A prospective judge must be approved by a Shearing or Woolhandling Examiner. An official badge will be issued when the examiner is satisfied that the judge has served an adequate probationary period.

To remain on the judges list you must attend at least one competition annually and attend a judge’s day annually. If a judge misses a judge’s day they must prove competency to their examiner before judging again.

All judges must be certified, competent to judge all relevant skills and be given the opportunity to judge a trial sheep/ pen/fleece before the competition commences.

Judges must report to competitions 30 minutes before the commencement of the first event.

Judges must be tidily dressed and wear their official badge.

Judges will refrain from alcohol until their judging duties for the day are completed.

Judges are not permitted to smoke while carrying out their judging duties.

Judges must be conversant with all rules in the current competition directory.

Judges must rotate so that all competitors receive equal scrutiny.

Judges will refrain from walking behind the down tube or returning back along the shearing board while shearers are competing (unless there is a safety issue).

Referees to be available on board before each heat starts and the referees should be easily identifiable.

Written complaints regarding the performance of a judge will be handled by the local examiner, in consultation with SSNZ executive. If they all agree the judge has not given reasonable satisfaction the judge will be informed and be given the right to appeal to SSNZ. The national committee will make the final decision as to whether the judge should be removed from or remain on the list.


NB: Any additions to these rulings in italics are NZ country Specific. Those marked with # relate to Woolhandling also.


(a) # Competitors enter and compete at their own risks.

(b) # Competitors must be suitably dressed, including footwear. The Referee will administer this ruling. They must be suitably dressed for the presentation ceremony. Any competitor who is not present for the presentation of prizes will not receive the prize unless reasonable grounds for being absent are presented to the organizing committee before prize giving.

(c) # The use of drugs, intravenous fluids or oxygen is banned in all competitions. Random drug tests may be taken, and if proved positive;

(i)  Following a positive drug test, competitors will forfeit all placing`s / prize money / points gained and ribbons at the competition from where the drug test took place.

(ii)  First offence of a positive test, a stand down period of four calendar months of SSNZ affiliated competitions. For reinstatement, a competitor must submit a clear test, at their own expense. This will be compulsory.

(ii) Second offence, competitor will be banned from competing for a full competition season, for reinstatement, competitor must submit a clear test, at their own expense. This will be compulsory.

(d) The referee or judge has the right to switch off the machine or disqualify any competitor whose work or conduct on the shearing board is detrimental to the image of competition shearing, woolhandling or pressing. Referee may stop a competitor during an event if clearly not competitive time wise.

(See 6. (f) also)

(e) # Any inappropriate action by a competitor and/ or official that brings a competition and/or SSNZ into disrepute may result in disciplinary action by the contest’s committee or by SSNZ. Disciplinary action may include suspension from future events for up to 30 competition days.

(f) # Competitors may judge (if a registered SSNZ judge) at a contest where they are competing, but not in the class in which they are participating.

(g) # Competitors in competitions must be suitably attired and this will include footwear (i.e. jandals Or open sandals and caps or hats are prohibited) earphones and ipods must not be worn while competing. The referee will administer this ruling.


(a)  A draw for Heats will be made prior to all Competitions. Finalists shall draw for stands as they take the board.

(b)  Competitors must provide their own hand-pieces, combs, cutters and blade shears. Sharpening equipment will be made available by the Host committee in accordance with local regulations or laws.

(c)  Competitors will each be allowed two loaded hand-pieces or two blade shears which are their responsibility and no time will be allowed for stoppage caused by their hand-piece, blade shears, or sheep escaping from the competitor on the shearing board. Should any stoppages occur through the fault of the machine or through another competitor’s sheep escaping, a time allowance will be made or a re-run given, only at the Board Referee and Chief Referee’s discretion. The organising Committee will allow competitors to use up to three hand-pieces in events with three or more breeds/wool types.

(d)  Where practical, a draw for stands must be made after sheep are in the catching pens, for finals. In the case of a left-handed machine shearer, that competitor’s sheep will be moved to left-hand stand if one is available.

