufesne, just missing out on a medal, last achieved in the Women’s game over 30 years ago.
The England pairing began the tournament very well by defeating a strong Luxembourg team comprising young talent Indira Ongaro (16 years old) and Nathalie Damarge. Luxembourg have always been a tough prospect for England at international level, but our team prevailed 11-9 in a close battle which could not be concluded without extra ends.
In Round 2, England were drawn against Bulgaria and never looked at all under threat, despite the Bulgarian team’s ability to throw a very good final boule consistently. The 13-7 victory set up a third round contest against the similarly undefeated Czech Republic, where England dominated to win 13-7.
The fourth and final round pitched England against Belgium, both undefeated in the tournament. Playing for Belgium were Nancy Barzin and another young European talent of our sport, Jessica Meskens.
The Belgians were too strong (13-6), but England still ended up being placed 5th after the qualifying rounds, the best placing for an England team this year at this stage of an elite tournament.
The top 16 match was against China and England played superbly to win 13-0. This set up the Quarter Final with Canada where we were unable to progress further.
PE’s National Rankings began in Nottingham with Claire White and the Thatcher sisters Kaylee and Sammy beating Hannah Griffin, 12-year old Ella Slade & Sabrina Seville in the Women’s Triples final and Reece Gould, Sam Blakey & Dean Seville ending victorious in the Men’s format over Jeremy Huntley, Ross Jones & Rowland Jones.
In the ever-popular Home Nations Qualifier, also at Nottingham the day after the Rankings Triples, eight teams qualified out of 36 to represent England in Wales in August. There was only one team at the end of the day on a perfect five wins: Clive de Silva, Phil Bradshaw and Steve Daykin.
There were a further six teams on four wins and after the Buchholz tie break was applied (and a 8th place play off), the respective placings were:
England 2: Dean Ashby, Jason White, Jeff Booth and Rob Booth
England 3: Carol Woodward, Glenn Woodward and Hannah Griffin
England 4: Matt Blyton, Jamie Blyton and Lee Edgar
England 5: Jitendra Bharania, Kamles Modha and Rohit Damodar
England 6: Duncan Brown, Steve Brown, Gary Kelynack and Tim Edwins
England 7: Colin Smith, Pat ‘the Duchess’ Rowlands, Simon Cotton and Jacob Smith
England 8: Fay Golder, Steve Golder and Margaret Eldridge (after play off).
The month concluded with PE’s National Titles Weekend in Gravesend.
In the Men’s Doubles, Ross Jones and Sam Blakey won the title after defeating Sofiane Lachani and Monty Quaia in the Final. In the Singles, Rowland Jones lifted his first ever title defeating Jason White in the Final, having just edged a tense 13-12 battle with Barry Wing in the Semi Final and a similarly tight 13-11 match against Callum Lombard in the Quarter Final.
In the Women’s competitions Emma Longstaff pulled off a superb double of Singles and Doubles titles, winning against Aimee Colley in the Singles Final and winning with partner Sarah Huntley against Becky & Carolyn Edwins.
The Mixed Doubles, not part of PE’s National Rankings, was won for the first time by Callum Lombard & Kaylee Thatcher, defeating serial winners Jack Blows & Sarah Huntley in the Final.
Our third and final National Veterans Ranking Competition concluded on Saturday 22nd June at Rainworth. The Vets Rankings was a new initiative for PE in 2019, establishing national rankings for our over 55’s for the first time.
The trio of Simon Bird, Ian Barnes and Cliff Cambell not only made it three wins in a row, but also lifted the National Veterans Title after defeating Hassi Leverett, Duncan Brown and Graham Elcome 13-4 in the Final. These three secured England representation at the biennial European Veterans’ Championship in Albena, Bulgaria and were later joined by Hassi Leverett who was selected from the players ranked 4th to 6th.
PE’s National Rankings concluded over the weekend of 29th/30th June at Worthing.
In the Women’s Rankings, Claire White & Sammy Thatcher won in the Doubles Final against Sabrina Seville & Hannah Griffin, while Claire White, Kaylee Thatcher & Sammy Thatcher defeated Sarah Huntley, Emma Longstaff & Lisa Goliger in the Triples Final.
