The answer comes from Jean-Claude Dubois, President of the Commission Nationale d’Arbitrage (CNA) — the National Umpires Committee of the French Petanque Federation (FFPJP). Here is my translation of his answer. You can read the original (in French) HERE. The document is dated March 30, 2011.
Note that in this context “before the mene is complete” means “before all boules have been thrown”.
In the third case, note the application of the Advantage Rule— ” the opponent should put the throwing circle back in its place”.
WHEN A PLAYER, AFTER PLAYING HIS LAST BOULE, INADVERTENTLY PICKS UP THE THROWING CIRCLE BEFORE THE MENE IS COMPLETE.
This can happen in two different situations.
The circle was marked
- The circle is put back in its place, and the player (partner or opponent) who still has the unplayed boule plays it to finish the mene.
The circle was not marked
Here again, this can happen in two different situations.
- The unplayed boule belongs to one of the player’s partners. In this case, the unplayed boule is dead.
- The unplayed boule belongs to one of the opponents. In this case, the opponent should put the throwing circle back in its place, even if this can be done only approximately, and the opponent plays his ball to finish the mene.
In all cases, the offending player receives a warning.
The same rules apply if there are still several balls left to play.
Président de la CNA
Update — January 2016
Sometimes the French petanque federation (FFPJP) “test drives” rule changes for the FIPJP. It may or may not be significant, then, that for the last year or two the FFPJP rules have included two new sentences in Article 6.
Dans tous les cas, les cercles doivent être marqués avant le lancement du but. … Si un joueur ramasse le cercle alors que ses partenaires disposent encore de boules, ceux-ci ne seront pas autorisés à les jouer.
In all cases, the circles must be marked before the throw of the jack. … If a player picks up the circle while his partners still have boules, they [the partners] will not be allowed to play them.