(e)  Competitors may enter their pen in the presence of a Judge, to sort and inspect their sheep. Plucking of wool before and/or after time (during if by pen assistant) will incur a penalty. (See 7. (k),

(i)  Second cutting of the wool

(ii)  Breaking of the fleece

(iii)  Work before or after time

(iv)  Skin attached to wool on Merino sheep

(v)  Other penalties as per rule 7.

(f)        Competitors may appeal to the Referee to have any sheep they consider sub-standard replaced before the heat, quarter, semi-final or final commences. The Referee’s decision is final. Any sheep rejected by the Referee must be raddled/marked and withdrawn from the entire event.

(g)       Without assistance, each competitor must:

(i)  Start and stop their machine.

(ii)  Collect their sheep from a standing position within the catching pen, except where a ruling has been made prior to the event for safety reasons. (e.g. Scottish Blackface, where sheep maybe held in a sitting position). WITH OWN PEN MAN

(iii)  Put each sheep out the porthole after shearing.

(iv)  Switch their hand-piece off between sheep.

(h)       An authorized holder is permitted in the catching pen. This person may not tip or lift the sheep for the competitor or switch the machine on or off. No unauthorized persons are permitted in the catching pen and no officials are allowed to assist a competitor in anyway, except where safety is a concern. (See 2. (g) (ii) and 7. (c).

(i)        Competitors must wait on the board and may place hand/s on the closed door/s to await the word ’GO’ from the Starter.

(j)        On completion of their event, all competitors will remain on their stand until the last competitor has finished, unless;

(i) They need to seek urgent medical attention.

(ii) They have been granted permission to leave the board by the referee prior to the commencement of such heat or final.

(k)       Competitors may not present their own sheep for the Pen Judges, but may be required to present from the next heat. Failure to do so or supply a nominated replacement, when required will result in a penalty of five whole points from the Pen Referee.

(l) #     At the Chief Referee’s discretion, competitors may compete in more than one class, but can only progress through semi-finals or finals in one division.

(m) #   For National Titles, semi-finals must be held in all events, where the total number of heat entries exceeds four times the number of stands available. Where the heat entries equal or exceeds 8 times the number of stands used, a quarter-final will be held, e.g. at a 4 stand competition, 16 or more competitors warrant a semi-final, 32 competitors warrant a quarter-final. This is recommended for all competitions.

(n)       Competitor’s points for any titles such as South Island Shearer of the Year or any circuit event where points are accumulated will not be taken from societies not affiliated to SSNZ Inc.

(o) #    Visiting overseas competitors must compete in the same grade that is stipulated by their own country, in the case of Woolhandling competitors, this will be at the discretion of the Woolhandling Referee, they cannot compete in a lower grade.

(p) #    Competitors regardless of age cannot go back in class.


(a)  Sheep chosen must be carefully selected for evenness of type and size to provide a fair competition.

(b)  Preparation of competition sheep must be kept to a minimum with uniform standard to ensure the safety of pizzle, teats and vulva.


(a) #   A competition will provide a separate timekeeper with a stopwatch or an approved self-timing device for each competitor. Back up stop watch timing is recommended for self-timing devices.

(b)       Each competitor’s time will be taken from the Starter’s ‘GO’ until......

(i)        Machine shearers have completed their final sheep and switched off their hand-piece in the case of manual timing or the ‘Stop’ button is pushed in the case of electronic timing.

(ii)       Blade shearers have completed their final sheep and put their shears down in the case of manual timing, or the ‘Stop’ button is pushed in the case of electronic timing.


(a)       A Chief Referee will be appointed for each competition who will be responsible for the administration and control of the competition strictly according to these International Rules, and any additional rules approved by World Council. The Chief Referee’s ruling on any matter not covered by the above will be final.

(b) #    Any person may seek clarification on any point from the referee. The referee may rule on the matter raised or refer it to the Disputes Committee.

(c)       The referee must be called and decide any whole point penalty as in 2. (k), 7. (l&m) and 9. (b&c).

(d)       Before the start of the competition the Chief Referee will announce whether ‘socks’ are to be taken off or left on, clarify where crutching starts and finishes, and signify any penalty to be applied accordingly (See 9. (a) (iv)).

(e) #    Where the outside referee is called upon in International Tests and NZ Team selection, the final decision will be made in consultation with the Chief Referee.

