The Lawman: Three things to address

by John Roberts

Welcome back to the New Year, 2020 and the Chinese New Year of the metal rat. This year’s Pennant Season is fast disappearing. Some interesting topics have arisen at the start of Pennant and over the recent break, which I will address in this column.

The first being Groundsheets (the use of dump mats).

Ground sheets are covered in definition C12 of the Laws of the Sport. They are securely fastened across the green at the 2 metres mark from the rear ditch and extend up to 25 metres from the front ditch. Ground sheets have not been used in Australia. However, Law allows member nations to decide the requirements for portable ground sheets, which are referred to as dump mats in Australia.

The use of dump mats is clearly covered in Clause 18 of the Metropolitan Pennant Conditions of Play and clause 38 of the Region & Division Pennant Conditions of Play.

Clauses 18 and 38 state:

If the Umpire by his/her own observation or on appeal by a Greens Director or their Deputy decides a player is causing damage to the green when delivering the jack or a bowl, a warning will be issued to the player and their Skip and/or Side Manager advised.

If the Umpire forms the opinion that the player has repeated the same offence a second time, the Umpire will direct that the player must use a “dump mat” if available.

If a “dump mat” is not available or the player refuse to use it, they will be a defaulting player and be removed from the match (Laws of the Sport Definition C.2).

A substitute player is not permitted, and the game will continue in accordance with DR 2.6.

DR states a team with an absent player plays as though the second is the missing player. The skips would now carry the cards.

DR the order of play shall be maintained by the second of the complete team playing consecutive bowls.

DR indicates each player must use the same number of bowls specified in the Conditions of Play for that event (i.e. 2 bowls each).

Note: a “dump mat” may only be used for an individual player to address an identified issue as defined.

I completely acknowledge and respect that Greens Directors may feel the need to “protect” their greens from damage. However, it is not permissible for a Greens Director to insist that the entire green have dump mats permanently on each rink for any part or the entire game.

In this scenario, the Greens Director would need to inform the club the green/s are closed for play, and if time permitted, the club could seek alternative arrangements, under Clause 18.

Green Directors may use dump mats during practice games if required.

Dimples, Grooves and Rings.

How pretty can I make my bowls look?

Every now and then you see a bowler who has decided to paint the dimples on their bowls. Is the allowable? Yes. Domestic Regulation (DR) 4.7.3 states that if other grooved rings and or dimples are coloured, each bowl in the same set must be the same colour. Bowls specifications (like indentations, dimples or grooves can only be added by a Licensed manufacturer, during or after manufacturing. Law 52.1.2

Distinguishing marks on bowls are covered by DR 4.7 and by Law 52. Law states that imprints on running surfaces must be avoided.

What has been brought to my attention is several armed bowlers painting white lines on their bowls as a guide to ensuring their bowl is a straight as possible when placing their bowl before delivery, in their device. This is illegal and could be challenged by any opponent whereby the umpire would instruct the player to remove the marks or get another set of bowls.

If in this scenario the player refused, then C2 and C10 would come into play and the player would forfeit their game. However, I am sure the use of common sense would avoid this situation.

Of late I have noticed a significant number of bowlers not wearing correct hats or caps. I would suggest that with finals coming up Presidents of all clubs remind their members they must be compliant. Clause 12 of the Metropolitan Pennant Conditions of Play sets out the penalties. These may result in either a deduction of four points, or a $100 fine and with further breaches competition points being deducted from the side concerned for that round.

White, Coloured or Registered Club coloured headwear may be worn. Such headwear, in all Pennant, Championship Events and Other Tournaments as specified must have the NMP (BA) Logo. White block hats with club hatband may be worn (no NMP, BA logo required). Headwear is always optional; however, Bowls Victoria recommends all members always protect themselves from the elements. For the BV Rules for attire, please click here.

Bowling Arms:

A reminder that all Bowling Arms need to have the appropriate BA logo (hologram) sticker. Don’t have one? Send an email with a picture of your bowling arm to Andrew Gommers, and you will be sent one by mail, a BA accredited sticker. There is NO cost involved here. Don’t get caught in the finals without the correct sticker on your bowling arm device – umpires may check. By the way, players’ names on adhesive tape on arms is NOT considered a modification of the device.

Enjoy the last rounds of Pennant.


John Roberts
Officiating and Laws Committee.