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8 March 2024
National Shearing Circuit

PGG Wrightson extends National Shearing sponsorship to 45 years

PGG Wrightson has extended its sponsorship of one of shearing’s most prestigious and demanding events. 

Established in 1973, the PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit pits the top shearers against each other based on versatility over five separate rounds. In terms of competitive shearing prestige, the circuit is second only to the Golden Shears.

National Shearing Circuit chair Warren White says the event is a searching test for the complete shearer.

“To win you have to be able to handle every breed of sheep, and demonstrate your shearing versatility. This is for the most highly skilled all round shearer. You have to be able to adapt, change your style, and handle different breeds, from fine wool merinos, which are softer on the skin, to coarser types that require a different technique. To be able to change from one breed to another demands a special sort of shearer,” he says.

General Manager of PGG Wrightson Wool Grant Edwards says the company is proud of its long association with the event.

“Shearing is a key part of the wool supply chain. Without shearing we wouldn’t have a wool business. We are delighted to be able to support the industry and the work ethic of the competitors and organisers of the PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit, who represent and aspire to excellence in wool.

“Even more than in most other shearing events, this requires immense commitment, technique and fitness. Shearers who compete are at the highest level of the industry.

“PGG Wrightson’s relationship with the National Shearing Circuit is deep and strong. As well as the sponsorship, members of our team are present at all National Shearing Circuit events, including in judging roles,” he says.

PGG Wrightson Retail Sales Manager Shane Cohen has followed the National Shearing Circuit for many years.

“Shearing is a key component of what our customers, farmers, do. As a national business, sponsoring the circuit helps us to build relationships, including with shearing contractors, who are another important part of our customer base. Interacting with them at the event has great benefit for all parties.

“That’s where the value is. It’s not just about shearing, it’s important to be able to connect,” he says.

Co-sponsor Vetmed is also extending its sponsorship of the event. Vetmed is a Nexan brand. Nexan is a New Zealand-owned animal health developer and manufacturer. Vetmed products are available for purchase from PGG Wrightson. 

Vetmed Sales and Marketing Manager Paul Senior says the sponsorship is an important opportunity for the brand to connect with farmers.

“Shearing is important to farmers, and therefore important to Vetmed. The PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit gives us a valuable opportunity to develop that association and those relationships. We are delighted to be able to contribute.” 

Aiming to find New Zealand’s best all-round shearer each summer, the circuit was first held as a three-round series, opening at the New Zealand Merino Championships and ending at the Golden Shears. To win the PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit, shearers now compete in five rounds on five different types of wool through the summer. 

Starting in Alexandra in October with the fine wool section; the Circuit then moves to full wool hoggets in Waimate; Corriedales in Christchurch in November; then lambs in Rangitikei on Waitangi Day; heading for the final heat in Pahiatua later in February where competitors show their prowess on second shears. While the first and final heats, in Alexandra and Pahiatua, are compulsory, competitors can opt out of the other rounds.

Based on points earned through those five rounds, a dozen shearers go through to the semi-finals, where all start again from zero. Held on the eve of the Golden Shears in Masterton, two semi-final heats featuring three of the wool types go head to head on Saturday morning, from which the top-six progress to the final on three sheep of each of the series’ five breeds on Saturday night.

One of the most enduring sponsorship associations in New Zealand sport, the event, which was first contested in 1972-73, has been sponsored by PGG Wrightson since the 2002-03 season. Shearers compete for the McSkimming Memorial Triple Crown, plus a year’s use of a Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, courtesy of PGG Wrightson. The winner also earns automatic selection to represent New Zealand in the Trans-Tasman series, wearing the silver fern alongside the Golden Shears Open champion and the national Merinos champion. 

New Zealand’s most celebrated shearer Sir David Fagan was crowned national circuit champion nine times between 1986 and 2008. His Te Kuiti based son Jack is now one of the circuit’s top competitors having made the last three finals, though is yet to add his own name to the winner’s list. Previous champions Nathan Stratford and Leon Samuels, both of Invercargill, are also highly rated PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit shearers.   

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