courtesy of bowls US Newsletter
We’ve all done it. We’re standing in the head, take a step back, and, oops, we move a bowl. It’s almost intuitive what to do: we lean over and put the bowl back where it was. Usually, it’s no big deal. In fact, seldom does the other team, the non-offending team that has the right to set the bowl back to its former position, say anything more than “Oh. Just put it back where it was” or “That’s close enough” and the end continues.
The above situation is very simple: it involves a bowl at rest, its displacement by a player, and its return to its former position. It’s quite straightforward and easy to resolve.
Change the word “bowl” to “jack” -- uh-oh, now the offending player’s eyes are wide open in disbelief, perhaps somewhat unsure about what to do, and the non-offending team’s senses shift into high gear.
In the two examples above, the return of the bowl or jack to its former position is typically done without either team calling for an umpire. The players might not consult the Laws of the Sport of Bowls, either, because they know what to do. And if we’re in the first few bowls of an end, the players are more relaxed; if we’re in the last couple of bowls of an end, things do tighten up a bit.
So let’s up the ante. The next-to-last bowl is delivered, comes to rest holding shot, and at that moment a player, excited about their team now being the holder of shot, does a little jig and displaces two bowls and the jack, changing who has shot and … and … and … “UMPIRE!”
All three scenarios are the same: a player displaces a bowl and/or jack at rest. It’s the anxiety level that’s different. But the circumstances, and here’s the hard part for some players to accept, and the remedy are the same.
Section 2.3 - Bowl and Jack Displacement (see page 31). Law 37 deals with bowl displacement and Law 38 with the jack. For those without a rulebook handy, the pertinent laws say:
37 Bowl displacement
37.1 Bowl displacement by another player
37.1.4 Displacement of a bowl at rest
18.104.22.168 If a bowl at rest or a toucher in the ditch is displaced by a player and it has not disturbed the head after it is displaced, the opposing skip must put the bowl back to its former position.
22.214.171.124 If a bowl at rest or a toucher in the ditch is displaced by a plyer and it has disturbed the head after it is displaced, the opposing skip must put the bowl back to its former position and replace any part of the head disturbed after the displacement.
38. Jack displacement
38.1 Jack displacement by another player
38.1.3 Displacement of a jack at rest If a jace at rest within the rink of play is displace by a player,the opposing skip or opponent in Singles must put the jack back to its former position.
Note: the option of declaring a dead end is not available when a bowl or a jack at rest is displaced by a player. Read the above-quoted laws again. There is no option for declaring a dead end. It’s black and white. There’s no ambiguity. And it’s probably the worst thing that could ever happen during a game where the stakes are high, it’s a tight match, you’re in the last end and the unthinkable happens -- you or your teammate turns a winning shot into a nightmare scenario by moving a bowl and/or bowls and the jack, leaving your opponent in the driver’s seat. All you can do is watch them as they return the bowl and/or jack to its former position, which they must do.
But wait, the offending team was holding shot when the displacement occurred. So once the head is restored all will be right with the world -- or will it? That will depend on how the non-offending team replaces the head. The bowl is in their court, so to speak. And, let’s face it, it is a very tough position for either team to find themselves in.
This is a good segue to rink possession. If you’re the team whose bowl just came in for shot and is at rest, where are you supposed to be? If you’re playing by the rules, once that bowl came to rest, you relinquished possession of the head to your opponent. So how did your little jig displace the bowls and the jack?