Ultimate Bowls Championship Showcases Fresh New Format to Global Audience
In 2018, a small team of people from Australia and New Zealand came together with a vision to promote the sport of lawn bowls and develop strategies to engage with bowls enthusiasts and attract new people to the game.
To that end, they created the Ultimate Bowls Championship (UBC), a fresh and innovative new event that has drawn comparisons with cricket’s Twenty20 format thanks to its colourful atmosphere and spectator-friendly focus.
“The UBC has been designed in a way to showcase our fantastic sport to an audience from all parts of the world,” says UBC CEO/Director, Mark Casey, who is also a former Australian bowls representative. “Lawn Bowls has been my passion since I was a child. I have been fortunate to be able to represent Australia over 14 years, and I am looking forward to assisting with the growth of our game around the world. I feel this is exactly what our sport needs.”
Casey works closely with the 24 team owners from Australia, New Zealand and Asia, as well as the host venues, broadcast partners and sponsors to ensure the UBC is an ongoing success story.
An exciting concept
The UBC is an exciting concept with a unique scoring system, significant prize money on offer and a fantastic broadcast package.
“We believe our unique scoring system is entertaining to watch as there is an opportunity for points to be awarded from every bowl that is delivered, which is quite different when you compare this to any other format of our sport,” Casey says.
“Some of the world’s best players took part in our first event in April and they loved having so many opportunities to score points for their team, instead of waiting until the end of each end. Teams are never out of the contest which makes it fun to play, but also very entertaining to watch.”
The UBC is the world’s largest prize money event for bowls with $500,000 up for grabs. “This gives our sport some fantastic exposure around the world. We have a vision to keep growing our competition so this first year has provided us with an exceptional platform,” he says.
“Lastly, our broadcast package is simply incredible. UBC’s first event was watched by over 1 million viewers across 243 hours. This alone is brilliant for our game.”
UBC Player Draft
At the start of each year there will be a UBC Player Draft to help finalise each team’s playing roster. As there are three players required for each team, team owners have two entry options of initially selecting one player or two players.
“The Draft created excitement not only for our event, but importantly for our players. There were players going into the night not knowing where they would end up which built tension and drama, something that hasn’t previously been a big part of our sport,” Casey says.
The Victorian players drafted this year are:
Pick 1: Deer Park Chargers – Brett Mahoney
Pick 3: Moama – Jesse Noronha
Pick 8: Dandenong Club – Wayne Turley
Pick 11: Port Melbourne Navigators – Nathan Bush
Pick 13: Port Melbourne Borough Boyz – Brett Spurr
Pick 17: Whittlesea Eagles – Anthony Flapper
Pick 21: Albert Park UltraOrbs – Russell Green
Pick 1: Deer Park Chargers – David Holt
Pick 2: Port Melbourne Navigators – Brett Dodd
Pick 4: Port Melbourne Borough Boyz–John McCarron
Pick 6: Albert Park UltraOrbs – Luke Aiello
Pick 12: Moama – Seamus Curtin
Event 1 success
The inaugural UBC event, held at the Warilla Bowls & Recreation Club, has been hailed a huge success, with the Dandenong Club team of Gary Kelly, Barrie Lester and Wayne Turley emerging as champions and taking home $60,000 for their efforts.
“It was a massive milestone for our sport, and it was incredible to see the players enthralled in the concept,” Casey says. “From my point of view there were so many highlights, the way the players adapted and really bought into our concept was great to see. They put on an outstanding show!”
Running a bowls event of this scale relies heavily on the efforts and commitment of numerous people.
“Another great highlight was our brilliant team of volunteers,” he says. “One of the local high schools provided 20 students to assist with the operating of the scoring tablets. Some of these students had no background knowledge of our sport but went away from the event wanting to try it out for themselves. Those are the good stories we love to hear.”
Positive feedback and a bright future
“The overall feedback has been phenomenal,” claims Casey. “We have received emails from people all over the world wanting to know more about our concept. People love the excitement of our scoring system which is very pleasing.”
Following the first event, organisers have identified some areas to improve and make the upcoming second and third UBC events even bigger and better. “There are certainly a few items that we are introducing for this next event which will only enhance the experience for everyone involved, both at the venue or watching from home on TV.”
One of the most important tasks for organisers has been identifying suitable venues, with two Bowls Victoria affiliated clubs – Deer Park Club and Moama Bowling Club – selected to host Event 2 and Event 3 respectively.
“Given the level of broadcast we have involved and the nature of our event being all over within two days, the main requirement is that the venues must have an undercover or indoor green,” Casey explains.
“I believe we have selected three of the most outstanding bowls venues in the world of bowls. Each host club has fantastic staff and bowls management which provide assistance with the operational requirements that come with organising large international standard events. We certainly appreciate the support of all host venues.”
The host venues for the first three UBC events are:
- Warilla Bowls & Recreation Club, NSW (Event 1 – 4-5 April 2019)
- Deer Park Club, VIC (Event 2 – 15-16 August 2019)
- Moama Bowling Club, VIC (Event 3 – 12-13 December 2019)
Entry to UBC Event 2 at The Deer Park Club is free, so everyone is encouraged to get along and watch the action from 9:30 am each day. Finals commence at 5:00 pm on Friday 16 August 2019. For more information visit the Ultimate Bowls Championship website