Bowls New Zealand has well and truly exceeded its expectations, dramatically growing participation numbers for this year’s Summerset Nationals, after making the contentious decision to split the event in two.
Close to 900 bowlers are expected to compete across the Summerset National Singles and Pairs, which were held in Auckland last month and the Summerset National Fours, starting in Wellington March 1.
It is a substantial increase from the 564 bowlers that took part in the combined event in Dunedin last year.
There will be 82 men’s fours in Wellington next month, up six from 2018, while 46 women’s quartets have entered this year, a big increase from 36 last year.
Bowls NZ CEO Mark Cameron says it is “really, really pleasing”.
“We have to acknowledge that Auckland and Wellington has a bigger catchment area of bowlers than Dunedin did the previous year so we were always going to get some growth,” Cameron said.
“[But] our target was to grow it to about 650 and we ended up with around 900.
“That’s way ahead of what we targeted.”
As a result the Summerset National Singles and Pairs and the Summerset National Fours will remain separate events next year.
“Following next summer we will do a review and just determine whether we’ve got the pairings correct,” Cameron said.
“It may be that we add in a mixed pairs competition and it may be that we look at whether singles and pairs are correctly together or whether it should be pairs and fours or singles and fours, but that will be subject to a review in 2020.”
Bowls New Zealand has asked for expressions of interest to host next year’s tournaments and plan to announce the successful hosts after next month’s Summerset National Fours.
“There’s a very good chance one of the two Summerset National events will be in the South Island in 2020,” Cameron said.
Bowls New Zealand will livestream next month’s Summerset National Fours on its Facebook page, with Kevin Hickland providing commentary.
It will follow BPL 09, which will also be staged at the Naenae Bowling Club.
-Brenton Vannisselroy, 021 039 0471