Wool Handling Rules

These rules will apply at all (SSAA) affiliated competitions and events. In conjunction with the current Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) guidelines. These rules are current from - 1st January 2011


In these Rules unless the context otherwise requires: Words implying the masculine gender will include the feminine as the context fits. Words implying singular will include the plural as the context fits.

Penalties & Points

Do not confuse penalty strokes with points.

  1. A penalty stroke is subject to further calculation (i.e. addition and division)
  2. A point is subject only to inclusion and addition to the score.

1. Entries

  1. Entries will be in the format required by the organizing committee. Late entries may be accepted at the organizing committee’s discretion and may incur a surcharge.
  2. The organizing committee may reject any application for late entries if the maximum number of woolhandlers required for competition in any class has been filled.
  3. Organizing committees are encourage to offer team and feature events specific to their program, but should continue to observe all rules and regulations associated with the conduct of SSAA competitions.

2. Grades

Note. These are National rules and apply at the State, National and World Championships when held in Australia.

    1. Inexperienced Woolhandlers (3 months Wool handling) and/or have not competed in a show. (If your ability in your first show is deemed to be higher you must go up)
    2. If you place 2nd or 3rd 5 times you must go up.
    3. If you win 3 times you must go up.
    4. If you are a qualified Woolclasser or a Shearer and there is no Senior event you may enter this class.
    1. If there is a Senior event all qualified Woolclassers and Shearers must compete in this class.
    2. If you have come up from Novice.
    3. If you placed 2nd or 3rd 5 times you must go up.
    4. If you win 3 times you must go up.
  3. (c) OPEN
    1. Anyone wishing to enter the event.
    2. If you are a Novice or Senior competitor and have placed 2nd or 3rd in an Open event of more than 6 competitors twice you must stay in the Open.
    3. If you are a Novice or Senior competitor and have placed 1st in an Open event you must stay in the Open.

3. Competitors

  1. Competitors must abide by the Rules and Guidelines of Sports Shear Australian Association Inc. (SSAA) and their SSAA State bodies.
  2. Competitors enter and compete at their own risk.
  3. Competitors must ensure their nomination is received prior to the closing date or risk exclusion from the competition or risk incurring a surcharge upon nominating.
  4. It is the competitors own responsibility to report to the briefing area prior to start of competition.
  5. Competitors must report to the marshalling area at least 15 minutes prior to the start of their event.
  6. Competitors must be suitably attired, which includes footwear for all competition, and prize giving as well as official functions.
  7. The use of drugs drips or oxygen is banned in all competitions.
  8. Random drug tests may be taken and if proved positive, the competitor will pay all costs and be disqualified for 12 months from the date of the tests.
  9. Competitors must provide their own broom/paddle and Board sweep.
  10. The organizing committee will oversee a draw to determine heats and stands before the start of the event.
  11. The Chief wool handling judge will oversee a draw in all finals.
  12. Woolhandlers may designate which order their Finals sheep are to be shorn.
  13. Any competitor who is not present for the presentation of prizes will not receive the prize unless reasonable grounds for being absent are given to the committee before the prize giving.
  14. Competitors must not get up on stage while competing. Will incur - 5 points.
  15. Woolhandlers may no assist the shearers by playing the fleece unless competing in a team’s event.
  16. Shearers must not help or hinder woolhandlers in anyway. Unless in a teams event where they are working together.
  17. On completion of the woolhandling event each competitor will remain on their table until the last competitor or the board has finished. If any competitor fails to do so they will incur - 5 points: Unless:
    1. He/She needs to seek urgent medical attention.
    2. He/She has been granted permission to leave the board by the Chief Judge or referee prior to the commencement of such heat or final.
  18. All finalists will receive a print out of the final results if the facility is available.
  19. Competitors will be disqualified for conduct deemed by the Chief Judge or referee, a judge, or the relevant committee to be detrimental to SSAA, e.g. deliberate injury to a sheep, abusive language, not conducting themselves in a manner appropriate to a sportsperson, under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  20. Disqualified competitors will receive no prize or prize money.
  21. In the event of a draw the competitor or team with the lowest quality points wins.
  22. Competition organizers may permit woolhandling competitors to practice in the shearing heats.
  23. No skirting of PCS on the board.

4. Facilities

Note. Where possible a standard board height from stage to floor of approximately 760mm should be used. The board width should be a minimum of 1600mm.

