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Rules of Bowls

If yous wish to see the Full Set of Rules please click above.

Below are the Basic Set of Rules

Players Roll


a.  The Skip shall have sole charge of his team, and his instructions shall be observed by his players. With the opposing Skip he shall decide all disputed points, and when both agree, their decision shall be final.

b.  If both Skips cannot agree, the point in dispute shall be referred to, and considered by, an Umpire whose decision shall be final.  If there is no umpire as a last resort the end should be played again.  Common sense must always prevail.

c.  A Skip may at any time delegate his powers or any of his duties to other members of his team provided that such delegation is notified to the opposing Skip

d.  The skip who plays first should lift the mat and place it on the bank once the last bowl of the end has been played

e.  At the completion of the game, the Skips verify the accuracy of the Score Cards and both sign each cards and includes the time if appropriate

f.  The skip should lead the team with confidence by being supportive of any special needs and by providing continual encouragement before, during and after a game.

g.  Everyone will play bad bowls and no bowler is likely to deliver every bowl just how they want it, the Skip’s role is to play the best bowls they can

h.  Refrain from showing disappointment or enjoyment at bad bowls played by anyone. Body language can affect team confidence so remain focused on the game and your team 


a.  The responsibility of the Third is to control the head while the skip is on the mat.

b.  The Third should wait for the skip to ask for an opinion about the head, and advice about shot selection, but ultimately the final shot selection rests with the Skip.

c.  Always provide precise and accurate answers when the Skip is on the mat.

d.  Once all bowls have been delivered the Third has to measure any bowls that appear the same distance from the jack.

e.  Consider all shots that may be in the count and confer with your opponent Third that all possibilities have been measured. Once this is done, indicate the number of shots won or lost on the end by placing fingers up or down. This should also be voiced clearly.f. 

f.  Possession of the mat (rink) passes to the other side when your bowl comes to a rest. You should then wait for your turn on the mat before exchanging information with your skip.

g.  Retrieving any bowls from the ditch or wherever they finish, and that are not in play is also good etiquette

h.  If playing against an opponent, or are you yourself a player, who is unable to measure due to injury or disability, inform the Skip before the game commences, the Skip will then inform the opposing Skip that another member will be doing the measuring. When the nominated person is measuring the Third should stand well back.


a.  The Second player shall keep a record of all shots scored for and against his team and shall at all times retain possession of the score card whilst play is in progress.

 b.  He shall see that the names of all the players are entered on the score card; shall compare his record of the game with that of the opposing Second player as each end is declared

c.  Keep the scoreboard up to date

 d.  At the close of the game shall hand his score card to his Skip.


a.  The first job of the Lead whose team won the previous end is to place the mat. This helps the others to know how far to kick back the bowls. The Lead should have the mat ready to be placed as soon as the head is declared

b.  Always look to your skip for any instructions regarding mat placement and jack length.

c.  The Lead shall place the mat and shall deliver the Jack ensuring that the Jack is properly centred before playing his first bowl.

In addition to the duties specified above any player may undertake such duties as may be assigned to him by the skip.

It is also worth emphasising that the head must not be disturbed by any player until the shots have been finally agreed. When the Thirds or Skips are deciding the shots the other players should stand well back from the head and give them the space to do so.

During the game encourage your team mates, do not criticize them. Commend good shots and learn to accept that flukes are a part of the game. Sometimes they go for you, sometimes against.


A marker is serving two people. If you are marking a tie the following rules should be observed.

  • When a player has delivered the jack the marker should centre it then stand back and to one side, ensuring that all rink markers are visible to the players.
  • He should answer any specific question (from the player in possession of the rink) about the state of the head. He should not offer any additional information that has not been requested. For example if someone asks, "Who lies the shot?", you should just answer that question, e.g. "you are" or "he is". You should not say anything like, "You are lying two shots".
  • If you are unsure of the situation, for example you cannot decide who is lying, don't guess. You can offer an opinion but make sure that the player who is asking the question is made aware of this.
  • The marker should mark all touchers immediately they come to rest and remove chalk marks from non touchers. He should also remove all dead bowls from the rink with the players' agreement. He should also mark the position of touchers and or the Jack which are in the ditch.
  • The marker should not move any bowls until the end is complete and the players have agreed the number of shots.
  • He/she shall measure disputed shots when required but once again no bowls should be moved by the marker until the players agree the shots for the end. If an umpire is available then he/she may be called upon for a decision. Where no umpire is available the marker may select one. Both players may also agree that the marker should make the decision. This is acceptable at local level.