This meant that Emma Longstaff ended on 138 ranking points and secured first spot in the National Rankings, winning in all three formats of the sport. In second place was Claire White, who received an automatic invitation to represent England at the Women’s World Championships in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
In the Men’s Rankings, Rowland Jones & Jason White shaded a close Doubles Final 13-12 against Jack Blows & Phil Claydon, while the same result occurred in the Triples Final where Callum Lombard, Dean Ashby & Jason White edged it against Jack Blows, Phil Claydon & Sam Blakey.
The weekend’s results meant that Rowland Jones ended up being ranked first with Sam Blakey second. Both received an automatic invitation to represent England in the Men’s European Championships in Albena, Bulgaria.
The selection for the Women’s World Championships was completed when Sarah Huntley (ranked 3rd) and Sammy Thatcher (ranked 4th) were added to the team with Kaylee Thatcher (ranked 5th) and Becky Edwins (ranked 6th) being unsuccessful on this occasion.
For the Men’s European Championships, the team saw the addition of Jason White (ranked 3rd) and Reece Gould (ranked 6th) with Ross Jones (ranked 4th) and Dean Seville (ranked 5th) being unsuccessful on this occasion.
At the end of July, Baldock Town travelled to Pachy, Belgium again to compete in the International Qualifying Round of the EuroCup as England’s Champion Club. The team comprising Jack Blows, Emma Coggins, Matthew Eversden, Reece Gould, Sarah Huntley, Ross Jones, Jamie Lewis, Sean Prendergast, Jonathan Sewell, Rachel Shaw & Phil Winston hit new heights for our country by winning five out of six matches and securing second place.
Group C brought together the hosts Pachy, PC Wiener Trilogie (Austria), Buddy (Russia), Monkstone PC (Wales), Sörbyängens Bouleklubb (Sweden) and PSC Järvenpää (Finland).
Baldock defeated Wales (29-2), Sweden (17-14), Finland (17-14), Russia (19-12) and Austria (26-5) and only suffered defeat at the hands of the hosts (2-29). The runners up placing was the highest ever achieved by an English club at this stage of the tournament.
England retained the Home Nations Championship in Cardiff for the 20th successive year with a 10-win margin over runners up Jersey. The best performing team of the weekend was England 4, comprising the father and son combination of Matt and Jamie Blyton along with teammate Lee Edgar.
At the same time as Home Nations, a large party of players also travelled to Maaseik, Belgium for the annual weekend which offers gender separate competitions in Singles, Doubles and Triples. Becky Edwins marked a notable win against Belgium’s Nancy Barzin (2019 World Mixed Doubles Bronze Medallist) in the Women’s Singles qualification, while Ella Slade defeated a Luxembourg senior national selection player.
PE’s biggest tournament of the year took place as usual at Hayling Island.
In the Youth Championship, Francesca Evans-Jones, Will Read, Sam Rattue and Sally Sin (Southern Counties) were crowned champions, while Ella Slade was crowned Precision Shooting Champion after scoring 25 points in the Pen-Y-Coed sponsored Final against Marc Franco’s 13.
In Division 1 of the Championship, Chiltern chalked up the region’s third consecutive victory, with a nine-win margin over runners up London. The London 2 trio of Sofiane Lachani, Monty Quaia and Hamza Mouni were ranked the best individual team with 11 wins, although this was on a small margin of three points difference over runners up Nigel Ashby, Alex Harrison, Tim Raine and Andrew Winter (East Midlands).
PE’s 16 regional champions plus last year’s defending champion from Chiltern, Sarah Huntley competed in the qualification round of the Precision Shooting, with the top four scoring players going through to the Semi-Finals on Saturday evening.
Sarah scored an excellent 39 points and was ranked first. Joe Sheffield of East Midlands (and our coach for the Men’s European Championships 2019) was placed second on 30 points, Federico Faucher of London was third on 27 points and Scott Ashby of Kent was the final qualifier on 24 points. Sammy Thatcher of Southern just missed out on 23 points.
In the first Semi-Final, Scott prevailed 35-22 against Sarah and Joe conceded in the final round (the jack) with Federico having an unassailable lead of 29-5.
In the Final, sponsored by D C Pétanque, Scott once again scored 35 points making 11 scoring hits (55%) to Federico’s 28. Scott was therefore crowned PE’s National Shooting Champion 2019.
In the Second Division of the Championship, PE’s Anglia Region won the title with a comfortable nine-win margin over runners up Isle of Wight. Top individual team here was Phil Boarder, Dan Cooper, Marion Halsey and Ian Ward (Anglia 6) on 11 wins out of 12
Chiltern completed the Division One double by finishing on top of the eight-region Challenge, but only by a narrow margin of two wins over runners up East Midlands. The top individual team was Adrian Emson, Myra Emson and Peter Taylor (Chiltern 1) on 9 wins and a superior points difference.
