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Technical
Referees Guide

By John Riches

First published: October 1994
Revised for 6th Edition Laws April 2003

CONTENTS

1. Gauges:
2. Hoop Setting And Checking:
3. Testing Whether A Hoop Has Been Made
4. Testing Whether A Hoop Can Be Made
5. Testing For Hoop And Roquet
6. Testing For Wired Balls
7. Watching Hoop Attempts, Etc.
8. Watching Hammer Shots
9. Watching Jump Shots
10. Watching 'Pirie Pokes', Etc.
11. Watching A Peg-Out
12. Watching A Cannon
13. Watching A Take-Off
14. Moving Balls In
15. Testing Whether A Ball Is Out
16. Marking Balls (Double Banking)
17. Watching A `Saving' Shot
18. Watching A Shot At Ball In Hoop
19. Errors To Be Avoided
20. Handling Disputes, Etc.

PLEASE NOTE: This booklet has been written in an attempt to help improve the standard of refereeing by explaining things like how to perform particular tests, where to stand when watching particular strokes, what to look for, etc. This is all information which a referee needs to know, but most of it is not to be found in the Laws book.

Although the author is Chairman of the S.A. Laws Committee and a member of the A.C.A. Laws Committee, the material in this booklet has not been discussed or formally approved by either body.

John Riches
26 Bowman Crescent
Enfield, S.A. 5085

Digital edition v1.0 2003 by cleinedesign. email jballant@smartchat.net.au


1. GAUGES:

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)

2. HOOP SETTING AND CHECKING:

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.

3. TESTING WHETHER A HOOP HAS BEEN MADE

When using the straight-edge of the gauge to test whether or not a ball has completed the running of its hoop (Law 14), the gauge should be first placed across the hoop at a level close to the ground and well below half-ball height. Then the gauge should be moved slowly upward to see whether or not it touches the ball, as shown in the 1st diagram at right.

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.

4. TESTING WHETHER A HOOP CAN BE MADE

In various situations the referee may also be required to test whether or not a ball can make its hoop in the next stroke:

  1. When the striker's ball has entered the hoop from the nonplaying side (e.g. he had rushed a ball to a position directly behind the hoop and had attempted to take off through the hoop to the playing side) the test is performed as shown in the 2nd diagram. Note that in this case the straightedge is placed against the non-playing side of the hoop to see if the ball has started to run the hoop.
      An interesting situation is worth noting here: the 3rd diagram shows a ball which has taken off from the non-playing side of its hoop, passed through the hoop to the playing side (reaching the position shown by the dotted ball), and then fallen back into the hoop before coming to rest. If the referee has clear evidence that the ball did in fact reach a position in which it could not have been touched by a straight-edge placed against the non-playing side of the hoop, and remained stationary there for at least five seconds, before falling back into the hoop, then he must allow that the hoop can be made in the following continuation stroke. However, if there is doubt as to whether the ball ever reached such a position, then the decision must be based on the final resting position of the ball, which in the diagrammed position has already started to run its hoop so must return to the playing side before the hoop can be made.  
  2. When a ball has been rushed into its hoop from the non-playing side, the question would be whether or not it can be "peeled" through the hoop in the following stroke, and this would be decided in the same way. Once again, if it passed through the hoop and then fell back into it, there would need to he evidence or agreement that before falling back it had reached a position such that it could not have been touched by a straight-edge placed against the non-playing side of the hoop and had been at rest there for five seconds.
  3. When the striker has rushed or roqueted any ball to the back of his hoop from either side, it may be necessary to test whether the striker's ball will be able to make the hoop in the following stroke. The referee should be called before the player begins to place his ball, so that if the roqueted bail is inadvertently moved the referee will be able to verify this and allow it to be replaced. After ascertaining the exact position of the roqueted ball at the back of the hoop, the referee should instruct the striker to place his ball in contact with it, in preparation for the croquet stroke. Then the referee should carefully remove the roqueted ball and test whether the striker's ball is in a position from which it can begin the running of its hoop in the croquet stroke. He does this by using his straight-edge on the non-playing side of the hoop, as shown in the diagram at right. If the gauge touches the ball, the striker's ball cannot make the hoop from that position in the croquet 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.

5. TESTING FOR HOOP AND ROQUET

If a player plans to make a hoop when there is a ball lying very close to the hoop on the nonplaying side, the referee should be called before the stroke is played, so that he can test whether or not it will be possible for a roquet, as well as the hoop, to be made in the one stroke.

