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Apathy Towards the Laws

In the last few months, a couple of incidents have confirmed my long standing suspicions that there is a general apathy towards the laws and rules of bowls amongst not only grass roots players but officials as well.

I understand there will always be those that ask questions about the intricacies and interpretations of the more complicated laws. These are fine and keep us more experienced officials on our toes. But it’s the basics that worry me.

Who keeps the scorecard in triples? Do I have to have one foot on the mat when I deliver indoors? These are just two of the many e-mails I received recently via the interweb media. I was tempted to offer a less than suitable reply but my kinder nature felt sorry for the questioners. With the amount of debate and articles that have been written in numerous publications including this one, it puzzled me that these individuals, who are experienced players, had seemingly been vacationing on Mars for the past four years.

I will of course accept that we have the farcical situation in the UK with one set of laws that apply outdoor and one that applies indoor. I Pity the poor new bowler that has to understand both sets. But what worries me is the lack of understanding of the basics like how to stand on the mat and deliver a bowl. I can’t think of another sport where such basic principles are not known by the grass root players.


So is there a general lack of interest in the laws or is it more the case that the little pink book (green, indoor) is too boring and like wading through treacle? After all, most people just want to get on the green and chuck a few big balls up to see how close they can get them to the little one. Do we need a simpler version a bit like a basic instruction manual? What are your thoughts?


Of more of a concern to me is that our own officials seem apathetic towards the laws. Much has been published about the forthcoming review of the ‘Laws of the Sport’ next year. National Governing Bodies such as Bowls England and Bowls Australia were asked to submit any amendments to the current edition of the pink book.

Judging by the constant law bashing that takes place on the various worldwide forums, social media and in general discussion, one would have imagined that the submission to World Bowls would be a significant tome. Skips annoyed because they have better things to do than mark the card and no penalty available if they resist and cause a rumpus with the poor old umpire; those same umpires unsure whether to allow a bit of leeway to be given to foot faulting or to penalise everyone for having their big toes hanging over the front of the mat. Surely they would be the obvious ones to appeal to our World Governing Body to consider addressing?

Imagine then my shock, dismay and indeed annoyance that Bowls England were unable to submit any suggestions, not even a missing full stop. Now it is not really the fault of Bowls England as they are very much reliant on the expertise of the English Umpires Association to offer some input – but there was nothing from our officials at all. I find it incredible that there appears to be such an apathetic approach to this opportunity.

So now we are very much at the mercy of the other nations to dictate the future of any amendments that may be made to the law book or indeed the next instalment if the suggested changes demand a complete reprint. You can bet your bottom dollar that the Australians have submitted a meaty proposal.

In my opinion, apart from a few tweaks and ironing out of a couple of inconsistencies, the laws are fine, and before you ask, yes I have offered some feedback on these tweaks but they didn’t go via the EBUA or Bowls England. I see the sense of the skip doing the scorecard, after all they don’t have much more to do and they are supposed to be in charge of the game according to the laws!