Crackerjack! It’s gold for UNE lawn bowlers

Published 08 October 2008

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A University of New England lawn bowls team won a gold medal at the Australian University Games (AUG) in Melbourne last week, taking the total medal tally for UNE to one gold, one silver and two bronze.

“To score that number of medals when you consider the size of our university compared to others is a fantastic overall performance,” said Brad King, UNE’s AUG team manager.

The outstanding results in all sports saw UNE gain second place in the Doug Ellis Trophy, awarded to universities scoring the highest number of points per head of student population. Organisers believe it is likely that some of the UNE competitors will be selected for the Australian University Sport “Green and Gold” team in their respective sports.

“We are very excited about the performance of our entire team,” Mr King said. “It was the biggest team we’ve ever sent, with around 170 competitors. They all participated to their best ability and always played in the spirit in the game.

“The medal tally might have been lower than in previous years, but overall our teams performed better than ever before. In all sports they improved on previous levels.”

The AUG lawn bowls games were played at Melbourne Bowling Club – the real-life location of the film Crackerjack, which was responsible for a surge in interest in lawn bowls among young people.

This year UNE fielded two lawn bowls teams. The Division One team, including State title winners Jay Porter and Daniel Williams, had a convincing win over defending champions Curtin University in the gold medal match. In Division Two, the UNE team (which had been together for only a short time) scored a bronze medal.

“This was the first competition for some of the players, but they all worked well together as a team,” said the team manager, Jon Knight. “There was some competition from the other universities, but we rose to the occasion and played really well.”

In the Rugby Sevens competition, UNE won silver after a tight match against Sydney University. The team, including current Brumbies player Francis Fainifo, lost by a converted try with a final score of 36 to 29. Other outstanding performers included Ben Thomas and Sam Bacigalupo.

An individual bronze medal was won by athlete Renee Van der Berg, who came third in the 800 metres running event and was also a finalist in the 400 metres event.

“It’s a fantastic achievement,” Mr King said, “when you consider that many of the athletes are Olympic standard.”

The Australian University Games is the largest annual multi-sport event in Australia, and is the highlight of the university sporting calendar. This year, the games had more than 6,000 participants from 42 universities. Next year the games will be held on the Gold Coast.

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here expands to show UNE’s gold-medal-winning lawn bowls team: (from left) Anthony Jarvis, Daniel Williams, Dan Whale, Jay Porter, and Jon Knight.