By John Riches
First published: October 1994
The Laws do not specify the type of gauge that a referee should or must use. Various models are seen at tournaments, but the two illustrated below are the most common: (note that dimensions are not accurate)
Ideally, both types of gauge should be available to the referee. The standard gauge should be used to set and/or check the width of the hoops before the start of a game. Its tongue is 3.75 inches wide, and this is the width at which hoops should be set for match and tournament play, except for specially designated international events (Law 50 (d)). It also has a long straight-edge which is used for testing whether or not a ball has completed the running of its hoop, or can do so in the next stroke (see later).
The Go/No-go gauge is used to test during a game, at the striker's request, whether or not a hoop is still legal. Laws 2 (b) (1) and 50 (d) allow a small "tolerance" within which the hoop would still be legal and should not be reset. During a game the width of a hoop can change due to the hoop being hit hard from the side, or to the soil swelling or shrinking as a result of a light shower, or as it dries out.
The hoop should in theory be the same width at any height; but in practice hoops will sometimes be slightly bent or twisted, and it is usual to test or check them at half-ball height - i.e. the height at which the sides of the ball are likely to contact the hoop if the ball runs through along the ground.
Each hoop should be set so that the standard gauge fits in snugly, and then only reset if it changes so that the Go/No-go gauge reveals that it is no longer within the permitted tolerance. It is possible to set hoops with a Go/Nogo gauge, but it is risky to set a hoop so that it fits snugly on the minimum "go" tongue of the Go/No-go gauge, since it would then require only a small change to make the hoop illegal.
In addition to checking the width of the hoop, the referee should also check that the hoop-legs are vertical when viewed from both the side and the front - that is, the hoop is not tilted or leaning in any direction. A magnetic spirit level is recommended as an excellent means of testing whether or not the hoop as set meets the requirements of the Laws in this regard.
Note that the ball does not complete the running of the hoop unless and until it comes to rest in a position where it cannot be touched by a straightedge placed against the playing side of the hoop. Therefore, if the ball passes through the hoop and then falls back into the hoop so that the gauge touches it, the hoop is not made unless the ball was stationary for 5 or more seconds in a position where it was obvious, without any test being needed, that it was clear of the playing side of the hoop.
In various situations the referee may also be required to test whether or not a ball can make its hoop in the next stroke:
Then the referee replaces the roqueted ball, and the player may proceed to play the stroke; or else he may move the striker's ball to a different position, still in contact with the roqueted ball, in which case it must be re-tested before the stroke is played. Note: Some referees do not like this test because of the difficulty of replacing the roqueted ball correctly; and prefer to leave the balls unmoved while using a length of cotton, fishing line or a hair (etc.). In such cases the thickness of the cotton (etc.) must be allowed for. Many also believe that a visual test and judgement in such situations is quicker, easier and as accurate as any other test.
In this case the referee needs to satisfy himself of only one thing: whether or not the ball is clear of the hoop on the non-playing side. If the ball is clear of the hoop, then it is possible for both hoop and roquet to be made; but if any part of the ball is within the jaws of the hoop, then it will not be possible for both to be made in the one stroke. The test for hoop and roquet must not be confused with the test described in the previous section to see if a ball has already started to run its hoop.
For this test the ball at the rear of the hoop should not be moved, and there is no prescribed method of performing the test, so the referee may use any method which he believes will enable him to satisfactorily make a decision. Some referees have used a sheet of paper or length of fishing line which they attempt to slide down the nonplaying side of the hoop to see if it touches the ball. If the paper or fishing line does not touch the ball, then this test could be conclusive; but if it touches the ball it would still be necessary to take into account the thickness of the paper or fishing line.
