An intro to the laws of lawn bowls
Tossing for opening play - The tossing of a coin is the skip’s duty, but they can delegate to a
member of the team. It is normally delegated to the lead who should ask the skip if they
should start the game and the distance that the jack should be delivered. The winner of the
toss should choose whether to place the mat and then deliver the jack and the first bowl, or
tell the opposing player to place the mat and deliver the jack and the first bowl (the
opposing player cannot refuse).
Placing the Mat – Before the start of play in each end, the player to play first should place
the centre line of the mat at least 2 metres from the rear ditch and 25 metres from the front
Position on the mat – Before delivery a player must be standing on the mat with all or part
of at least one foot on the mat. At the moment they deliver the jack or the bowl, the player
must have all of one foot on or above the mat.
Starting the game – In any game, the start of play is the delivery of the jack by the first
player on the first end.
Possession of the rink – Possession of the rink will belong to the player of team whose bowl
is being played. As soon as each bowl comes to rest, possession of the rink will transfer to
the opposing player or team.
Position of players- Players at the mat end of the rink who are not delivering a bowl should
stand at least 1 metre behind the mat.
Players at the head end of the rink and who are not controlling play should stand:
behind the jack if they are members of the team which is in possession of the rink; or
behind the jack and away from the head if they are members of the team which is not in possession;
on the surrounds of the green if the jack is in the ditch; or
well clear of the head if it is not possible to stand on the surrounds.
Play in other ends – In all ends after the first but apart from an extra end, the winner of the
previous scoring end should place the mat and then deliver the jack and the first bowl.
Jack delivery – The jack has been improperly delivered if it comes to rest:
In the ditch
Completely outside the boundaries of the rink
Less than 23metres from the mat line after the jack has been centred
On the rink after contact with the face of the bank
On the rink after contact with any object or person completely outside the boundaries of the rink
Dead Bowl – A bowl is dead if:
It is not a toucher and rebounds onto the rink after contact with the face of the bank or with the Jack or a toucher in the ditch;
It is not a toucher and comes to rest in the ditch;
It passes completely outside the boundaries of the rink of play after being moved as a result of play;
In its original course it passes outside a side boundary of the rink of play after being moved as a result of play.
Toucher – A bowl in its original course which touches the jack, even though it comes to rest
in the ditch within the boundaries of the rink of play, is a live bowl and is called a toucher.
No bowl will become a toucher if it plays onto, or comes into contact with, the jack when it
is in the ditch. A toucher must be marked with chalk by a member of the team that
delivered the bowl.
Bowl displacement by a bowl from a neighbouring rink – If a bowl at rest is in danger of
being moved by a bowl from a neighbouring rink, ANY player can choose whether to:
Lift the bowl at rest to allow the other bowl to pass and replace it;
Stop the bowl from the neighbouring rink;
If a bowl that has been stopped was in its original course and was delivered on a bias that would have taken it back to its own rink, it should be replayed.
The Shot - A shot or shots refers to the bowl or bowls (called shot bowls) which is or are
nearer to the jack than the nearest bowl played by the opposition. No bowl should be
moved until the opponents have agreed whether it is shot or not.
Objects on the green – Under no circumstances other than those described in the laws,
should any objects be placed on the bank, in the ditch, on the jack, on a bowl or anywhere
else to help a player.
Bowl slips from hand – If the jack or bowl accidentally slips from a player’s hand or artificial
device during delivery, the player can pick it up and start the delivery again.
Neighbouring rink – A player must not go into a neighbouring rink where play is in progress.
A player must neither go into nor walk along a neighbouring rink, even if is not being used,
while an opponent is about to deliver or is actually delivering a bowl.