Crown Green Bowling Rules

A major contribution of Eddie Elson to the crown game was his part in consolidating a single set of rules wherever you played, with the help of Jack Uttley and Jack Isherwood.

Basically, the laws of the game have changed little in the last 50 years, alternatives and additions being made to meet situations arising through the spread of the game. A major overhaul took place in 1979 to update the laws and ensure all bowling was played under these rules as laid down by the governing body – the British Crown Green Bowling Association. Up until then there were many local variations, notably the so-called ‘Blackpool Rules’, which allowed two casts of the jacks and stamping, ie efforts to accelerate the progress of a bowl. Another local rule in many competitions was the use of a player’s own jack, which could vary considerably in bias.

Realising that it was in the best interests of the game as a whole, Eddie’s recommended changes were accepted – including standardisation of jacks to two full bias. Since 1980 there have been no changes in the laws of the game, possibly the longest period for many years.

There are 41 laws, which are wide-ranging and cover all aspects of the game. As in all sports there are times when an odd incident occurs not specifically covered by a particular law – such as if a strong wind blows a jack off the green. However, to cover every possibility would require a whole volume. The following basic laws are framed to cover singles and pairs; seldom are other combinations played.

  1. The leader shall bowl the jack to set a mark which if it rests on the green must be a distance of not less than 24 yards.
  2. The opponent may make objection after the first bowl has been played, a measurement then takes place to decide the objection.
  3. The method of scoring is one point for each bowl nearer to the jack than an opponent’s.
  4. No player is allowed to change the jack or bowls unless they are so damaged as to be unplayable.
  5. If a jack or bowl in its course is impeded in any way, they are returned to be replayed, but if a player impedes a running bowl both his bowls are forfeited at that end.
  6. At the conclusion of an end, neither the jack or any bowl which is claimed to count is allowed to be moved without the consent of the opponent.
  7. If a player about to deliver a bowl inadvertently drops it and cannot recover it without quitting the footer, the bowl is considered dead and taken out of play.

One of the most controversial aspects of the game prior to 1980 was the condonement of the practice of ‘stamping’ the foot alongside a bowl to endeavour to gain a few more yards. This was never allowed under BCG Rules, but was widespread in many competitions – particularly in the north-west. It is now completely outlawed and after one warning and the loss of a bowl, the offender may have his bowls taken off the green and the game awarded to his opponent.

Not all players are in agreement with the law which penalises a player – by loss of a bowl – for bowling a bowl other than his own; many think it should be replaced with the proper bowl. As yet no significant effort has been made to change the law.

Referees are instructed to insist and see that games are played in accordance with the laws of the game, and should any dispute arise during a game which is not covered by the laws, the referee must make a decision which is final. By and large, if the spirit and intention of the laws of the game are adhered to, there should be little or no trouble. It is only when players seek to interpret the laws to gain unfair advantage that problems arise.

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15 thoughts on “Crown Green Bowling Rules

  1. Jim Griffiths says:

    We discussed this at length at a meeting, if a player sends a jack and he knows it’s a short length, can he without sending a wood retrieve the jack and send it again or does he have to hand it to his opponent

    • John Walker says:

      He has to agree with his opponent and if they do, he sends the jack down again.
      If this doesn’t happen and the mark is measured and found to be short, the opponent sends the jack and the leader sends his first wood.

    • kevin hurst says:

      a player cannot call a mark on his jack only his opp can and that is only when the first wood as come to rest if he calls it at all……he may like a short mark

  2. Steven Ballance says:

    In a Cup competition, how many games must a player have played for a club before he is allowed to enter the competition. I read somewhere that is was 5, but recently got told it is 4. Can anyone tell me ?

  3. Ann woolley says:

    When you played a end and the a player say one to me and tells the score and then they say that they got two do you only score one wot is the rules can you tell them that you have said one so that wot they can have

  4. George says:

    I visited my bowls club to play a triples club match.
    I unintentionally found I only had two bowls with me.
    Do the rules allow me to play with an odd bowl.

  5. Bob tipper says:

    If an item is passed at an agm and someone calls an extraordinary meeting a month after to try and get the rule and vote changed am I right in thinking you can not change that rule or vote until the next agm your thoughts please gentleman and ladies

  6. John Howarth says:

    If a player leaves a team. Is there a time set for he or she before they are able to play for another in the same league?

  7. Jennie shiels says:

    When measuring a short length, do you measure from the centre of the mat to the Jack or from the front of the mat

  8. Martin Cocker says:

    Crown Green Bowls Rules Question. Player A has bowled both of his woods, Player B has only bowled one of his. Unsure who has the closest bowl Player B wishes to walk to the head to see for himself. If he carries his second bowl with him when checking the head instead of leaving it behind on or near the footer can he still walk back to deliver the second bowl or is it void because he walked all the way forward whilst carrying it ?

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