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Don’t Play in ‘em Blue Suede Shoes

Or anything other the plain white if you can help it…

I was recently approached by the proprietor of a bowls wear shop asking for clarification on the laws relating to foot wear and whether it was permissible for bowlers to wear coloured bowls shoes. This question has arisen because bowls suppliers have recently introduced onto the market ‘trainer’ type bowls shoes with coloured stripes and/or patches on them.

The laws relating to footwear are as follows, and I have covered both versions of the laws.

World Indoor Bowls Council’s Laws of the Sport of Indoor Bowls First Edition (revised 2010):

Law 10 Footwear.

Players, umpires and markers shall wear flat-soled heel-less footwear while playing on the green or acting as umpires or markers. The World Indoor Bowls Council and Member National Bowling Authorities reserve the right to allow the use of specific colours of footwear.

While the traditional colours of bowls shoes are regarded as being brown, white and grey, the law allows for the World Indoor Bowls Council (WIBC) and Member National Bowling Authorities to allow the use of other colours if they wish.

NOTE: With regard to the WIBC, they have not discussed the issue of coloured footwear so for all events organised by the WIBC the traditional brown, white or grey footwear law will apply and umpires will be within their right to stop a player who is wearing coloured shoes.

I can also inform that the Welsh Indoor Bowls Association (WIBA) has very recently agreed to the use of ‘predominately white’ bowls shoes to be used alongside the traditional brown, white and grey shoe.

Here is the World Bowls Limited Laws of the Sport of Bowls Crystal Mark Second Edition version:

Appendix A

A.2 Footwear

A.2.1 Players, umpires and markers should wear flat-soled (heel-less) footwear when

they play on the green or act as umpires or markers.

A.2.2 WB and Member National Authorities can approve specific colours for footwear and the types of sole.

I would be most interested to hear from Member National Authorities to see how many have approved the use of coloured footwear and indeed coloured clothing and how many were approached by the bowls manufacturers prior to the shoes appearing on the market.

My advice to all umpires is to check with the Controlling Body for the event in which you are officiating to see what the laws are in relation to footwear and clothing. Don’t be intimidated! To use an example, if players arrive in shirts with coloured panels etc., if the rule for the event is white above the waist, they are flouting the law, and you are within your rights to stop the player/s in question.

Reader’s Letter

From time to time I bowl against a skip who when it is his turn to bowl first will not allow me sufficient time to take up the expected position one metre behind the mat, but invariably proceeds to bowl when I am still two to three metres in front of the mat. I was taught to wait for my opponent to get into position before delivering a bowl. Please note that in no way could it have been suggested that I was wasting time or trying to delay play.

I would be grateful if you could clarify the law as I know it will happen again.

Cashen via e-mail.

Dave’s Reply…

Thank you for your e-mail. This is a case of Law 41 ‘Possession of the rink,’ which states the following:

Law 41 Possession of the rink

(i). Possession of the rink shall belong to the team whose bowl is being played.

(ii). The players in possession of the rink for the time being shall not be interfered

with, annoyed, or have their attention distracted in any way by their opponents.

(iii). As soon as each bowl has come to rest, possession of the rink shall be

transferred to the other team, time being allowed for marking a toucher.

(iv). Should a player infringe the law of rink possession the umpire shall, after having given a warning, have the bowl last played declared dead. If the bowl has disturbed the head, the opponent shall have the option of:

(a). resetting the head, or

(b). leaving the head as altered, or

(c ). declaring the end dead.

In the example described in your letter, the alleged problem occurs when your opponent is bowling first. If this is the case your opponent is in possession of the rink and not you. So, if he wished to bowl when you are still two or three metres in front of the mat that is up to him. You could walk a little quicker to ensure that you are behind the mat before he bowls if that is your wish or alternatively you could remain at the head until he has bowled and then walk up to the mat to deliver your bowl. This will result in a slower game.

If this is seriously worrying you, another way of preventing this happening is for you to walk down the centre of the rink. That way he has to wait until you reach the mat before he can bowl. However, I am not suggesting that you do this because you would then be in breach of possession of the rink.