THERE will be no major changes to the Zone 11 pennant bowls format in 2017.
Zone secretary, Bruce Elliott has confirmed this.
The zone (formerly Manning Bowling Association) will run the grades from No 2s to 7s.
“The usual promotion and relegation process will be in place before next season and there’ll be the usual arguments,’’ Mr Elliott said.
“That happens every year.’’
However, Mr Elliott admitted he has ‘no idea’ what will happen with the Northern Conference No 1 grade run by the State match committee.
Mr Elliott reiterated the zone has no control over the blue ribbon grade.
This came into play for the first time this year and involved teams from the Forster and Tuncurry to the Far North Coast.
It was split into sections, with seven clubs from the Manning and Hastings playing in the Lower North Coast division.
Tuncurry Beach emerged champions and moved through to the State playoffs.
Tuncurry had dominated the former Manning No 1 grade pennant competition for more than a decade before the advent of the Northern Conference.
“As far as I know the three clubs from our zone (Tuncurry Beach, Forster and Taree West) want to play in the ones again next year,’’ Mr Elliott said.
“But I don’t have any information about the clubs further north.
“The State match (committee) won’t make any decision until it is known the number of teams involved next year.
“I’d expect that’ll be at the end of this month, but I haven’t received any official notification.
“You hear rumours about clubs wanting to pull out and others wanting to nominate, but I haven’t seen or heard anything concrete.’’
A forum was held in Sydney recently attended by zone and club representatives from throughout the State to discuss, among other things, the future of the elite grade.
Mr Elliott said there was much disquiet expressed by country clubs about the widening gulf between the standard of country and cashed up city clubs.
This is now evident at the State finals.
“A number of city teams have interstate representatives coming in playing in their sides,’’ he said.
“They’re know as fly-in, fly-outs.’’
Mr Elliott understands a competition for the strong city clubs similar to the former Premier League could come into play in 2018 and this could have ramifications on the makeup of clubs in the State finals.
Mr Elliott said that as was the case this year, winning teams from the Zone 11 pennants (grades two to seven) will qualify for the State playoffs.
The same applies to winners of the zone championships.