Fresh but experienced best describes one of the two Auckland entries in the inaugural Bowls3Five televised league, starting later this month at the New Lynn Bowling Club.
The Royal Oak Rockets will take part in the six-team competition to be broadcast live on SKY Sport on Tuesday and Wednesday nights for six weeks.
Royal Oak Bowls was only formed 13 months ago following a merger of the successful Onehunga and Hillsboro clubs.
Club president Gale Ward, who held the same position at Onehunga, says the merger did not have to happen but it has been the best thing for both clubs.
“Both clubs could have survived. Both clubs had property they could have kept selling,” Ward said.
“[But] I think we both had the vision that we didn’t want to be last man standing…there’s no pride in that.
“I didn’t want to be the president of the club that closed with cobwebs over it.”
Royal Oaks Bowls has quickly found its feet competitively, winning the NZ Open Pairs, Auckland Champ of Champ Pairs and Auckland Champ of Champ Fours, led by Auckland Bowls bowlers of the year Martin Dixon and Mike Galloway.
Dixon and Galloway are joined on the Rockets roster by Gale Ward, the club’s reigning ladies singles champion Robyn Fisher, Grant Goodwin, father of former Blackjack Justin, and Cook Islands representative David Akaruru.
Despite being the new kids on the Auckland Bowls scene, Royal Oak is one of the oldest teams in Bowls3Five, with four players in their 60s, but Ward insists it is not a reflection of the club.
“While a lot of clubs are all retired people, we still have a lot of working members,” she said.
“We’ve got 30-year-olds and 40-year-olds playing now and we have 20-year-olds playing in the social leagues, but they’re not full-paying members.”
Royal Oak Bowls prides itself on being a working class club and all six Rockets squad members hold down full-time jobs.
“Everybody works so to come and play Bowls3Five after a 10 hour day is possibly going to be a bit of a struggle,” Ward said.
“The teams out of town are going to have days off and won’t be working, while we’ll be working during the day and playing afterwards.”
But with ambitions to host the event in the future, as they prepare to build an indoor complex, Gale Ward says they did not hesitate to enter.
“We see Bowls3Five as the next step and it’s no good sitting back and watching it happen, we’re going to be in there and be part of it.”
And what about the name, the Royal Oak Rockets?
“We had a few names on the board for people to choose from and the choice was Rockets,” Ward said.
“Rhinos went up on the board and I said there’s no way I’m having Rhino written on my back!
“I think everybody was too frightened to put their name underneath Rhinos!”
What is Bowls3Five?
Bowls3Five is a new fast format of the game which aims to provide a competition where everyone interested can get involved. Depending on the competition you play in, you can face a set number of ends, a shot clock, double points, and a tiebreaker end. Bowls3Five aims to fit into busy lifestyles of those finding themselves short on time but still wish to compete in sport and those who are stepping up to accept the challenge of the shorter format.
Bowls3Five offers three levels of competition – a social format for twilight competitions, a nationwide interclub competition and the inaugural Bowls3Five televised six-team league. It will be broadcast live on SKY Sport on Tuesday and Wednesday nights for six weeks From October 23 to November 28, 2018 at the New Lynn Bowling Club in Auckland. Specifically for television, the games will be played in one direction with two sets of five ends. If each team has won a set or both sets are drawn there will be a tie-break end to decide the winner of the game. The televised league starts with a double round-robin draw, all teams playing each other twice over the first five weeks. The six teams will then be ranked heading into the finals which are played in week six.
For more information: visit http://www.bowls3five.co.nz or contact Bowls3Five media manager Brenton Vannisselroy on 021 039 0471