By Chris Tobin
South Canterbury will be well represented at the 18th World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships, which begin in Le Dorat in central France on Monday.
Tony Dobbs, of Fairlie, and Allan Oldfield, of Geraldine, are two of the six Kiwis who will be out to achieve New Zealand’s first win in the blade-shearing teams event.
New Zealand has been a consistent top-three placegetter in the four world blade-shearing teams finals since the teams event was added to the programme in Norway in 2008 but has been unable to beat tough combinations from Lesotho and South Africa, who have dominated.
At the last championships in Invercargill in 2017, Dobbs and Oldfield’s father, Phil Oldfield, finished runner-up to South Africa in the teams event, and second and third respectively in the individual event.
Dobbs won an all-New Zealand event at the 1988 world championships in Masterton but blade shearing was not held as an international event until the 1996 world championships, also held in Masterton.
Widely considered to have won more competitions than any other blade shearer worldwide. He has at least 90 wins to his name, including a 1988 world championships event at the Golden Shears in Masterton and 17 wins in New Zealand’s
premier blade-shearing event, the Golden Blades at the Canterbury A&P Show. He had 18 years off after finishing second in the 1996 world championships in Masterton, returning to place third in Gore in 2014 and was runner-up in Invercargill two years ago. He won four finals in New Zealand in the 2018-19 season, including the Golden Blades, the last event in a series he won to secure his place in Le Dorat.
A former New Zealand under-21 wood-chopping representative, Allan Oldfield has had more success in the United Kingdom and Ireland than in New Zealand. Without a win to his name when he first headed to the northern hemisphere in 2016, within three weeks he scored a possibly unprecedented sequence of wins in all three disciplines – blade shearing, machine shearing and woolhandling. Open blades wins at the Balmoral Show in Belfast and the Leinster Championships in Ireland were followed over the next two years by completion of a rare sequence of open blades titles at the Royal Ulster, Royal Bath and West, Royal Highland and Royal Welsh Shows. In New Zealand he has beaten Tony Dobbs three times in the past two years.