BCGBA Rules Revision and the need to be more open about the toes

This is the time of the year when, with the summer bowls season slipping away into the midst’s of time, attention turns to the plans for the next year.

The first crown green event of the year is the national governing body (BCGBA) annual meeting. This is where delegates from across the crown green world assemble to decide on any rule changes and hear reports from the officers on the past year.

In years gone by the rules revision meeting, held in the morning, would have pages upon pages of potential rule changes to be debated. This year you don’t have to use all your fingers or toes to count them. In fact you can keep the toes safely covered.

The proposals, and reasons for changing, are:

Proposal 1 – To allow salaried Officers the power to vote at the General Meeting.
Rationale – To maintain the voting rights of Officers of the Association since they have been put on PAYE to comply with Employment legislation.
The first rule change would allow the officers of the BCGBA to have voting rights at the general or annual meetings.

Traditionally the three salaried officers are not able to vote but as more officers are moved over to salary status then it is thought they should still be able to vote.

Proposal 2 – To remove the word ‘sandals’ from the relevant bye-law.
Rationale – Not all footwear classed as sandals are open-toed

Ahh the toes rule! This rule has dominated the correspondence to the BCGBA, and in fact this website. What is a Sandal? When can the toes be called open? Why are they bothered? You could fill a mail bag, or inbox, with the correspondence.

This potential change to the bye-laws (not rules of the game) tries to simplify things. The rule will state that suitable footwear must be worn and that hard, block-heeled or open-toed footwear must not. Whether some of the toes can be seen as long as they are protected from potential damage from above will become clear in due course.

I would think, and it is only my thought, that a potential risk has been identified by having unprotected wriggly toes. I have seen a number of cases where a bowl has been dropped onto feet, or other bowl impact foot damage, and this is a further attempt to reduce the risk.

Whether those players who suffer from Hyperesthesia, Neuropathy or a burning foot syndrome, or afflicted by another medical condition, will be happy with this rule change will no doubt become evident.

Whether any of that makes sense to those who know about these things is open for debate. All I can say is this subject has introduced a great deal of confusion into the game. Hopefully this will be clearer to all involved in the future.

It has always been possible to contact to the Referee’s secretary, another whose postman has a bad back, to see if you can get a medical exemption i.e. permission to play in whatever footwear you feel most comfortable in. Though I would have thought there are some with a medical diagnosis that could require greater protection than what is proposed. Anyway that’s a can of worms for a different day.

Proposal 3 – To allow the Isle of Man to play in the supplementary county championship.
Rationale – With the Isle of Man unlikely to enter the Senior County Championship it is felt that their status should be reinstated in the Senior Supplementary County Championship, as it was before their brief inclusion in the Senior County Championship. They were happy to travel over and support the Supplementary County Championship when others had reservations about playing in it. They enjoyed the opportunity to compete against top sides on the mainland and, although unsuccessful, enjoyed their day on the greens.

The introduction of the Isle of Man into the county championship a few years ago was the reward for outstanding work done on the island. Unfortunately the financial crisis affected their ability to transport players to and from the island to play in it. Sadly the charter company they used went bust! As the proposal states this is not likely to change so it would make sense to revert to the previous arrangements.

Proposal 4 – To further define the playing of the final of team events
Rationale – To clarify the order of play

Each year there is some debate, leading to disagreements, on which green the final is to be played on. Whether all the games are played at the same time is always debated. This potential change would mean that both greens are used and four games are played on one green to a completion then the other four games would start on the other green.

Proposal 5 – To amend the age limit contained within the third sentence of the Junior County Championship.
Rationale – The current rule means that those in Year 13 of school, i.e. Upper 6th form, the ones that have birthdays before 1st January cannot play but those with later birthdays can but are in the same school year. The proposed rule makes it so that all pupils in Year 13 can play in their final year of school before University.

This rule has seen a few changes over the years and this proposal from the Cheshire County CGBA attempts to further define the age limit for playing in the competition.
This competition is now run on a league basis and sadly Merseyside, Lancashire or Cumbria are unable to find enough players to enter a team. This is obviously an area that will need further work before we can get a sustainable and challenging junior county championship.

Proposal 6 – To amend the set formula for the Junior County Championship fixtures and tidy up of the rule.
Rationale – This is a result of feedback from the County Junior Team Manager/Junior Co-ordinators meeting held at Heaton Park in Manchester. They feel that in divisions of four teams the matches should be played in May, June and July, thus avoiding the August holiday season.
The games in each league shall be played on the second Sunday of each month between May and September using a set formula denoted by each team’s seeding at the end of the previous season. Team 1 in each division are the champions/relegated team from the upper division and team 5 are the lowest placed team/promoted team from the lower division.

The fixtures will mean that the counties who finished first & second in the previous year will play each other in the last game.

Proposal 7 – To state the criteria for a qualifying competition for the Champion of Champions.
Rationale – It is felt that there should be set criteria contained within our rules as is the case with all our other competitions. Competitions will be considered as a qualifier based on a combination of entries and prize money.

This has been used for some time but has not been part of the competition rules and to avoid any confusion in the future everyone can see what the criteria are.

Proposal 8 – To state that a venue for the Centenary Mixed Pairs must have two greens.
Rationale – With pairs games usually taking longer than single games the competition can go on until early evening. Given that we play the competition in October, the light draws in quite quickly and, as I believed what happened last year when it was played at the Waterloo, in the absence of floodlights the final finished in near darkness. By stating that a venue has two greens the selected venue will not have to have floodlights as by playing the competition over two greens the final should be played in relative daylight.

This is to revert to the original completion rule when the competition was created in 2010. Although from memory even using a two green venue has seen the final played in artificial light.

Each proposal will need to attract at least 67% of the votes cast to be successful. 

After the voting has all finished the attention switches over to a reports from the officers which will be in the afternoon. Usually there is a lunch involved.

To finish the day the Presidential chain is transferred from the outgoing Graham Jackson from Derbyshire to Ken Howarth from Cumbria. 

More on the day, the Presidents, the reports from the officers and what proposals we can expect in the future will be included in another article.

About Steve Davies 171 Articles
Throughout his bowling career Steve has always supported the admin side of the game as well as a keen player of the game. As a club secretary, association secretary, county delegate on the BCGBA (National Governing Body) Management Committee, Media Officer for the BCGBA, Merseyside champion in 2002 and Merseyside County President (2014-15) Steve has always been keen to promote the game especially through the broadcast of the game on TV or Internet. Steve set up the LIVE BOWLS YouTube channel which became the Bowls Observer channel and, through the LDBA, runs national competitions. Seeing an avenue to report on and promote the game Steve set up the Bowls Observer on-line magazine.