Nearly 800 petanque players arrived this last weekend in the Principality where the 4th Crown Prince Jacques International Pétanque Tournament took place on 8th and 9th October. As usual, the competition took place at the Rainier III boules ground, but also at the Fontvieille marquee.
Who participated in this year’s Tournament
It has become one of the key events in Monegasque sporting life. The Crown Prince Jacques International Pétanque Tournament, launched in 2019, brought together 256 teams of triplets including great champions of the discipline such as Henri Lacroix, Michel Loy, Diego Rizzi and Alessio Cocciolo. National teams had also been invited by the Monegasque Bowls Federation including the Swiss, Belgian and Luxembourg teams.
The importance of the tournament was underscored by the appearance of Prince Albert adding a regal touch watching this premier sporting event which is becoming a perennial highlight in the Principality.
Also present were Didier Fulconis the president of the federation of Monegasque de Boules and Sergio Turuani the president of Club-Bouliste Monegasque… there also to tenderly experience the Cucchi tournament in memory of his mother.
Player Interviews with Hello Monaco
On the eve of the tournament HelloMonaco had a chance to meet the sportsmen, all future heroes of the weekend. Spanish team players Victor Garcia, JoseLuis Delgado and Francisco Flores interviewed with us:
«We had started a long time ago when we were children; we started to play petanque and all our lives we would continue playing individually in different clubs in different places. Now for the first time we are here playing together.»
Answering to what is the expectation for the weekend ahead of them, the team confessed that it was first of all about enjoying the week-end with colleagues and «we will try at least to play on Sunday, the minimum goal».
We also spoke with french player Jean Michel Pucchinelli. He shared with us his rich past in the sport and the impressive avalanche of medals that he had behind him.
«I won three Marseillaise, the biggest competition in the world, three times the Masters, European champion and Wilfrid, the biggest competition in France»
He added that the Monaco tournament was a very nice event with a beautiful setting.
Swiss player Bapst Hervé on his side shared that he started to play petanque at 12 years old with his family and friends. It is not rare that petanque players start their career in this sport at a very young age. Another example is Claudio Contardi from Luxembourg. According to him, it was his father who brought him to the sport.
«He showed me petanque, I started to play with him at the age of 20. Now I’m 36, so it’s been 16 years», shared Claudio with HelloMonaco.
Saturday had its share of surprises, with the elimination of favourites , such as the Italian star Diego Rizzi and the French team of Simon Cortes, Jean-Michel Puccinelli and Bryan Faurel.
In the last eight the French still were in with a chance though with the French champions Henri Lacroix and Michel Loy.
It was the Belgians who emerged as the strongest contenders for the title succeeding to reach first the quarters and then the semi-finals. In the final, they were joined by a team from Marseille Jean-Christophe Gimenez, Patrice Gregori and Philippe Roux, each being licensed in the Var. After over an hour of play it was finally Belgium who triumphed with the trophy. They are first-time winners of the Challenge Hereditary Prince Jacques, winning 13-8.
Portugal team won the tournament souvenir Cucchi competition.
This was a particularly special weekend because it is the last Crown Prince Jacques International Pétanque Tournament of its type where triplets are the format. In future 60 teams of doublets are planned to play at the Rainier III venue, including ten Monaco teams.
12 international teams have already rushed to sign up as history turns a page and the Principality gears itself for future years of record competitions.
The 16 Monaco teams were not at full strength and their challenges had thus petered out in the rounds of the last 32.
In some ways it was not so surprising as the under 18s and 23s were engaged in the European championships in Mallorca where the Under 18s in particular shone. The Red and Whites won a remarkable three bronze medals.