  1. A good floor for sweeping is required. Floor space for competitors should be marked and roped off from spectators.
  2. A section of floor will be roped off for the Judging of fleeces and oddments.
  3. Woolhandling Tables must be rectangular.
  4. Finals may be run with two heats if the need arises.
  5. A wool table for the Fleece Judges and some good-sized tables for the oddments Judges.
  6. Containers - for oddments and prem, each set must be identified with different colours or numbered corresponding with table identification.
  7. For efficiency it is recommended that 2 or 3 sets of containers are used per table.
  8. Basic lines/Oddments are - PCS, LKS, BLS, STN, SKIN, SHKS and Miscellaneous. While one set is being judged the second set of Containers must be large enough to hold the required oddments. Wool packs, Gubba Bags, Boxes, Baskets maybe used as containers.
  9. Counters - Must be supplied for the floor Judges, (one counter per table) and checked for accuracy.
  10. Score Sheets/boards, Judges grids, Pens, Text's, Judges Coats and or Name Tags must be supplied.
  11. Wool packs and holders to be supplied for Oddment Judges.
  12. Sufficient wool runners are required to maintain a smooth flow of fleeces to the fleece Judge.
  13. Paddles and raised board scrapers should be kept on hand for general tidy up.
  14. When running a shearing and woolhandling competition we are also putting on an exhibition for the general public. It is in the wool industries best interests that handling of all wool is done in a professional manner.
  15. Water Coolers/Bottles should be supplied for Judges and volunteers.

5. Sheep

  1. Sheep must be consistent.
  2. Type of Sheep - e.g. Strong, medium or fine Merino, XBred, Prem or Lambs.
  3. They do not have to be crutched. There may be more than one breed shorn together (simulating what may take place in the shed) as long as the wool is kept separate.
  4. Number of sheep in each event. Novice 2 to 3, Senior 3 to 4, Open 4 to 6.
  5. National Semi finals 3 to 4, National finals 4 to 6. State teams 6 to 10.
  6. International teams Challenge 6 to 12.

6. Sheep Handler

  1. Is the person who organizers the sheep for each event.
  2. Sheep Handler Program - Be aware of number of events, number of sheep needed for each event and approximate time of events. SSAA Woolhandling Rules 1-01-11 Page 4 of 8
  3. Numbers of sheep for the finals must be finalized well before all finals are set to run, this is to be organized by the Show Committee and the Chief Judge. The Chief Judge may select he/she final sheep (out of what has been made available for the event).

7. Shearers

  1. Shearers are to be selected to shear for the Woolhandlers prior to the events.
  2. Shearers must be selected for all Woolhandling Finals before the event.
  3. Shearers must be of similar quality, speed and style.
  4. The Speed that the shearers shear at will be dictated by an individual or the commentator as the speed increases between grads, heats and finals.
  5. At the completion of shearing in all woolhandling events, down tubes are to be left hanging in their natural position.

8. The Chief Judge

  1. A Chief Judge will be appointed for each competition.
  2. A Chief Judge may appoint one or more referees for a specific event e.g. Board or oddments.
  3. The Chief Judge will be on the Disputes Committee.
  4. The Chief Judge will be responsible for the administration and control of the competition strictly according to these rules, any additional local rules and the SSAA guidelines.
  5. The Chief Judge has the right to disqualify any competitor whose work or conduct is detrimental to the good reputation of the competition.
  6. The Chief Judge will brief officials as to their duties with respect to the competition, including the need to remain alert and focused in their role as judge. Officials must be aware when the fleeces are to be removed for judging.
  7. Prior to the commencement of any competition heats, all the competition rules must be available to the competitors and the Chief Judge must be available to answer any queries.
  8. Any person may seek a clarification on any point from the Chief Judge. The Chief Judge may rule on the matter raised or refer it to the Disputes Committee.
  9. The Chief Judge may select the finals sheep (out of what has been made available for the event).
  10. The Chief Judge will be responsible for deciding and or displaying the lines of wool on the day. If applicable will then be available for competitor to inspect.
  11. The Chief Judge will ensure that the oddment and fleece judges strictly adhere to the current woolhandling rules.
  12. The Chief Judge for an event will draw up the roster and place the judges.
  13. The Chief Judge is responsible for setting up a briefing, to all other Judges before the events start, this is to ensure consistency, accuracy, and understanding of the rules and to give judges confidence in all aspects of judging, may have a Competitors briefing to explain the lines of the day.

9. The Judges

  1. Should have prior knowledge of the Woolhandling rules that are to be used on the day.
  2. A competitor may judge at a competition where she or he is competing, but not in the class in which he/she is competing. SSAA Woolhandling Rules 1-01-11 Page 5 of 8
  3. Judges must report to entry desk or Chief Judge 20 minutes before the first event they are required to judge.
  4. Judges must be tidily dressed, preferably wearing a coat.
  5. Judges are not permitted to judge while under the influence of liquor or a smoke while judging.
  6. A judge (with the Chief Judge) has the right to stop the woolhandler or disqualify any competitor whose work or conduct is detrimental to woolhandling competitions.
  7. At the start of every heat or final, judges must ensure counter is zeroed and score card is filled in if necessary. Change Judge or Chief Judge is responsible to check and remind floor Judge.
  8. If required, the Chief Judge will have the final say on all decisions re: dog bites, yoke boils, dermatitis and black wool.
  9. Woolhandling Judges are not to hinder Woolhandlers.
  10. Woolhandling Judges may answer relevant questions that maybe asked by competitors.

