Imagine a format that sees the best of the best going head to head to battle for island supremacy and
ultimate bragging rights?
Sound familiar – kind of like the State of Origin or golf’s Ryder Cup, right?
That’s right folks, the North vs South Challenge is back and returns to the calendar this September on the
“big blue” in Dunedin.
The event, which will take place at the Hopes Dunedin Stadium on September 10 and 11, will showcase
the sport’s inclusion and diversity, featuring some of the best players across all disciplines.
Needing no introduction, former Blackjack coaches Dave Edwards and Sharon Sims have been called in
to lead their charges as non-playing captains, with Sims taking care of the North and Edwards, the South.
At the helm of the national team for a decade, Edwards is no stranger to the elite. In fact, Edwards
oversaw five medals in 2008 at the World Bowls Championships, including the Leonard Trophy for the top men’s team in a memorable outing for the Blackjacks on home soil.
In the opposite corner, few would need reminding of Sim’s illustrious playing career, notching up multiple
World Championship, Commonwealth Games and Asia Pacific medals, before moving in to the high
performance coaching space for the Blackjacks and other talent squads in more recent years.
So with eight players at their disposal (four men, four women), who will make the sides?
The event criteria states each side must include at least one Para bowler (vision impaired, hearing impaired or disabled), one under-26 bowler and one over-65 bowler, with the other five vacancies selected from an entirely open vault.
While the format itself has yet to be finalised, each side will contest singles, pairs, triples and fours.
Commenting on the event, both captains weren’t short of fighting talk as the Battle Royale looms closer.
“It will be quite a novelty for Dave and I to pick these sides, it’s going to be quite a new and exciting way
of doing things and we’re going to have to give our combinations some serious thought,” Sims said.
“It’s a prestigious event and as such, while we are both likely to lean on those representing New Zealand
at the Commonwealth Games, there will be an opportunity to reward players that have performed
consistently well for a number of years.
We know the South is packed with stars, but our message to them is don’t underestimate us, we’re coming for you all.”
Responding to the challenge, Edwards says his side will be primed and ready come game day.
“Our message to the North is simple, don’t be too disappointed when we towel you up . . . it’s a healthy
rivalry, but we’ll show you how to play the game,” Edwards quipped.
“We’ll be expecting the North to put their best foot forward, and I think between the two of us (Sharon and myself), there’s an expectation we have on our players that will make this a fantastic showcase of our
It’s a brilliant concept that we are hugely supportive of and we can’t wait to get going.”
Prior to the event, the Bowls New Zealand Annual Awards Evening and AGM will be held, celebrating the
Aotearoa bowls community and bringing together award winners, centre delegates, performance coaches
and top level players from throughout the nation.
Team selections are expected to be announced in the coming weeks, and may be live streamed.
In the meantime, the question remains, who will reign supreme? . . . only time will tell.