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Inter-Regional Report, 2003

by Richard Powell

At the Inter-Regional Competition at Pontin's Brean Sands Holiday camp over the weekend of September 6/7, the high spots were the matching black bottoms of the Southern Region squad, the weather being nothing like as bad as had been forecast, and Hilary's ability to magic up delicious food for 6 people in very trying circumstances.

On the playing front, the "on-loan" Southern Region junior team including Graham scored an excellent 8 wins out of 12 for Cornwall in Division 2, the top junior team in that Division scoring 10 wins with 3 teams (including Graham's) scoring 8. Hilary, playing with Pam Treend and Trish Neville in the Inter-Regional Challenge, gained a creditable 7 victories from their 12 games. Gianni (playing with Jed Stone and Mark Robertshaw) and Bernie and Richard (playing with Jackie Lee) in the main Inter-Regional competition managed 6 wins in total between them out of a total of 24 possibilities, with Gianni's team winning 5 of those 6! These results were symptomatic of a fairly dismal Regional performance which saw the Southern Regional slip from its habitual presence in the top 3 regions to 6th, avoiding the almost unthinkable relegation to Division 2 by a margin of only 2 games (out of 108 played by the squads) from Cwmry Wales.

From a personal perspective, its was clear that all our teams and players tried their hardest and did their best throughout, as well as behaving in a sporting and friendly manner, BUT a) at least 5 teams' worth of more experienced regional players did not attempt to qualify for the squad (all, no doubt, for perfectly valid reasons), so this was by no means the "best" Southern Regional squad that could ideally have been assembled, and b) the "best" that our players could achieve was not good enough to compete at this level. In some cases, at least (again from a personal perspective), this was clearly through not having an adequate command of some of the more fundamental aspects of the game when played on anything except the rather benign terrains that tend to characterize our Region. If we can't deliver pointing boules properly and accurately with "loop" and backspin (let alone sidespin!) and can't shoot "boule-to-boule" reasonably consistently, we will remain at the mercy of unpredictable terrains, and will slide further down the league table of pétanque-playing regions.

If we want to avoid that, I suggest we need a major regionally-led club-based focus on the training and retraining of basic skills. Kath and Mike Knight have demonstrated what can be achieved with juniors, mainly (but not exclusively) from the Worthing area, with this focus, but this needs to be taken forward also amongst the adults. Pétanque is a social sport, but sport of any variety is more fun if performed well, and even more fun if performed well and successfully, and that can't happen at a competitive level without serious attention being paid to the basic skills of those who aspire to play for and represent the Region.

For the record (thanks to Peter, who managed the successful "Cornwall" junior team) the full Inter-Regional Division 1 result was as follows:

South East                      72  +335
East Midlands                 63  +125
Eastern                           62  +10
Chilterns                         52   -31
Isle of Wight                   52  -33
Southern                       45  -145
Wales                             43  -215
Northern                         38  -234

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