10. The Timekeepers

  1. Stop watches - 1 or 2 competitors per timekeeper, one watch per competitor. Watches must be identified with each table e.g. Table1, Watch1, Table 2, Watch 2, or a clock board may be used.
  2. Program - information needed. Timing Starts when Shearer pulls out of gear or when the fleece becomes available on the last sheep and stops when the woolhandler places the paddle on the table.
    1. (i) The time is - 1 point per 10 seconds.
  3. In a teams event the time is taken from the time the shearer starts to the time the woolhandler puts the paddle on the table.
    1. (i) The time is - 1 point per 10 seconds, this may vary according to the local show Committee.
    2. Time and/or order of events, number of sheep to be shorn, number of heats and competitors in each heat approximately (names not necessary).

11. Disputes Committee

  1. A disputes committee will be appointed and the member’s names displayed during the competition. The committee will consist of the Chief Judge, one experienced committee member, and one other person with knowledge of the rules.
  2. In the event of a dispute or appeal that relates in any way to the procedure adopted for the judging of a staging of the event, the matter will be handled expeditiously by the Disputes Committee.
  3. An appeal to the Disputes committee.
    1. (i) May be required in writing
    2. (ii) Will be accompanied by a $50 fee
    3. (iii) Must be made within 10 minutes of the results being displayed and the awareness of the need for such appeal
  4. Person/s appealing may represent them selves before the Disputes Committee.
  5. In all cases, and in any matters not covered by the rules, the decision of the Disputes Committee will be final and binding on competitors.
  6. If appeal is upheld, $50 fee will be refunded.

12. National Represenation

  1. To be eligible to represent Australia, a competitor must be a resident of Australia and must have Australian citizenship prior to the National Championships.
  2. Competitors must provide proof of Australian citizenship if requested by the SSAA member committee, the Disputes Committee or National Executive.
  3. Competitors in the National Championships must be prepared to represent Australia here and/or overseas, and must be prepared to meet any sponsorship obligation where possible and practical.
  4. Two or Three representatives from each state are eligible to compete in the Nationals.
  5. Competitors can only seek to represent one state in any given year.
  6. There will be six in the Finals.
  7. Where possible one competitor from each State shall compete in each semi final.
  8. A competitor has the right to contest the National final, but if unavailable to represent Australia, his/her position in the team will go to the next highest competitor.
  9. State challenge - consists of two wool handler and two shearers working as a team of four.
  10. International challenge - consists of two woolhandlers, using one table and handling two shearers (shearers are not part of the team).
  11. That the National Wool Handling Final be either two shearers per woolhandler or include a breed/wool type change.

13. Time Penalties

  1. Time penalties: -
    1. Over the table = 1 point per 10 seconds.
    2. Over the Board = 1 point per 5 seconds (LMS, PREMS)
    3. Mixed Breeds = 1 point per 10 seconds
  2. Scoring will be by demerit point system (the lowest points wins).
  3. Each competitor’s points will be calculated and recorded regardless of whether he/she has scored insufficient quality points or has a slow time.
  4. Organizing committees should provide a clock that is visible to competitors and spectators.
  5. An organizing committee may formulate additional rules to apply to a specific event E.g. local prize, mixed sheep in a multi-breed event, novelty event rules re entry.
  6. Any such rules shall not override rules 1-13.

14. Demerit Point Scorning For Woolhandling Penalties

  1. The size of a 30cm by 21cm rectangle. (A4)
    1. (For position of fleece on the table) = 1 Penalty (A4)
  2. The size of a 15cm by 10cm rectangle. (REC)
    1. (For PCS and other fleece types) = 2 Penalty (REC)
  3. The size of a 8cm by 5cm. (Credit Card))
    1. (For LKS, Fibs and short crutch wool) = 2 Penalty (CC)
  4. The size of a 8cm by 5cm. (Credit Card)
    1. (For STN, Skin, Shanks, Dags, Black Wool) = 10 Penalties (CC)
  5. Final presentation of rolled fleece FLC must be rolled not gathered, breech to neck, and placed neatly within the “designated area”
    1. (Floor, Pack, Gubba Bag, or receptacle) = 5 Penalties (max)
  6. Belly left on the board.
    1. (Belly must be cleared before woolhandlers returns to table) = 5 Penalties
  7. The use of the fleece to clear away locks on the board. = 5 Penalties
  8. Leaving the fleece on the board unattended. = 5 Penalties
  9. Hindrance: (must not hinder the shearer) = 5 Points
  10. Handling of wool after completion.
    1. (Completion is when competitor places paddle on table) = 5 Points
  11. Competitors leaving their table without permission prior to the last competitor finishing will be cited by the head judge and will incur an addition. = 5 Points
  12. Competitors must not get up on the board.
    1. (Must have one foot on the floor) = 5 Points
  13. Black wool - to be handed to the Judge and the Woolhandler is to continue.

