Richard Corry : the man they invented sports for

March 15, 2021

Anyone who’s got an email address has to be a sports nut.  And an indefatigable supporter from that part of the Mainland where good things take time.

That’s Richard Corry to a T  … he lives for his sports - and his day job is simply a convenience that takes him out of Otago to sample the many different ways of getting a ball to a goal … around the country … and around the world.

We know him as a pretty sharp outdoor bowler from Wellington’s Victoria Bowling Club.  “But I guess if I was to line them up together,” confesses Richard, “My first love is probably indoor bowls.”

Having said that Richard also loves his curling, his cricket, his rugby, his hockey, his badminton, his table tennis, his petanque, his tennis and more … he has had a go at them all during his lifetime of 48 years, and either continues to play, umpire, administer or simply spectate.

“I started playing outdoor bowls at the Kaikorai Bowling Club when I was 14,” he says, “My uncles were Ian and Phil Dickison, so I’d grown up with bowls.  I can ever remember going to the Nationals when I was 4 years old to watch the likes of Belliss and Unkovich, and getting told off for sitting and dangling my legs in the ditch!”

“I started indoor bowls four years earlier.  I found it easier to read the head, and became a Dunedin Junior Champion in my second year, and was skipping in my third year.”

After joining the airforce in 1996, Richard was transferred to Auckland as an air electronics operator on the P3 Orions.  “Although it was miles away from Whenuapai, I joined the Hillsboro Bowling Club because I had enjoyed the Nationals there previously … it had a great vibe.”

“In 2000, I was sent to Ohakea, and played at the BBC (the Bulls Bowling Club).”

“After two years, I was moved back to Auckland and had a season at the Northcote Bowling Club.  Then came back to Ohakea and back to the BBC after a year.”

Richard left the airforce in 2004, and took a government job in Wellington.  “I knew quite a number of people at the Victoria Bowling Club, who were also supporters of the PBA, so ended up there.”

Richard’s been with the Victoria Bowling Club ever since,

Over the years however, outdoor bowls hasn’t been the only sports he’s enjoyed.

“In fact the highlight to date has to be the International Indoor Bowls Singles in Sheffield, England in 2002.”

“I was guaranteed £1,000 prize-money, so I brought an airforce mate, Rawiri Tahi-Martin, across from New Zealand to do a haka before my first-round game.  He had the puipui, the pouwhenua, the moko … the whole nine yards.  The crowd loved it.  In fact it appeared on one of those ‘What happens next’ TV programmes.”

“It must’ve thrown Richard Corsie, my first round opponent, and a Scottish legend in the sport.  I got a two in the first game, and in the second he accidentally drove all his own bowls off the head.  I was 6-nil up.  He came back, but I won a tie-breaker.”

“He was one of the best in the game, and immediately afterwards, announced his retirement!”

Richard’s also had plenty of highlights while he’s been seconded to the New Zealand Embassy in Washington DC.

“I won a World Indoor Singles Qualifier in Toronto in 2019, and as a result won a place in the international finals in England in January 2020.  I was lucky to get home.  The morning we flew out, Heathrow started screening for COVID.”

But a secondment to Washington has also enabled Richard to satiate his other sporting genes.

“I took up umpiring cricket,” he says. “You’d be surprised to hear that cricket’s played in Washington, but there’s a lot of very good Indians and Sri Lankans keen to play the game.  In fact the ICC is putting a lot of money into cricket in the States ..  they’re even looking to set up a major league.  I’d love to umpire in the league.”

Richard was also keen to give curling a shot in Washington as well. “But COVID has all but shut up all the curling rinks.”

Richard has been back in New Zealand for a while.

Most recently, he played in the Summerset National Fours and Mixed Pairs in Central Otago.

“We (Ray Martin, Laurie Guy and Mark Burgess) failed to qualify in the Fours, but Kay Carr and I got through to the last sixteen in the Mixed Pairs.  The first day of post-qualification was tough.  Kay and I were running on empty by the time it came to the fourth 2-4-2 game.  Twelve hours of bowls in a day is a lot.”

Top 16 is nothing to be sniffed at.

“I’m off again to Washington shortly … who knows what sport I’ll be playing inside and outside the Beltway!”

“But hopefully I’ll be back again in a couple of years for the Nationals again.”


Richard Corry’s outdoor bowls record at a glance

National          2018 National Champion of Champions Triples Winner
                           2018 National Intercentre (lead for the Wellington four) Winner
                           2015 National Fours Runner-up
Centre             10 or so titles
Club                 15 or so titles

Richard Corry’s indoor bowls record at a glance
National          2009 National Fours Winner
                           2006 National Triples Runner-up

Centre             12 or so titles
Club                40 or so titles

PBA in New Zealand at a glance
PBA               230 members
                       $175 per year subscription

Venues        Remuera Bowling Club, Auckland
                       Frankton Railway Bowling Club, Hamilton
                       Paritutu Bowling Club, New Plymouth
                       Bowls Heretaunga, Hastings
                       Naenae Bowling Club, Wellington
                       Dunedin Bowls Stadium, Dunedin
                       Waverley Bowling Club, Invercargill