Auckland, North Taranaki, Canterbury, Otago, Hutt Valley and Tauranga, will be fighting it out to become the Welch Trophy Indoor Bowls Inter-District champions and assume the mantle of the best indoor bowls district in New Zealand starting on Friday 6th September.
None of the districts that competed last year have made the final so the districts competing have every opportunity to come out on top.
The 68th Welch Trophy competition, which is the symbol of indoor bowls supremacy, will be held at the Pukekohe Cosmopolitan Club, Auckland on Friday 6th to Sunday 8th September. Play will commence on Friday evening at 7pm with competition continuing on Saturday with three sessions of play and concluding on Sunday afternoon at 12.30pm.
The Welch Trophy presented by George and Elsie Welch has been going since 1951 and is regarded as the premier inter-district competition. It is held annually and is contested by the six districts that have won their Paterson Trophy round robin competition. Each district is represented by two teams of four, playing singles, pairs and fours.
An exhilarating weekend is in store with the field wide open and a new champion to be crowned. Tauranga is looking to make history and win for the first time and Hutt Valley has not won since 1958 and 1959, sixty years ago.
The fours are worth four points, the pairs three points and the singles two points each.
Of the districts competing Auckland won most recently in 2017 and seven of the eight players are in this year’s team. The 2017 team included Paul Wright and Rodney Mills who won their second medals and Steve Fisher, Neil Gash, Simon Poppleton, Alex Reed and Colin Williams who won their first medals. The player who was recalled to the team this year is Gary Taiaroa.
No changes have been made to the team that won this year’s Paterson Trophy. Taiaroa was a regular member of the team in the early 2000’s and last played in 2005. He will play two in the team skipped by Simon Poppleton along with North Island representative Alex Reed and North Island Academy representative Colin Williams. North Island representative Steve Fisher skips the A team with Mat Black Paul Wright at three, Rodney Mills at two and Gash leading. Fisher was third equal in the Open Pairs this year while Wright won two Australasian titles with the successful Mat Blacks. Fisher and Reed were members of the successful North Island team and won the Inter-Island medal in the men’s singles and triples respectively.
Auckland has won the Welch Trophy eight times in 1963, 1964, 1975, 1982, 1984, 1992, 2007 and 2017.
North Taranaki will be one of the strongest challengers and is led by the New Zealand captain Grant l’Ami who holds seven Welch Trophy titles and won his Welch Trophy Gold Star in 2013. At the national championships this year he became the first player to win a third Gold Star for fifteen titles. He will be well supported by John Zittersteijn who is a former NZ rep and has a Welch Trophy Gold Star from 2016. They have one player, Ross Wright on debut as their two and the other player is Ivan Phipps as the lead. Wright has been playing consistent bowls in Open and Centre Events while Phipps was in the Northern Zone Masters team this year and is playing well. The other team is skipped by North Island Representative Mark Ridley who has four Welch Trophy medals from 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016 and four National Championship Titles. His three is Alister Wilson who has a Welch Trophy Gold Star from 2016 and was a member of the Northern Zone Masters team, the two is his son Sean who is a former NI rep and has four Welch Trophy medals and the lead is Dennis Behrent who was in the 2016 team that won the Welch and was also in the Northern Zone Masters team this year.
North Taranaki has won the Welch Trophy five times 1980, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016. Alister Wilson was in all of these teams to win his Welch Trophy Gold Medal while l’Ami has won four with North Taranaki and three with Otago and John Zittersteijn has won four with North Taranaki and one with Upper Hutt Valley.
Tauranga has won the Paterson Trophy nine times previously in 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2017 but has yet to win the Welch Trophy. They will be spearheaded by New Zealand Representatives Paul Smith and Fiona Keegan. Tauranga selectors have selected an in form team with players that featured at the national championships. Mike Phipps won two titles pairs and triples, Lorraine Phipps one title in the triples and earned her National Championship Gold Star, Smith was runner-up in the Open Singles and combined with Keegan and Geoff Coughey to finish third equal in the Open Triples, Val Hagan was runner-up in the Masters Singles and third equal in the Masters Pairs. Anthony Ouellet was runner-up in the Junior Singles last year while Roger Bartosh has a Welch Trophy medal from 2006 with Waikato and won the Masters Pairs in 2016. Coughey who is a former North Island rep won the Mixed Pairs in the North Island Eastern Zone final. Lorraine Phipps recently won the Inter-Island Medal in the North versus South match in the women’s triple.
