In the heart of the enchanting Monaco, under the azure skies, the Challenge Prince Héréditaire Jacques unfolded in all its glory on the 7th and 8th of October, 2023. Organized by the Monaco Boules Club and the Monegasque Federation of Boules, this event showcased the best in boules sportsmanship, bringing together a total of sixty teams, each vying for supremacy.
The tournament, now in its 5th edition, underwent a transformation this year, introducing a new format that placed doublets in the spotlight, a departure from the traditional triplets. The change proved to be a game-changer, as it not only heightened the level of play but also garnered praise. As Gérard Schneider, president of the Luxembourg Petanque Federation noted in the Press, the quality of play rivaled even the prestigious European Championship.
The competition was fierce, and the stakes were high, with each team striving to demonstrate their precision and skill. The Rainier III Boules facility at Avenue Marquet, Cap-d’Ail, Alpes-Maritimes, served as the battleground for this intense sporting spectacle. Spectators were treated to a visual feast of intense and spectacular duels, leaving no room for error in the fast-paced, high-pressure games.
Among the participants were ten national teams, ten Monegasque teams, and the champions of the Alpes-Maritimes, accompanied by 38 club-selected teams, carefully chosen by the event organizers. The tournament unfolded in multiple phases, employing the Swiss System for the qualifying rounds, with five intense rounds that would ultimately decide the 32 teams qualified for the 1/16 finals on a thrilling Saturday evening.
The excitement continued into Sunday morning with the eighth-finals and quarter-finals, setting the stage for the four semi-finalist teams. These top performers were offered an enticing invitation to return to Monaco in 2024, complete with accommodation, dining, and participation in an extravagant gala dinner, truly making this tournament stand out.
The culmination of this exciting tournament was the victory of an Italian doublet, wearing their 2022 World Doubles Champions jerseys. It was indeed Diego Rizzi and Alessio Cocciolo who emerged as the champions, clinching the coveted title and the admiration of boules enthusiasts worldwide.
Route to Victory
After defeating Adrien Delahaye and Jean Casale 13-0 in the 1/16 finals, the Italians triumphed over the French team in the quarter-finals. Having already won in the group stage, the Italian players completely turned the tables against Lacroix Doerr to secure a 13-7 victory, after trailing 3-7. After overcoming Christophe Sévilla and Xavier Monnier, it was time for the final.
The impressive efforts of Fara N’Diaye and Alexandre Mallet, who came from the Rhône region, wouldn’t be enough. Diego Rizzi caused damage. Backed by the consistency of Alessio Cocciolo, who hails from neighboring Beausoleil, Italy moved forward winning 13-3 in 1 hour and 7 minutes. Rizzi and Cocciolo lifted the trophy and are undefeated in the Principality.
Their triumph marked the crowning achievement of a spectacular weekend of boules excellence.
Didier Fulconis, the President of the Monegasque Federation of Boules, and Stéphane Pintus, president of the organizing committee, expressed their enthusiasm for the event. Together, they shared their vision for the Challenge Prince Héréditaire Jacques and its new format, emphasizing the exceptional lineup of national and Monegasque teams, and the remarkable prize pool that made this tournament a true spectacle of sportsmanship and skill.
As the sun set on the Rainier III Boules facility in Monaco, the 5th Challenge Prince Héréditaire Jacques will be remembered as an outstanding display of boules mastery, where the thrill of competition, the precision of play, and the spirit of sportsmanship converged in perfect harmony.