This article appeared previously in “Extra Ends”
The members of Team Canada were not the only Canadians seen on the greens at the 2016 World Bowls Championships. Canada’s Nick Watkins was also in attendance serving as an International Technical Official (ITO) at this premier event. Watkins was one of about 35 ITO’s from seven bowling nations who officiated. The championships were hosted at three bowls venues, played on eight greens, and extended over 12 days of competition.
During the round robin stages, the officials officiated three games daily, working either as an umpire, a marker or a time keeper. “We all worked very well together as a team,” said Watkins. “ Interchanging roles and responsibilities each game and each day. In some ways, officiating at a world event is easy, as all the players and officials are very experienced. However, it is not simple, as one must be constantly prepared to respond at a moment’s notice to a variety of situations. Jack length and boundary measures were the most common calls, but we always needed to keep an eye open for flying jacks and premature visits to the head.”
Each club had a large greenskeeping crew who were busy early each morning mowing and rolling the greens and chalking the centre lines and 2-metre T’s. This gave the officials time to check all the boundary markers and take the pace of each green. “The umpires from New Zealand and Australia were the most consistent at drawing a bowl to a 27-metre jack on 17 second greens. Experience counts a lot when playing on lightning-fast greens!”
Watkins returned home with several key observations from his experience including:
1. The importance of equipment: Each green at this event had a boundary string that was equipped with measuring pegs, enabling it to serve both for boundary measures and for string measures that were over 14 feet (“Yes”, stated Watkins, “there were a few.”).
- The importance of bowl inspections: Although all sets of bowls were inspected prior to the start, one set was discovered during a random inspection to include one bowl that was stamped a different year from the other three.
“This was a great opportunity to meet all my fellow World Bowls Laws Committee members, and to network with other umpires from around the world, enabling me to bring back some ideas to help with the development of bowls in Canada” concluded Watkins.