CEP EuroCup 2018Angoulême, France December 2018
The finals of the CEP EuroCup, a club competition for the sport of pétanque, celebrated its 21st anniversary in 2018. Held in the Boulodrome of Charente in Saint-Yrieix-sur-Charente, just on the outskirts of the city of Angoulême, West France. It will be hosted here until 2020.
This years event saw the introduction of the Federation Cup (FedCup), whereby the top 8 teams, after the qualifying groups, would go on to compete for the EuroCup Trophy. The bottom 8 would steel it out for what is called the FedCup.
In what is rare for the sport, a true squad based event, the EuroCup sees the teams pitched against each other in singles, doubles and triples with the sum of results deciding the victor. Choosing which players from the squad, who will play in each round, is an important tatical decision that can be a huge factor in obtaining a positive result.
Of the 16 teams that made it to the finals, some had been here before, but for others this was their first time. One of those first timers was English team, Baldock Town Pétanque Club. Having narrowly & perhaps controversially missed out on qualification the previous year, Baldock Town were out to prove that they belonged.
Baldock were drawn into a group with the clubs of Nice, representing the French federation; Hedebo, representing the Danish federation and Carrefour PC representing the Jersey federation.
A closely battled match against Hedebo that could have gone either way unfortunately ended in a narrow defeat. Another Match loss against eventual tournament winners Nice meant that even their resounding victory against fellow first time finalists Carrefour wasn't enough to see them through to the knockout stages of the Eurocup.
The journey wasn’t over yet for Baldock town though, as they were now to compete for the FedCup. Drawn against Bouleverein Ibbenbüren, the very same club that their European journey started against earlier in the year. The German club took the lead after the singles, with 4 games to 2. But a fierce fight back in the doubles would see Baldock taking victory in all three games. This roused cheers of support from the locals who had come to spectate. It wasn't to be for Baldock however as the German side had the edge in the triples, winning both games, thus gaining enough points to win the match and progress to the next round.
The English club can return home with their heads held high however, having proved they had every right to be in the competition after impressing players and spectators alike.
Whilst hosted in excellent facilities, the first time for this location wasn't without its teething problems. The first days play took place across the two rooms of the boulodrome, but day two saw a game rotation system introduced as the second room was deemed too cold to play in. An issue we are sure will be addressed by next year. Given the torrential rain outside, the conditions in the boulodrome were ultimately much more favourable and made for an overall excellently hosted competition.