Managing Disciplinary Matters

by John Roberts

We have previously discussed what is meant by the controlling body and Pennant Conditions of Play. One of the roles of the controlling body is to ensure inappropriate behaviours and actions are managed in accordance with Bowls Victoria Disciplinary Guidelines. This applies to all competitions not just pennant.

Who is the Controlling Body? (Clause 9, BV CoP).

ClubClub events, social bowls, local tournaments
RegionRegion events, non-metropolitan pennant
Bowls VictoriaState events, metropolitan pennant*
* The host Club becomes the Controlling Body on gameday

The overarching controlling body for metropolitan pennant and State events is Bowls Victoria (BV). However, on the day of play, Law A.4 states that it is the Club on whose green the game is being played is the Controlling Body.

In most situations, the side managers and umpires of the day make most of the decisions and this would always remain the case. However, for the last two seasons BV has asked each club to nominate a person to be the controlling body for the day. This person should not be the umpire or side manager for that day due to a possible conflict of interest.

So, what would this person’s responsibilities be for the day?

They could include:

  • suspending play if necessary due to weather or other conditions
  • approving the introduction and eligibility of a substitute
  • the management of pre-game practice
  • collecting the bowls and deposit in the event of a challenge to bowls
  • receive complaints against an umpire’s decision
  • be responsible for the appointment of an umpire
  • approve the carrying of a personal electronic device
  • acting against spectators that are in breach of the laws
  • appealing to the umpire to apply an instantaneous penalty for noncompliance with provisions relating to conduct & behaviour, smoking, personal electronic devices, or consumption of alcohol.

Ideally, each club would nominate on the day of play who are the officials for the day and who is acting as the controlling body. BV acknowledges that suitable personnel may be short in numbers and when there is no appointment, common sense should apply.

Whether it be club events and tournaments, State, or National events, each respective body needs to protect the integrity of their competition. In real terms, what does this mean in the case of disciplinary matters?

Bowls Victoria has clear guidelines around how to manage disciplinary issues.

Club/Region matters

The expectations are that clubs must handle club-level disciplinary matters. For events and tournaments, the controlling body of the day (usually the host club) need to resolve disputes as they occur. Issues at Regional events need to be managed and dealt with by Regions.

Please note that such allegations can relate to matters within club buildings, the immediate surrounds, and beyond if related to an activity in respect to bowls or an incident at bowls. This could include emails, social media, telephone calls, threats, writing, video, and any electronic transfer of materials.

It is important that all clubs and Regions establish a Disciplinary Committee in the case a disciplinary matter arises. BV must be notified the results of such disciplinary hearings within 7 days of the decision being made (Clause 3).

Bowls Victoria Matters

In accordance with the BV Constitution, the Board may establish a Disciplinary Committee. On behalf of BV, this committee may consider any allegation where a person may have refused to follow the Laws of the Sport or acted in a way unbecoming and/or brought BV or bowls into disrepute.

BV will hold disciplinary matters directly related to competitions and events they are the Controlling Body. BV may decide to hear allegations of a very serious nature where they are not the Controlling Body. BV expects that Clubs deal with Club matters, Regions deal with Region matters, and BV processes are not to be used to pursue personal grievances and disputes.

How can BV support Clubs and Regions?

The Disciplinary Guidelines clearly set out how a disciplinary hearing should be managed. Clause 19 of the guidelines lists suggested maximum penalties for a range of breaches.

It is strongly advised clubs and Regions use this list in determining penalties to get a more consistent response to penalties imposed across the State.

No club or Region enjoys the rare necessity of disciplining members when behavioural issues arise. To take the stress out of a sometimes-daunting task, BV’s webinar takes clubs through the proper processes step-by-step.

There is a webinar regarding Disciplinary Hearing Procedure on the BV website here.

You can also approach Geoff Rietschel, General Manager Bowls Operations, email or phone, 03 9861 7100. Geoff may refer you to or take advice from the chairperson of the Disciplinary Committee.

Please note that Clause 17 allows BV, clubs, and Regions to hold alternative procedures for alleged comparatively minor breaches. Any breach that would not normally attract a penalty of more than 10 weeks suspension can be considered.

There are no appeals regarding BV Disciplinary Committee hearings, but individual members or clubs can appeal to the CEO of BV regarding outcomes from club or Regional hearings.

BV will only consider matters for appeal where proper guidelines and processes have not been followed which would include the level of penalty. A club or Region could be asked by BV to re-hear matters. A person or club simply not happy with the decision of a hearing would not in itself be grounds for appeal. Any appeals must be made to the BV CEO within 7 days of receiving the penalty. The CEO’s decision is final.

Members of any club or Regional Disciplinary Committee can be BV persons, any affiliated members of BV, or any person that would be appropriate. Committee members must not be biased against, or in favour of the person concerned. All members should approach any hearing with an open mind and always be impartial.

Hopefully there will be little need for any disciplinary matters to be heard at any level of club or Regional competition or bowls administration. However if there is a need be aware of the BV Discipline Guidelines, who needs to manage the hearings, and support from BV through the website links and staff. Please consider this thought, any behaviours unchallenged, remain unchanged.


John Roberts
Officiating and Laws Committee

Want more Lawman?