IN THE world of bowls — one of the Isle of Wight’s most popular summer sports — a much more cautious approach has been taken by clubs towards resuming play after lockdown rules were relaxed.

With most of the 980 Bowls England affiliated players on the Island aged over 70, many are reluctant to return.

Only Ryde Marina, of the Island’s 11 clubs, has started play, albeit as a three-day trial, to see if an immediate return is feasible, with the committee’s final decision to continue resting on how well players followed Bowls England’s safety guidance, issued last Sunday.

Isle of Wight County Press: Roy and Shirley Cooper, left, with Val Croucher and Shirley Searle, were among the first members of Ryde Marina Bowls Club to use the greens, as a trial last week, as the the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.Roy and Shirley Cooper, left, with Val Croucher and Shirley Searle, were among the first members of Ryde Marina Bowls Club to use the greens, as a trial last week, as the the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

Club rules include a maximum of two players per rink, with alternate rinks available for play to allow strict social distancing between games, and players should only use their own equipment.

Changing rooms and clubhouses will remain shut, but clubhouses will allow access to toilets.

Isle of Wight County Press: Clubs like Ventnor are inactive at the moment while they try to establish a set of rules and conditions that would allow members to return and play this summer.Clubs like Ventnor are inactive at the moment while they try to establish a set of rules and conditions that would allow members to return and play this summer.

Disability Bowls England put out similar guidance, with the addition disability aids and wheelchairs must be sanitised before and after play. 

Most club committees have planned online meetings for next week to discuss the way forward.

Sandown plans to open on June 1 and Cowes Medina are inching towards it by designing a new online booking system in readiness.

Isle of Wight County Press: Sandown Bowls Club, which aims to reopen on June 1.Sandown Bowls Club, which aims to reopen on June 1.

Terry Thorner, secretary of Bowls IW, said: “Bowls England has produced some very strict rules for clubs, which will be very difficult for them to adhere to and police.

“The clubs I’ve spoken to are reluctant to get too involved at the moment, especially as most players are in the higher risk age category for Covid-19.

Isle of Wight County Press: Island bowls clubs are taking a cautious approach to opening, amid fears of many older players they are at risk of catching Covid-19.Island bowls clubs are taking a cautious approach to opening, amid fears of many older players they are at risk of catching Covid-19.

“All leagues, cups and friendlies have been scrapped and at least seven clubs say they will not welcome touring teams.

“The general feeling among Island clubs is they are not going to open. They are very tentative about dipping their toes in the water.”