Many referees prefer to rely on their eyesight alone in order to judge whether any part of the ball is within the jaws of the hoop, but this may require lying on the ground alongside the hoop in order to get the eye down to the level of the ball. Another testing method is to insert the tongue of a standard gauge into the hoop from the playing side, and if the tongue can be made to touch the ball, then the ball is not clear of the hoop. In theory this test should be reliable, since the tongue of the gauge should be the same width as the diameter of the hoop legs, so that the tongue exactly fills the hoop. However, some are not happy with this test, arguing that the hoop may be bent or twisted; or that in fact the gauge and hoop legs may not be exactly the same size. In spite of these objections, this method is recommended in most situations, as it is the the easiest test to perform and would usually be at least as likely to give an accurate result as any of the other methods. If the ball is actually in contact with the leg of the hoop, this preferred test will not work, as the tongue of the gauge is not shaped to curve around the hoop leg. In this case the best guide is to look at an imaginary line through the centre of the hoop leg and the centre of the ball, as shown by the dotted line in the illustration at right. To establish the direction of this line more easily, some referees like to place a mallet as shown, with the mallet-head close to the ball (it need not actually touch the ball, in case the ball is moved in the process) and the handle in the required imaginary line. Then if the line (i.e. the handle) points to the inside (or right-hand side) of the corresponding (left) leg of hoop 2 as it apparently would in the diagrammed position, the ball is partly in the hoop and hoop and roquet will not be possible. If it points to the outside of hoop 2, then the ball is clear of the hoop and hoop and roquet will be possible.
After performing the test, there are several possible outcomes of the stroke which the referee must understand and bear in mind when watching the stroke:
Assuming that the striker's ball did not jump clean over the ball at the rear of the hoop, (i.e. the two balls did in fact make contact), there are three important further things to be considered
These three things may occur in various combinations, giving rise to eight different possibilities
If the striker jumps his ball through the hoop, the same outcomes apply as if the ball is played along the ground. The actual position of the striker's ball when it contacts the other ball is irrelevant (see illustrations at right).
Unfortunately, it can happen at times that the referee was not called to perform the test before the stroke was played, but is called after the stroke has been played and asked to give a ruling on whether hoop and roquet have both been made. If there is doubt in such a situation he should normally give whatever decision is least favourable to the striker, as a penalty (under Law 55) for breaking Law 48 (d)(2), which states that a referee must always be called before a questionable stroke is played. Law 48 (d)(1) defines a "questionable stroke" as one in which there could be doubt about either the fairness or effect (i.e. result or outcome) of the stroke. This must clearly include all situations where a referee is needed to decide whether or not both hoop and roquet were made.
When a referee is called to rule on a wired ball, he should first check that it is the start of a turn, the adversary is responsible for the position of the 'asking' ball (ask which ball the player is claiming as wired - don't assume anything!), and it is not in contact with any other ball (see Law 13).
Then, having established that these three conditions apply, he should check whether any part of the 'asking' ball lies within a hoop. If it does then it is considered to be automatically wired from all other balls and the player is entitled to lift it and play it from either baulk. If there is doubt as to whether or not the ball is partly within the jaws of a hoop, then the referee should test it as described in the previous section. Here also the recommended method, if the unaided eye is insufficient, is to insert the tongue of the gauge into the hoop from the far side of the hoop, and if the gauge touches the ball then it lies partly within the hoop and is automatically wired. If the ball is in contact with the hoop leg, then the decision should be made on the direction of the imaginary line through the centre of the hoop leg and the centre of the ball as described previously, using a mallet to assist if needed. If no part of the 'asking' ball lies within a hoop, then it can still be wired from any particular 'target' ball for either of two separate reasons:
The length of the impeding area will depend on the height of the player, length of his mallet, and the type of swing he uses. If necessary the referee could ask the player to demonstrate his normal full backswing, without any exaggeration, to assist the referee in deciding whether or not a hoop or the peg would interfere with it. The area may also be curved if the player normally uses a curved backswing, which is particularly likely if he uses a side-style stance and swing.
However, the ball is not considered wired if a hoop or the peg interferes only with the player's stance and not with his swing.
