A boule thrown out of turn

[updated: 2021-12-24]

Consider the following situation.

Team A has the point. Team B throws boule B1. B1 gains the point but Team B doesn’t realize that, so they throw boule B2. The teams 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. B2 was “thrown out of turn”. What should be done?

examining_the_head

Everyone agrees that B2 was thrown out of turn. But what should be done next depends on whether or not B2 was thrown contrary to the rules.

Some umpires say that it was. Following Article 16, which says that “it is the team that does not hold the point that plays,” they consider a boule played out-of-turn to be a boule thrown contrary to the rules.

Other umpires say that a boule thrown out-of-turn should not be considered to have been thrown contrary to the rules. In 2008 Petanque New Zealand (PNZ) published rules interpretations saying that a boule thrown out of turn is NOT thrown contrary to the rules. In 2012 John Degueldre, Director of Umpiring for Petanque New Zealand, followed up by issuing 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 carries on.

The bottom line

I think that most FIPJP umpires consider a boule thrown out-of-turn to have been thrown contrary to the rules. Note that this does not automatically mean that the boule is dead, or that the umpire declares the boule to be dead. The boule is a Category B infraction of the rules, and the offended team may apply the advantage rule described Article 24. In most, but not necessarily all, cases, the offended team will choose to declare the boule to be dead.

Personally, I favor Petanque New Zealand’s position. A boule thrown out-of-turn hurts the team that threw it and does no harm to the opposing team. No harm; no foul. (This position has been adopted by the rules of Petanque Libre.)

Multiple boules thrown out-of-turn

Players sometimes ask what should be done if Team B throws several boules (say: B2, B3, and B4) before it is discovered that B1 had the point all along. The answer is that you should treat all boules thrown out-of-turn in the same way, no matter how many of them there are.

Dealing with a forgotten boule

Players and umpires sometimes invoke the concept of a boule thrown out-of-turn when dealing with a forgotten boule. See our post on Dealing with a forgotten boule.


4 thoughts on “A boule thrown out of turn

  1. You made a wrong conclusion writing “A boule thrown out-of-turn hurts the team that threw it and does no harm to the opposing team. No harm; no foul.”.

    Of course the opposing team is harmed. Suddenly their opponents have 2 points on the ground, which greatly affect the options the opposite team has to get point. Before, a shot would mean 2 points for the opposite team in that moment (with carreau), while in this situation it would only mean 1 point. It is just an example.

    Practically, when there are 2 points on the ground for one team, the other team’s options is reduced to pointing, because if they shoot, anything else than carreau would mean 1 point for the team THAT MADE FOUL. The fact that the team that played boule (when it should not play) now has one boule less in hand, can not change the fact that the opposite team got into disadvantage.

    • Michael,
      You need to think things thru more carefully. You write “Before [case 1], a shot would mean 2 points for the opposite team [Team B] in that moment, while in this situation [case 2] it would only mean 1 point.”

      You ignore the fact that in case 1, although Team B has two points on the ground, it is out of boules and Team A still has one unplayed boule. With it, Team A can shoot or outpoint Team B and finish by winning the mene and scoring one point. Team A can do that because they still have the boule advantage… basically, the ability to throw the last boule in the mene. And it was this — the boule advantage — that Team B lost when they threw their last boule out-of-turn.

      You need to remember the importance of having the boule advantage, and the importance of losing it. Losing it (basically, losing the ability to throw the last boule in the mene) means the difference between winning and losing the mene. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that throwing a boule out-of-turn and losing the boule advantage is like handing victory to the opponents on a plate. Clearly, that counts as helping, not harming, the opponents.

      The boule advantage

  2. Consider this: Your team “A” clearly has the point, and the opposing team “B” should have the next throw—one in which there is a good possibility of hitting and removing the “A” team’s point boule. But you think team “B” has played all their boules, so you throw your last boule before anyone on team “B” tells you it’s their turn, they have another boule. Your boule comes to rest in direct line with your point boule, blocking the takeout shot for your opponent. Does your boule remain in play or is it removed?

    • “Most FIPJP umpires consider a boule thrown out-of-turn to have been thrown contrary to the rules…. The offended team may apply the advantage rule described Article 24.” However, if you are playing in New Zealand, “everything is left where it is, and the game carries on.”

      There is no question that situations like this are indeed counter-examples to a blanket assertion that a boule thrown out-of-turn ALWAYS does no harm to the opposing team. On the other hand, they are not counter-examples to the position that a boule thrown out-of-turn IN THE VAST PREPONDERANCE OF CASES hurts the team that threw it and does little or no harm to the opposing team. Those are the facts that a player, umpire, or national federation must consider when deciding which interpretation of the rules he/she/it wants to adopt.

Post a comment, or send us a message

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.