15. Chief Judge

  1. Chief wool judge will be responsible for deciding and or displaying the lines of wool on the day. These will be the current wool classing practices for: XB, Medium Merino, Fine Merino, Super Fine, Lambs, and Prem. (See rule 8 and 12)

16. Floor Judges

Note. Floor Judges will Judge all faults accordingly to appropriate penalties:

  1. Crutch (Re. 14. b, c, d & f)
    1. Removal of Crutching's.
    2. All carding wools to be removed from the crutch area.
    3. Topknots maybe removed.
    4. NO skirting of PCS on the board.
  2. Belly
    1. Belly left on board.(5 penalties)
    2. To be judged in conjunction with the crutch removal, when the competitors returns to skirt the Fleece.
  3. Hindrance
    1. To the shearer or other persons in a deliberate act. (5 points)
  4. Board
    1. Shearing area between sheep not clean. (Re. 14. b, c & d)
  5. Table work. (Re. 14. a, b, c, d & e)
    1. The fleeces are to be thrown on a rectangular table by the back legs, having the head land at the head of the table.
    2. Judging starts when the competitor lets go of any part of the fleece.
    3. The position of the fleece as it has landed on the table.
    4. Final presentation of rolled fleece. (FLC must be rolled not gathered, britch to neck, and placed neatly within the “designated area”) (5 penalties max)
    5. Table not clean between fleeces.
    6. All woolhandlers work area around table and oddment containers except underneath the table must be clean between fleeces. (Except in teams events.)
    7. Any wool of any type left outside the designated area if not retrieved between the fleeces clean up will be continually penalized on each sequential fleece as long as it stays there.
    8. Unauthorized piles.
  6. Final Clean up
    1. (i) Total Work Area Clean (Re. 14. b, c & d)

17. Fleece Judge

  1. Each fleece will be judged on any faulty fleece types or oddments left inside the rolled fleece. (Each competitor’s fleeces will be numbered and or coloured coded e.g. Peg, coloured ribbon/tape, Gubba bag, Pack. (Re. 14. b, c & d)

18. Oddment Judge

  1. Floor Judges -
    1. The change judge will determine the commencement of the rotation at the completion of first shoulder.
    2. Counters are to be used and checked - e.g. 3 stands, 4 judges to rotate on the board and table.
    3. Teams event - Where there are 2 Woolhandlers to 1 table there will be up to double the Judges.
  2. Fleece Judges - E.g. 1 table, 1 to 3 Judges to judge all fleeces.
    1. Fleece will be numbered according to the competitor stand or Colour coded and taken out the back when each fleece is completed.
    2. Score cards will remain with the Fleece Judge and counters to be taken to the designated Judge who will then be responsible for recording the results and returning the counters to zero.
  3. Oddment Judges – E.g. 1 to 3 tables, 2 to 3 Judges to judge all oddments containers.
    1. Judges must judge the same oddments for all competitors, (e.g. they must judge all the PCS of all competitors for the duration of that event etc) which will be taken out to the containers to be numbered accordingly, to stand or coloured containers used.
    2. A designated Judge will be responsible for recording the results on the score sheet.

19. Judges Duties

  1. Oddment container will be judged for any incorrect disposal. (Re. 14. b, c & d)
  2. A measured grid is recommended, for accurately calculating the faults.

20. Time Penalties

  1. Over the table = 1 point per 10 seconds
  2. Over the Board = 1 point per 5 seconds (LMS, PREMS)
  3. Mixed Breeds = 1 point per 10 seconds
  4. Scoring will be by demerit point system (the lowest points wins).
  5. Timing of the Woolhandlers shall commence when the shearer has pulled out of gear or when the fleece becomes available on the final sheep and will end when the woolhandler places their paddle on their table to signify a completed job.

21. Woolhandling Points Calculations

  1. Floor, Fleece and Oddment penalties are totaled and divided by the number of fleeces.
  2. These are then added to the time penalties and extra points, lowest points wins.
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Sports shear Australia is the governing body for competition shearing and wool handling in Australia. Devoted to the promotion of shearing and wool handling competitions and the development of the next generation of shearers and wool handlers while showcasing excellence.

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