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Need to set standards & rules for Shearing
Dec '10
'Shearing competitions, standards and rules came under robust discussion when representatives from all the major competitions in the United Kingdom met in Bradford last week for the AGM of the British Isles Shearing Competition Association (BISCA).

Top of the agenda was to announce the 'Shearing Personality of the Year', which was awarded to Willie Jones from Northern Ireland by Brendan Kelly, chairman of BISCA. Mr Jones thanked everyone present and said simply that he was “chuffed”.

Highlights of the world championships held at this year's Royal Welsh Show also came under discussion and Nicky Beynon reporting for Wales noted two in particular; Bronwen Tango winning the wool handling title for Wales and the standing ovation that Cam Ferguson of New Zealand received on taking the individual machine shearing.

Encouraging news was received on the numbers of young shearers competing in the Junior and Intermediate grades and Competition Secretary; Dave Turner felt that this was due to the availability and quality of British Wool Marketing Board-BWMB shearer training.

On the subject of national rules, George Mudge from Devon proposed that the quality benchmark for blade shearing should be removed. Mr Mudge ventured, “It would still be in competitors' interests to shear to a high standard but it removes the possibility of a competitor being eliminated by a hard judge.” However, following a vote it was decided that the benchmark should stay.

The national rules discussion also initiated the perennial debate about how sheep should be passed out of the pen to ensure fairness for all competitors. Due to difficulties in wording and enforcing the rule, as well as the grey area of different judges' interpretations, Brendan Kelly proposed that the best policy would be for “common sense to prevail”.

BISCA established thirty five years ago, is the main regulatory body for all shearing competitions held in the UK and sets rules and guidelines which are accepted across the world.

Currently, every affiliated show can send two shearing representatives to their meetings and according to Colin MacGregor, shearing training manager of the BWMB and executive member of BISCA; the importance of its role is fundamental to the sport.

“We need one set of rules and a standard that is universal – this keeps UK shearing as a competitive sport in line with the rest of the world.”Mr MacGregor said.

British Wool Marketing Board

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