Golden Shears champions Rowland Smith and Joel Henare in the celebration mode that has become a regular feature of
Golden Shears over recent years. They're expected back in Masterton to defend the major titles next week. Photos / Pete
Organisers of the 61st Golden Shears in Masterton next week are reminding competitors of the advantages of getting
entries in this week despite uncertainty created by the coronavirus crisis.
Entries after Thursday incur the late fee of 50 per cent, and president Sam Saunders says late entries risk missing the
cut for the March 4-6 championships in Masterton’s War Memorial Stadium, where the Golden Shears have been held each
year since the inception in 1961.
But he reiterated that whether on-time or late competitors won’t be risking losing their money if Covid-19 alert levels
are stepped-up and force what would be the Golden Shears first-ever cancellation.
“We wouldn’t be able to run if the alert was Level 2 or greater,” he said. “If we have to cancel, everyone will be
refunded. If people have paid their entries and something happened we would pay them back.”
“We wouldn’t want to see anyone out of pocket – not our sheep suppliers, our sponsors or the competitors,” he said.
While the number of entries received wasn’t able to be confirmed on Tuesday, Saunders said he believes some competitors
are waiting to see what unfolds over the next few days.
Tuesday’s news of three more cases of the virus in the community wasn’t encouraging, but it was confined to Auckland,
and Golden Shears, which runs a budget around $250,000, retains the hope that the championships won’t be impacted,
although Saunders conceded: “Nobody knows. We just keep our fingers crossed, but I think it will go ahead.”
Last year the celebration of 60 years of Golden Shears took place amid rapidly-growing fears of the arrival of Covid-19
in New Zealand, and the 2019-2020 season survived just one more week before the lockdown was imposed later in the month.
Golden Shears entries peaked at about 580 shearers around the second World Championships in 1980, when sheep numbers
were nearing the 1982 peak of 70 million.
With the ovine population now hovering around 27 million, competitor numbers have declined over the years, but the
more-than 300 shearers, woolhandlers, and pressers each year helps the championships retain the image of being the holy
grail of shearing sports worldwide.
Many of this year’s hopefuls will also be taking part in the four-day build-up, at the Taumarunui Shears and Apiti
Sports shearing and woolhandling championships on Friday and Saturday respectively, the 50th Pahiatua Shears shearing
championships on Sunday, and the Wairarapa Pre-Shears Woolhandling Championships next Wednesday.