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

  1. the ball at the rear of the hoop may be clear of the hoop, or partly in the hoop.
  2. it may be a 'used' ball or a 'live' ball in regard to the striker's ball in that turn.
  3. the striker's ball may or may not complete the running of the hoop. Note that the running of the hoop will not be completed unless and until the striker's ball comes to rest in a position such that it has passed through the hoop and cannot be touched by a straight-edge placed across the playing side of the hoop.

These three things may occur in various combinations, giving rise to eight different possibilities

  1. 'used' ball clear of hoop and running completed = hoop and roquet both made.
  2. 'used' ball partly in hoop and running completed = hoop made, but no roquet.
  3. 'used' ball clear of hoop and running not completed = neither hoop nor roquet made.
  4. 'used' ball partly in hoop and running not completed = neither hoop nor roquet made.
  5. 'live' ball clear of hoop and running completed = hoop and roquet both made.
  6. 'live' ball partly in hoop and running completed = roquet made, but no hoop.
  7. 'live' ball clear of hoop and running not completed = roquet made, but no hoop.
  8. 'live' ball partly in hoop and running not completed = roquet made, but no hoop. (In order to make the hoop the striker's ball must begin the running again.)

The reasons for the outcomes given above may not be immediately obvious, but they are logical enough when given sufficient thought. The main things to remember are that a hoop cannot be made unless the running is completed. If the striker's ball roquets a 'live' ball which is partly within the jaws of the hoop, then the striker's ball becomes a ball in hand and must begin to run the hoop again. If the hoop is not made, then it is not possible to claim a roquet on a 'used' ball. It should also be noted with regard to possibility (2) that if the two balls come to rest in contact with each other, then a roquet is deemed to have been made at the start of the following stroke.

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.

6. TESTING FOR WIRED BALLS

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:

  1. It is wired if a hoop or the peg prevents it from travelling in a straight line toward any part of the target ball (Law 13 (b) (1)). This means that the asking ball has to be able to be hit in a straight line so that it can contact the target ball in the middle, or just "flick" it on either side, as shown by the arrows on the diagram. The two dotted "test" balls on the diagram show the positions that the asking ball would have to be able to reach in order to do this. Note that the three balls at the top of the diagram are not in a straight line. If any part of a hoop or peg lies within the shaded "wiring area", then the asking ball will be "wired" from the target ball.
  2. It is wired if a hoop or the peg impedes a normal full backswing which could be needed to drive the asking ball in the direction of any of the three arrows shown on the diagram (Law 13 (b) (2)). If any part of a hoop or the peg lies within the shaded "impeding area", then the backswing will be impeded and for this reason the asking ball will again be considered "wired" from the target ball. Note that the width of the impeding area is at least twice the width of the mallet, as the player has to he able to hit the asking ball with the extreme edge of the mallet face (but not the bevelled edge - see Law 2 (e)) on either side.

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".

The diagram at right shows the most common method of testing to see whether or not any part of a hoop (or the peg) lies within the "wiring area". A first "test" ball is placed against the target ball on the same side as the hoop, in the position which the asking ball would have to reach in order to just "flick" the target ball as it passed on that side. Then the imaginary dotted line which joins the edges of the asking ball and the test ball represents the edge of the "wiring area". It is usually possible to tell whether or not the hoop encroaches on this area by sighting along the (dotted) line. In the diagrammed position the hoop lies entirely outside this line (i.e. on the opposite side of the line to the target ball), so the asking ball is not wired from the target ball.

An alternative method, which gives the same result, is to place a second "test" ball against the hoop and sight along the centres of the asking ball and the first test ball as shown by the unbroken line. If, as here, the centre of the second test ball lies on the hoop side of this unbroken line, then this also means that the asking ball is not wired from the target ball.

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.

Note that the striker will only be entitled to a wiring lift if it is the start of a turn, the adversary is responsible for the position of the ball, the ball is not in contact with any other ball, and it is wired from all other balls remaining in the game. The following may also prove helpful:

  1. Even if the 'asking' ball is already on a baulk line, the player may he awarded a wiring lift with it if it is wired from all other balls, and he may then play it from the other baulk, or from some other place on the same baulk.
  2. A player who has been awarded a wiring lift is not committed to taking the lift. He may choose to play with his other ball (or in a doubles game his partner may play it), or he may choose to play the wired ball from where it lies.
  3. If the player declines to play any ball, and instead declares his turn, then he must nominate one of his balls which is still in the game and for whose position he then becomes responsible.

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.

7. WATCHING HOOP ATTEMPTS, ETC.

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.

It has been demonstrated conclusively by Professor Stan Hall (see his article published in the March 1994 Australian Croquet Gazette) that by the time the ball has travelled 1mm from its starting position it will no longer be in contact with the mallet unless perhaps the shot is played with a very pronounced pass roll action, which is hardly likely when running a hoop.

