What is the Game Called Rinks in Lawn Bowls?

  • By: Jack Toucher
  • Date: June 16, 2023

Rinks is another name for game of fours in lawn bowls. It is an archaic word that probably relates to the days when there were a couple of rinks (lanes) on a lawn and everyone thought it would be fun for several games of fours to be played at once. Hence the word “rinks”.

What was original lawn bowls game?

Fours was the original bowls game. This classic format involves four players: skip, third, second and lead. In rinks, the players are divided into two sections: the front rank (lead and second) and the back rank (third and skip). So there are eight players in the rink for the duration of the game. Each players plays with two bowls.

Lawn bowls was orginally a casual, social game played by the upper classes in Britain in centuries past. When the common man began to play bowls many centuries ago they took to it so enthusiastically that they were neglecting their work. This led to restrictions on who could play the game. But today rinks is played enthusiastically in over 100 countries by people from all walks of life according to World Bowls Rules.

Is rinks difficult?

Fours is the most demanding lawn bowls game of all. In rinks you have several players in a team all communicating with one another, keeping up a team spirit and employing their best etiquette to keep the game running smoothly. And having only two bowls to deliver means the players must concentrate so that they achieve decent results at least half the time.

In addition, there are many players in the rink, as you can see in the photo. When the skip is at the other end of the green playing her bowls, there are no fewer than six players at the other end, as seen in the photo. And there are sixteen bowls on the green once an end has been completed. That’s a lot of kicking up of the bowls to do.

When the first skip steps onto the mat to bowl there are no fewer twelve bowls that have been played already. Many of these bowls are front bowls and are in the way of her getting her bowl to the jack. Special skills are needed for the skip to succeed, such as playing with her fingers, anti-bias action and playing firm or driving shot in order to improve the situation in the head.

Where do players stand in a fours game?

A player who is about to play a waits two to three metres behind the mat waiting for the previous player to complete her delivery. She then steps on to the mat, delivers her bowl, stands in line with the mat waiting for her bowl to come to a rest and then walks right or left, circling back to a position behind the mat.

Once the leads and seconds have delivered their bowls they walk up to the mat, crossing with the thirds who move from the mat to the head.. The front ranks join the skip at the head and stand well back. Their job is over and yet they must concentrate and contribute their opinions if asked by their teammates.

The thirds then play their bowls, following the routine of the leads and seconds. When the last third has played, the thirds walk back to the mat and “cross” with the skip who goes to the mat to deliver their bowls, which will be the final bowls of the end.

Once all the bowls have been played, the thirds confer and agree on the score, measuring if necessary. It is important that the leads and seconds stay well away from the head while this is happening, as in this photo, taken during a singles game.

However, they must keep an eye on what is going on. If a lead or second believes that the shots have been incorrectly counted, she is free to mention it to the third.

Once the score has been finalised, the leads and seconds kick the bowls up (as you see them doing in the top photo). The third does not have to kick up the bowls; she must make haste back to the mat to impart the score to the skip, put the score on the board and plan the next end with the skip.