It proved to be a tight affair in the Challenge Division 2 with only a handful of games between the top five regions of Heart of England (Champions), London (Runners up), Eastern, Thames Valley and Devon. First-time attendees Dan Adams, Marc Rolf and Lee Smith (Heart of England 3) who ended up as top team on nine wins out of twelve.
Finally, A new award for 2019, the President’s Cup, was awarded to the region that amassed the largest number of wins across Youth, Championship and Challenge competitions.
Once the calculations had been made, Chiltern were the clear winners on 109 wins, 15 ahead of Southern in second place, 19 ahead of Kent in third place and 20 ahead of Anglia in 4th place.
At the same time as Hayling, the European Veterans Championship took place in Albena, Bulgaria. Coached by Clive de Silva, wins by the England team of Ian Barnes, Simon Bird, Cliff Campbell & Hassi Leverett over Estonia (13-7) and Ukraine (13-6) was followed by defeat at the hands of Finland (4-13) on the first day. The following day, England achieved a notable victory over Denmark (13-7) and with defeat by Germany (1-13), the team was placed 8th in the rankings table, a strong showing which proved to be the second best (behind the World Women’s Doubles) for an England representative team after the qualifying stages in an elite international tournament in 2019.
The barrage group which resulted from the rankings was tough in that it included France with its two legends of the sport who still compete at the very highest level, Marco Foyot and Christian Fazzino and Holland, the defending champions from 2017. Wales completed the group.
In the first barrage game it was 8th v 9th so England faced Holland. This proved to be too big a task for England and Holland won convincingly 13-4. With Wales getting fannied by France, it meant that England would need to win against Wales to maintain interest in the tournament.
It was not to be, with Wales winning the Home Nations showdown 13-9 and securing the barrage play off against Holland who lost a close game 9-13 to France. In the event, it was Holland that progressed to the Quarter Finals with a 13-2 victory over Wales.
Holland eventually ended up as bronze medal winners and France took gold, after defeating Sweden 13-4 in the final.
Immediately following the Veterans Championship at the same venue in Albena was the Men’s European Championships with our England team comprising Sam Blakey, Reece Gould, Rowland Jones and Jason White and coached by Joe Sheffield.
The tournament began as usual with the Precision Shooting. In the qualification round, Jason scored 21 points in the five round precision shooting format. This placed him joint 18th and with the opportunity in the repêchage (those players ranked 5 to 20) to try and make the Quarter Finals.
It was always going to be a tough ask to rise up the ranks from 18th to no worse than 8th, but Jason took on the task confidently, adding 31 points to his earlier score and ending on a combined total of 52 points.
His efforts in the repêchage were only bettered by six other players out of 16, and included four maximum five point shots in the single boule stage at 6m, the boule behind the jack stage at 6m and two removals of the jack in the final stage of five at 6m and 9m.
In the event, the qualification bar was set at 64 points with Jason placed 16th.
The tournament proper did not start well for England in the five round Swiss qualification with a disappointing close defeat 11-13 by Latvia in the first round. This was followed by defeat at the hands of Sweden (3-13) and then a strong rally to win the next three games against Slovakia (13-0), Greece (13-8) and Austria (11-9).
Unfortunately, England missed out on a Top 16 placing (PE’s objective for the team) and the knockout stages by just two Buccholz points, the only team on three wins that did not qualify. This marked the third time in 2019 that an England team had failed to reach the knockout stage of an elite international tournament on a tie break.
Now in the lower tournament (the Nations Cup), England defeated San Marino (13-2) and Norway (13-2) in the barrage poule, setting up a Quarter Final contest against Turkey which saw another convincing win (13-3). England’s run of five consecutive victories ended in a defeat in the Semi Final against Portugal (8-13) and a Bronze Medal. This placing in the overall tournament was good enough to secure an invitation to the 2020 World Triples Championships (PE’s secondary objective for the team).
The month ended with a new initiative involving a group of 18 PE Veterans travelling to the Guernsey Open to compete. In the Doubles, Stone Williams and Frank Britt made the main draw and were the best performers. In the Triples, Stone Williams, Frank Britt & Nigel Ashby won the tournament.