The Association Croquet International Laws Committee (ILC) met several times during the 2006 MacRobertson Shield series, with the following representatives: Max Hooper (Australia), Graeme Roberts (New Zealand), Jeff Soo (USA) and Ian Vincent (Great Britain). This is a report of those discussions and contains a set of proposals for the principles to underlie a set of amendments to the 6th Edition of the Laws.
The ILC requests the national laws committees to consider these and give their views no later than 15th January, 2007. Individuals who wish to comment are asked to do so via their national laws committee (Stephen Mulliner is collating for the CA), except that, in Australia, where the representative is separate from the Laws Committee, a copy of all comments should go to mhooper#operamail.com. Meanwhile, the ILC will work on detailed drafting, with a view to publishing draft text for the agreed amendments shortly after consensus has been reached, with a period of consultation on the wording before the four Councils are asked to approve it. Given electronic communication, it is hoped that approval can be obtained in time for the amendments to be in force for the 2007 northern hemisphere season, with printed copies and an updated version of the ORLC to follow.
The proposed amendments are divided into those intended to have a material effect on the game and those that are intended only to improve clarity or correct errors in drafting. In both cases they are presented in order of the law primarily affected. They are followed by notes on some other issues discussed, which may be relevant to future editions.
Laws 3(a)(3) and 3(b)(3) should be amended to incorporate the principles in UK regulation R2(h), as discussed in paragraph 3.1.6 of the ORLC commentary, whilst avoiding, as far as possible, opportunities for the outplayer to interrupt the striker. Additionally, in the UK, the striker may, without adjustment of the balls, have a hoop tamped in so that the carrots are no longer proud of the surface, if they have been left protruding to maximise the life of the hoop holes.
Law 6(h) should be amended to delete the reference to yard-line balls, thus allowing in-court cannons. A consequent amendment to Law 14 will be required so that balls other than the striker's ball that become in hand must restart running a hoop. Although in court cannons are expected to be relatively rare, they may add some tactical richness to the game. The simplification is not just to 6(h), but would enable the definition of a yard-line ball, 6(f) to be deleted in a future edition and avoid problems with balls that are physically on or near the yard-line but have not been, or have moved since being, replaced on it.
Deliberately sliding the mallet against the foot in a hampered stroke should be a fault, as proposed in section C3 of the ORLC.
It is proposed that liability for damage should be restricted to cases in which the striker plays a stroke in a manner calculated to gain advantage by damaging the court or which poses a significant risk of doing so (such as golf swings).
It is proposed to distinguish between collisions with a static outside agency (that was in position at the start of the stroke), which the striker should have removed under law 7(c) unless his stroke went badly wrong, and dynamic collisions, which could not be anticipated No replay would be available for static collisions, but an optional replay would be available to the striker after a dynamic one if a ball may have been hit or point scored but for the interference, or there is material uncertainty as to where the balls would have ended. If there is no replay, the balls would be placed as near as can be judged to the position they would have reached but for the collision, ignoring any possible impact with other balls, hoops or the peg. If it is judged that balls would have gone out in a croquet stroke the turn will end (with benefit of doubt to the outplayer), but deflection off the lawn as a result of a collision would not in itself be fatal.
It is also proposed that the striker should be allowed a replay if misled by the position of a ball moved, but not correctly replaced, by an outside agency (typically a double banker). Being misled in this case would include playing to a specific position relative to such a ball.
It is proposed to remove the exemption from the option not to replace the balls after a fault if a bisque is taken, as proposed in section C3 of the ORLC. Although there are cases where a high bisquer may be disadvantaged by this change, the resultant simplification, particularly with regard to the timing of decisions about replacement and bisque taking, is felt to justify this. A note would be added to the ORLC that non-striker must decide whether or not the balls are to be replaced before the striker chooses whether or not to take a bisque.
The current provision which allows a replay only if a ball ends up jammed in a hoop is felt to be too restrictive, in cases where a badly undersized hoop rejects a ball entirely or it just staggers though. It is proposed that the striker should be allowed a replay if the ball is wider than the hoop at half ball height in any orientation and the ball either ran the hoop, or it is plausible that it would have done had the hoop been correctly set, given the stroke played. Changes may be needed to 3(b)(3) to ensure that the player affected, who may no longer be the striker because the turn has ended, is entitled to have the hoop checked.
It is proposed that the change to 39(a)(3) in section C2 of the ORLC should be adopted.
Words should be added to 48(d) to say that a fault should be declared if the person watching it is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that Law 28 has been infringed, with the benefit of doubt in marginal cases being given to the adversary. The latter should prevent the striker playing strokes which are overly difficult to adjudicate with any certainty.
Although impasses are relatively rare, especially outside top-class play, it is felt that the current situation where no default treatment is provided is unsatisfactory. In discussion, the possibility of declaring an impasse to be a draw was canvassed (leaving it a matter for the tournament conditions to decide who proceeds to the next round in a knockout event), but this was thought to be a bit radical and may encourage playing for an impasse when in a situation from which a player felt unable to win. It has also been suggested that, if only one side had pegged out a ball, they should lose in the event of an impasse.
Once an impasse has been declared, it is proposed to adopt the procedure in force for the MacRobertson Shield since 2000 to resolve it. Although it has hardly ever been used, and hence not tested in practice, this suggests that it discourages impasses, which itself is desirable.
The ILC believe that an impasse should be declared in a timed game with plenty of time remaining, if neither side is willing to make progress, rather than allowing the side ahead on points to play for time.
