There are limits to how long a player may take to deliver a bowl in lawn bowls. Here is a general guide to figuring out how long a player should take to deliver a bowl.
A player can take up to 30 seconds after the opponent’s bowl comes to rest before delivering her bowl. No more than 8 seconds of this period should be spent on the mat itself before delivery. Part of the time includes the bowl travelling down the green. The other 22 seconds should be used before delivery to kick up a bowl, straighten the mat, stand behind the mat to look for a line, confer with fellow bowlers, listen to the Skip’s instructions, etc.
The above guide is calculated as follows:
- For example, a game of rinks (fours) over 15 ends takes around two and half hours to play.
- Each player has two bowls, and each bowl takes half a minute to deliver, which means 16 x 30 seconds x 15 ends = 120 minutes. The extra half an hour is the time taken for the bowlers to cross the green.
The calculation is also useful when figuring out how long a game of bowls is going to take. For instance, If you know you are going to play a pairs game of 18 ends do this quick calculation: 8 x 30 seconds x 18 ends + 30 minutes extra = 102 minutes.
How long on mat in competitions
Andre Bezuidenhout, a highly experience Technical Official, said: “The duration of any team play should be stipulated in the Conditions of Play. This stipulation appears in Appendix A, page 143 of Laws of the Sport of Bowls, Fourth Edition, 2022. If the game has not been completed in the expired time, the score will be the final result.”
Exceptions to the rule
As usual there are exceptions. In a competition when the tension is running high and every shot counts, a Skip and a player may enter into a lengthy discussion of how to play the next bowl. If the last bowl has to be played, the player may go up to the head (putting down his bowl at the mat first) to discuss the shot with his fellow players.
To players of any experience, it will be perfectly obvious if the delay is justified or not. Sometimes there is unsporting play when the opponent tries to slow down the game to meet the time limit on the game if they are in the lead. They do this to keep the advantage.
The players immediately know that something’s going on because this behaviour breaks the rhythm of the game. In that case your Skip should call the umpire to complain. The Umpire will then ask the opposing Skip to hurry up play and will stay to see how long it takes the players to deliver their bowls. The Skip is free to appeal to the Controlling Body of the competition if the behaviour stay unaltered.
Where is it written?
There is no written stipulation in the Laws concerning how long in seconds that a bowler may take before delivering a bowl after the opposition bowl has come to rest. No such rule appears in the Laws of the Game of Lawn Bowls. The 30-second period is therefore a convention, not a rule.
The closes the written Laws come to dealing with this is as follows:
Deliberate non-sporting actionLaws of the Sport of Bowls, Fourth Edition, 2022, Section 2, Game Anomalies, P.71 36.1
If an opponent, the coach in a side game,
the umpire or the Controlling Body decides
that a player has deliberately committed
an act designed to give them or their team
an unfair advantage, they can appeal to
the Controlling Body.