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Source: University of Otago

Many of Phillip Lyall’s trophies have been won partnering with his wife Cathryn
Off-Campus profiles the diverse and inspiring out-of-office pursuits of Otago staff. This week, painting and signwriting foreperson, and petanque champion, Phillip Lyall.After 15 years of playing petanque, Phillip Lyall has collected a fair old haul of silverware.
Even better, many of those trophies have been won partnering with his wife Cathryn, including second place in the senior doubles (players over 60) and third in the national doubles earlier this year.
“We have played together for about 11 years. Cathryn hadn’t played many sports and so she has really enjoyed playing. We have won about 12 titles in both doubles and triples teams together over the years. We just enjoy being able to play a sport together,” Phillip says.
For the uninitiated, petanque is similar to lawn bowls with players competing to get closest to a small ball called a jack. But instead of rolling their balls (known as boules) along the ground as bowlers do, they throw them through the air. The sport is also played on gravel rather than grass.
The objective is to score points by having your boules closer to the target than the opponent after all boules have been thrown, Phillip explains. Games are played either first to 13 points or to a set time anywhere between 30-60 minutes
“The sport is a very social one, or you can be competitive and enter tournaments either local, South Island-wide or national. It’s a sport which allows everyone to play together, about the only sport where people of all ages, male and female, can play with and against each other.”
Phillip says he played “the main sports” growing up and as an adult was a referee of senior football for about 20 years.
It was petanque’s mix of social and competitive elements which attracted him to the sport: “I like playing the game, meeting people and the strategy of the games.
“Generally anyone with a bit of hand eye coordination can play and then mainly you need a bit of practice and some coaching to get to the next level.”
Phillip is comfortably at that next level, having won both the national and South Island singles titles along with numerous team trophies.
At the local level there is a regular interclub competition involving Dunedin clubs and teams from Waikouaiti, Oamaru, Alexandra and Invercargill.
If people want to get involved, Dunedin has four clubs. Phillip is part of a group who started a new club in Mornington (in Eglington Rd beside Zingari Richmond rugby club) about nine years ago.
“Our club was created so that national tournaments could be held here as all the other clubs’ grounds were too small. We also run a school’s tournament for intermediate and high school pupils.” More information here:
Phillip retires from the University on 19 May after 45 years. He and Cathryn will be going to Cardiff, Wales, for six months to stay with Cathryn’s family from June till December (missing the Dunedin winter)