The Lawman: New Law Book in Town

by John Roberts

Welcome back to the new pennant season ahead. Hope you are all starting to check those umpire’s kits and hopefully finding the equipment in good working order and all ready to go. Check those rusty callipers, are the feeler gauges operational and does the 30 m tape unwind efficiently?

A few things have changed between last seasons end and now. Probably the most significant is the release of the new version of The Laws of the Sport, Crystal Mark 3rd Edition, Version 3.1, April 2019.

You can purchase the new Law books through Bowls Victoria.

So what Laws have changed?

The only Laws which have been added are in regard to Law 52 around bowls specifications. Law 52.1.6 and 52.1.7 now include small bowls sized 000 and 0000. These small bowls have been designed to assist younger players and bowlers that cannot manage larger sized bowls due to physical restrictions. It is great to be able to increase or maintain participation in our great sport.

The most significant change is in regard to DR 2 (Domestic Regulation 2). World Bowls enables Member nations to change a certain number of laws to suit local conditions and domestic play (21 m v 23 m for maximum length is a good example of this). Law 57.1 clearly sets out which aspects of the sport members nations can change domestically.

The National Officiating Advisory Group (NOAG) took the opportunity to rewrite DR 2 as this DR has raised more points of clarification and other issues regarding the understanding and application of substitutes, intended players and replacement players.

DR 2 is now much clearer, easier to read and hopefully comprehend. Intended players are no longer defined and all reference to an intended player has been removed from the DR. This means that any team or player/s can change up until the team is constituted, that is when the first jack is rolled in the first game to be played by that team.

If a substitute is required, they must play in the same position as the player being substituted, except if it is the skip.   If a substitute is required for a skip the other members of the team can rearrange their playing positions as they wish.


Bowls Australia has reprinted the Officiating Manual, for Markers, Measurers and Umpires which includes additional approved equipment and a change to the age restriction to become an official. It was 16, however, a person any age that has completed the National Accredited Umpires course can become an umpire. However, it is recommended that clubs appoint a mentor for any underage accredited umpires.


It is a requirement of the BA Instantaneous Policy that if applied, the umpire involved must submit a report to Bowls Australia and Bowls Victoria. The form can be found on the BA website. Instantaneous Penalty Policy applies to all Bowls Victoria events including Pennant. 

  1. What documentation should be in your Umpire’s Kit?
  2. Challenge to Bowls form.
  3. Report form in regard to Instantaneous Penalties – link provided
  4. Current copy of the Laws of the  Sport, Crystal Mark 3rd Edition, Version 3.1, April 2019.
  5. Bowls Victoria Pennant Conditions of Play, 2019 – 2020.


Changes to Bowls Victoria State committee structure. For many years Bowls Victoria have operated two committees one around Officiating and the other around Laws and Rules. It was decided to combine both committees under the title of the Officiating and Laws Committee. Committee membership will remain for 2 years and then half of the committee will be replaced.  Terms of reference can be found on the Bowls Victoria website.

This is a Committee of eight. The current members are John Roberts (Chair), Bob Carlson, Neil Smillie, Doug Whorlow, Laureen Smith, Lorraine Dowson, Malcolm Stevenson and Rodney Bates. The Committee meets monthly at Bowls Victoria.

Happy officiating and happy bowling to you all.


John Roberts is one of Australia’s most experienced lawn bowls officials. John works in a volunteer capacity for Bowls Victoria as a Laws and Rules Official and Chair of the association’s Umpiring Committee.