balls and a jack were unearthed in the sarcophagus of an Egyptian
Prince of the 52nd Century B.C. Thus there is archaeological
evidence that a form of pétanque was played over seventy
centuries ago. Subsequently there have been historical references
in both France and England at the time of Edward the Third
and Elizabeth the First. What else could Drake have played
on the Hoe at Plymouth? It is fact that a game played with
cannon balls the size of cricket balls, was very popular with
both soldiers and sailors at that time. In 1910 a new version
was developed in the small town of La Ciotat, near Marseilles.
Interestingly it was adapted from a similar game of the time
to enable a handicapped player to participate. It is this
version that has become the standard throughout the world
played to a set of internationally recognised rules.
is played throughout the British Isles. It is a sport for
all ages and both sexes, it is classless and can be played
wherever a reasonable surface can be found or created.
The concept of the game of pétanque is simple and
similar to bowls, i.e. resting your boule closer to the jack
than your opponent. However, instead of rolling wooden bowls
over an immaculately maintained lawn, pétanque is played
on an easily maintained area of fairly level 'rough' ground,
with metal boule rolled or tossed to the jack.
The sport has seen the biggest changes in its organisation
and structure for thirty years with the recent formation of
the British Pétanque Federation. The Federation is
the successor to the long-established British Pétanque
Newly elected President of the Federation, Cardiff solicitor
Dan Murphy, explained, “With political changes such
as devolution and new approaches by government to funding
sport in the UK, it became apparent a few years ago that the
structure of the British Pétanque Association was no
longer able to deliver a modern and effective organisation
for the sport in Britain.
much soul searching and consideration, a vote of all the members
in Britain took place during the summer, at which there was
a huge majority in favour of the changes, which have now come
The core of these changes involves the establishment of national
associations for England and the Channel Islands, Scotland
and Wales. These allow the players direct control over their
sport in their own areas and at the same time allow the national
associations much better access to a variety of sports funding.
The provision of teams, at all levels, to represent Great
Britain in international competitions will now be handled
by the Federation, so relieving the national associations
of a burden and responsibility – a burden which had
begun to distort the structure and finances of the old BPA.
It is intended that the Federation will be more vigorous
and effective in gaining support for the sport and helping
the national associations to see an expansion of the sport
in Britain. It will also provide sponsors with much better
opportunities to support the sport.
The Federation’s headquarters have moved from Coventry
to Cardiff. This is appropriate in that in recent years, South
Wales has seen a significant increase in interest in the sport.
In 2000 the first ever home nations championship between England,
Scotland, Ireland and Wales took place at the Millennium Stadium
in Cardiff. Since then there have been a number of high profile
events in Cardiff and Cwmbran. In 2005, Cardiff will be the
venue for several qualifying competitions for entry into the
Great Britain teams and is also the location of the International
North Sea Pétanque Tournament.
These championships involve seven countries bordering the
North Sea and will see over 200 of the best players in Europe
competing. The event will take place at a time when Cardiff
celebrates 100 years as a city and 50 years as a capital city.”
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