A further important point is that in order for the ball to be wired it is the backswing that must be impeded, not the follow-through. In other words, it is wired when the mallet, if swung in the impeding area, could contact a hoop or the peg before it contacts the ball.
It is also important to remember that the player will only be entitled to a "wiring lift" if the asking ball is wired from all other balls remaining in the game.
There are various situations in which particular tests may need to be performed by the referee in order to establish whether or not a ball is wired for either of the above two reasons. A player may request that a ball be tested, but he cannot demand it. If the referee considers that a test is unnecessary, and gives a decision without performing any test, then the decision stands. However, the unaided eye can be unreliable at times, and appearances can be deceptive, so if there is any doubt at all the referee would be well advised to perform one of the following tests. While doing so he should be prepared to explain what he is doing, and both the player and the adversary are entitled to come onto the lawn and observe the way in which the test is performed, provided they do not interfere in any way with the performing of the test. Some referees like to use long pieces of fishing line or other equipment in order to perform tests of their own design. This is entirely at the discretion of the referee, and once again the player has no right to demand any particular test. He is entitled, however, to check that the test performed by the referee does indeed establish the facts required by Law 13 - i.e. that no part of a hoop or the peg lies within either the "wiring area" or the "impeding area".
After placing the test ball(s), the line (dotted or unbroken) may be viewed from either end to see on which side the hoop or second test ball lies. Some referees have wrongly believed that it is compulsory to view from the asking ball end, but in fact the best end to sight from will depend on the distances between the balls, and whether the referee has a tendency toward nearsightedness or longsightedness.
If the hoop or peg interferes with the correct placement of the first test ball as in the diagram at bottom left, then the asking ball is wired from the target ball.
In a borderline case it may be necessary to check this carefully by placing a mallet as shown, with the head almost touching the target ball and the handle in the line of the centre of the asking ball and the centre of the test ball.
If this arrangement can be achieved, then the ball is not wired; but if the hoop would prevent the test ball from being placed so that it touches the target ball and is equally close to the mallet head, while the handle points to the centre of the asking ball, then the asking ball is wired from the target ball.
At times it may also be necessary to perform a test in order to check whether or not the mallet will contact the ball before it contacts the hoop or peg. The diagrams above illustrate such a situation.
The left-hand diagram shows a test ball placed correctly on the opposite side of the target ball from the hoop (compare with the diagrams on the previous page, where it was placed on the same side) which in this case will be the most critical side, and the mallet in the position where it would contact the ball on the extreme outside edge of the mallet face. Note that the player must be able to strike the ball with any part of the mallet face - not necessarily in the centre - except the bevelled edge. The dotted line shows how the outside edge (i.e. side away from the hoop) of the mallet head is placed in line with the centre of the asking ball and the centre of the test ball.
With the mallet so placed, it will usually be possible to tell whether the mallet will contact the hoop leg before it contacts the ball, in which case the asking ball would be wired from the target ball. In a borderline case it may be difficult to tell whether or not the mallet face is facing exactly at the centre of the test ball, and it will then be advisable to lie the mallet on the ground as shown in the right-hand illustration, keeping the handle in line with the centres of the asking and test balls while slowly moving the mallet head toward the asking ball and hoop, to see which it contacts first.
The diagram at right shows a slightly different situation where the critical question will be not whether the mallet will contact the hoop before the ball, but whether the ball can be hit with any part of the mallet face. Note that here again the test ball is placed on the opposite side of the target ball to the hoop. This time the mallet (which must be the one the player used in his last turn before the asking ball was positioned by his opponent) is not lying on the ground, but standing with the handle vertical. The mallet head is aligned so that it points exactly in the direction of the test ball (see the unbroken line on the diagram), and the near side of the mallet is touching the hoop or peg. Then the referee sights along the other side of the mallet head to see whether or not the extreme edge of the mallet face (not counting any bevelled edge) overlaps the centre of the asking ball. If, as shown here, the mallet face covers more than half of the asking ball, then the asking ball is wired from the target ball because it is not possible to hit the asking ball in the direction of the test ball by using the extreme edge of the mallet face.
