Victoria to host the best from world croquet

Published October 26, 2022.

The premier team competition for international croquet is coming to Victoria with Cairnlea hosting the MacRobertson International Croquet Shield from November 12-29.

Played every few years since its inception in 1925, the MacRob, as it is affectionately known, sees six-player teams from Australia, England, the United States and New Zealand compete across a series of test matches.

Ending an 82-year drought in California in 2017, Australia are the reigning champions and four members of that team will return to defend their title including the top Association Croquet player in the world, Robert Fletcher. He will compete alongside his brother Malcolm while Dwayne McCormick is another to watch after putting together a 37-game winning streak in 2020.

“It is an exciting time but also nerve-wracking with the competition not only coming back to our shores but with Australia being the defending champs,” said Croquet Victoria’s Sarina Cevaal-Hewitt.

The bidding process to host this year’s tournament began as soon as the last one concluded and while it is generally a long process, the COVID-19 pandemic further complicated matters.

“Croquet Victoria put in a bid to Croquet Australia and the national body decides which bid, if there are more than one, gets submitted to the World Croquet Federation. They then make the final decision,” said Croquet Victoria President, Kate Patrick.

“It is a drawn-out process and this tournament is actually happening a year later due to COVID-19. We still did not know if we were successful or not until April this year as teams were understandably anxious about travelling and the isolation protocols but we are now looking forward to getting started.”

The Shield is named after Sir Macpherson Robertson, founder of MacRobertson Confectionary which is famous for creating the Freddo Frog, Cherry Ripe and Old Gold chocolates.

A keen croquet player and vigorous promoter of the sport, Robertson initiated the Shield when he took a four-man Australian team to England in 1925. The fourth iteration of the tournament in 1935 saw New Zealand invited to make a triangular series before the United States joined in 1993.

While croquet’s demographic has traditionally been considered older, in recent years it has attracted younger players and most of the world’s top competitors are now in their twenties and thirties.

The growing sport has more than 250 clubs in Australia and 10,000 active players, the highest number of any country. Aiming to capitalise on that developing interest, tickets are free for the event, but limited to a capacity of 200 per day, while My Sport Live will live-stream each day of competition.

“That broadcast will be available worldwide,” said Kate. “Croquet Victoria have coordinated a planning team that includes a representative from England and they got us in touch with people from America so it is a true international collaboration.

“We’ve created a planning group which we call the ‘Breadcrumbs Group’ and they have been drip-feeding information about the event to croquet players, their families and friends around the country so the entire community knows how to attend or watch online.

“To be a part of a MacRob team is a huge honour. This is the peak team competition for croquet and we are excited to hopefully defend our title.”

Stay tuned to Croquet Victoria’s social media pages for live-stream and tournament information as well as the World Croquet Federation’s website.

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