Rules governing the jack (cochonnet, bouchon)

As of September 2018, the FIPJP rules governing the petanque jack (the little target ball, cochonnet, bouchon) are as follows. We will discuss synthetic and paramagnetic jacks later in this post.

  1. The jack must be made of wood.
  2. The jack must be 30mm, +/- 1mm in diameter.
  3. The jack must weigh between 10g and 18g.
  4. The jack may be unpainted or painted any color.
  5. A painted jack may not be painted with paramagnetic paint.

Table of Contents

  1. Documents containing the rules governing jacks
  2. A short history of changes to the rules governing jacks
  3. Synthetic jacks
  4. Paramagnetic jacks
  5. The weight of jacks
  6. The future of jacks


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2016 rules – Article 35’s new rule about exceeding the 1-minute rule

Revised: 2021-05-04
When the FIPJP released a new version of the rules in December 2016, umpires and players discovered that two sentences (marked [a] and [b], below) had been inserted into Article 35.

For non-observation of the rules of the game the players incur the following penalties:
1) A warning, which is indicated officially by the showing by the umpire of a yellow card to the player at fault.
[a] However, a yellow card for exceeding the time limit is imposed on all the players of the offending team. [b] If one of these players has already been given a yellow card, he will be penalized by disqualification of a boule during the mene in progress or for the following mene if he has no more boules to play.
 

These two sentences caused an immense amount of confusion among players and umpires. In response, there were a number of attempts to clarify the two new sentences. Strangely enough, these attempts usually tried to relieve the confusion by introducing new, unfamiliar, and undefined terminology. On “Ask the Umpire”, Mike Pegg responded to questions with talk of “team” infractions, “team” penalties, and “team” yellow cards. The French National Umpires Committee issued memo in which it tried to alleviate the confusion with talk of “collective” infractions, “collective” penalties, and “collective” yellow cards.

These efforts were completely misguided. In petanque, there are no “collective” offenses or “team” penalties. There are only individual offenses and penalties. Article 35, for example, begins by saying that a warning is indicated “by the umpire showing a yellow card to the player at fault.” The two new sentences were added to the rules in 2016. Before that time—

  • If a player lingered too long in the circle and violated the 1-minute rule, that player would have been the player at fault, and would have been given a warning (yellow card).
     
  • If all three members of a team spent too much time discussing strategy together, each of the three players would have been at fault, and each would receive his own, individual warning (yellow card). Three yellow cards, total.

What the new sentences in Article 35 did was to add a new rule. (Note that this new rule is triggered only by a team’s first infraction of the 1-minute rule.)

  • The first time that any member of a team violates the 1-minute rule, the umpire will give an individual penalty to the player at fault. IN ADDITION the umpire will give an individual penalty to each of his team-mates, regardless of whether or not those team-mates were at fault in creating the violation.

Basically the new rule in Article 35 is this—

  • The first time that any player of a team violates the 1-minute rule, the umpire must penalize all members of the team— guilty and innocent alike.

As I’ve said, there are no “team” or “collective” penalties in petanque. When people use expressions such as “team yellow card” or “collective yellow card”, they are referring to a situation in which an umpire gives an individual yellow card to each of the members of a team, even though at least one member of the team was completely innocent of any wrong-doing.

When the new rule appeared, it provoked many questions about what effect it would have on the vague tradition of penalty escalation— the idea that repeated offenses should be punished with increasingly severe penalties. The unwritten rule-of-thumb for umpires is— First offense gets a warning; second offense gets a disqualified boule. So when the new rule was published, the question that was on the minds of many players was— What effects does the new rule have on the ways that penalties are escalated?

The answer is— None. Nada. Zip. All of the traditional rules of penalty escalation still operate the same way as they always have, unchanged. The first time that a player exceeds the time limit, the umpire gives each member of his team a yellow card; EXCEPT THAT the umpire gives an orange card to each player that already has a yellow card (for any offense); EXCEPT THAT the umpire gives a red card to any player that already has an orange card. Thereafter, if a player breaks a rule, the umpire gives him a yellow card; EXCEPT THAT if the player already has a yellow card, the umpire gives him an orange card; etc. etc.