IMPORTANT: After the referee has made his decision on a wired ball, he should ensure that both players are informed of the decision and have had a chance to query or challenge it before any ball is moved.
In addition to knowing when and how to perform the various tests, the referee needs to know where to stand when asked to watch particular strokes, and what to look for in various situations.
The diagram at right shows a ball in contact with the outside of a hoop leg. To avoid a fault, the ball must be struck in a direction away from the wire (see Law 28 (a) (10)). The referee needs to judge the position of an imaginary line (see the unbroken line on the diagram) through the 'V' between the ball and the hoop-leg. This line will also be at right-angles to a line, (not shown) through the centre of the ball and the centre of the hoop-leg. The ball may legally be struck in any direction in the 180 degrees outside this line. That is, any of the directions shown by the four small arrows would be legal; but the dotted line through the centre of the ball and parallel to the 'V' line represents the limits in both directions of the area into which the ball can be hit without committing a fault.
Another way of thinking of it is to say that the ball must be struck so that if it were in contact with another ball, instead of with a hoop-leg, then the other ball would not be moved by the stroke. In order to see the exact direction in which the ball is hit, the referee should stand as directly as possible behind the player as the stroke is played. This may still present some difficulty if the player is a large person wearing a long skirt, but it is usually possible to find a suitable position from which it will be possible to judge the exact direction in which the ball is hit - i.e. the direction in which it would travel if the hoop-leg were not there. The referee should be wary of taking too much notice of the direction in which the mallet-head is pointing, as this can change during the swing, and it may point in a direction quite different from that in which the mallet is swung.
Another point worth making, which applies whenever a referee is called to watch a stroke, is that it is the referee, not the player, who decides where the referee will stand. The referee should be aware of the possibility of being hit by either a ball or the mallet; and should try to stand so that his shadow does not unnecessarily distract the player. If the player finds the position of the referee distracting, he can request the referee to change his position, but if the referee decides that there is nowhere else he can stand which will enable him to see what he needs to look for, then the player must accept it. Note that the referee must also watch to see that the ball is not hit with the bevelled edge on the side of the mallet face. It is also worth making the point that whether or not the player is attempting to make the hoop has nothing to do with this or any other type of fault. In most cases when the ball is not touching the wire, there is no reason why the player should be required to hit away from the hoop, and the stroke will not be a fault simply because the ball is hit into the wire.
Therefore, if the ball starts more than 1mm from the wire, it will no longer be in contact with the mallet when it hits the wire, and a fault under Law 28 (a) (10), which is sometimes misleadingly referred to as a "three-in-one" fault, cannot occur. Only if the ball starts less than 1mm from the hoop should it be treated the same as if it were touching the hoop, with the referee observing from a position behind the player and basing his decision on whether or not the ball was hit away from the hoop (i.e. outside the 'V' line).
When the ball starts more than 1mm from the hoop, such as in a hoop attempt from the position illustrated at right, the only likely fault is a double hit under Law 28 (a) (8). In order to see this the referee will need to stand not behind the player, nor behind the hoop, but alongside the player and close in so that he can look more or less down on the stroke from above. He must watch the movement of the ball closely and base his decision on whether the mallet contacted the ball a second time after the initial hit. For this to happen, the ball would need to not only contact the hoop leg, but do so in such a way that it is noticeably retarded in its forward movement in order to allow the mallet to catch up with it and hit it the second time.
In summary, then, the advice to follow when watching close -up hoop attempts is:
There is no situation I know of where I would recommend the referee to stand behind the hoop, although if the referee wants to stand there he may certainly do so. In my opinion there would always be a better place to stand where you are more likely to see the things you need to be looking for. In particular, a double hit, which is by far the most common and likely type of fault when a player is attempting a close-up hoop, can only be detected adequately when the shot is viewed by looking down on it from the side. In most cases a referee who stands more than two yards from the ball is not likely to be able to make an accurate decision, although the most desirable distance will depend to some extent on any tendency of the referee toward either short-sightedness or long-sightedness.
