WB Laws Decisions

WB Laws Decisions

The WB Laws Committee (LC) occasionally receives, from WB Member National Authorities (MNAs), enquiries asking for decisions on various aspects of the Laws of the Sport of Bowls – such as clarification on the intent of, and guidance on, the interpretation of a specific law. Where these enquiries are considered to be of general interest, the enquiry and accompanying LC decision has been included in this section of the WB website.

Details of the current edition of the Laws of the Sport of Bowls can be found in the Laws of the Sport section of the World Bowls website. The LC has decided that the LC’s decisions on MNAs’ enquiries relating to the Laws which pre-date the current edition should continue to be shown in this section if the wording of the law in question has not changed in the current edition. The law numbers on the original enquiries, however, have been revised to reflect those in the current edition.


March 2020 – Bowls South Africa

The Laws Committee has received a request to provide clarity on where a player must be positioned before delivery of a bowl or the jack.

During play at the recent South Africa Masters, a player stood two metres behind the mat and took two steps forward onto the mat and delivered a bowl, all in one continuous action. The umpire warned the player that they were foot-faulting, as they were not standing on the mat before commencing delivery of their bowl.

This matter was brought forward to the LC by the Bowls South Africa National Standing Committee Technical Officials (NSCTO), seeking confirmation that the official’s interpretation of the laws was correct.

Laws of the Sport

Law 7.1 states that “Before delivery a player must be standing on the mat with all or part of at least one foot on the mat.” Law 7.3 states that “Any player not meeting the terms of this law is committing a foot-fault, and law 8 will apply.”

Law 8 describes the procedures to be taken by an umpire who decides that a player has not met the terms of law 7. “The umpire must, on the first occasion, warn the player in the presence of the skip and advise the coach when they are present that a warning has been given.” On all subsequent occasions, the player’s delivered bowl is stopped and declared dead.

Laws Committee Clarification

The LC agrees that the player in question was foot-faulting, and that the actions taken by the umpire were appropriate and correct.

The LC agrees that the player in question commenced their delivery from a position behind the mat where neither foot was in contact with the mat. The LC also concurs with the opinion of the NSCTO that the intent of Law 7.1 is to prevent any player from running or stepping forward onto the mat in a continuous motion in order to accelerate their delivery.

November 2019 – Law 17.2.5 – dead bowl or live bowl

A request was received from the CEO of World Bowls for an interpretation relating to law 17.2.5 and whether a non-toucher bowl, resting on live bowls or the jack in the ditch, is a live bowl. We were informed that this issue had been referred to the National Officiating Committee of a MNA, and that the NOC had ruled that the bowl was dead, but the issue was still being questioned at a Technical Official level.

Basis of Inquiry

Law 17.2.5 states “A bowl is not dead if it comes to rest on top of the jack or any bowls that are at rest within the boundaries of the rink.”

The rink and its boundaries are defined within the Laws, starting with these two terms –

C.27-1 – Rink – the section of the green on which a game is played.

C.27.2 – Rink of play – the section of the green and the corresponding sections of the end ditches on which a game is played.

The inquiry contends that the ditch is within the boundaries of the rink, therefore any bowl which comes to rest on top of any live bowls or jack in the ditch is still live.

The National Officiating Committee decision is that a bowl sitting on live bowls or the jack in the ditch is dead unless it is a toucher.

Laws Committee Decision

The Laws Committee agrees with the National Officiating Committee decision that the bowl in question is dead.

Law 17.1 is explicit in in its intention and states, in 17.1.1, that a bowl is a dead bowl if “it is not a toucher and comes to rest in the ditch;”

Law 17.2.4 allows for a toucher to come to rest on top of the jack or another toucher at rest in the ditch.

It is the Committee’s view that law 17.2.5 explicitly relates to the rink (the section of the green on which a game is played) and does not include the ditch, which is a part of the rink of play. The prior law 17.2.4 applies to the ditch.

The Committee has also considered law 17.2.2, which also refers to a bowl coming to rest “within the boundaries of the rink” as not being a dead bowl. Further, law 16.1.3 allows for a non-toucher to come to rest in contact with live bowls and the jack in the ditch, as long a part of that non-toucher remains in contact with the rink.

This inquiry raises some issues regarding definitions that need to be looked at when the Laws of the Sport are next reviewed, but the Committee is unanimous in its decision that the only bowls that can be considered in play in the ditch must be touchers.

The Committee also considers that law 17.2.5 should be looked at again at the time of the next Law review. The likelihood of any bowl coming to rest on the top of the jack or any bowls at rest on the rink is remote, in the Committee’s view, which brings into question the relevance of the law.

October 2019 – Bowls USA

A letter was received seeking guidance on how to enforce the Laws of the Sport and/or address bowlers’ behaviours within the Bowls USA Domestic Regulations. The following response is provided regarding these situations.

1) Keeping the Score Card in Singles

In Singles play during the recent National Championships, each player was requested to use a score card and submit both completed cards at the end of the match. During one Singles match, the two pla