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Date: 05-06-2003-

Anyone for pétanque?

BIQUETS WINE Bar, in Spanish Arch, as well as offering its patrons French cuisine has added a further taste of Gallic culture to the neighbourhood by introducing the game of pétanque.

Pétanque is a variant of French bowls (or boules) which was devised in 1910 in the little port of La Ciotat, between Marseilles and Toulon. It has since become hugely popular throughout France and beyond, and is played all around the Mediterranean, from Spain to Israel.

The game’s origins stemmed from an incident when ardent bowls-player Jules LeNoir was confined to a wheelchair following an accident. Rather than see him deprived of his beloved game, his fellow-villagers voted to do away with the rule which required a player to take a run-up before throwing the boule, thus enabling LeNoir to continue bowling. In fact, pétanque continues to attract many disabled players and it is also popular with the elderly.

Pétanque teams usually comprise two or three players, though single matches can also be played. Each team has six bowls and the team that first reaches a specified number of points (usually 13) wins.

Since the staff of Biquets started playing it in Galway, the game has developed a cult local following leading to the formation of the Galway Pétanque Club, whose membership comprises players from Ireland, France, and elsewhere. Club president Donnacha Fahy is from Clare and is one of those who was drawn to pétanque by watching games being played in the Spanish Arch. "Part of its appeal is that it's very sociable," he says "yet it's also quite competitive - but in a good-natured way."

There'll be plenty of good-natured competitiveness on show this Sunday when the Galway Pétanque Club celebrates its first birthday with an invitational tournament in which they'll be joined by pétanque clubs from Dublin and Cork. Newcomers are very welcome and events get under way around 2pm with the election of a new club committee followed by the actual games. There'll also be workshops for beginners. So, come Sunday, bowl along to Biquets!




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