A hammer shot should always be observed from the side, and no closer than 2-3 yards back from the ball. In this case it is wrong to look down on the stroke, and best to get your eyes fairly low down. The referee needs to watch for several possible things, any of which would constitute a fault:
Note that it is not a fault if the player merely touches or brushes his arm(s) against his leg(s) - only if they are resting there. In the past some referees have faulted hammer shots if the player follows through downward instead of bringing the mallet back up, yet they would pass a jump shot through a hoop where the player follows through downward. Since both shots are covered by the same Laws, this is inconsistent and unjustifiable. Under the Laws any type of follow-through is permitted.
These must be viewed from the side, and the referee must watch for the same faults as in a hammer shot, except that the ball is unlikely to be "pulled" in a jump shot. Instead, there is a greater chance of damaging the court. Such damage will only be a fault if the following three conditions are satisfied:
The two illustrations at right show how such a stroke can be used in an attempt to run the hoop, or as an alternative to a hammer shot when the ball is in a impeded position behind the hoop.
For the hoop attempt the referee should stand with his head almost directly over the ball, or else very close behind the player, in order to check that the ball is hit in a direction away from the near hoop leg, it is hit only once, and it is hit "clearly and distinctly".
When watching the impeded shot behind the hoop it is best to view the shot from the opposite side to the player, and from fairly low down, in order to check on pushing the ball, hitting with the bottom bevelled edge, or failing to hit the ball "clearly and distinctly".
There are other possible types of impeded stroke, but they will mostly be similar to one of the shots already considered, and from what we have already seen the referee should be able to select a suitable viewing position with a clear idea of what to look for.
The referee should be called to watch any shot in which one rover ball is likely to cause another rover ball to be pegged out or pass close to the peg. This includes the stroke in which the ball is rushed near to the peg, as well as the following intended peg-out attempt.
In almost all cases the best position for the referee is about one yard to the side of the peg, ready to step in as soon as the ball is hit, so that he will be able to look directly down on the peg from above. If the peg-out is played from very close to the peg - say, less than one yard - then a reasonable alternative would be to stand immediately behind the player.
When watching a cannon the main thing, after checking that the balls have been correctly arranged, is to be able to say whether or not the striker's ball roqueted the third ball. Therefore the referee should stand so that he is facing the gap between these two balls, and must watch them both very closely.
A referee should be called to watch any long diagonal corner take-off. He should take up a position behind the player and watch to see that the croqueted ball moves, and that its initial movement is in a direction away from the striker's ball - that is, it does not merely fall down into a hole on the corner spot after the striker's ball moves away. There is also the possibility of the mallet hitting the croqueted ball as well as the striker's ball on a very fine take-off.
Sometimes the referee has to supervise the moving in of balls where a ball is lying in a corner hole or 'special damage' (Law 34 (c)), or when the player does not have a level stance, or his swing will be impeded by a fixed obstacle outside the court (Law 34 (b)). There is a convention in Australia that when balls are moved in under Law 34 (b) they are normally measured a mallet's head length at right-angles to the nearest boundary. This is quick and convenient, and avoids the need to use markers in order to replace the balls, if necessary, with reasonable accuracy. However, there will be some cases where it would be more appropriate to move the balls some other distance, or in some other direction; and this is entirely up to the referee. Balls moved under Law 34 (c) are treated differently, and should always be moved the minimum distance required to avoid the damage, in any appropriate direction, so that the striker is neither advantaged nor disadvantaged.
