When a player must leave during a game

It happens. In the middle of a game, a player must leave. Perhaps there is sudden news of a family emergency. Perhaps he is attacked by a sudden bout of illness. Perhaps he is attacked by a BEAR!  In any event, he has to leave.

When this happens, his teammates are left with the question “How do we carry on with the game?” Sometimes the question is “Bob had to leave. Can Jim play his boules?”

How does the game proceed?


The answer is a definite “It depends.”

If the context is a formal, organized competition, the first option is to replace the player who is leaving with another player. To do this, the affected team would call the umpire, notify him, and get his permission/approval for the change. (In the FIPJP world championships, the triples teams are required to have four members. The fourth member is a backup for just such situations.)

In a formal competition, if no replacement player can be found, the remaining players can NOT play the boules of the departed player. They must continue by themselves, with each player playing only his own boules.

Still… umpires have a lot of discretion in making decisions that allow competitions to continue smoothly. Each situation is unique, and a particular umpire in a particular set of circumstances might see other options.

If the context is a friendly game, the players can be more relaxed about following the letter of the law. The affected team would try to find a replacement player. Failing that, the remaining teammates could increase the number of boules they play.

Just as an umpire has a lot of discretion in making decisions in a formal competition, the players in a friendly game are free to continue in any way that is acceptable to both teams. The players might, for instance, simply stop the game, re-form the teams, and start again.

Where you run into problems is in a friendly but competitive game (no umpire) where one team is happy to proceed in a relaxed way, while the other team feels that “the rules are the rules”. In such a case, there can be disagreement about how to proceed.

At this point we have a human relationship problem, not a question about the rules of petanque. This is tricky territory. But if you can remember that this is not about the rules of petanque, but about getting along with people who you want to keep as friends for a long time, you’ll be OK. You’ll figure out something.


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Can I wear sandals or open-toe shoes while playing?

[Revised 2018-07-08]
Since the 2016 revision of the FIPJP rules, Article 39 requires players to wear fully enclosed shoes.

Proper attire is required of players for whom it is forbidden to play without a top [literally: with nude torso] and who must especially, for safety reasons, wear footwear that is completely closed, protecting the toes and heels.

Since most national federations adopt the FIPJP rules without change, this rule is also part of the rules of national federations.

Even before this change to the FIPJP rules, most national federations had (and continue to have) a “Player Code of Behavior” in addition to the official rules of the game. The Code of Behavior may differ from nation to nation, but typically prohibits smoking, drinking, cursing on the terrain, using a cell phone during a game, playing shirtless (torse nu), pets on the terrain, glass containers, e-cigarettes, and high heels. In its Code of Behavior, the Australian petanque federation has required enclosed footwear since at least 2006. The dress code of the French federation has required enclosed footwear since at least 2011.
FFPJP_required_footwear

The requirement for closed footwear has nothing to do with the danger of dropping a boule on your foot— an enclosed shoe doesn’t provide much more protection against a dropped boule than does an open-toe sandal. What is at issue is the tripping hazard posed by strings used to mark lane boundaries. The boundaries of lanes are traditionally marked with strings strung tightly between nails driven into the ground. When the strings have been installed properly they lie very close to the ground and don’t pose any significant tripping hazard for players wearing shoes. But experience has shown that sandals— or shoes of any kind with an open toe or open heel— significantly increase the risk of catching the shoe on the strings and the risk of a serious fall. This is true even when the strings have been installed properly.
sandal_snagged_on_string

The same is true when players play with bare feet— there is a significant risk of catching a string between the toes, tripping, and falling. For that reason, the rules do not permit players to play with bare feet. And for that reason also, you can expect umpires to prohibit fully-enclosed shoes with separate toes, like these.
petanque_shoes_with_toes

Questions about the rule

petanque_shoes_half-sandalspetanque_shoes_half-sandalsThe rule requiring enclosed footwear has been in place in many national federations for a decade or more, but it first appeared in the FIPJP rules in 2016. Since then, it has attracted the attention of players, who have raised a lot of questions about the rule. Players like to play in sandals, and the most frequently asked question is “Are shoes like these allowed?”, submitted along with a photo of shoes that are closed around the toes and heels, but open elsewhere.

When international umpire Mike Pegg is asked such a question, his answer is NO. Mike follows the letter of the law. His decision is: “The rules say completely closed. These shoes are not completely closed; therefore they are not allowed.” And that is certainly reasonable. For one thing, it avoids the question: “How closed is closed enough?” Note, however, that in a particular competition, a different umpire might decide differently. (During a competition the FIPJP rules mean what the umpire says they mean, and umpires don’t always agree.)

Another question that players ask is: “In a game where the boundaries are not marked by strings (perhaps the boundaries are marked by chalk or paint, or the game is being played on an open terrain without any boundaries) is it permitted to wear sandals or open-toe or open-heel shoes?” And again, if one follows the letter of the law the answer is NO. But again: umpires may differ. Remember that rules about acceptable dress and footwear are competition-level rules; they are not rules of the game as such. Umpires in different competitions may rule differently on these questions.

