A star-studded invitational field will converge on the Awamoa bowling greens later this year, coming together to remember a man synonymous with the Old Golds country.
In a day that shook the bowling fraternity to its core, Russell “Rusty” McDonald was tragically discovered as the victim of a freak accident in the Waitaki region last October.
Less than a year on, Rusty’s family have rallied around to create a prestigious Memorial Pairs event (Rusty Mac Memorial Pairs) in his honour – handpicking some of the South Island’s highest performers on the green and hosting what will be an exhibition-like spectacle on the North Otago circuit.
Tournament convenor Craig McDonald, one of Rusty’s four children and Awamoa club president, says the tournament concept was a way to give back to the sport his father loved.
“Everyone that is involved will have played for and against Rusty at some point, and we’re absolutely stoked with the field assembled,” McDonald said.
“There will be plenty of other bowlers that will be disappointed to have missed out, but the reality is we were limiting the field to 32. In future years, who knows, maybe the event can expand, but for the inaugural event, everyone will be keen to give it their best shot and no doubt share a few memories of the old man along the way.
“It will be a pretty special weekend all round.”
Headlining the field will be former New Zealand internationals Shaun Scott and Sean O’Neill, both players previously combining to enjoy multiple success at the Burnside Pairs, among amassing respective national titles between them in their illustrious careers.
In a special addition to the event, former North Otago protege and current New Zealand Blackjack Andrew Kelly will also be making the trip back to his past stomping ground, combining with his father Bruce in a formidable pairing. Kelly, who is presently the national singles champion, first began his bowls career as a 12-year-old under the guidance of the late McDonald, father Bruce and Dave Rankin, with Kelly himself crediting Rusty as a key mentor.
Other key combinations expected to show their class include Ken Walker and Karl Mason, Jim and Terry Scott, Kerry Becks and Paddy Stewart, with many other top provincial representatives from Canterbury, South Canterbury, North Otago, Southland, Dunedin, Central Otago and South Otago comprising the 32-team field.
The event, which will also see Rusty’s brother Charlie team up with Craig, will see eight sections of four teams take to the greens, with section winners advancing to the Main Event.
All section play and the first post-section round will be completed on Saturday, with the tournament culminating in a finals’ day on Sunday.
The tournament will take place on September 19 & 20.
*For more information, please contact Tournament Convenor Craig McDonald, firstname.lastname@example.org, or mobile: 021 628 291.
2020 Rusty Mac Memorial Pairs
- Inaugural field (Awamoa B.C) -
Garry Ford - Dennis Johnston (South Canterbury)
Bill Kingan - Bob Kingan (North Otago
Sean O’ Neill - Shaun Scott (South Canterbury/Central Otago)
Richie Kerr - Marshall Stoddart (South Canterbury)
Leo Leonard - Jim Vevers (South Canterbury)
Barrie Andrews - Steve Jones (South Canterbury)
Bob Smith - Ken Feathers (South Canterbury)
Kerry Becks - Paddy Stewart (Canterbury)
Wayne Youngman - Des Shea (Mid Canterbury/South Canterbury)
Peter Hyland - Greg Reed (Canterbury)
Andrew Kelly - Bruce Kelly (Canterbury/North Otago)
Brent Thomson - Bruce Ross (Southland)
Ray Hunt - Gavin Spence (Canterbury)
Daniel Fletcher - Darren Broome (Southland)
Neville Ludeman - Graham Fisher (North Otago)
Andrew MacGregor - Bryan Harvey (Southland)
Wynston McLachlan - Bruce McNish (South Otago/Canterbury)
Sam Morton - Tom Taiaroa (South Canterbury)
Pat Houlahan - Alister Watson (Central Otago)
Bob McAuley - Graeme Hislop (Central Otago/South Otago)
Willie Bell - Lewis Bell (Canterbury)
Colin Wheeler - Neill Williams (Dunedin)
Ken Walker - Karl Mason (Dunedin)
Jim Scott - Terry Scott (Dunedin)
Rodney Greaney - Ian Rule (Canterbury)
Peter Bell - Bob Wilson (North Otago)
Dylan Edwards - Rodney Fleming (North Otago/Dunedin)
Craig McDonald - Charlie McDonald (North Otago)
Graham Sangster - Vic Randall (North Otago)
Ray Forbes - John Smith (North Otago)
Sonny Brown - Bob Mason (North Otago)
Gary Marshall - Ken Thickett (North Otago)