Next year, on the 1st March 2021, a new event will join the national lawn bowls calendar.
The Summerset National Mixed Pairs will be held across Central Otago, the day after the conclusion of the Summerset National Open Fours.
“It’s the first time a national open mixed pairs tournament has ever been held,” says Bowls New Zealand Event Co-ordinator, Alex Reed. “We’ve held mixed pairs in national pathways events before, but never an ‘open’ mixed event.”
The new tournament has been timed so that participants in the 2021 National Men’s and Women’s Fours can potentially re-jig their teams to also compete in the mixed pairs event.
“We know that many clubs send both men’s and women’s teams to the Fours,” says Reed, “And we also know that many couples join a Four to the event, so they can play bowls and make a holiday of it with their partner.”
Couples will therefore potentially already be in and around Alexandra, so we’re anticipating that players involved in Fours teams will consider extending their stay a few days in this magical spot, and break up into mixed pairs.”
Like other national open events, the Summerset National Mixed Pairs will begin with qualifying- competition games. “We have set aside Monday 1st and part of Tuesday 2nd March for qualifying. Depending on the number of entries, we’ll be using the same greens as the Fours the week before.”
“The afternoon of Tuesday 2nd March and Wednesday 3rd March will see quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final all played at Alexandra Bowling Club to wrap up the tournament.”
Entries are already open for the Summerset National Mixed Pairs at https://form.jotform.com/202638725701858.
“Although we see this as an ideal opportunity to carry on from the Fours, you don’t need to play in the Fours to be eligible to play in the Mixed Pairs. You can play in one or the other, or both.”
The new tournament is another step in the continuing evolution of the national lawn bowls competitions.
“Two years ago, we had one national competition over Christmas/New Year,” says Reed. “We split it into a Singles and Pairs tournament at the start of January, and a Fours tournament at the end of February.”
“The idea was to give bowlers the opportunity to play in at least one nationals event closer to their home, without the expense of having to traipse to the other end of the country. It’s been a great success … we have far more overall entries than we used to. And this new mixed pairs competition is likely to increase participation even more.”
The new event may also be a pointer to the future of bowls, where mixed tournaments possibly become even more popular than single-sex events. After all, lawn bowls is a sport which can be played equally well by women as men.
“It wouldn’t surprise me,” observes Bowls New Zealand Chief Executive, Mark Cameron. “We’ve always enjoyed gender diversity in lawn bowls. Both men’s and women’s clubs have been around for more than 100 years.”
“25 years ago, we amalgamated the administration of the game, and men’s and women’s clubs and centres amalgamated around the same time.”
“Since that time, mixed tournaments have increasingly appeared on official club and centre programmes,” says Cameron. “and the time has come to actively foster mixed tournaments at national level. We’ve achieved this most recently with Bowls3Five and adding the Summerset National Mixed Pairs Tournament to our calendar provides another opportunity to showcase this aspect of our game.”
“The mixed game is something that bowlers should be proud of … few other sports facilitate and encourage joint gender participation. Indeed, many sports are still struggling with the concept of allowing equal representation in their games, let alone facilitating joint participation.”
“I think it’s something the bowls community should be proud of.”
SUMMERSET NATIONAL MIXED PAIRS AT A GLANCE
Qualifying Monday 1st March and Tuesday 2nd March 2021
Finals Tuesday 2nd March and Wednesday 3rd March 2021
Round robin Bowls Central Otago clubs (details tbc)
Finals Alexandra Bowling Club, Central Otago
Entry form https://form.jotform.com/202638725701858
Entry cost $90 (plus processing fee) per team
Entry close-off 31 January 2021
Tournament Director: Chris Lander, 021 109 5965, email@example.com
Event Co-ordinator: Alex Reed, 027 891 4779, firstname.lastname@example.org