[For other posts about the 2020 rules and changes to the rules, see THIS.]
The FIPJP has just released a new/revised version of the international rules of petanque. You can download a copy of the 2020 version of the rules (in pdf format) from the FIPJP or CEP web sites. You can also download a copy of the new version (in pdf or docx format) from our archives page. Our archives page also has files generated by Microsoft Word showing the differences between the 2016 rules and the 2020 rules. There is also a link to a quick online reference page where you can easily read the rules on your smart phone.
Here is an overview of the changes in the 2020 rules. First I list some minor changes to the rules, then I list the more substantial changes.
Minor changes to the rules
1. A few paragraphs have been moved to slightly different places. In a few places, the wording of the rules has been slightly improved. In the French rules, the word for a singles game (tête-à-tête) has been replaced by the word individuel. In Article 20, the expression terrain jouable has been changed to terrain autorisé. References to the “penalties” specified in Article 35 have been changed to references to the “sanctions” specified there. References to “the umpire” have been replaced by “an umpire”.
2. In Article 22, a boule moved by a boule in the game is no longer “valid”; now it “remains in its new position.” But in Article 12, a jack moved by a boule in the game is still “valid”.
3. Errors left in the text after the 2016 revision have been corrected. In Article 8, the sentence “If any team proceeds differently, it loses the benefit of the throwing of the jack” has been removed. The incorrect reference to the “second paragraph of Article 8″ in Article 16, was corrected to “third paragraph”.
4. Over the years, the umpires have tried to specify— everywhere in the rules— that an illegally-moved boule or jack could be put it back in its original location, provided it was marked. Now they’ve fixed a few places that they’d missed earlier. [Article 22, Article 23]
5. Now: the rules explicitly state that boules must be hollow (creuse). [Article 2]
6. Now: if a disabled player plays with only one foot inside the circle, “the other foot must not be in front of it.”
7. Now: no-one, as a test, may throw their boules during a game including away from the lane where they are playing.
Substantive changes to the rules
1. [Article 6] [Article 12]
Formerly Article 12 said: “To avoid any argument, the players must mark the jack’s position. No claim can be accepted regarding boules or jack whose positions have not been marked.” This was widely, although not universally, interpreted as a hypothetical imperative— “If you want to avoid arguments, then you must mark the jack’s position.” This rule has been REMOVED from Article 12.
It has been REPLACED by a new rule in Article 6: “The players must mark the position of the jack initially and after each time it is moved. No claims will be allowed for an unmarked jack and the umpire will rule only on the position of the jack on the terrain.” This rule is clearly a requirement, not a hypothetical imperative. Players must mark the position of the thrown-or-placed jack, and must mark the jack’s location again every time it is subsequently moved. The jack may be marked by any player in the game, but in the event of a problem caused by an unmarked jack, the player who threw (or placed or last moved) the jack will be given a warning (a yellow card).
2. [Article 7] Throw away all of your old rules about how far the circle or the thrown jack must be from… whatever. The new rules are different. You can find our discussion of the new rules, complete with colorful diagrams, HERE.
One of the changes is that the throwing circle or thrown jack must be at least 1.5m from any other active circle or jack. Why 1.5m? I think it must be because 3m is the minimum width of a terrain in regional competitions. Half that width is just about the right distance to be effective and workable on a 3m-wide terrain.
Formerly the rule was that a thrown jack must be 1 meter away from a side dead-ball line in normal games, and 50 cm in time-limited games. That rule was abolished. Now the jack may cuddle up to a side line, whether or not it is a dead-ball line. Mike Pegg says that the reason for changing the rule was to provide “more room to play and a uniform distance for timed and not timed games.” Note that this means that a thrown jack is not like a hit jack, which can straddle a dead-ball line and still be good. In order for a thrown jack to be valid, it must be touching the ground on the assigned lane.
3. [Article 8] If Team A fails to throw a valid jack, the opponents must place it on the terrain at a valid position. ADDED: “If the jack is not placed in a valid position by the second team, the player who placed it shall be subject to the penalties outlined in article 35. In the event of a repeat offence, a new card will be issued to the whole team, in addition to any cards previously received.”
This change addresses a frequently-asked question about the 2016 rules: “If Albert, on Team A, fails to place the jack in a valid location, should he (or Team A) be penalized, or merely instructed to place it properly?” The rules now answer that question— he should be penalized.
In fact the 2020 rules provide a remarkably detailed account of how the penalty must be imposed. Suppose that Albert fails to place a valid jack. The umpire gives him a warning (yellow card). Then, if any player on Albert’s team fails to place a valid jack (a repeat of the same offense), a yellow card (warning) will be imposed on Albert and on each of his teammates.
4. [Article 16] REMOVED: “It is forbidden to moisten the boules or the jack.” Mike Pegg says that the rule was removed “because it is extremely difficult if not impossible for the umpire to enforce/check that each and every player is not using a damp cloth.” For our discussion of this rule, see THIS.
5. [Article 28] The phrase “or disturbs” was added to the first sentence, like this: “The team, whose player displaces or disturbs the jack or one of the contested boules, while effecting a measurement, loses the point. If, during the measurement of a point, the Umpire disturbs or displaces the jack or a boule…” This was probably added in order to increase the parallelism between the two sentences. But it is problematic. Up to now a player who gently bumps a boule (it rocks in place but doesn’t change location) has been held not to have displaced it. Now I wonder whether or not bumping but not moving a boule counts as “disturbing” it. Mike Pegg says that merely touching a boule counts as disturbing it.
6. [Article 32] [Article 33] Formerly a team was eliminated from the competition if it was late by more than an hour; now they will be eliminated if they are more than 30 minutes late.
7. [Article 33, Late arrival of players] ADDED: After the first end of a game… “the following ends are considered to have started as soon as the last boule from the previous end has stopped.” For a long time it has been the standard practice in time-limited games to deem one end to have finished, and the next end to have started, when the last boule thrown in the end comes to rest. Now this same criterion has been adopted by the FIPJP rules for the purposes of determining when a late-arriving player may join a game.
About the English version of the FIPJP rules
A few minor translation errors have been fixed. However, two important errors have not been fixed.
► Article 16 still mistranslates point nul as “dead end” rather than “null point”.
► Article 29 still mistranslates une mene nulle both as an end that is “dead” and “null and void”. Translating the same French expression into English in two completely different ways is a problem. A bigger problem is that it misses the best translation for une mene nulle, which is “a scoreless end”.