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Let He who is Without Sin Cast the First Jack

FEB 2013 edition

The following incident occurred recently in a Welsh national club championship match.

The lead delivered the jack and on its way up the green it struck his skip on the foot and deflected sideways. The same skip returned the jack to the mat end and the same lead was about to re-deliver the jack. The umpire on duty stepped to the edge of the rink and pointed out to the lead that the jack now must be delivered by the opposing lead and that he could re-position the mat if he wished. Both leads were very co-operative and had no problem with this decision. However, the skip thought that the umpire should not get involved until requested to do so by either skip.

Was the umpire correct? And what would you have done in a similar situation?

Firstly, let us look at the law which covers such an incident.

I have covered the complete law as it appears in the law book with the relevant paragraph in bold print. Law 23 in the World Indoor Bowls Council Laws of the Sport of Indoor Bowls (WIBC) states the following:

Law 23 Delivering the Jack

(i). Before the jack is delivered the mat must be correctly placed in accordance with

Law 18. The player to play first shall deliver the jack and ensure that it is properly


(ii). If the jack in its original course comes to rest at a distance of less than two metres

from the front ditch, it shall be moved out to a mark at that distance and centred

with the nearest portion of the jack to the mat line being two metres from the edge of the front ditch, by setting it alongside the edge of a two metre measuring device, or in line with the ‘T,’ if affixed to the carpet in accordance with Law 5(ix).

(iii). If the jack during its original course is obstructed or deflected by a neutral object

or neutral person or by a marker, opponent, or member of the opposing team, it

shall be redelivered by the same player.

(iv) If the jack during its original course is obstructed or deflected by a member

of its own team, it shall be redelivered by the lead of the opposing team, who

under these circumstances is entitled to reset the mat.

(v). No one shall be permitted to challenge the legality of the original position of the

jack after the first to play has delivered the first bowl.

For those of you who play under World Bowls Limited Laws of the Sport of Bowls (WBL), their version is a little more complicated:

Law 22 Delivering the Jack

22.3 If, in its original course, the jack is displaced by one of the other players,

law 33.1.1 will apply.

Law 33.1.1 then goes on to state the following:

33.1.1 Displacement of a jack in its original course. If a jack in its original course is displaced by a member of the team

that delivered the jack, the opposing lead should place the mat as

described in law 19.1.1 and re-deliver the jack, making sure that

it is centred, but should not play first.

NOTE: So, we have confirmed that the umpire was correct in that the opposing lead should re-deliver the jack but was he correct in entering the rink of play without being asked to do so by one of the skips?

For the answer to this you have to look at Law 59 ‘Duties of the Umpire’ in the WIBC Laws of the Sport and Law 56 ‘The Umpires’ Duties’ in the WBL version of the laws.

Law 59 (ii) The duties of the umpire shall be as follows:

(e). The umpire shall enforce the WIBC Laws of the Sport of Indoor Bowls.

Law 56 .2.5 The umpire should make sure that all aspects of play are in line with the

Laws of the Sport of Bowls.

NOTE: The umpire on duty was perfectly correct on all aspects of the law.

CAPTION: Even though his opposing skip is trying to warn him, the jack is about to hit this player’s foot.


Over the past few months in my capacity as secretary of the Welsh Indoor Bowls Association I have attended numerous international trial matches and find myself continually having to remind the second players that they are responsible for completing the score card and not the skip and that they must keep the score card with them at all times. Furthermore, I have lost count of the number of times players have left the score card at the end of the rink of play.

As the scoring of the card is one of the most important tasks to be conducted by any player on the green, I think it is worthwhile looking at the law in detail.

Law 43 Players and their Duties

Law 43C The Second.

(i). The second player shall keep the record of all shots scored for and against

his team and shall at all times retain possession of the score card whilst

play is in progress.


(ii). He shall see that all the names of all players are entered on the score card.

(iii). He shall compare his record of the game with that of the opposing second

player as each end is declared.


(iv) At the close of the game he shall hand his score card to his skip, who shall

sign the card and record on the card the time of the conclusion of the game

Here’s a question for all umpires out there. What percentage of cards handed in have been fully completed in accordance with the laws? I would be most interested to know.