Hutt Valley last won the Paterson Trophy in 2013 and went on to compete for the Welch Trophy and has six of the players that competed that year still in the team. They are Mat Black reserve and North Island representative Shelley Jacombs, Marcus Trlin and Mark Jacombs who were selected for the North Island Academy this year and has two Welch Trophy medals with Otago, former NZ and North Island representative Lois Randall, current Mat Black Denise Clarkson who won two Australasian medals in the women’s triples and fours and former NI representative Joseph Zino. Brett Holden was recalled for the Paterson team and the new cap was Jordan Keene who has come through the junior ranks. It is sixty years since Hutt Valley won the Welch Trophy in 1958 and 1959 when the competition was played on a challenge system.
Canterbury has a very strong combination that completely overwhelmed the other districts in their zone to win the Paterson Trophy.
Simon Thomas who won two Australasian Medals in the men’s triples and fours skips one team and the other is skipped by the in form former South Island rep Chris Matthews who won the Mixed Pairs and Mixed Fours zone finals. Canterbury has an excellent history with twelve Welch Trophy titles the last was in 2011. Thomas and Philpott have four Welch Trophy titles, and Spicer, King and Osborne have three each and Matthews has one. Also in the team are current South Island reps Kylie Gould, Mike King and reserve David Philpott. Gould skipped the South Island women’s four to win the Inter-Island medal at the recent North versus South match.
Canterbury had a purple patch in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 and has won the Welch Trophy 12 times overall including 1967, 1968, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977 and 1981.
Otago which won the Welch Trophy five times in 1970, 1990, 1999, 2001 and 2003 and now the Paterson Trophy 21 times the previous time in 2016 has selected a youthful team with two vastly experienced players.
Daniel French, Keri Te Tamaki, Daniel Sinclair, Nicholas Sinclair and Brandon Williams have all come through the junior ranks and the Academy teams. French first played for Otago at Paterson Trophy level in 2005 as a junior player and is now a Mat Black and won two Australasian Medals this year in the men’s triples and fours. Keri Te Tamaki was selected for the South Island team this year along with Nicholas and Daniel Sinclair and Williams. David Webb makes his debut for the South Island this year. The two older statesmen are former New Zealand and South Island representative Raymond Webster who was at his peak in the eighties and nineties and won the Welch Trophy in 1990 and Hugh Bosman who was a Welch Trophy reserve in 2003. Webb, and the Sinclair brothers were members of the successful South Island men’s fours team that won the Inter-Island medals recently.
The teams are:
Auckland: A Team: Steve Fisher (s), Paul Wright, Rodney Mills, Neil Gash; B Team: Simon Poppleton (s), Alex Reed, Gary Taiaroa, Colin Williams. Reserve: Carol Wright; Manager: Lee Singer.
Tauranga: A Team: Paul Smith (s), Mike Phipps, Anthony Ouellet, Fiona Keegan; B Team: Geoff Coughey (s), Roger Bartosh, Lorraine Phipps, Val Hagan; Reserve: Carl Jamieson; Manager: Graham Caie.
North Taranaki: A Team: Grant l’Ami (s), John Zittersteijn, Ross Wright, Ivan Phipps; B Team: Mark Ridley (s), Alister Wilson, Sean Ridley, Dennis Behrent. Reserve: Len Spick; Manager: Brian Hardgrave.
Hutt Valley: A Team: Marcus Trlin (s), Mark Jacombs, Lois Randall, Denise Clarkson; B Team: Joseph Zino (s), Brett Holden, Shelley Jacombs, Jordan Keene. Reserve: Paul Rybinski; Manager: Marie Crighton
Canterbury: A Team: Simon Thomas (s), Blair Spicer, Kylie Gould, Gary Ashby; B Team: Chris Matthews (s), Mike King, Rob Osborne, Dave Philpott; Reserve: Deanne Osborne; Manager: David Bullock,
Otago: A Team: Daniel French (s), Raymond Webster, Brandon Williams, Hugh Bosman; B Team: David Webb (s) (capt), Daniel Sinclair, Nicholas Sinclair, Keri Te Tamaki; Reserve: Craig Cowan; Manager: Brent Sinclair.