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Oceania Championships 2010

Page history last edited by Tom van Bodegraven 12 years, 2 months ago

The Oceania Championships 2010 … a report from the Coach.

 

Six nations with one goal … to win the Oceania Championship.

 

Tahiti, Australia, New Zealand, Wallis & Fetuna, Vanuatu and hosts New Caledonia came

together to compete for the title in Noumea on a terrain that was flat, hard and super quick like

the Christchurch Petanque Club terrain in mid summer.

 

We got an early feel of the terrain and the quality of the opposition by taking part in a mixed

doubles tournament on the day of our arrival following an early morning flight out of Auckland.

The locals clearly benefited from home advantage and we struggled with the heat and a terrain

which favoured low rolling pointing and raspaillette shooting. Nevertheless Tina Targett and

Richard Swaney performed well as a combination, but missed out narrowly in the semi finals.

 

Four long days were to follow, with the bus collecting players from the hotel at 7.30am each

morning and returning between 9pm and midnight ( on the last night ).

 

Day One … Pointing & Shooting Competitions

 

Players were required to point a single boule from each of 6m, 8m and 10m and scored from

0-5 points depending on how close their boule got to the cochonnet. Only the top 8 men and 8

women progressed to the semi finals out of 35 in each category.

 

The speed of the terrain meant many competitors scored zero in the first round but Christian

Fouquet, Ron Sandilands and Tina Targett each reached the top 8. Tina finished 5th and missed

out on a semi-final spot by 1 point. Christian qualified for both the semi-final and the final as top

scorer and continued his excellent form to win the Gold Medal.

 

Targets in the Shooting Competition were a single boule at 6m, the middle boule of three aligned

horizontally at 8m and the back boule of two aligned vertically at 10m.

 

David Lippard, Lee Taffard and Barbara Johnston all progressed from the first round, with Chris

Taylor just missing out in ninth place. Barbara and Christian both made the semi finals and then

the finals. Barbara took the Silver Medal after being narrowly beaten by Lauren Gervolino of New

Caledonia. The mens final went into three rounds with both athletes having opportunities to win

before local player David Lemé scored the decisive points to taken the Gold Medal.

 

Nevertheless day one proved to be very successful for New Zealand with one Gold Medal and

two Silver Medals … results that were to prove decisive in terms of us qualifying for the 2012

World Championships along with Tahiti and Vanuatu. Australia missed out in fifth position.

 

Day Two … Singles

 

The team approached Day Two in a very positive frame of mind, inspired by the exploits of the

Tall Blacks in Turkey and the Black Ferns qualifying for the Womens Rugby World Cup Final …

but most of all by the terrific performance of their Captain the day before.

 

However it proved to be a ‘tough day at the office’. Nine pools in both mens and womens

competitions in barrage format.

 

The first round produced just 3 wins from 12 games. Claire Wilson fannied her Australian

opponent while Chris Taylor worked hard to overcome a New Caledonian player 13-11. In the

mens competition David Lippard was also successful and Richard Swaney just lost out in an

enthralling nail-biter against a player from the very strong New Caledonian team.

 

The team won only 25% of their second games with three loses of 12-13. Nevertheless David,

 

Richard, Barbara, Claire Wilson and Christine Strichen all qualified for a third game, along with

Chris Taylor who was the only player to win both her previous games.

 

The Singles format demonstrated the powerful all round skills of the island players who shot and

pointed consistently well. No New Zealand player made any further progress. Christine Strichen

was defeated by Ariane Ernest of Australia who went on to win Silver … their only medal.

 

Day Three … Doubles

 

New Caledonia dominated this event and went on to defeat the Tahitians in the final, and take the

Bronze Medal as well. The New Zealand men struggled to find early form and despite some close

games ( Michael Rocks and Richard Swaney versus Vanuatu ) and periods of excellent play, only

Ron Sandilands and Lee Taffard progressed to the third round where they played Wallis & Fetuna

in another nail-biter which unfortunately resulted in a one point loss.

 

For the women, Claire Blackburn and Claire Wilson dominated their first round opponents 13-2

while Tina Targett and Chris Strichen stayed strong to win 13-12 in their first game before losing

11-13 to the New Caledonian pair who went on to win Silver. They then beat Wallis & Fetuna 13-

10 to have a chance to play for a semi-final spot. The two Claires also reached the same point

but both teams lost that next game, Tina and Chris going out to Tahiti who went on to win Gold.

 

Midway through the day a whistle was blown to signal a 1 hour lunch break and games were

halted on completion of the end in play. At that point we had three teams leading their games

but the break proved unhelpful and all three disappointingly lost their games after play resumed !

 

Day Four … Triples

 

Three pools of four teams, barrage format again.

 

Lee, Michael and Ron fought hard in their first game against an impressive New Caledonian team

but eventually lost, meaning they had to play the Tahitians who were clearly unhappy with their

performance in the Doubles and were keen to make amends in the Triples. Their lineup was the

one they will be using at the World Championships in Turkey and they produced a compelling

display to win the game 13-1.

 

Christian, Richard and David beat New Caledonia first up, then lost to Australia before playing

Vanuatu for a place in the next round.

 

Vanuatu was captained by Andre Nambo, a terrific shooter and pointer who we later learned was

on his first trip off the island and was playing Petanque for the first time with shoes on ! Before

the game he told the Kiwis that Vanuatu would win the Gold Medal … and he was as good as

his word as they made rapid progress through the competition to the final where they defeated

Wallis & Fetuna ( a team that had outplayed Tahiti in the semi final ). The final didn’t finish until

after 11pm, and after having to change pistes due to most of the floodlights suddenly going out !

 

In the womens event the opposition simply showed better consistency, and despite the kiwis

producing some quality play which resulted in very close games they were unable to make any

further progress in the competition.

 

Comment

 

The objective of this year’s Oceania campaign was to ensure that New Zealand finished in the top

three in order to qualify for the 2012 World Championships … this was achieved.

 

Clearly our overall goal was to win the championship … this was not achieved.

 

Of course all six teams had a similar goal and only one could achieve it.

 

So was the campaign successful ? Well that depends how you interpret success. John Wooden,

the most successful American college basketball coach ever, expressed it like this.

 

Success is the peace of mind that is the direct result of knowing that you did your best to

play the best that you are capable of playing.

 

Final scores don’t always fairly represent the way that teams have played and I believe all

the players did their best to play their best, and I enjoyed supporting them in that endeavour.

Everyone will have gained from the experience and learned what areas of their game they need

to focus on in order to raise their level of performance.

 

It was clear that all the players could point and shoot as accurately as their opposition … the

difference was that the opposition could do it more consistently. Results are the outcome of

performance so if we want to be more successful we need to perform at our highest level on a

consistent basis. This can only come through ‘productive’ practice.

 

If you have ever wondered what sets the super-achievers ahead of the rest of us I can thoroughly

recommend a compelling and stimulating book called BOUNCE by Matthew Syed. How

champions are made and why winners aren’t ‘born’. (go to book review)

 

The Oceania Championships will be held in Wallis and Fetuna in 2012 so if you want to be part

of a championship winning New Zealand team, read BOUNCE and get a better idea of how to

achieve your goal.

 

John Targett

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