When the boundary is marked by a cord it is usually considered that the cord, which is definitely outside the court, is a fixed obstacle. Therefore, the player may move his ball in if the cord is likely to interfere with his swing. However, it is also considered that the cord would not normally affect a player's stance, as he can be expected to stand on the cord if necessary. Sometimes it will be possible to avoid the need to move balls in by simply moving the cord temporarily and replacing it after the stroke has been played. This seems a reasonable solution when it can be done without undue difficulty.
Some referees and clubs have special frames designed for use in testing whether or not a ball is overhanging the boundary; but if nothing else suitable is available then two mallets should be placed as illustrated in the diagram at right, and a straight-edge used as shown to see whether it touches the ball, in which case the ball should be ruled 'out'. When performing this test, great care is needed to avoid moving the cord while placing the mallets so that the handles are parallel to the cord, and also in making sure that the two mallet faces are actually touching the cord. Some referees recommend asking someone to stand on the cord so that it cannot move, but if you experiment yourself, you will find that it is not as easy as it sounds to stand on the cord without causing it to move.
One also needs to be aware of the possibility that if the border slopes either in or out, as many do, then the mallet faces will also slope forward or backward and so make the test inaccurate. The referee should also understand how difficult it is to judge a really borderline case just by standing over it and looking down on the ball and cord, or by moving back and looking along the boundary line. The difficulty is in making certain that the eye you sight with, and not your nose, is vertically above the boundary line, and appearances can be very deceptive.
When double-banking, a ball from the other game which could interfere with a stroke may be lifted, but only if it is not in a critical position, and only after permission to remove it has been gained from a player in that other game. This applies to referees as well as to players (see Law 52 (c)), and it is unfortunate that one often sees a player mark the position of a ball from the other game and then say, "Red's up!", or something similar. The referee should never be guilty of such a sin, and should also discourage players from doing it, as it can lead to a great deal of unpleasantness if the player who moved the ball did not realise, for example, that the slightest inaccuracy in replacing it could make the difference between whether or not it is wired, and could well decide the result of the game.
If the shot is played into the 'used' ball at an angle (as in the middle diagram) and the ball is hit only once, then the striker's ball will still tend to come off the 'used' ball at a wide angle (see position 1 of dotted ball); but if the striker's ball comes off at a narrower angle (position 2, where it travels roughly in the direction which the striker's ball would take in a croquet stroke when the balls started in contact), then it was almost certainly hit a second time.
Unfortunately, many players do not call the referee to watch such shots, because they are unaware of the fact that by hitting into the 'used' ball they will almost certainly commit a fault.
Perhaps the most common such situation occurs when the player has attempted to peel a ball which has not finished clear of the hoop (see bottom left diagram), even though it may have made the hoop. Here the player will usually hit directly into the 'peeled' ball in the hope that both balls will go through the hoop; but in most cases a fault can only be avoided by using a very sharp stop-shot action, and this means that the striker's ball will be very likely to remain in the hoop instead of making it.
If the peeled ball is clear of the hoop (bottom right diagram), then a double hit will no longer be a fault provided the hoop is made, since a roquet will also have been made (see 'hoop and roquet' in section 5 of this book).
Note that if the balls are actually in contact, then they can be rolled forward through the hoop as in a croquet stroke, without necessarily committing a fault.
Every referee should spend some time out on the lawn with balls and mallet, finding out how the balls behave in such situations when the striker's ball is hit into the 'used' or 'peeled' ball at varying angles, starting with gentle shots where the balls are well over an inch apart. This would greatly increase the likelihood that correct decisions will be given in situations which are often extremely difficult to judge by observation alone. You will find that if the player hits harder, or tries to make his ball jump, or follows through instead of using a stop-shot action, then each of these things makes it even more likely that the shot will be a fault.
However, no shot should ever be prejudged. There is always the possibility that given suitable conditions (e.g. a sloping lawn and very strong tail wind!) the player will manage to achieve the almost impossible.
