Once again, Burnside Bowling Club player and School teacher Tayla Bruce has won the Women’s Player of the Year, after also receiving the gong in 2022.
Those who are familiar with Tayla’s achievements this last season will be unsurprised. She has stacked up more credentials on her bowling CV in just the last year than most bowlers would in a whole lifetime. Like an Energizer Bunny, Tayla just keeps on winning and winning and winning.
And it couldn’t happen to a nicer person.
Tayla not only has impeccable bowls credentials, but she has the personal credentials we Kiwis like our Kiwis to have … she’s modest about her amazing achievements, unforgetful of her upbringing as an ‘ordinary’ Kiwi, and willingly giving to those about her.
She’s a great cheerleader for New Zealand and New Zealanders. Except that she doesn’t ‘cheerlead’ … that’s more an American thing. Instead she just lets her actions do the talking.
And last season, like previous seasons, there was a heck of a lot of actions that did a heap of talking!
Particularly last November (2022) when Tayla won the World Champion of Champion Women’s Singles … allowing her to claim to be the best player in the world. But in typical Tayla fashion, you won’t hear her claiming it.
That achievement followed on from three months of bowls success. In August 2022, helping win a bronze in the Women’s Triples at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. And a bronze in the Women’s Fours. In September, not only winning the National Women’s Player of the Year, but also becoming the National Supreme Award Winner at the Bowls New Zealand Awards in Dunedin. And in October, she added runner-up in the Stoke Stakes Women’s Pairs to her credentials.
The new year proved just as successful.
At the National Opens in Auckland in January (2023), she won the Women’s Pairs with Clare Hendra from Silverstream. And at the same tournament, she also came runner-up in the Women’s Singles, being narrowly beaten by fellow Blackjack Selina Goddard 21-20.
Tayla was nominated for the 60th Halberg Awards in January, but her entry was swamped by a plenitude of other fellow world champions New Zealand boasted this last year.
And in March, she was selected for the Blackjacks to play in the Multi-Nations tournament on the Gold Coast, but was beaten by better bowlers on the day.
She made far more of her chances at the World Championships on the Gold Coast in August, when she beat far more fancied women about her to win the gold medal in the Singles.
Despite all this playing and playing success, Tayla’s still had time to give back to the sport of bowls.
She’s continued to be a volunteer coach for the Canterbury Youth Bowls Academy, which she set up with Katelyn Inch. It encourages secondary school aged players to get into, and enjoy, the game. Last October, she was Tournament Director for the Burnside Under 26 Singles Tournament.
As Lorraine McLeod, General Manager of Bowls Canterbury observes: “All this makes Tayla the best singles player of the year – it doesn’t get much better!”
We agree. Congratulations Tayla!