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:

  1. If the ball is touching the wire, or less than 1mm from it, then stand behind the player and check that the ball is hit away from the wire.
  2. If the ball is more than 1mm from the wire, stand to the side and look down over the ball, watching for a double hit.

On rare occasions there may be a distinct possibility that the player could commit either of the two above faults. The illustration at right shows a situation where the ball is touching the left leg of the hoop, so the referee needs to stand behind the player to check that the ball is hit away from the upright. However, there is also the likelihood that when the ball contacts the right hoop leg it could be retarded sufficiently in its forward movement to allow the mallet to hit it a second time. In order to see this properly the referee would need to be standing alongside and over the shot. The best solution in such cases is to enlist the assistance of another referee so that one can watch that the ball is hit away from the hoop while the other watches for a double hit. It is in order for the referee to ask the player what type of shot he intends to play, and if necessary to demonstrate the type of swing, in order to enable the referee to decide the best place to stand and view it from.

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.

If the stroke is ruled a fault, then the turn ends and the ball is replaced or not at the opponent's option (See Law 28 (b), but in handicap play Law 37 (h) may remove one option). In past years many referees have facilitated the replacement by marking carefully the position of the ball before the stroke is played, using one or more plastic markers as illustrated at right. In South Australia this practice has largely disappeared in recent years, partly because it was felt that it often amounted to giving advice to the player. The player would think, "He thinks I'm going to fault it", and not infrequently would change his or her mind and not attempt the hoop. One solution to this problem would have been to mark the ball every time you were called to watch a hoop shot, but this seems impractical as it takes up too much time, especially when the referee is on call for other games as well, where players may be waiting for him. In S.A. almost all of our serious competitive games are played with a time limit and no turns after the bell, so at a late stage in a game the time taken to mark ball positions can make a real difference to the result. We seem to have had little difficulty in replacing a ball, when necessary, with sufficient accuracy to satisfy all involved. Before the stroke is played the referee should note carefully the position of the ball in relation to the hoop, and the apparent difficulty of the hoop attempt. Then it should be possible to replace the ball, if not exactly in the same place, at least in a position such that neither player is advantaged.

8. WATCHING HAMMER SHOTS

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:

  1. "pulling" the ball with the mallet.
  2. hitting the ball more than once.
  3. hitting the ball with the bottom bevelled edge (hence the need to view from low down).
  4. playing the shot with the arms or elbows resting on the knees or thighs.
  5. failing to hit the ball clearly or distinctly.
  6. causing "substantial damage" to the court (see Law 28 (a) (15)).
  7. the ball touching the player's foot.

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.

9. WATCHING JUMP SHOTS

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:

  1. The player meant to play the stroke. - i.e. did not make the ball jump accidentally.
  2. The stroke was played in a manner in which the mallet was likely to cause substantial damage to the court. Note: It is now not the type of stroke (hammer, jump, etc.), but the manner in which it is played that is relevant.
  3. The stroke did in fact cause substantial damage (see definition in Law 28 (a) (15)) to the court by the mallet. Damage caused only by hitting the ball downward into the lawn would not be reason to fault a stroke.

10. WATCHING 'PIRIE POKES', ETC.

In recent years some players have started to use the mallet with the handle in a more or less horizontal position when playing difficult hoop shots like the one illustrated on the previous page.

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.

Remember:

  1. Find out what type of stroke the player intends to play.
  2. Consider the possible ways it could be faulted.
  3. Work out what things you specifically need to look for.
  4. Take up a position from which you can best see them.

11. WATCHING A PEG-OUT

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.

12. WATCHING A CANNON

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.

13. WATCHING A TAKE-OFF

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.

14. MOVING BALLS IN

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.

The diagram shows a situation where the blue ball has taken off to the opponent's red and yellow balls, which are on the yardline about two feet apart. The player of blue now finds that the cord (or an obstacle outside the court) interferes with his swing, so asks to have the balls moved in under Law 34 (b). It is permissible to move in his blue ball, and also the ball he intends to roquet, but the third ball should be moved in also only if the referee judges that it could be "foreseeably affected" by the next stroke - i.e. the stroke about to be played. If the player of blue decides to roquet red (say) in the diagrammed situation, it seems not only unlikely but almost an impossibility for the yellow ball to be affected by the roquet stroke. Therefore the yellow ball should not be moved in. In many other similar situations, where there is a real possibility of a third or fourth ball being affected by the next stroke, it should be moved in; but one frequently sees referees allowing players to move in every ball within several yards, which in cases like the one illustrated above is incorrect and can make quite a difference to the play. Note here that the "next" stroke is the one after the ball is moved in, and also that if a ball has been moved in and remains unaffected by one or more strokes, it must be replaced as soon as it is judged that the replacement would no longer be relevant to the striker's line of play. Any unaffected balls should also be replaced if they are still in their moved-in positions when the striker's turn ends.

