The Lawman Double Header

by John Roberts

Skip ahead to article 2 – Practice Before Club Events.

Who controls the controlling body?

The current version of the Conditions of Play for pennant have now been released by Bowls Victoria to the bowls community one of the significant changes you will read is regarding the Controlling Body.

The law book describes and defines the controlling body in Definitions A, Control.

In summary the controlling body has immediate control over the Conditions of Play and follows a hierarchical model from World Bowls, to National Bowling Authority, to National divisions (States/Territories) and then finally to the club on whose green the game is played on (A.4).

Simply put if World Bowls is running the event, they are the controlling body for example Commonwealth Games. If it is a Bowls Australia event, they are the controlling body for example Australian Open. If it is Victorian State Champions Week, then Bowls Victoria are the controlling Body.

So, who is the controlling body for our Pennant competitions? The role is split between Bowls Victoria and the host club. For some matters Bowls Victoria is the controlling body and for other it is the club on which the green(s) the game is being played on.

An example would be Law 43.2.6 where a club wished to challenge the meaning or interpretation of a law given by the umpire of the day. In this scenario the controlling body would be Bowls Victoria.

Another example would be a challenge to bowls Law 52.4, the club would need to collect the bowls and the money and send to Bowls Victoria.

If a decision is required on the use of a portable ground sheet (“dump mat”) that would be an example of a decision made by the club on the day.

Bowls Victoria issues the conditions of play and over sees the competition, but the controlling body for matters arising on the day it is the club on whose green the game is being played on but Bowls Victoria is the ultimate controlling body.

This concept was adopted several seasons ago. However, to state the controlling body is the club the pennant game is being played on is a little vague in determining who at the club is the “controlling body”. “Will the controlling body please stand up!”

In the case of Pennant, the host club does not have the ability to include additional conditions of play, only Bowls Victoria and the region/division pennant committee in limited circumstanced can do this.

There can be occasions when the umpire of the day may seek a determination or assistance from the controlling body. These examples may include:

  • The use of substitutes which requires the approval of the controlling body: DR 2.1.3
  • Matters related to the safety or damage to the green as set out in the conditions of play
  • Matters related to the safety or damage to the green under the conditions of play
  • Matters related to heat and weather as set out in the conditions of play.
  • Under Law 44.5 the umpire may request the controlling body to act against a coach who has breached the law.
  • If a spectator interference in a game the umpire may request the controlling body to act under Law 45.4.

This means the umpire of the day cannot be the controlling body. Like the idea that an umpire cannot be the side manager of the team on the green of which they are officiating. You cannot be in a situation where a person would need to consult with themselves.

It may be useful to not only name and list the umpire/s of the day but to name the person who will be the controlling body for the day.

Practice Before Club Events

“What Law is that?”

The Lawman has covered the topic of etiquette and or myths versus Laws of the Sport in previous editions. I have highlighted that sometimes things occur on the green or during a game simply because that is what you always do and did. However, there may not be Laws of the Sport to cover these practices and hence not enforceable by an umpire.

Some of the myths and misconceptions not supported by the Laws of the Sport include:

  • You made a mistake determining the head and you moved bowls and you should not have, so that is an 8 to us.
  • When the umpire or measurer is on the green measuring for shot, you must stand on the bank. 
  • The Club President must mark the Club singles final. 
  • Spectators are not allowed to sit at the end of rink that is being played on. 
  • When you are suspended by your club you are not allowed on the premises of any other club. 
  • The thirds must attempt a measure before they can call for the Umpire. 
  • When kicking the bowls back the seconds do not have to assist because they carry the scorecard. 

As it is that time of the Season, I have been asked to clarify on several occasions about practicing on the day of any club championship event. What Law supports this practice?

There are no laws that state you cannot practice before a club championship game. It has just been etiquette and the usually accepted practice that you do not practice. This was brought about by players claiming their opponents were gaining an unfair advantage – i.e. a player was getting use to the green speed and conditions albeit on a different rink to the match rink. I am not suggesting this practice should not continue.

However, on occasion where players will play a club singles & any other club game on the same day or two or more rounds and a player has a bye in the first round then Law 4 will come into play. That is the next game must not be played on a rink already played on and the team or player that has not played can practice.

These matters are managed by the Controlling Body which in the case of Club Championships is your club. Unless it is made clear in the events Conditions of Play, the current etiquette and practices should remain, that is players cannot practice on the day of their club championships unless they are in the second round or another club event where their opponent/s have already played on the same day.

The many queries I have had about practice before Club Events I believe highlights the importance of establishing Conditions of Play. Does your club have Conditions of Play for their own club championship events? Clubs must remember that, Law 60 makes it clear that no controlling body or individual has the power or right to contract out any of the laws of the sport.

Law 57 sets out which regulations of play that Member National Authorities are permitted to modify for domestic regulations. These include practice; groundsheets; improper delivery of the jack; substitute players; artificial devices; synthetic surfaces; footwear; and transferring the skip’s duty relating to score cards.

In summary, there is no Law that clearly states a player or team cannot practice on the day of their club championship events. Law 4 highlights the rules around practice considering other scenarios. I believe that in general, the usual current practice should remain.

However, if clubs wish to change this to allow practice before a club event they need to include in their Conditions of Play for Club Events, but should consider whether this condition will provide an advantage to one bowler over another. For example, consider the player who works and cannot arrive at the club until the scheduled time and his opponent is retired or on holidays is able to practice during that day. Practice on the day of your Club Championship is NOT contrary to the Laws of the Sport.

Practice on the day of your Club Championship is NOT contrary to the Laws of the Sport.

John Roberts
Officiating and Laws Committee

Want more Lawman?