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Clipped for second year

The Golden Shears attracts big crowds to Masterton’s War Memorial Stadium. PHOTO/FILE

Golden Shears doesn’t make the cut

SHEARING

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

The Golden Shears have been cancelled for the second straight year because of the uncertainty around the covid-19 pandemic.

The decision to call off the prestigious championships, often dubbed “the Wimbledon of shearing”, was made at the Golden Shears International Shearing Championships Society annual general meeting on Monday night.

Golden Shears president Sam Saunders said the 25-strong committee faced few options.

“It was one meeting I did not want to have to chair,” he said after the decision was made at The Woolshed Museum.

“With a budget of around $250,000, including some longstanding major sponsorships, and a volunteer workforce of up to 250, many of whom sacrifice a week’s leave each year to make ‘the Shears’ tick-over, the decision was made now to protect the future of the event that put Masterton and the Wairarapa region on the map worldwide.”

The society had to consider that non-recoverable costs would soon begin to accrue daily and there had been a five-figure cost of the cancelled event from March this year eating into reserves set-aside for future events.

Other factors included increased responsibilities for control of competitors and spectators, especially as the event is staged indoors at Masterton’s War Memorial Stadium.

“One of our many reasons was that we could not possibly present our prestigious event in the manner we aspire to with the current restrictions and the many checks that would have to be put in place,” he said.

Seven-time open championship Rowland Smith on his way to victory in the 2020 Golden Shears.

“Our major consideration is the welfare of all our volunteers, competitors, spectators, sponsors and service providers, and we consider our decision as being responsible to all people involved with Golden Shears.”

Saunders said the meeting “discussed at length” how the Golden Shears could go ahead, but concluded it could not, and it was best to cancel and start planning for a big event in 2023.

The cancellation comes after the abandonment, at just four days’ notice, of the 2021 championships in March, the first time the Golden Shears had not gone ahead since the inaugural championships in 1961.

Shearing Sports New Zealand chairman and 16-time Golden Shears champion Sir David Fagan said the cancellation was “devastating, but it is what it is.

“Everyone is affected, from those who have had to make the decision, to the hundreds of volunteers who make the Golden Shears and other events throughout the country tick over for the good of the sport, the wool industry and their communities, to the competitors, who will be very disappointed, and most of them will have to reset their goals,” said Fagan.

Masterton mayor Lyn Paterson is also devastated that one of the region’s most prestigious events won’t go ahead for a second consecutive year.

“This is very sad news for Masterton and Wairarapa, and also the wider national and international audience and, of course, the competitors,” said Paterson.

“These are difficult times for everybody organising events, and I fully appreciate challenges the organising committee faced when making this call. I am sure this iconic event will return in 2023 when we all hope the restrictions caused by the pandemic will have been resolved.”

The Shearing Sports New Zealand calendar has been hit heavily over the past three seasons because of lockdowns and other covid-19 alerts.

The 2020 Golden Shears were held a fortnight before the first lockdown, and more than 20 competitions have since been cancelled at least once, mainly at A and P shows, but including the stand-alone 2020 New Zealand Shears in Te Kuiti and New Zealand Merino Shears in Alexandra.

The Golden Shears becomes at least the 15th shearing sports event cancelled in the 2021-2022 season, with none yet held in the North Island, and just seven held in the South Island, all under covid-19 level 2 alert conditions without general admission.

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