Q & A with New Zealand’s Nicole Regnaud
Fresh off her maiden ranking event win in June’s Shot New Zealand Masters, Andrew Sinclair caught up with Wellington’s Nicole Regnaud.
Hey Nicole, how are you?
I’m doing great, thank you!
How did you first get into darts?
Both of my parents have played for as long as I can remember, so it was just a natural succession that I would play and find a love for the game too. My older sister, Ashlee, and I first started playing in our local league nights and the NZDC Junior/Youth Championships when we were around eight or nine-years-old.
Who are the biggest influences on you playing darts?
Definitely my parents, they’ve been instrumental in the development of my game. It’s also really cool seeing the lifelong friendships they have made through the game, which is a huge element of darts in New Zealand.
I’ve been taking a lot of inspiration from the likes of Damon Heta and Ben Robb, who are currently smashing it. Ben always takes the time to have a chat with me, and shows a genuine interest in how my darts are going which is awesome.
You were one of New Zealand’s top youth players and got picked to play for the national team as a youth. What did it mean to represent your country?
It has been a privilege to represent NZ, and it’s even more special that I got to do it alongside my sister in 2019! Playing for New Zealand against Australia was truly amazing - it gave me a great insight into where darts could potentially take me. It’s just amazing getting to play a sport with and against people who also
Were you able to use the pandemic to make any changes to your throw?
It was certainly a great opportunity to spend some time on the board. No major changes to my throw apart from focusing on consistency and finishing, but I had time to evaluate where I was at with darts and where I wanted to go. I think I just hibernated for the first three or four weeks of NZ’s lockdown.
You recently won the Shot New Zealand Masters in Wellington. Describe the moment you won your first senior ranking title.
It was so exciting to finally see my hard work pay off! Leading up to the weekend, I had been focusing on my finishing which definitely paid off. I felt really good going into the knockout round, and powered through some tough games.
The final against Wendy Harper was a great game, and we both pushed each other the whole way. I was lucky enough to hit an 88 finish in the last leg with Wendy right on my tail to win 5-4. I had been up 4-2 but missed some darts at the match double as nerves started to set in. Wendy’s talent and experience brought it back to the deciding leg, where I had to really buckle down and focus to not let my nerves get the better of me.
Winning the NZ Masters qualifies you for the WDF World Masters later this year. What will it mean to play in a major tournament over in Europe, assuming you’re able to travel?
I still haven’t wrapped my head around it! We will have to see in the coming months what the travelling situation will be like, but if it was possible to go and compete, I would jump at the opportunity.
What has been your proudest moment in darts so far?
Definitely has to be the Shot New Zealand Masters - as you said it was my first senior ranking title so it was amazing to finally get one in the book. It was great to get my first win at home, with my family and friends there supporting me.
How do you think they can increase participation in ladies’ darts events in New Zealand?
It’s a hard one. I think a lot of ladies are nervous to take the step from club darts to attending serious tournaments. Coupled with the fact that travel in NZ is quite expensive, it can be a real barrier to getting the desired numbers wanted for ladies darts. It starts at the club level, where a lot of prior planning and encouragement is needed. Travelling as a family or as a team has been really good for us personally - it helps to bring down costs as everything can be split.
I think if there were more separate tournaments for the ladies from the men, many would realise that it can definitely be worth travelling to them. It's always fun to go away as a team of people, and support each other throughout the tournament.
What darts are you using at the moment? How do they compare with the first set you ever owned?
I currently use an old Shot Darts design from their Lady-S Series. They are 23 gram and have a front-weighted tapered barrel. I have been using them for about seven years, and prior to that I was playing with a set that was my Grandma’s - so not really much of a comparison!
I’m not one to chop and change between sets of darts, so once I’ve found what works for me I usually stick to it.
I know you’re currently studying at university. What are you studying and what do you hope to do with it?
I have just started my last trimester studying a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Criminology and Education. I’m hoping to pursue a career with the NZ Police or the NZ Customs Service, but the options are probably endless.
Who are your closest friends in darts?
I’m lucky enough to have friends all over the country, it’s always nice going to a tournament and meeting new people and catching up with old friends. I don’t want to single anyone out, but I’m grateful for the support of players and friends from all over New Zealand.
Tell us something not many people know about you.
In 2015, while scoring for a DartsKing event in NZ featuring Phil Taylor, Adrian Lewis and Russ Bray, I fainted under the heat of the lights.
In the middle of a game.
In front of a huge crowd.
Luckily, Russ came to my rescue and caught me before I fell. Backstage, Jackpot sat on the ground and cracked jokes with me to calm me down. He was the nicest guy ever and made me feel a lot better after the single-handedly most embarrassing moment in my life up until then!
What is your biggest ambition in the sport of darts?
I’d love to eventually pick up some sponsors and hopefully make it overseas to play on the international circuit. I was fortunate enough to travel to Australia in 2018 and 2019 where I won the Oceanic Masters - it was such a great atmosphere and I’d love to make it over to the home of darts one day.
Are there any sponsors or supporters you’d like to give a special mention to?
Shout out to my family for being my biggest sponsors and supporters. I could not do what I do without their constant support and reassurance. My parents have sacrificed a lot to get me to where I am today. They have literally driven hours and hours, up and down New Zealand just to get my sister and I to tournaments. Upper
Hutt Cossie Club, Capital Area Darts, Upper Hutt Darts Association and Hutt Valley Darts Association have also all been a huge part of making me the player that I am today.
New Zealand's Nicole Regnaud speaking to Andrew Sinclair - @insidetheWDF