The Commemoration Cup known as the “Challenge Cup”, now between Auckland and New Plymouth was first played for in 1886, one year after the formation of the New Plymouth Bowling Club. The following year in 1987 it was played for in Auckland and in 1888 in New Plymouth. In those days teams travelled to the tournament by boat and we believe the travel time could have been at least a week to get to and from the venues. The New Plymouth Bowling Club was the victor on all three occasions. Then in 1913 the rivalry between the Clubs was continued where New Plymouth again won in 1913, 1914 and 1915. In 1916 the Auckland Bowling Club were unable to field a team and as the New Plymouth Bowling Club had won the Cup for three years in row, then it stayed with New Plymouth. Either Club that wins they Cup three years in a row retains the Cup until the other Club is successful three years in a row. The present trophy was created in 1912 by each of the two Clubs contributing the sum of 6 pounds. They purchased a large silver bowl with smaller bowls and a Jack underneath which were mounted onto a large greenstone base.

Following discussions in 2022 between Auckland Bowling Club and New Plymouth Bowling Club, Auckland Bowling Club again challenged New Plymouth for the Cup and New Plymouth accepted the challenge. The Auckland Bowling Club then travelled to New Plymouth on 14 and 15 January 2023 to play one game of fours for the right to hold the trophy. Following the usual rituals required by such a challenge, both teams took to the green on Sunday morning and played 15 ends. The first end was started strongly by the New Plymouth Club with Auckland skip life Leif having to save the end by drawing a shot with his second bowl. Score Auckland 1. The second end saw New Plymouth hold on with one shot and the following end saw Auckland get a shot before a mandatory short break was taken by New Plymouth. New Plymouth came back strongly after the break and it was a tightly contested game with Auckland coming out victors after 15 ends by 15 shots to 10 shots. Only 1 Wiskey shot was played – by New Plymouth of course – and the game was played in the greatest traditions of the sport of lawn bowls. The New Plymouth team consisted of lead Graeme Earl, two Gordon Brown, three Basil Newland (who unfortunately had to be substituted) and Tobin Hori at the 4th end and skip Richard Helms. The Auckland team consisted of lead Phil Robottom, two Nenad Rajic, three Glenn Newton and skip Leif Selby.

The President of the New Plymouth Bowling Club, Grayson McElboney presented the trophy to Nenad as President of the Auckland Bowling Club with the usual eloquent comments about the spirit and the gamesmanship showing during the challenge. It was decided by both Clubs that the challenge would be continued every second year on a home and away basis so therefore in 2025 New Plymouth will visit Auckland to challenge for the trophy.

Our thanks and sincere appreciation must go to the New Plymouth Bowling Club, the President Grayson and members, for their hospitality, fellowship and rivalry over the weekend. A great time was had by all and long may it continue.

Greame SCOTT, Patron and Life Member of the Auckland Bowling Club.

16 January 2023