Somerset’s Stef Branfield and Sam Tolchard from Devon step into the spotlight this week as England’s representatives in the World Champion of Champions event.
The winners of the 2021 Bowls England National Singles take on a star-studded field of other national champions at Naenae BC in Wellington, New Zealand.
Stef and Sam aim to add their names to a roll of honour which features three previous English winners – Mark Walton in 2005, Julie Leake (then Sanders) in 2006 and Tom Bishop in 2013.
This annual seven-day event which launched in 2003 has not taken place since 2019 due to COVID-19 and Stef is expecting a tough test.
“It’s hard enough to win your National Singles so to then get this opportunity to play on a world stage is a really nice way to round it off,” she said.
“I am going out there to enjoy it and enjoy the experience and hopefully produce the goods on the green.
“We play ten games in a round-robin format of set play. The top two then go direct to the semi-finals while third to sixth play off for the other two places.”
The draw for Stef’s competition is here.
Clevedon-based Stef has leaned on her Dad – former international Pip – for advice about what to expect at a venue she expects to be a far cry from her European Championships appearance in Ayr in July.
“There is a practice day on the 18th which will be helpful as I’ve never been to the venue before,” she said.
“My Dad has played in New Zealand before so he’s been giving me an idea of what it’s going to be like.
“I’m expecting the green to be quite a lot quicker – similar to bowling indoors in the UK but on grass.
“The weather can also play a big part as Wellington in Spring is known for its wind and also it is likely that we’ll get some rain.
“There are 16 of us in the competition but I’ve only played against Mel Thomas from Wales before at the Europeans. But I’ve certainly seen a few of the other names – especially the Aussie – and I’m looking forward to playing them.”
The draw for Sam Tolchard’s competition is here.