15. TESTING WHETHER A BALL IS OUT

Many players, and some referees, are quite unaware that a ball goes out of court not when it touches the cord or boundary line, but when it first overhangs the inner edge of the boundary. This means that a ball which hits a corner peg will not necessarily be a corner ball as many assume, but may in fact have gone out two or more feet from the corner peg which it hit.

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.

16. MARKING BALLS (DOUBLE BANKING)

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.

17. WATCHING A `SAVING' SHOT

The top diagram at right shows the only safe way to play a 'saving' shot when the balls are less than an inch (25mm) apart. Even when the gap is twice this distance there is a real danger of hitting the striker's ball twice unless it makes only a glancing contact with the 'used ' ball. A double hit in this situation is a fault, because it was not caused by making a roquet (see Law 28 (d) (1)).

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.

18. WATCHING A SHOT AT BALL IN HOOP

When called to watch a shot at a ball which is in a hoop, the referee should stand quite close to the hoop, ensuring that he has a clear view of any part of the target ball which could possibly be contacted by the striker's ball. If the player is shooting from a position out to the side of the hoop, and could hit either side of the ball in the hoop, then the referee will need to stand so that he can look down on the target ball from directly above the hoop and see both sides at once.

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.

19. ERRORS TO BE AVOIDED

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:

  1. When asked to adjudicate on a wiring situation, people often forget that a ball cannot be "wired" by another ball - only by a hoop or the peg. The diagram at right below shows a situation where many referees would rule that the blue (asking) ball is wired from both red and yellow. It is certainly wired from red, although the red ball could be roqueted quite easily "dead centre", since the hoop would prevent the blue ball from just nicking the red ball on the left-hand side. However, the blue ball is not wired from the yellow ball, even though the only way for it to roquet yellow would be to jump over the red ball. It is only the red ball, not the hoop, that would prevent the asking ball from travelling in a straight line to the position occupied by the dotted test ball. After checking that blue is indeed wired from red, the red ball should be marked and removed while the referee tests whether or not blue is also wired from yellow.
  2. It is also not possible for a swing to be impeded by a ball - only by a hoop or the peg. The top diagram at right shows a situation where red has rolled with blue to hoop 1 and then failed in the hoop attempt. The two balls are now in contact with the hoop leg, on opposite sides. The blue ball is clearly wired from red, and has no way of hitting it; but it would not be wired from the yellow ball which is at the other end of the court in the direction shown by the arrow. If the red ball were removed, the mallet swinging in this direction will contact the blue ball before it contacts the hoop, as shown by the dotted lines which represent the position of the mallet at point of impact. Therefore the swing is only impeded by the ball, not by the hoop, and this does not count in considering whether or not the ball is wired. It is likely that the player of blue in such a situation could become rather upset at not being awarded a wiring lift, and would claim that his opponent has left him with no conceivable possibility of roqueting any ball at all! This is quite true, but the Laws do not say that you have to leave your opponent with the possibility of roqueting a ball (as some wrongly assume); and they do say that in order for the ball to be wired in such a situation the swing must be impeded by a hoop or the peg.
  3. Players often miss the opportunity to claim a wired ball in a situation such as that shown in the diagram at right, when the two balls are very close together. The blue (asking) ball can easily roquet the red ball, but if it is wired from the oth er balls in the game, and there is a ball on or near a baulk, it may be advantageous for the player to claim a wiring lift, since the dotted line shows that the hoop would interfere with his backswing if he were to hit his blue ball with the extreme right-hand edge of the mallet face in the direction of the test ball. Many referees would also be reluctant to award a wired ball under these circumstances, although under Law 13 blue is definitely wired from red.
  4. Some years ago it was common practice for referees to ask the player to ground his mallet when attempting a close and sidey hoop shot. Then they would base the decision as to whether or not the stroke was a fault on whether or not the ball would fit back between the hoop leg and the grounded mallet. Hopefully, this practice has by now completely died out. There has never been anything in the Laws that gave the referee any right to require that the mallet be grounded, or to fault the stroke if the mallet is not grounded, or to fault it if the ball will not fit back between the hoop and the mallet, or to pass it if the ball does fit back. Whether or not the player grounds his mallet, and if he does, whether or not the ball fits between it and the hoop, has no bearing whatever on whether or not the stroke was a fault.

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.

20. HANDLING DISPUTES, ETC.

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

Author: John Riches
All rights reserved © 2004


Updated 28.i.16
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