In January 2017, the French National Umpires Committee released a memo that confirmed that the traditional rules of petanque escalation remain unchanged. (You can find the CNA’s memo HERE.) The memo lists several case descriptions and provides the approved decision in each case.

=======================================================
The following examples are for a team composed of three players A, B and C.
The term “individual infraction” means any infraction of the rules other than an infraction of the time-limit rule.

Case 1
No player has received a warning for any infraction of the rules.
Player A exceeds the time limit.
DECISION
The umpire gives a warning to each player: A, B, and C.

Case 2
Each of the players has been given a warning for exceeding the time limit.
Player A commits an individual infraction.
DECISION
The umpire disqualifies one of player A’s boules.

Case 3
Each of the players has been given a warning for exceeding the time limit.
Player A exceeds the time.
DECISION
The umpire disqualifies one of player A’s boules.

Case 4
Player C commits an infraction of a rule other than the time-limit rule.
Player B exceeds the time.
DECISION
The umpire gives a warning to players A and B.
The umpire disqualifies one of player C’s boules.

Case 5
Player A commits an individual infraction.
Player B commits an individual infraction.
Player C exceeds the time.
DECISION
The umpire disqualifies one of player A’s boules.
The umpire disqualifies one of player B’s boules.
The umpire gives a warning to player C.

Case 6
Player A commits an individual infraction.
Player B commits an individual infraction.
Player C commits an individual infraction.
Player A exceeds the time.
DECISION
The umpire disqualifies one of player A’s boules.
The umpire disqualifies one of player B’s boules.
The umpire disqualifies one of player C’s boules.
=======================================================
Case 7
Each of the players has been given a warning for exceeding the time limit.
The team exceeds the time limit for a second time, by conferring among themselves as a group for more than a minute.
DECISION
The umpire disqualifies one of the team’s boules.
=======================================================

Actually, there are only 6 cases on the CNA’s list— Case 7 is my own addition. It is remarkable that Case 7 is not on the CNA’s list, because it is the most controversial case of all.

In Case 7, all three players are what the CNA calls “direct authors” of the second infraction— each player personally participates in the act that breaks the rule. In my opinion, in Case 7 an umpire who honestly tries to follow the letter of the law will disqualify one boule for each of the offending players— three boules in total. But that might seem like a “team penalty” for a second infraction of the 1-minute rule, which Article 35 does NOT support. So an umpire won’t do that; he will disqualify just one of the team’s boules (see international umpire Mike Pegg’s ruling HERE). At this point, players will of course ask: “Which boule does the umpire disqualify?” For the answer to that question, see our post on What does it mean to “disqualify a boule”?

Three players exceeding the time limit as they discuss what to do next


An alternate set of rules for friendly games of petanque

The FIPJP rules of petanque are designed for use in FIPJP-sanctioned competitions supervised by FIPJP-certified umpires. In addition to being unclear and sometimes unfair when strictly interpreted, the FIPJP rules are dependent on the presence of an umpire to the extent that, under some circumstance, they are useless in friendly games. By “friendly games” I mean games played outside of an organized competition, without an umpire.

In response to these problems, the Petanque Libre Project has developed an alternate set of rules for the game of petanque. The Petanque Libre rules are designed with friendly games in mind; they are designed so that ordinary players can understand, interpret, and apply them in games played outside of an organized competition, without an umpire.

You can read more about the project, and download a copy of the rules for Petanque Libre, at the Petanque Libre Project website. The project has also issued a Request for Comments on the rules.


The FPUSA umpires guide (2015-2016)

In December 2015, Ed Porto, then President of the FPUSA, announced

FPUSA has developed and adopted a supplement containing official clarification for some of the rules that have proven ambiguous or have given rise to varied interpretations by players and umpires. They are nicely laid out and written in layman’s terms by National Umpires Joe Martin and Gary Jones.

The document— FPUSA Official Rules Interpretations for Umpires— could be downloaded as a PDF file from the FPUSA web site.

About a year later, after the 2016 revision of the FIPJP rules, FPUSA withdrew the umpires guide. As of 2021-08-30, it has not issued another version.

Our archived copy of it is still available on our National umpire guides & rules interpretations page.

This page was originally posted in December 2015, when the guide was announced.
The post was revised in August 2021 to reflect the subsequent history of the guide.