What is a “boule thrown contrary to the rules”?

The title of Article 23 is “Boules thrown contrary to the rules”. Here is the complete text of Article 23.

Any boule thrown contrary to the rules is dead, and anything that it displaced in its travel is put back in place, if its original position was marked. However, the opponent has the right to apply the advantage rule and to declare that it is valid. In this case, the boule pointed or shot, is still alive and anything it has displaced remains in its place.

If nothing was marked, then this means basically that everything is left in place and the opposing team has the choice of whether or not to leave the offending boule on the terrain.


So what, exactly, is a “boule thrown contrary to the rules”?

There was an example in the 2008 revision of the rules— a boule thrown from a circle “other than the one from which the jack was thrown”. At that time players were still drawing circles on the ground, and it was easy to mistakenly throw from the wrong circle. But just about the same time, plastic circles started to come into general use. The example immediately became obsolete, and it was removed in the next revision of the rules.

So… the rules provide us with no examples. Let’s try to develop our own list of examples. We will look at other rules about how boules should (and should not) be thrown, and imagine how each of those rules might be violated.

  1. Throwing two or more boules simultaneously. Note that throwing several boules simultaneously is NOT considered to be a case where one boule was thrown legally and the other boules were thrown out of turn. ALL of the simultaneously thrown boules are considered to have been thrown illegally.
  2. Throwing more boules than you’re allowed. This usually happens when a player throws a third boule in a triples game (where each player is allowed only two boules).
  3. Committing a foot fault— throwing while a toe or heel overlaps the circle.
  4. Lifting one foot off the ground before the thrown boule hits the ground.
  5. Throwing while illegally holding an “extra” boule in the other hand (see Article 15).
  6. Throwing the boule from the wrong circle, or from outside the correct circle.
  7. Throwing a boule that has been moistened, or that has something foreign (like mud) clinging to it.

There are two cases that you might expect to be on this list, but are not.

  1. Throwing a boule that belongs to a team-mate.
  2. Throwing a boule that belongs to one of the opposing players.

They are covered by Article 22—”The player who plays a boule other than his own …”

Should throwing a boule out of turn be on this list? See our posts on boules thrown out of turn and dealing with a forgotten boule.


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5 thoughts on “What is a “boule thrown contrary to the rules”?

    • Hi Garry,
      After thinking about the points that you made in our conversation here, in an exchange of comments, and after investigating the PNZ rules interpretation which you brought to my attention, I have considerably revised this post and the post on “boules thrown out of turn”.
      https://petanquerules.wordpress.com/2016/03/05/a-boule-thrown-out-of-turn

      Most of our comments are now irrelevant to the current version of this post, so I’ve deleted them. But our conversation here helped me a lot in my thinking about this topic, and I want to say “Thanks!”.

  1. Article 23, which we’ve been discussing, says that any boule thrown contrary to the rules is dead. By definition, any boule that is thrown out of turn (i.e. that is thrown by one team when it is the opposing team’s turn to throw) is thrown contrary to the rules.

    The problem with the rules is that that implication is not explicit in the rules. The reason you couldn’t find it in the rules is that it’s not there. It’s there only by implication. That’s why people ask “What is ‘a boule thrown contrary to the rules’?” They don’t know what the rule is meant to imply. And that’s why I wrote this post — to draw out those implications, and to explicitly list ways that a boule can be thrown contrary to the rules.

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