(f) #     All ‘A’ Grade competitions must have an outside and inside Referee for all events and a Chief Referee to be available for all disputes.



(a)  The board judges will judge for:

(b)  Board judges must start on the same stand of a particular event.

(c)  Board Judge’s must rotate so that all competitors receive equal scrutiny.

(d)  Board judge’s rotation must continue until last sheep is finished.

(e)  Board Judges using counters must, at completion of last sheep of each heat or final, record every competitor’s penalty strokes on card provided.

(f)  If a competitor receives an injury causing serious bleeding, the Board Judge will stop the competitor if he believes it is in the best interest of the competitor or the competition to do so.


(a)  Second cuts—one credit card in size (85 x 55 x 10mm) equals five penalty strokes. One penalty stroke—(85 x 11 x 10mm).

(b)  One penalty stroke for not breaking the neck wool on full wool fleeces.

(c)  One whole point per offence if pen handler lifts sheep to assist catch. (See 2. (g&h)). To be imposed by the Board Referee in consultation with the Judge/s.

 (d)  One penalty stroke per side for obvious belly wool or brisket frib not removed when shearing belly or for obvious fleece wool removed with belly.

(e)  Merino skin pieces—One penalty stroke per 15mm diameter in size or an equivalent accumulation of smaller errors.

(f)  One penalty stroke for not throwing the belly wool clear.

(g)  One penalty stroke for wool thrown interfering with another competitor.

(h)  Three penalty strokes for first hind leg wool broken out deliberately by competitor on full wool sheep.

(i)  Three penalty strokes if a shorn sheep on release breaks up fleece or carries fleece wool out porthole.

(j)  Two whole points for allowing a shorn or partly shorn sheep to escape. The shearer must make a genuine effort to pen the sheep. Does not apply if sheep is properly penned and returns to shearing board.

(k)  One whole point per offence for work before or after time by competitor or pen handler (and during by pen handler) for plucking, removing tassels etc. (See 2. (e),). To be imposed by the Board Referee in consultation with Judge/s.

(l)  Five whole points be imposed for rough handling of sheep per offence, Judge and Board Referee’s decision in consultation.

(m) One whole point per offence if second (helper) assistants with switching machine on or off. Board referee and judges decision and Consultation.

 (n) The Board Referee is to advise scorers of any whole point penalty under (7. (k,l & m).


(a)       Single judging system to be used. If possible, number of Judges used should divide equally into number of sheep being shorn.

 (b)      The pen judges will judge sheep for—

(i)  Wool left on

(ii)  Cuts on Sheep

(c)       The Pen Judge must call the referee to decide penalty for 9. (b) & (c) then judge the rest of the sheep.


(a)       (i) Wool left on sheep—one credit card in size (85 x 55 x 10mm) - five penalty strokes. One penalty stroke—(85 x 11 x 10mm)

(ii)  Skin Cuts—one penalty stroke per 15mm diameter in size, or an equivalent accumulation of smaller errors.

(iii)  A cut into flesh or muscle (not serious enough to be a full penalty of five whole points) will incur a minimum of five penalty strokes plus the cut.

(iv)  Up to two penalty strokes per individual sock left on or up to four penalty strokes if very woolly, as decided by committee and Chief Referee (See 5. (d)).

(b)       Pen Referee must be consulted and a competitor will be penalized by the addition of five whole points per offence added to their calculated pen score if they—

                (i)  Cut a teat and impair the breeding ability of a ewe.

                (ii)  Severely cut any sheep to the extent that it requires surgical attention.

(Referee may require a minor cut to be stitched without imposing the above penalty)

(c)  Pen Referee must be consulted and a competitor will be penalized by the addition     of ten whole points per offence added to their calculated pen score if they—

                (i)  Cut a hamstring

                (ii)  Cut into or through the centre of a pizzle.

(A pizzle graze may not necessarily incur a full penalty)

(d)  Pen Referee will decide and write a full point penalty in a circle on pen card and initial it.

(e)  Pen Referee must be consulted and adjudicate on cuts into the flesh or muscle (not serious enough to be a full penalty of 5 whole points) where a competitor will be penalized by five penalty strokes plus the cut.


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