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