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Bowls Australia’s showpiece television and spectator event, the Bowls Premier League, has expanded to a 12-team format with the confirmation of the two new teams poised to take part from BPL20 this November (writes Aidan Davis, Bowls Australia).

The biannual competition will feature an expansion in the nation’s biggest market, with a new Sydney team to complement the two existing Melbourne and two Tweed/Gold Coast team rivalries, and coverage of a regional Victorian heartland for the sport of bowls.

St Johns Park Bowling Club Group, which includes St Johns Park Bowling Club, Tuncurry Beach Bowling Club, Club Wallacia and Wallacia Country Club, will compete for the spoils of the sport’s most revered televised event as one of the two new licensees under the Sydney Saints team banner.

Ocean Grove Bowling Club will join the coveted competition under the new Geelong Jets brand, capturing support across the 24 clubs situated within the wider Geelong Bowls Region.

Both the Sydney Saints and Geelong Jets teams are committed to having international representation among their team roster to expand the reach and appeal of the event to new markets.

St Johns Park and Ocean Grove presented standout applications for the two new team licences, with both clubs lauded for their modern and forward-thinking approach to building strong brand identities and supporter bases through promotion, awareness and connection to broad catchment areas.

Bowls Australia CEO Matthew Kennedy said St Johns Park’s Sydney Saints and Ocean Grove’s Geelong Jets were welcome additions and would play an exciting part of the BPL’s evolution.

“The Bowls Premier League has established itself as a prestigious and exciting Australian sporting product across 19 events and 11 years, and it’s fantastic to see the event evolve to another level with the inclusion of two really strong, progressive and committed Clubs in Saint Johns Park and Ocean Grove,” Kennedy said.

“Bowls Australia was been really thrilled with the level and quality of interest that we received from this expression of interest process and it’s already helping frame our thinking about possibilities for the next phase of the competition in 2026-27 onwards. 

“We sincerely thank all those that made submissions, and also the existing 10 BPL teams for their cooperation in the planning for this next stage of the evolution of the event.”

St Johns Park Bowling Club Group Chairman Geoffrey Rymer said the Group was thrilled to be afforded entry into the BPL.

“Representing a leading group of clubs within the Bowls industry, our Group is committed to the growth and promotion of the sport not only within New South Wales but also across Australia and internationally,” Rymer said.

“We are immensely grateful for the opportunity to join the competition as the Sydney Saints and are fully committed to supporting Bowls Australia in its efforts to ensure the continued success of the Bowls Premier League.”

Ocean Grove Bowling Club CEO Nathan O’Neill said the Club and Geelong community more broadly were excited about the prospect of competing in the BPL.

“Ocean Grove Bowling Club is thrilled to secure a licence to establish the Geelong Jets team in what is unquestionably the sport’s premier competition, which further elevates our local and national profile and status as the largest bowls and entertainment precinct in regional Victoria,” O’Neill said.

“Our team will proudly embrace the Geelong identity and foster a strong community supporter base under our ‘community team on the national stage’ positioning and approach.”

Underpinning the evolution of the BPL event, alongside this announcement, Bowls Australia and Sports Entertainment Network (SEN) have confirmed an extension to their production partnership and rights holder relationship for a further two years.

Under the extension, SEN’s television production arm Rainmaker will continue to produce the sport’s broadcast television production of the BPL and Australian Open events for 2024, 25 and 26.

SEN’s CEO – Teams, Ballpark, Rainmaker & Publishing Richard Simkiss said he was excited about the continued commercial partnership and associated television coverage of the sport.

“Our partnership with Bowls Australia has been a wonderful success over many years, and we look forward to offering a quality viewing experience for fans while delivering commercial outcomes for brands wanting to connect to the highly engaged bowls audience,” Simkiss said. 

Kennedy said the quality of SEN’s broadcast production elevated the sport and was crucial to raising its profile and popularity.

“The quality of television production of the sport’s biggest events, in the Bowls Premier League and Australian Open, is paramount to the continued growth and evolution of not just the events but the sport as a whole, and contribute to engaging existing fans and expanding the appeal to new audiences,” Kennedy said.

“Bowls Australia are excited to continue working alongside valued partners in Sports Entertainment Network and Rainmaker to provide quality coverage of the sport.”