The bottom line is:

(1) In a formal, organized competition where play is strictly by the FIPJP rules, you can expect the umpires to rule that players MUST wear COMPLETELY closed footwear, regardless of whether or not strings are used to mark boundaries.

(2) Simply as a matter of common-sense safety, if you are playing on a terrain marked with strings, you should never play barefoot or wearing open-toe or open-heel shoes or sandals.

(3) If you’re playing a friendly game (and aren’t concerned about strictly following FIPJP rules), and you’re playing on a terrain without strings, feel free to relax in those sandals. 🙂

If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing completely enclosed footwear, you may be permitted to participate in a formal, organized competition. It is up to the competition organizer to make the decision. Get a letter from you doctor, and contact the competition organizer in advance, to get advance permission to participate.

A boule thrown out of turn

Team A has the point. Team B throws boule B1. B1 gains the point but the players don’t realize that. Mistakenly believing that team A still has the point, team B throws boule B2.

The players then walk to the head and measure all of the boules. They discover that B1 had actually gained the point. That means that after B1 was thrown, team A, not team B, should have thrown the next boule. Boule B2 was “thrown out of turn”. What should be done?

examining_the_head


OPINION #1: B2 was thrown contrary to the rules

Article 15 says that “it is the team that does not hold the point that plays.” So it seems obvious that a boule played out-of-turn should be considered a boule thrown contrary to the rules. That means that we should apply Article 24.

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.

In our example, nothing was marked, so everything is left in place and the offended team (team A) has the choice of whether or not to leave the offending boule (B2) on the terrain. Then the team not holding the point (which may be either of the teams) plays the next boule.

OPINION #2: B2 was NOT thrown contrary to the rules

In 2008, the national umpires for Petanque New Zealand (PNZ) issued a set of rules interpretations that held that a boule thrown out of turn is NOT a “boule thrown contrary to the rules”.

Even if the boule was not holding, by agreeing that it was, the opponents in effect declared it to be valid under Rule 24. At the end of the mène, the boules can be measured, but not to determine whether the team had played out of turn, only to determine the current holding positions for points purposes.

Following this lead, in 2012 John Degueldre, Director of Umpiring for Petanque New Zealand, issued the following ruling.

Boules played out of turn are not considered as an infringement to the rules [i.e. as "boules thrown contrary to the rules"] but indeed as a mistake. Players making such a mistake penalise themselves by reducing or losing the ‘boule advantage’. In conclusion, players do not incur any penalty, and boule(s) are valid and stay in place. But it is still the player or team not holding the point that must play the next boule.

The practical effect of this interpretation is that, after a boule is thrown out-of-turn, everything is left where it is, and the game just carries on. The team not holding the point (which may be either of the teams) plays the next boule.

OPINION #3: It depends on the circumstances

Consider these two cases.

  1. The two teams walk to the head and visually inspect the situation. Or perhaps they just stand by the circle and visually inspect the situation from a distance. Team B says, “Looks to me like you’ve got the point.” Team A says, “Yeah, I think so too.” They don’t measure. Team B throws the next boule. (PNZ calls such situations lazy petanque.)
     
  2. After throwing boule B1, the player in the circle makes a snap judgment that he has failed to gain the point. Without asking team A for their opinion, and before team A has time to inspect the head or even shout “Wait a minute,” he throws boule B2.

A player should not throw a boule without reaching an agreement with the other team that it is his team’s turn to throw. In the first case team B got team A’s agreement that team B should throw: both teams made an honest mistake and the game should just carry on. In the second case team B failed to get team A’s agreement on the point (i.e. failed to perform due diligence) and for that reason really did throw B2 contrary to rules.


The bottom line

If none of the locations of boules was marked (as is virtually always the case) then everything except the offending boule is left where it is. The thrown boule is also left where it is unless we consider it to have been thrown contrary to the rules— in that case the offended team has the option (under Article 24) of declaring the offending boule to be dead.

If a “boule thrown out of turn” happens in an umpired tournament, the umpire would probably apply Article 24. (But players in FIPJP-sanctioned competitions are experienced enough not to let this kind of situation ever arise.) For friendly games, the PNZ guidelines seem very sensible— just leave everything where it is and carry on with the game. In my own petanque group, if the out-of-turn boule didn’t move anything else on the ground, we return the boule to its owner and carry on as if it had never been thrown.

“Boules thrown out of turn” situations can be genuinely problematic— boule B2 (thrown out of turn) may alter the game dramatically (and unfairly) in favor of team B. Our only consolation is that such situations usually happen in friendly games among beginning players. In a friendly game, the best response is simply to be astonished and amused by team B’s luck, and then carry on with the game.

The notion of “a boule thrown out of turn” is sometimes invoked in cases of forgotten boules. But I think that is a mistake.