An attempt will be made to reduce the circularity in the definition of a stroke and deal better with situations where the striker hits a ball that is not in play. The rulings to 5(a), 5(d), 5(e), 6(a) and 6(c)(4) in the ORLC will be incorporated. The current, short, striking period will be retained to avoid liability for faults when casting.
Although less critical if the proposal to allow in court cannons is accepted, it is proposed to amend 6(f) as in section C1 of the ORLC.
The term "replacement" is used in two senses:
i) Putting balls back in the position they previously occupied (e.g. after a fault); and
ii) Putting balls back on the court, though in new positions.
Although the meaning can generally be derived from the context, it is proposed to retain "replace" only for the first case and find different wording for the second.
The ruling in section C1 of the ORLC will be implemented and 13(b)(2) shortened by amalgamating the cases of interference.
The ruling in section C1 of the ORLC will be implemented, but 16(c) will be considerably shortened by moving the enumeration of cases to the commentary. Text will be added to 13(a)(2) and 36(a)(2) to confirm that the striker may deem a roquet and thus take croquet immediately from a ball on or near baulk after lifting a ball.
It is proposed to adopt the change to the wording of Law 17(a) in section C3 of the ORLC.
The ruling in section C1 of the ORLC will be implemented.
With no intended change of meaning, an attempt will be made to simplify 27(j) and, if possible, remove the cross-references to it in 27(e)-27(h), as it is believed to be poorly understood.
The wording of 27(a)(7) could be improved with punctuation as its applicability to scatter shots with the balls very close but not in contact seems to be poorly understood. Alternatively, it is proposed to change 28(a)(7) and 28(a)(8) so as to specify faults applicable to croquet strokes (or continuation strokes in which the balls start in contact) together in one-sub-law, with double taps or maintenance of contact required to be detectable by the human senses; and those for single ball or scatter strokes in another, with stricter standards. It was noted that discussions are taking place about amending the golf croquet rules to include maintenance of contact after the striker's ball has hit another ball in their equivalent of 28(a)(9)
In implementing the ruling in section C1 of the ORLC, it is proposed to replace "caused by" in 28(d) by "immediately preceded by", to clarify the treatment of cases where the striker's ball hits another ball, hoop or peg, before or after making a roquet.
To cover the ruling in section C1 of the ORLC, it is proposed to change the current list of instances from being exclusive to one of examples. It was noted that grass clippings or similar material could, under 19(f), be used to ensure that balls held position for croquet strokes, even in the absence of special damage, and there may be a case for extending this to single balls in critical positions.
The rulings in sections C1 and C2 of the ORLC will be adopted. Additionally, the phrase "with the adversary as striker" will be deleted from 4(e) (as it is implied by 1(e)(1) for level play but may be overridden by 37 in a handicap game).
Measurement of hoops in use has revealed larger deviations than the allowed 1/32" in the 5/8" diameter, particularly in that of the crown. It is proposed to increase the allowed tolerance to permit their continued use. It is also proposed to allow uprights of greater diameter to be used if advertised for an event: hoops with 3/4" uprights have been used at Meadowood in the USA for some time and have proved to be excellent.
The corrections noted in the ORLC will be incorporated.
The Australian representative had been asked to propose that the tournament regulations should be incorporated into the laws to ensure standardisation between countries. It felt that this was too big an issue to tackle at this stage and it was noted that the WCF had recently published regulations that might provide an alternative route to standardisation, though the committee had yet to review these.
A particular issue of concern was the extent to which a Referee on Request (in Australia; on Call or on Appeal in the other countries) should make use of information gained by spectating beforehand and/or observation while acting to correct errors other than the one for which the Referee was requested. It was reported that practice in NZ and GB was to ignore information previously acquired but to use information (e.g. the state of the clips) gained while acting, though it was acknowledged that this could lead to inconsistency.
Tony Hall, on behalf of the golf croquet rules committee, asked that plain English should be used in drafting laws, avoiding long sentences, unnecessary definitions and gender specific language. He said that "must" should be avoided, as it is untranslatable to some languages, and that shall and should had lost their force. He preferred "is to" as the mandatory form and said that all mandatory requirements should have a specific penalty for infringement.
The ILC were happy to use gender neutral language where this could be done without excessive use of the passive tense or use of inappropriate pronouns. However, general revision of the language used would have to wait for a future edition.
He also requested that the laws be considerably simplified, with an end of turn penalty for all errors, but the committee did not share this view. He also supported incorporation of refereeing and behavioural regulations into the laws.
The text of law 28 was compared to golf croquet rule 13, but it was found that almost all of the differences were due to differences between the two games. More generally, it was felt desirable that both the content and drafting of the two codes should be as close as possible, given the essential differences between the two games.
It was agreed that, although the game ends and the winner is determined by agreement between the players, the score could subsequently be corrected. Thus it is possible to win by a negative margin. No amendment is thought necessary to the laws, but a note will be added to the ORLC.
Concern was expressed that hoops were being set to gaps that were a significant fraction of the difference between the smallest and largest diameters of the balls in the set, but this was agreed to be a matter for regulations.
The CA laws committee had been asked by its management committee to elicit other countries' views on whether the Laws of Association Croquet should be renamed Rules in a future edition, for consistency with Golf Croquet and to better direct web searches. It was noted that both terms were used by a significant number of other sports. National committees are asked to give their view.