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TOG24 La British Open

Heckmondwike, England July 2019

A small town in West Yorkshire, not typically known as a destination for international sporting events, Heckmondwike hosted the second La British Open Pétanque Championships. Locally based outdoor clothing experts TOG24 were this year’s headline events sponsor

An introduction to Heckmondwike boulodrome and the La British Open tournament.

After a successful first year in 2018, the second edition of the TOG24 La British Open witnessed an increase of over 60% in the number of teams that entered. 52 teams made their way from across the UK & Europe to Heckmondwike.

Heckmondwike Pétanque Club members at the TOG24 La British Open
Heckmondwike Pétanque Club, the team behind the scenes.

This was a two-day event, consisting of qualifier matches played over Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, followed by ranked knockout competitions on Sunday afternoon. In addition, a Tir de Précision (precision Shooting) contest was also held to complement the main competition. This display of accurate shooting and horrific misses was again sponsored by the boule manufacturer Boulenciel. The champion was presented with a new set of boules of their choosing, all provided by Boulenciel.

pétanque player Scott Ashby
Scott Ashby competing in the Boulenciel Tir de Précision.

The 2019 event was always going to see at least one new player crowned champion. The previous years' winners, Reece Gould & Sam Blakey had a new addition to their side as they teamed up with Jack Blows. However, their defeat in the Semi-Finals of the main draw would guarantee that the players lifting the trophy would all be doing so for the first time. Three new names would be joining those of last year's winners, engraved onto the perennial trophy.

pétanque players Jack Blows and Reece Gould
Baldock Town players Jack Blows and Reece Gould.

Two of England’s young rising stars would face-off in the final on opposing teams. 19 year old Espoir, Jason White, alongside teammates Scott Ashby & Dean Ashby, took to the piste to compete against the 15 year old Junior Jamie Brooks and the rest of his team. Having improved on last year's semi-final place, team White couldn’t quite go all the way and were overcome by the in-form team Brooks.

pétanque players Jamie Brooks and Jason White
Finalists and opponents, Jamie Brooks (left) and Jason White.

Super shooting from Jamie Brooks, consistent pointing from Callum Lombard and the excellent all-round supporting play from Stephen Daykin was enough to see their team grasp victory in this showcase tournament. Team Brooks deservedly lifted the trophy for the first time and sealed their place in history.

Stephen Daykin, Jamie Brooks and Callum Lombard lifting the trophy at the TOG24 La British Open
From left; Stephen Daykin, Jamie Brooks and Callum Lombard as they lift the trophy.

Elsewhere in the competition, there was more success for England’s youth players. The National Youth Squad (NYS) had been invited to participate in this year's contest and put in a solid overall performance. With two coaches on the sidelines, analysing their every move, the squad performed well under pressure. Their strong performance guaranteed them a spot in the second tier (silver) competition. This was a great performance for a group of players in the early stages of their development. Furthermore, the fact that they had never played together as a team before, demonstrated how their focus, discipline and professionalism contributed to creating a formidable outfit.

The National Youth Squad and coaches taking notes from the sidelines

If one thing can be taken away from this year’s tournament, it is that pétanque in England & the rest of the UK as a whole is growing rapidly. The success of the younger players bodes well for the long term development of the sport in general. Overall the feedback for this event has been very positive, with many players vowing to return next year.

Pétanque umpire Gareth Sullivan pétanque player Jack Blows

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