Last week, the annual two day ASB Peter Johnstone Memorial Tournament played out at Bowls Mount Maunganui.
Started 27 years ago by Bowls Mt Maunganui club member Peter Henderson, a 1949 All Black and athlete in the 1950 Empire Games, the tournament is open to all bowlers who have played, refereed, or administered rugby from club level upwards. ‘The Rugby Tournament’ as it has become nicknamed, attracted a who’s who of rugby names.
As newly knighted Sir Bryan Williams observed at the opening luncheon, the 44 teams of 176 rugby-players-turned-bowlers creates a great camaraderie. Even with a team like Canterbury, here at the tournament for the first time, and boasting the likes of Alex Wylie who once decorated BeeGee’s chest with a few sprig marks.
It was the Bay of Plenty team of Dennis Rice (Skip), Dennis Matthews, Tony Bardell and Bill Reid who came out on top (pictured left to right above with ASB Commercial Regional Manager, Richard Odgers) - the only team with 4 wins on the second day.
Playing bowls out of Tauranga, Dennis Rice formerly played rugby for Hamilton Marist before wonky knees forced him to give up the game.
Tony Bardell played rugby for Maramarua, Mt Maunganui, Te Awamutu and Ruatoria where he represented the East Coast union from 1970 to 1971. These days he plays bowls at Te Puke.
Fellow Te Puke bowler, Bill Reid, played club rugby for Hautapu, Tauranga Cadets, and Te Teko – and represented the Rangitikei Sub-union in 1972. More recently he’s been a primary school rugby coach and Bay of Plenty Roller Mills selector.
Omokoroa bowler Dennis Matthew played club rugby for Paeroa West, and represented Hamilton Teachers’ College. He’s probably more remembered for being a crafty leg-spinner for Northern Districts in the 60’s, and representative for Thames Valley in the Hawke Cup.
Gerard van Tilborg, Chair of the New Zealand Rugby Foundation, accepted a donation of $600 to the foundation from the proceeds of the tournament – supplemented by an additional $475 after 4 ‘Colin Meads’ shirts donated by the King Country contingent were auctioned.
It was great to see ASB Bank coming to the party as major sponsor of the Peter Johnstone Memorial Trophy. As well as sponsorship from club member Trevor Beer for the Ron Hemi Trophy. And Farmer Auto Village, Robertson’s Menswear, and Club Mount Maunganui for section sponsorship.
The tournament looks good-to-continue next year, with the first entry for 2019 already paid up.