New Zealand’s best to play in new Ryder Cup-like tournament

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Bowls New Zealand is excited to launch a revamped annual North vs South tournament that will see the country’s elite bowlers go head-to-head over three days of competition.

The yet to be named inaugural event will be played at a to be confirmed indoor venue in the South Island from August 6-8 this year.

New Zealand’s leading 36 men’s and women’s bowlers, including four para bowlers, will take part in a Ryder Cup-like format to determine which Island boasts the country’s best talent.

There will be two men’s and two women’s fours matches on Friday, before nine mixed pairs games on Saturday and then 18 singles matches to decide the tournament on Sunday.

All games will be feature two sets of nine ends, with tie-breakers if sets are split.

The event will fill a much-needed void for the country’s elite bowlers with the World Bowls Championships, originally scheduled for last year, likely to be further postponed.

“We were very aware that the international programme for 2020 and 2021 has been seriously impacted because of COVID and what’s happening with world travel restrictions,” Bowls New Zealand CEO Mark Cameron said.

“Looking at our own domestic programme we realised that outside of the nationals we didn’t really have a high profile best of the best event that we could showcase to not only the bowls community but the wider New Zealand public.

“This is that opportunity to present the best bowlers in the country…playing against each other in a competitive series and build on that traditional north vs south rivalry that does exist in this country.”

The new tournament is “massively important” for Bowls New Zealand high performance manager Kaushi Patel and the Blackjacks squad.

“For me working with the support team and the athletes you build them up ‘this might be happening, this might happening’ and then they get knocked back. You feel for them,” he said.

“They want to be world class, they’re training bloody hard and…it [North vs South] gives them something to love forward to.

“Having said that this is not just for the high performance squad. We are looking at the best players in the country and that will be players that are not necessarily being looked at or available for the national team.”

That includes former Blackjack Mandy Boyd and reigning world champion Shannon McIlroy, who has this week announced he is taking an indefinite sabbatical from international bowls.

“We’ll certainly ask him [Shannon]. As a one off he might play,” Patel said.

Otherwise McIlroy could be involved as one of the two non-playing captains, who will decide the composition of the fours and mixed pairs teams and the playing order for the singles.

The national selectors are also hopeful of being able to call on Australia based bowlers Katelyn Inch, Ali Forsyth and Chris Le Lievre.

“If the borders are open we would fly them back over as long as there’s no quarantine,” Patel said.

The teams, non-playing captains and venue will be announced in the coming months.