NZ selection one of bowler's many achievements

16:00, Apr 04 2014

Former New Zealand bowls representative and champion Bill MacArthur has died.

MacArthur passed away peacefully in New Plymouth on March 21, aged 91.

MacArthur represented New Zealand at the second World Bowls, in 1972 in Worthing, England.

He played No 2 in both the triples and fours, finishing fifth and seventh respectively.

MacArthur was born in Mussellborough, Scotland, before his family emigrated to New Zealand when he was aged three.

The early years, which coincided with the great depression, were not easy. By the age of 12, his schooling at Central Primary ended and he was forced out into the workforce.


He finally settled in his own grocery business before becoming an insurance agent.

MacArthur's introduction to bowls came in the 1950s when he was encouraged by doctors to take up the sport.

He joined Paritutu and commenced an association with the illustrious club that was to last more than 30 years and included a stint as president.

His first major on-green achievement came in the 1966 open fours when he skipped the winning side, which included his brother Tom, widely regarded as one of the finest draw players in the country.

The brothers also combined to win the champion-of-champions pairs twice (1967 and 1980) and the champion-of-champions fours (1968).

MacArthur's growing reputation was further enhanced on heavy Dunedin greens when he advanced to the later rounds of the singles in 1972. He was only denied by an umpire's measure against Phil Skoglund, who went on that tournament to complete the unparalleled achievement of winning the singles for three successive seasons.

But the selectors, with an eye for the heavier surfaces in England, liked what they saw.

"I got the shock of my life - but it was a pleasant one," MacArthur said of his selection.

While his international appearance - New Zealand sides were picked only once every two years in those days - was a one-off, he continued to perform with distinction for the next 15 years.

In tandem with Vern Muir, another fine draw player, they claimed the Dominion pairs in 1979. In the same season, the duo were the pair in the seven-man side that won the national intercentre title for Taranaki for the first time.

MacArthur also claimed the Taranaki open triples twice (1977 and 1982), the Christmas pairs (1981) and his final crowning glory came when he again skipped the winning open fours team in 1986.

MacArthur was also a highly successful rugby referee. He was a member of the Taranaki top five between 1961-1967 and controlled six first-class fixtures. He was president of the Taranaki Rugby Referees' Association in 1965 and became a life member in 1990.

He is survived by his two sons, Bill junior and George, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Taranaki Daily News