French umpires guide (sort of)

There is no proper FIPJP umpire’s guide, in the sense of an official document containing case law for the FIPJP rules of petanque— an official list of precedents and rulings in cases where the written rules are unclear or unusable for some reason. There is however a web site that occasionally contains useful bits of that kind of information. I’m talking about the FFPJP (French national) Guide de l’Arbitrage (umpiring guide).

To find it, first go to the FFPJP “portal” page. In the menu at the top of the page, click on the “INFOS ARBITRAGE” heading, and then click on “Guide de l’Arbitrage”.

This will take you to the Guide de l’Arbitrage page. At the bottom of that page is a long list of what are basically memoranda by the French national umpires on various subjects. Most of these memoranda aren’t relevant to someone who is not a French player or a French umpire, but a few contain official decisions about how the rules are to be interpreted. In the picture below, for example, I’ve highlighted Annexe 24-1, which is a memo on the new FIPJP ruling about how to handle a boule thrown out-of-turn (la boule jouée par erreur).

The rightmost column is entitled à teléchargér (to download). To download a document, click on the link in that column. You will be able to download the selected document. It will be in PDF format and (of course) in French. If you don’t read French, I recommend using the DeepL automatic translator.


A new ruling on boules played out-of-turn

A boule played out-of-turn is a boule that was played when a team mistakenly believed that they did not have the point, and that it was their turn to play.

For a long time, there has been serious debate about what should be done when this happens. Some have argued that a boule played out-of-turn was played “contrary to the the rules” and that Article 24 therefore gave the opposing team the option to declare it to be dead. Others have argued that a boule played out-of-turn was NOT an infringement of the rules but simply a mistake; boules played out-of-turn should stay where they are and play should continue.

This debate has now been settled by a ruling by the FIPJP. It is now official— a boule played out-of-turn is simply a mistake; it should be left in place and play should continue.

I don’t know if this ruling can be found on the FIPJP web site, but it was posted on the FFPJP (French) Guide de l’Arbitrage on March 6, 2023. You can read our English translation HERE.

The … ball played by mistake will be valid until the end of the mène.

This ruling made its way to the “Ask the Umpire” Facebook forum on May 4, 2023. In two separate posts (HERE and HERE) Tony Kidd, Trudy Bishop, Allen Cassady, and Andries Wijand all asked roughly the same question:

If Team B gains the point, but does not measure and (thinking that they have not gained the point) plays a second boule, what is the penalty?

Mike Pegg’s answers (which I have combined and compressed for the sake of readability) were—

The penalty is that Team B has wasted one of its boules. No boules are removed, and play continues. Team B of course should have checked [to verify that they were not holding], but so should team A to be sure they are still holding. If neither team checks to see who is holding, they are both in the wrong. Team B’s second boule remains valid, and they are at a disadvantage having played a boule they didn’t need to play.

It is nice to have this old thorn in the side finally pulled.

Playing penalties and conduct penalties

I’ve noticed that on his Ask the Umpire Facebook forum Mike Pegg has started using two new terms— or at least terms that I’ve never noticed before— “playing penalty” and “conduct penalty”. I don’t know the origin of these terms, but I think that they are useful. Basically, the new terms highlight an important distinction in faults and penalties, and the terms make it easier to describe and talk about them.

The basic idea is that there are two kinds or categories of “faults” (ways to break the rules) and correspondingly there are two kinds of penalties— playing penalties for playing faults, and conduct penalties for conduct faults.

The first appearance of these terms that I noticed was on February 16, 2023, in a response to a question by Axel Gillman. Axel asked “How long are penalty cards valid in a tournament or cup game?” Mike’s response was

It depends on the reason for the penalty. Generally speaking a “playing penalty” lasts for the game in question. However, “conduct penalties” will remain in force the the full tournament, even if that event is over a number of days or stages. A player may be disqualified for a game or for the tournament, depending on the reason for the disqualification.

About three months later, on May 4, Mike used the terms again, this time in response to a question by Raymond Ager.

The opponents have the point, but they are out of boules. Our shooter is in the circle and about to shoot when an opponent says, “Excuse me, I want to measure to see if we’re holding two,” and proceeds to measure. Normally the opponents shouldn’t move or speak. What is the ruling ?

Mike’s response was

If you had an umpire at your event, he/she should award a warning to the player who interrupted your shooter. It is worth noting that this is considered a “conduct” fault, which is serious, as a repeat of this or any other conduct fault would result in the player being disqualified from the competition— see the closing paragraph of article 17.

Just for the record, the title of Article 17 is Behaviour of players and spectators during a game, and the last paragraph is “The players who do not observe these regulations could be excluded from the competition if, after a warning from an umpire, they persist in their conduct.”

Judging from these two entries, I would summarize the differences this way.

  • “Playing” penalties are awarded for violations of the rules of the game. Normally, a first offense would earn a warning (yellow card), while a second offense would get a boule disqualified (orange card). Such a penalty will last only until the end of the game.
  • “Conduct” penalties are awarded for violations of the rules of conduct. Normally, a first offense would earn a warning (yellow card), while a second offense could get a player disqualified. The disqualification could be for the remainder of the game or even for the remainder of the competition.

The distinction between playing penalties and conduct penalties is not (or at least not yet) perfect. For one thing, it isn’t written down in any FIPJP document, so at least for now we don’t know if other umpires will recognize and use the distinction. For another, although the distinction seems to be intuitive, it is not sharp— I think there are cases where it isn’t clear whether a particular fault should be considered a playing fault or a conduct fault.

Still, Rome wasn’t built in a day. We shouldn’t fault a move in the right direction for not achieving perfection on Day One. Bottom line— I think that this distinction IS a useful tool for helping players and umpires to think and speak more clearly about the rules.