Rugby boys turn to in­door bowls

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

Don’t call Cory Saun­ders and Blake Ship­pam one-di­men­sional.

The all-round year 13 sports­men have be­tween them rep­re­sented Aotea Col­lege at cricket, rugby, un­der­wa­ter hockey and bas­ket­ball this year.

Their lat­est suc­cess came at a more se­date pace and did not in­volve a lot of re­hearsal ei­ther – win­ners of the pairs ti­tle at the Col­lege Sport re­gional in­door cham­pi­onships last month.

The two 17-year-olds have been play­ing in­door bowls for two years and are ex­am­ples of the col­lege’s bur­geon­ing bowls pro­gramme.

‘‘I joined up for a bit of fun,’’ Blake said. ‘‘When you ac­tu­ally start play­ing though, it’s re­ally en­joy­able. You need to stay calm. You def­i­nitely can’t play frus­trated.’’

At the re­gion­als, he and Cory won two of their four pool matches be­fore knock­ing out fel­low Aotea pair Jessica Hall and Latisha Tuia 10-4 in the quar­ter-fi­nals.

In the semi-fi­nals they beat a Para­pa­raumu Col­lege pair­ing 6-5 af­ter an ex­tra end and then de­stroyed a New­lands Col­lege pair 11-5 in the fi­nal. They had lost to the same team 15-5 in pool play, so vic­tory was all the sweeter.

‘‘They absolutely smoked us in the pool match, so we had noth­ing to lose,’’ Cory said. ‘‘It was 11-0 with two ends to go, so it was re­ally con­vinc­ing. I couldn’t stop smil­ing af­ter the match.’’

He said there was ini­tial mock­ing from some of their peers for tak­ing up in­door bowls, but they were en­joy­ing the chal­lenge. They loved the crash and bash of rugby, but in­door bowls was about sub­tlety and strat­egy.

Any­one could play it and the sport was get­ting a real fol­low­ing at Aotea, Cory said.

He said they wouldn’t be go­ing to make up the num­bers and ‘‘ a top four fin­ish would be nice’’.

Aotea’s strong pres­ence in in­door and out­door bowls can be traced back to the open-mind­ed­ness of the sports staff at the col­lege and coach­ing of Rachel Wy­bourneCurtin.

She said get­ting stu­dents into sports that weren’t run of the mill was im­por­tant.

‘‘This whole process started be­cause the kids showed some in­ter­est,’’ she said. ‘‘They’re learn­ing new skills, it’s so much fun and be­fore you know it they’re rop­ing in oth­ers. I’m keen to build a cul­ture in Porirua and make peo­ple re­alise how so­cial bowls is – if we can give it a fam­ily fo­cus it will help the sport grow.’’

Ms Wy­bourne-Curtin hopes Porirua will pro­duce re­gional and national rep­re­sen­ta­tives in com­ing years.

In other re­sults at the re­gion­als, Toss Rameka beat his brother Ja­cob 12-11 in the Cup fi­nal, and Matthew Hall was run­nerup in the plate fi­nal. The plate pairs fi­nal was won by James Moore and Hay­den West­bury.

Photo: KRIS DANDO

Cham­pi­ons: Blake Ship­pam, left, and Cory Saun­ders are smash­ing the myth that rugby play­ers don’t play bowls.

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