Just a few pix from Villefranche. And if you think that terrain looks a bit rocky, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet…
Some of the guys I’ve been playing with at Villefranche this week. There is a club with marked out terrains but also an adjacent public area where a group gathers every afternoon – that’s where I’ve been playing.
From the photo, the terrain looks fairly flat. However, it isn’t – there’s a general slope towards the sea and like the DUC, a mixture of some even patches but plenty of stony areas as well.
In addition, there are quite a few ‘rocks’ in the terrain. Here’s a closer view:
The jack would often be thrown such that there was a group of rocks half-way between the circle and the jack. If you landing on a rock, your boule was guaranteed to go flying off, if you rolled across the rocks, the odds were that your boule would be deflected. Again, most players used a gentle lob to avoid the stones but with sufficient control to stop the boule near the jack – quite tricky when there was a downhill slope.
Nearly a Fanny in 3 ends
Most of the games played were Triples but I did play one Doubles game where ”we nearly got a Fanny in 3 ends”. I was pointing, playing with Jeannot, who was shooting. We won 4 points on both the first and second ends to give us an 8 – 0 lead. The jack was thrown for the third end and I pointed ”un point à l’anglais” – about 1m to the side of the jack (see the Lexique).
Again, there were quite a few stones on the terrain, a hump on the line to the jack and the downward slope that my boule had taken. To everybody’s surprise, the opponents played all 6 boules without beating mine (!) leaving us 5 boules to play for a Fanny in 3 ends. There was one boule on the line in front of the jack which we shot, leaving a clear path to point in. But we didn’t get another boule in either, meaning nobody get closer than my first boule which was 1m from the jack! 9 – 0.
I think we’d seriously worried the opponents because, little my little, they started scoring… Can you guess the final score? 13 – 9 to them – we didn’t score another point!!! I don’t think I’ve ever seen the opponents so relieved.
Most of the time I’ve been pointing but I was allowed to shoot in another Doubles game. I was playing with Claudie (in the blue check shirt, above) who had been shooting. Like many of the retired guys in the group who play every day, he’s still a pretty mean shooter, hitting a good 80+% of his shots. We’d won the first game and he decided he would point and let me shoot for la revanche – the return match.
I’m relieved to say I didn’t do too badly and there was a buzz going round the terrain, ”the English guy can shoot!”. It was really appreciated when I managed to shoot all 3 boules in one end, gaining a lot of appreciated comments from the other players and spectators. Luckily we won that game too, so I hope I might now be allowed to shoot occasionally!
What is noticeably is what a good standard of play the retired players still have. They are no longer the ‘crack’ players who go in for all the competitions but they still play regularly. Many will have been pointing all their lives and do so with incredible accuracy on very tricky terrains.
When I played at Le DUC, I played with a young shooter, Julian, who hit virtually everything. A beautiful, gentle relaxed lob, always boule to boule and with his own boule nearly always staying in the head. But the older guys are still pretty good too! Again, they’ve perfected their technique over a lifetime’s play and are still pretty accurate. Very impressive.
Report by Ray Ager