JUST as rugby lovers eagerly await the Hong Kong 7s tournament, similarly the bowling community of Fiji awaits the Hutson Cup competition.
Just as this rugby event is one of the oldest in the rugby calendar, the Hutson Cup is the oldest bowling competition in the national calendar.
One may wonder why we are calling it the oldest bowling event. Well, the answer is simple — it's 87-years old.
This Easter weekend, the tournament will mark its 87th anniversary when it is played at the Suva Bowling Club.
Fiji Bowling Federation secretary Abdul Kalim described the Hutson Cup as the most sought after trophy among the bowling fraternity in Fiji.
"The Hutson Cup is to bowling what the Inter-District Championship is to soccer," he said.
"Whichever club holds the title has bragging rights to be called the best club in the nation."
The premier fours event was first played in Suva back in 1926. The trophy was donated by the late Sir Eyre Hutson who was the Governor of Fiji from 1924 to 1929.
"Only eight teams took part in that inaugural competition which included Levuka and Tailevu, both of which are no longer active," Kalim mentioned.
It was Ba that first hoisted the prestigious title and the club went on to win the title 10 times since then.
Rewa is the most successful club in the history of the competition with 20 titles to their name followed by Suva with 12 wins.
Vatukoula and current champions Sheraton have won the title eight times each while Tamavua has won it seven times.
Lautoka held the title four times while Levuka, Tailevu and Nadi have won the Hutson Cup once.
The most unlucky clubs in the history of the competition has been Rakiraki and Labasa.
"They have never won the Hutson Cup. Often they have come close but never actually won it."
Some big names to have held the title include Ram Shankar, Caucau Turagabeci, Ram Karan Singh, Shorab Khan and the late Tulsi Ram.
"Shorab Khan was part of the Nadi side that won their lone Hutson Cup."
Current notable players who have won the title in the past include Ratish Lal, Semesa Naiseruvati, Babu Khan, Peter Thaggard and Kalim.
Tragedy struck the Hutson Cup in 2007 when it was destroyed in a fire in Ba.
Ba was the champion then and since then no replacement trophy has been officially made, until now.
Kalim said they had ordered another cup from Europe which would be titled the Hutson Cup and would carry on the legacy of the original trophy.
"We are still awaiting the arrival of the trophy from England which would become the new Hutson Cup.
"We are keeping our fingers crossed that the trophy would arrive before the annual event."
Meanwhile, he added there was always fierce competition during the tournament and they are expecting this year's event to be no different.
"The opportunity to play in the Hutson Cup is limited. There are many players in a club but only the best four players get to play.
"Also since one club is represented by only one team, the competition within the clubs for spots in that team is equally fierce."
Kalim said they were expecting about eight to nine clubs to compete in the event this year.
"The defending champions, Sheraton, has three current national reps in the side - Samuela Tui, Arun Kumar and David Aitcheson.
"Rewa is another strong contender with Babu Khan, Ratish Lal and I in the side.
"Suva will have the services of Dan Lum On, Mazid Khan and Semesa Naiseruvati.
"Other seasoned players who will feature are Ilisoni Vakatalai for Tamavua, Kanda Sami Mudaliar for Lautoka, Munesh Kumar for Nadi and Eminoni Turagabeci for Vatukoula.
"Kanda Sami Mudaliar is a veteran player who is 71-years old. He is the current Masters Singles Champion and Banana Cup champion but has never won the Hutson Cup. He would be aiming to win it for the first time.
"The team to watch would be Nadi, they are made up of young players but they have some committed bowlers in the side."
In the build-up towards the 87th Hutson Cup, local clubs will host fours events to select their best four players to compete at the main event.
Today's tournament will be hosted by the Rewa Bowling Club at the Bowling Club in Suva.