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ENGLAND MEN AND WOMEN WIN GOLD AT HOME INTERNATIONALS

England saw off Scotland, Ireland, Jersey and Wales to secure two golds at the British Bowls International Series last weekend (Friday 28 to Sunday 30 June) in a battle of the British Isles. The event saw all five nations descend to Victoria Park, Royal Leamington Spa, for the first time since the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, and England’s successful medal haul. This year saw a new style of event which combined the historic team rivalry played out on one green with a multi-disciplined format. Players were tested across the four disciplines, with every game contributing to the overall team score, whilst spectators had the opportunity to watch a variety of games, whilst enjoying the atmosphere that team events bring. All matches were played using World Bowls and Commonwealth Games disciplines. With three days of hard-fought games for all nations, it came down to the final session of the last day to determine who was going to top the tables for an exciting conclusion to proceedings.

England men topped the table with 126 points, closely followed by Wales men on 123. England women finished at the top with 135 points, with Scotland women accumulating 123 points and finishing in second place.

England men’s captain, Sam Tolchard, said: “I’m really proud of the boys – every game was tough out there, but we dug deep in all the difficult moments and came back stronger in the next session. The new format gave us the opportunity to develop as a team throughout the Series, moving players and trying new combinations and we’ve gained invaluable experience of playing other international event formats. I believe this will only make us stronger in the future. It’s always hard when it comes down to the very last moment, but I think it was great that the event was so open going into the last session with us, Wales and Ireland all with a chance to win. Obviously, we would have liked to go into the last game in a safer position, but we knew that it was in our hands needing four disciplines and an overall win. Under pressure, we produced and put in a big performance to clinch the top spot and get the gold.”

England women’s captain and World Championships gold medallist, Amy Pharaoh, said: “To be captain of this team is an absolute honour. With a mix of experienced players and some at the start of their international bowls career, we rallied together and supported one another throughout
the tournament and this great team spirit really showed on the greens. To bounce back from a defeat to Scotland with a convincing win against them in the following session showed the strength of this squad, and to come away with the gold in both the women’s and men’s event was the cherry on top. The atmosphere over the course of the tournament was incredible, and the support from spectators was greatly appreciated by the whole England squad.”

Performance director, Mo Monkton, reflected on the result and the importance of international events: “It’s hard to express how proud I am of this team. The dedication and commitment from the squad and performance team was rewarded with gold medals for both the women’s and men’s teams. They showed resilience throughout the tournament, stuck to the task and fully deserved their success. We have invested a huge amount of time and effort in developing our performance programme and international events, like the British Bowls International Series, World Bowls and Commonwealth Games, are a key part of our growth. Winning gold, on home greens, is proof that we are heading in the right direction – I feel the future of our sport is in a very good place.”

The British Bowls event was the first outing this summer for the young England squad, which is supported by principal partner Aviva. Players showcased the partnership across the England kit that was launched last year in conjunction with long-standing apparel partners Aceit.

Players will now continue competing regionally in a bid to reach the Aviva National Finals at Victoria Park from 15 August to 1 September, the pinnacle of the bowls season. Tickets may be purchased from just £5.50 for adults and £2 for Under 18s – more information at bowlsengland.com/aviva-national-finals. Next up for England is the International Test Match against Ireland, taking place at Victoria Park on Saturday 13 – Sunday 14 July.

Team (listed alphabetically by surname): Men: Lewis Baker (Brampton BC, Huntingdonshire) Nick Brett (Brampton BC, Huntingdonshire) Joe Dawson (Kingscroft BC, Leicestershire), Harry Goodwin (Appleyard BC, Kent) James Hampton (Topsham BC, Devon) Kevin Harrison (Aspatria BC, Cumbria) Tom McGuinness (Gerrards Cross BC, Buckinghamshire) Dominic McVittie (Royal Mail Cart BC, Lincolnshire)* Tristan Morton (Parkway BC, Huntingdonshire) Sam Tolchard (Kings BC, Devon) – Captain Andrew Walters (Welford BC, Warwickshire) Ryan Whitlock (Shaldon BC, Devon)* Wayne Willgress (Norfolk BC, Norfolk) Ed Morris (Essex County BC, Essex) Jamie Walker (Culm Vale BC, Devon) Team Manager: Kirk Smith (Gerrards Cross BC, Buckinghamshire) Women: Stef Branfield (Clevedon BC, Somerset) Annalisa Dunham (Burton House BC, Lincolnshire) Katherine Hawes-Watts (Oxford City & County BC, Oxfordshire) Ruby Hill (Cleethorpes BC, Lincolnshire) Laura Holden (Clevedon BC, Somerset) Sian Honnor (Appleyard BC, Kent) Emily Kernick (Royal Leamington Spa BC, Warwickshire)* Lorraine Kuhler (Oxford City & County BC, Oxfordshire) Jamie-Lea Marshall (Kingscroft BC, Leicestershire) Amy Pharaoh (Cleethorpes BC, Lincolnshire) – Captain Katherine Rednall (Norfolk BC, Norfolk) Nicole Rogers (Kings BC, Devon) Harriett Stevens (Kings BC, Devon) Sophie Tolchard (Kings BC, Devon) Rebecca Wigfield (Desborough Town BC, Northamptonshire) Team Manager: Sandy Hazell (Appleyard BC, Kent) * New cap