When the target ball is in contact with a hoop leg but not actually in the hoop, some referees have made a practice of placing a marker and going by the direction in which the ball moves. They argue that if the striker's ball hits only the hoop, then the target ball can move only in a direction directly away from the hoop leg in the line of centres of the ball and hoop leg, which is where the marker would be placed (see diagram). Unfortunately the argument is invalid and the theory does not work. If the lawn is true (which is something one would seldom want to rely on, especially around a hoop), it could be reasonable to claim that if the striker's ball hits the hoop and not the target ball, then the target ball will move toward the marker. But in any case the converse cannot be maintained: If the target ball moves toward the marker this cannot be taken as proof that there was no contact between the balls. This means that the referee just has to watch closely and depend on his eyesight in order to say whether or not the roquet was made.
In addition to all that we have considered, which is of course only a small part of what a referee needs to know, the following common refereeing errors should be noted and avoided:
It has taken a long, hard battle over many years to convince some referees of this; and it is mentioned here just in case there is someone somewhere who still wishes to apply this ridiculous "test". If confronted by such a referee, the player should simply ask to be shown anything in the Laws which states that he is required to ground his mallet after running a hoop; or that the shot is a fault if the ball cannot be fitted between the hoop and the grounded mallet.
On any matter of fact. e.g. whether or not a roquet was made, or whether the mallet would contact the hoop before it hits the ball, the referee's decision is final. However the player is entitled to query any decision made on a point of law, e.g. the way in which a test is carried out, or what a law says and means. The referee should explain to the player as clearly as possible the law(s) on which the decision was based and how he (the referee) understands and is applying the laws.
If a player is dissatisfied with a referee's decision on a point of law (not fact), then the player may appeal to the Tournament Referee (if there is one) before the striker's next stroke (Reg. 4 (b) (1)). The situation should be explained fully to the Tournament Referee with the players present then the Tournament Referee assumes full and sole responsibility for giving a ruling. The Tournament Referee must be able and willing to sort out difficult problems on fine points of law without involving or consulting anyone else before the ruling is given.
When there is no official Tournament Referee, it has at times been the practice of dissenting players in SA to ask for a 'second opinion'. There is no provision in the Laws for this, and the referee of the game is not under any obligation to comply with the request to seek another opinion. If he agrees to do so (perhaps because he realises that his understanding of a particular section of the Laws may not be complete), then he is still under no obligation to accept the other opinion, and he still retains full responsibility for giving the final ruling. Once again, the players should be present, if they so desire, so that they can hear the information presented to the person giving the 'other opinion', and satisfy themselves that the advice and /or ruling is soundly based on the Laws. If the referee does agree to seek a second opinion, then he should seek it from the person most likely to give a correct ruling, and not just from any other referee who happens to be nearby, as the referee will be in an awkward position if he believes the second opinion is incorrect. No other person should be involved. Any request for a further (3rd, 4th, etc.) opinion should be refused. The involvement of more people in the decision-making process is only likely to cause more confusion, and is unlikely to result in a better ruling being given.
If the player is still unwilling to accept the final decision on a point of law, then he should be advised that he is entitled to enter an official protest after the game has been completed. He is required to accept the decision for the time being and continue the game; but before he does so (assuming that he has stated his intention of entering a protest), the exact position of all balls and clips should be recorded, together with the time remaining, whose turn it is to play, who is responsible for the position of each ball, and any further factual details which may assist in the hearing of a protest. The clock should be stopped while this is done, and the player should also be advised as to how and when he should enter the official protest to the controlling body of the competition, if he still wishes to do so, after the game. The referee should never feel threatened by any of this procedure, as we can all make mistakes and learn from them. He should offer the player every possible assistance in seeing that the protest is entered in accordance with whatever rules govern that particular competition.
In closing, let us emphasise that the final authority on all matters covered in this booklet is not any Laws Committee, or any ruling given by one, but the Laws themselves. The views and opinions expressed above carry authority only to the extent that they say exactly what is stated in the Laws. There is no substitute for a thorough knowledge and understanding of the Laws. 18
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