Is the Geologic “red jack” legal?
The short answer
The mid-length answer
There are two ways to play. There is friendly “social” play, and there is competition play— play strictly according to the FIPJP rules. Just as “leisure” boules are designed for social play (but aren’t permitted in competition play), so the red jack is designed for social play (but isn’t permitted in competition play).
The long answer
Let’s start with some information about the jack itself.
- Decathlon was selling the red jack internationally as early as 2019, but it only appeared on the American Decathlon web store in the spring of 2021.
- The distinctive feature of the red jack is that it is paramagnetic, that is, you can pick it up with a magnetic boule lifter.
- Structurally, it is different from Obut’s “black jack”, which is made of hard epoxy resin mixed with iron filings. The Geologic red jack is made out of a different material (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and it has a solid iron core which gives it 50% of its total weight.
- The red jack is 29.5mm in diameter and weighs 17g.
- The Decathlon webpage for the red jack clearly states— Use restriction: This jack cannot be used in official competitions.
In the case of jacks, there is a difference between being “approved” and being “legal”.
- There is an FIPJP document called Fabricants de Boules: Labels des Boules et Buts agréés en compétition. This document lists the models of boules and synthetic jacks that are “approved” for competition play. Being a competition boule means, basically, that the boule is one of the approved models listed in this document. Being a competition jack means that a synthetic jack is one of the approved models listed in this document.
- The FIPJP international rules for the sport of petanque specifies size, weight, and composition requirements for jacks. A jack that meets those requirements is “legal” for use in an FIPJP-sanctioned competition. A jack that fails to meet those requirements may not be used in an FIPJP-sanctioned competition.
Both Obut’s black jack and Geologic’s red jack may be used in social play, but (for different reasons) neither may be used in competition play. Obut’s black jack, although it is an approved, competition synthetic jack, is not legal because it weighs more than the maximum weight allowed by the rules of the sport. The Geologic red jack, although its size and weight are acceptable under the rules of the sport, isn’t on the list of officially approved competition synthetic jacks.
A few customers have complained (in customer reviews) that their magnetic boule lifters won’t pick up the red jack. A customer service rep has replied that “There is indeed a competitor’s boule lifter that doesn’t work very well with these jacks. We will fix that in a second version.” If this is something you experience, you can complain to Decathlon and get a refund. But my advice would be to get a better boule lifter or make your own.