TOPICS: What happens when a team mistakenly picks up a boule, before the opponents had finished making all of their throws? Two boules are equidistant from the jack, which had been moved during play? A boule distant from the jack is moved inadvertently during a measurement?

And a lovely fine spring day ’tis, lads and lassies.

Many thanks to the players who sent in messages this month.

Forest asks: (Q1) “What is the consequence or rule when a player mistakenly thinks all boules have been played and walks onto the court before the opposing team has played their last boule(s)?. . .(Q2) If no boules are disturbed? . . . (Q3) If a boule is disturbed or picked up?”

Reply: (A1) Once all six (6) of the opponent’s (i.e. your team’s) boules have been played, the terrain/court belongs to the team which has remaining boules to throw. That means that if your team has played all 6 of its boules, your team no longer has ‘skin in the game’. You are done. Then you must STAY OUT OF THE PLAYING AREA.
Art. 17 – “Opponents must remain beyond the jack or behind the player and, in both cases, to the side with regard to direction of play….” The only exception is if the throwing team needs to make a measurement; then your CAPTAIN may proceed back onto the terrain to observe whether jack or boules are moved during the measuring process.

(A2) Consequence if no boules are disturbed: 1st offense = yellow card from umpire. 2nd offense = at umpire’s discretion, exclusion from the competition (Art.17) or orange card and disqualification of a boule played or to be played in future. (Art. 35)

(A3) Consequence if a boule is disturbed or picked up [while the other team still has boules to throw]: If your team believes the end to be completed, then gathering or picking up boules is not deemed an accidental displacement. It is a mistake of inattentiveness or of miscounting. If your team has thrown all six boules then your team’s portion of the end is ‘complete’ (i.e. over). As such, if your team disturbs or picks up your own boules, then they are ‘dead’ (Art.27). Additionally, an umpire may issue penalties as in (A2) above.

Associate member Gary asks: “I have an arbitre question regarding when two opposing boules are equidistant from the jack. It is clear that the first of the two opposing boules keeps the point because the second boule did not get closer. But, what happens when boules are repositioned through the course of the end (often by my errant shots)? When it’s time to count points, two opposing boules are equidistant from the jack, but it’s not possible to know which boule was first or second?”

Reply: If I understand correctly, Gary describes that Team A has thrown a boule and holds the point. Team B then throws a boule, which after measurement, is equidistant from the jack, same as Team A’s boule. Since Team B did not secure the point with that just-thrown boule, they must throw again as per Art. 29, sec.3 (alternating thereafter). As the end continues, resting boules are repositioned by subsequent other moving boules. Gary does not specify which or whose resting boules are repositioned. After all twelve (12) boules have been thrown, two opposing boules are equidistant from the jack. Are they the same two boules which were equidistant earlier? Or are they one or two different boules which are now equidistant? Doesn’t matter whether the chicken boule came first, or the egg boule was thrown first. If when tallying points, the two tied boules are closest to the jack, then the end is null and replayed. If the two boules which are tied are not closest to the jack, then only the boules closer to the jack than the tied boules are considered in the scoring equation.

Bill asks: “What are the consequences of the following scenario?
A player inadvertently steps on a boule during a measurement and moves it slightly; say a centimeter or two. The slightly displaced boule is two-to-several meters distant from the cochonnet and the boules in contention for the point. Part A, what if it’s the player’s own boule? Part B, what if it’s the opponent’s boule?”

Reply: Unlike Forest’s question above, I would consider stepping on a boule, while measuring two other boules, is indeed an accident, and not intentional except by the most nefarious of players. IMO, since the stepped-upon boule was not in contention for the measured point, the measurer would not lose his/her team’s point.
Despite who owns the boule…
1) If it was marked, it goes back to the marked location. (Art.22)
2) If not marked, but if both captains can agree on the repositioned location, then so-be-it.
3) If both captains cannot agree, the boule stays in its new location. (Art.22)
4, NOT a RULE) In casual play, if you make the inadvertent error described by Bill whilst making a courtesy measurement on behalf of the opposing team, then hopefully the other team would grant you an equal courtesy of a favorable (to you) repositioning.

Thanks again for the questions gentlemen.

Please remember to please send your future questions to


Gregory Conyers

The preceding rules interpretations are offered by EPC member Greg Conyers, NW Regional Umpire. They represent Greg’s interpretation of current petanque rules. Other umpires’ opinions may differ.