'Losing to win' a pandora's box for bowls

THE New Zealand national lawn bowls fours team is facing official allegations of deliberately losing to gain a strategic advantage, according to a Sydney newspaper.

The report says the Kiwis are accused of folding in a game against lowly-ranked Thailand in last month's Asia-Pacific championships in Malaysia to ensure rivals Canada would be eliminated.

A commentator, who calls it the 'Trevor Chappell dilemma', says officials now have to decide whether it is illegal for a team to underperform to advance its overall strategic position.

Bowls Australia chief executive Neil Dalrymple is reported as saying it would be hard to find fault under the written laws of bowls, and is quoted:

“There's nothing in the rules to say you can't underperform … but there's a question whether it's in the spirit of the game.”

Dalrymple said the incident had shaken the lawn bowls world.

“It's something you don't expect to see,” Dalrymple said. “But the sport has progressed to a point where these guys are playing for reasonably high stakes. Like every sport, you're going to have some people willing to push the limits.”

New Zealand international Gary Lawson, reported to be one of four players involved, says:

“We didn't throw the game. We lost. It happens occasionally. Apparently we're not allowed to do that.”

Lawson, according to the newspaper, blamed the loss on the New Zealand coach, saying he 'should be charged for impersonating a coach'.

In the championships, New Zealand advanced to the semi-finals where it was eliminated by Australia.

My View

IF, as Bowls Australia chief executive Dalrymple is reported as saying, there's nothing in the rules of bowls to stop a team deliberately losing a game, it's time there was.

Assuming he's been quoted correctly, his wishy-washy response to allegations against the New Zealand national team is less than reassuring that this blot has no place in our sport.

Attributed to him are comments such as 'hard to find fault', 'people willing to push the limits', and the top clanger of all, 'there's a question of whether it's in the spirit of the game'.

A question? There's no question - if bowls has degenerated to the stage where we have to think whether to ask questions about the legality, or even propriety, of what clearly is a breach of sporting integrity, heaven help us.

The difficulty, of course, is deciding when a team is not performing to its ability. But if there is obvious evidence of it, the culprits should have the book thrown at them.

The New Zealand team says it was a legitimate loss. The official inquiry will have difficulty proving otherwise.

These allegations gave Bowls Australia an opportunity to take a strong stance against deliberately losing a game. Instead, we got a weak-kneed response.

BALLINA'S wunderkind, Aaron Teys, not yet 16, is to get his big chance at open State level. He's been selected in the NSW Country side to take on the City stars at Cabramatta on November 14-15. Also in the side is his Ballina clubmate Mick Anderson.

While Anderson is an old hand at NSW representation, this is Teys' first call-up into top class open play - the City side has names like Steve Glasson, Leif Selby, Shane Garvey, Wayne Turley, Scott Caundle, to name a few. He will lead for former Australian rep Aron Sherriff, while Anderson will be second for Thirroul's Matt Sargeant.

It's justified recognition for young Teys, who also will represent NSW at the Australian junior championships at Halekulani, starting on September 28.

Worrying trend

A JUMP in its capitation fees from $33 to $35, is an attempt to keep up with rising costs, says the RNSWBA Committee's annual report.

The report, which shows a net profit downturn from $206,901 the previous year to $36,417, points out the effect on income of 'dramatic' declining numbers playing the game, club closures and amalgamations.

The magazine we're forced to buy shows a loss for the year of $3054. How much would it lose if it wasn't compulsory? Perhaps, instead of empire building, it's time for pruning from the top.

EIGHT Ballina club bowlers will play in the US Open in Arizona from October 24-30. One of them, the club's sports co-ordinator Tony Scott, has previously won two titles in this big time international comp - in pairs and fours. The others chasing an US Open gong are Wes Sterland, Viv Ross, Geoff Stewart, Rod Miles, Phillip Miles, Phil Tresider and Greg Lester.

ILUKA'S 35th three-day Gold Medal Triples was won on Monday by a Yamba team skipped by former Thirroul bowler Graham Meany.

Meany and his team - Bob Ballantyne and Bill Cox - took out the final 19-13 from Alan Knox, Ken Landrigan (Grafton) and Chris Teare (Ballina). Calcutta favourites, former internationals Robbie Dobbins, Ray Glasser and Geoff Hawken, were eliminated in the quarter-finals.

JUNIOR training is on at Evans Head this Sunday morning, NRDBA scribe John Forshaw reports. Officials are looking for a better attendance than at past sessions.

COMING EVENTS - September 29: Lismore Workers Heights Super 10 Triples (two-bowl). October 19-20: Casino RSM Coca-Cola Triples (two-bowl).

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