NOTE: This only applies to the games played under the WIBC Laws of the Sport of Indoor Bowls. In games played under the WBL Laws of the Sport the skip shall keep the score card – see Law 37.1.7

Defining a ‘Team’

I often get asked by bowlers, especially new bowlers to explain what is meant by the terms ‘side’ and ‘team,’ so this month I thought we would look at the ‘Definitions’ for the sport. As we are playing indoor at the moment, I have used Section 1 –‘Definitions of the World Indoor Bowls Council’s Laws of the Sport for Indoor Bowls’ (green book). For those of you playing under the World Bowls Laws of the Sport of Bowls (pink book) – those definitions can be found in Section 1 – ‘Definitions: control, players, play and bowls.’

Section 1 – Definitions


Controlling Body means the body having immediate control of the conditions under which a game is played.

The order shall be:

(i). The World Indoor Bowls Council (W.I.B.C.)

(ii). A Member National Bowling Authority or grouping of Member National Authorities.

NOTE: For example, a Member National Authority could be the English Indoor Bowling Association (EIBA) and a grouping could be the British Isles Indoor Bowls Council (BIIBC).

(iii) Divisions within Member National Bowling Authorities

This could be a county association, district or area.

(iv). The club on whose green the game is played.

NOTE: As an umpire it is most important that you find out who the Controlling Body is before you commence umpiring and find out if they have any domestic ruling in place for that particular tournament.


(i). Side means any agreed number of teams and/or singles players, whose combined scores determine the results of the match.

NOTE: So, a side typically consists of 16 or 24 players. As an example, this can be a ‘side’ that represents your club or stadium on a Saturday afternoon.

(ii). Team means – either a four, a triple or a pair

(iii). Four means a team of four players, whose positions in order of play are named lead, second, third and skip.

(iv). Triple means a team of three players, whose positions in order of play are named lead, second and skip

(v). Pair means a team of two players, whose positions in order of play are named lead and skip.

(vi). Skip means the player who is in charge of the team.

(vii). Player in possession of the mat means the player who is about to or is in the process of delivering a bowl.

(viii). Wheelchair Bowler means a player who uses an approved “Purpose Designed Bowls Wheelchair” (PDBW).


(i). Delivery means when the jack or bowl is intentionally released in the process of play.

(ii). Displaced, as applied to a jack or a bowl, means moved by an agency that is not sanctioned by these Laws.

(iii). Domestic means any play under the control of a Controlling Body other than the World Indoor Bowls Council.

(iv). End means the delivery of the jack and the playing of all the required bowls of all the opponents in the same direction on a rink and the determination of the number of shots scored.

(v) Former position means the location of a jack or bowl at rest on the rink of play or in the ditch immediately prior to being displaced.

(vi). Head means the jack and such bowls as have come to rest within the boundary of the rink and are not dead (See Laws 30 & 35)

(vii) Holding surface means a material designed to prevent the jack or bowl from running along the ditch.

(viii). Jack or bowl in its original course means a jack or bowl from the time of its delivery until it comes to rest regardless of how many times on the case of a bowl it may be deflected before it comes to rest or becomes dead.

(ix). Jack or bowl in motion means a jack or bowl which is moving as result of play after it has been at rest as part of the head.

(x). Mat line means the edge of the mat which is nearest to the front ditch. All necessary measurements to jack or bowl shall be taken from the centre of the mat line.

(xi) ‘Neutral’ means:

(a). any jack, bowl or other object not being used on the rink concerned or not belonging to any player thereon,

(b). a person who is not a player on the rink concerned.

This includes the Marker in a singles game.

(c ). a dead bowl not removed from the rink concerned

(xii). Pace of the green means the number of seconds taken by a bowl from the time of its delivery to the moment it comes to rest, approximately 27 metres from the mat line.

(xiii). Position of bowl in relation to jack.

Jack High – means the nearest portion of the bowl referred to is in line with and at the same distance from the mat line as the nearest portion of the jack

(xiv). Set means a pre determined number of shots or ends forming part of the game.

(xv). National Event means any event organised and controlled by a Member National Bowling Authority.

NOTE: Hopefully these definitions are self explanatory. If you would still like clarification on a particular matter, please e-mail the editor and he will forward it to me: patrick.hulbert@keypublishing.com