The inaugural Bowls3Five televised league has exceeded Mark Cameron’s expectations and the Bowls New Zealand CEO is already looking at potentially expanding next year’s competition.
The six-week league culminated at the New Lynn Bowling Club in Auckland on Wednesday night (November 28), with the Point Chevalier Pirates dramatically beating the Gore Rams on a tie-breaker end to win the maiden title.
“Perfect, that’s exactly what we wanted to deliver for this sport,” Cameron said shortly after Alex Reed’s championship-winning bowl.
“Bowls3Five was about delivering the sport to a wider audience…and I think that’s what we’ve delivered.
“To show the sport of bowls to an audience that’s probably familiar with it as the sport their grandparents play, but actually it’s a sport they can play as well.”
Mark Cameron has thanked SKY Sport for taking “the risk to show this sport” and has been encouraged by their feedback during the competition.
“Their words about round four were ‘pleasantly surprised’, which I take as a very positive statement.
“Ratings came through for the first five weeks and they’re way up on previous bowls competitions.”
Cameron is hopeful the partnership with SKY Sport will continue so they can look at developing the Bowls3Five televised league in year two.
“Clearly we want to grow this.
“If we can get a couple more clubs and a few more nights that’d be great, without over doing it.”
Even without expansion there will be one new club in the league in 2019, with the Woodend Jets relegated after finishing last in the six-team competition.
There will be a national Bowls3Five interclub in March and April next year to find what team will replace Woodend.
Mark Cameron was aiming to have 50-60 clubs take up the format in year one, but has underestimated its popularity.
“A lot of our clubs have adopted the Bowls3Five brand and format for business house and social competitions, which is just fantastic.
“We’ve got about 150-160 clubs, who, over the summer, are going to fight out for that one spot in next year’s competition.”
Bowls New Zealand’s CEO has also reserved special thanks for the players, especially those from the four non-Auckland clubs.
“They’re taking annual leave to play in a bowls tournament for the benefit of bowls,” Cameron said.
“The prizemoney was nice but I’m sure it wasn’t enough to cover annual leave.”