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The 1990 Pétanque Leage

Pétanque Rules as published by the BPA and included in 1990 Pétanque league rule book

COMMENTS in RED Characters are DAVE CUSHMAN'S OPINIONS only and are not necessarily endorsed by the 1990 League Committee!

The rules published here may not be up to date as far as the British Pétanque Association Rules are concerned, but are the background against which the 1990 league rules were framed. So although they may not be totally up to date, they are the relevent rules as far as the 1990 league is concerned.

The rules that follow are re-printed from the 2003 fixture book, but laid out to suit web presentation.


Affiliated to the Federation Internationale de Pétanque et Jeu Provencal. As adopted by the British Pétanque Association on 1 January 1985 and by the Federation Internationale de Pétanque et Jeu Provencal at Rotterdam, September 1984. (amended at Brussels, 21 September 1995)



Pétanque is a sport in which:-
3 players play against 3 players (triples) or 2 players play against 2 players (doubles) or 1 player plays against 1 player (singles).

In triples, each player uses two boules. In doubles and in singles, each player uses three boules. No other version of the game is allowed. [waived for 1990 league special events]


Pétanque is played with boules which are approved by the F.I.P.J.P. and which must conform to the following criteria:- [approval not required]

(a) They must be made of metal.
(b) Their diameter must be between 7.05cm (minimum) and 8cm (maximum).
(c) They must weigh between 650 grams (minimum) and 800 grams (maximum). The trade mark of the manufacturer and the weight must be imprinted on the boules and must always be legible.
(d) They must not be weighted nor sanded down. As a general rule, the boules must not be tampered with in any way, nor altered or modified after manufacture by the maker approved by the F.I.P.J.P.
It is particularly forbidden to re-temper [re-heat] the boules in order to modify the hardness provided by the manufacturer.However, the player's name or initials may be engraved on them, as well as various logos, initials and acronyms, applied during manufacture.

A player guilty of breaking the above condition (d) is immediately disqualified from the competition together with his or her team mate/s. The following two cases can arise:-

(1) For boules said to be "tampered with" - the player is rendered liable to withdrawal of his or her licence [or BPA membership card] for a period as defined in the Code of Discipline, together with any other penalties imposed by the Federation [B.P.A.'s] Disciplinary Committee.
(2) For boules said to be "re-tempered" [re-heated] - the player is rendered liable to withdrawal of his or her licence [or BPA membership card] for a period of 2 years and a 3-5 year ban on playing in qualifying heats for the National and International Championships. In either of the above cases, if the boules have been borrowed and the owner is known, the latter will be suspended for 2 years.

If a boule is worn, or defective in manufacture, [as opposed to being tampered with] and is not passed by the controlling body or does not comply with (a), (b) or (c) above, the player must change it. He or she may also change the complete set. Complaints relating to (a), (b) or (c) made by either team must be made before the first end of the game begins. All players should therefore ensure that their boules, and those of their opponents, comply with the above conditions. Complaints relating to (d) may be made between two ends at any time during the game. However, from the third end onwards, if a complaint made about the boules of an opponent is proved to be unfounded, the team or the player complaining will be penalised 3 points which will be added to the opponents score. In the case where a boule has had to be opened, the complainant is then responsible for the boule, so that if it is found to be legal, the complainant has to reimburse the owner or replace the set of boules, but under no circumstances can he or she be asked to pay damages. The umpire or the jury may, at any time, check the boules of any player.

2c Cochonnets [jacks or buts] are made entirely of wood. Their diameter must be between 25mm (minimum) and 35mm (maximum). Cochonnets may be painted any colour. [plastic OK for 1990 league]
3 Before the start of a competition, each player must produce his or her licence [or BPA membership card]. He or she must also produce it upon request by the umpire, or by an opponent but only before the start of a game. A licence must comply with the Administrative Rules of the F.I.P.J.P. and, in particular, it must bear an embossed photograph and the signature of the owner. [this clause to be treated with the contempt that it deserves]

It is forbidden for any player to change boules or cochonnet during a game, except in the following cases:-

(a) A boule or the cochonnet cannot be found after a search time limited to 5 minutes.
(b) A boule or the cochonnet breaks, in which case only the largest piece counts to mark the position. It is immediately replaced, after measuring if necessary, by a boule or cochonnet of diameter identical or similar to the broken one. From the following end, the player concerned may use a complete new set.



The game of Petanque is played on any terrain. However, by a decision of the organising committee or the umpire, the teams may be asked to play on a marked terrain, whose minimum dimensions must be as follows:-

For National Championships and International Competitions: 15m long and 4m wide.

For other competitions: the F.I.P.J.P. [and B.P.A.] may allow variations down to 12m x 3m.

The game is played up to 13 points, though league and qualifying heats may be played to 11 points.


The players must toss up to decide which team will choose the terrain, if it has not been designated by the organisers, and will throw the cochonnet first.

Any member of the team winning the toss chooses the starting point and traces a circle large enough for any player to stand with both feet fully inside it. However, it may not measure less than 35cm or more than 50cm in diameter. The circle must be drawn at least 1m from all obstacles, and at least 1m inside the boundary of the playing area [normally the dead boule line] and, for competitions on open terrains, at least 2m from another circle in use. The feet must be entirely inside the circle without touching it, and must not leave the circle or be lifted completely off the ground until the thrown boule has touched the ground. No other part of the body may touch the ground outside the circle. A player who has lost a lower limb need place only one foot inside the circle. A player throwing from a wheelchair must place it so that the circle is in the middle of the wheels with the foot-rest above the edge of the circle. The throwing of the cochonnet by one member of the team does not imply that he or she must play the first boule. If a terrain has been designated, the teams concerned may not play on a different terrain without the umpire's permission.

7 For the thrown cochonnet to be legal, the following conditions apply:
(1) The distance from it to the nearest edge of the circle must be between 4m min. and 8m max. for Minimes. 5m min. and 9m max. for Cadets. 6m min. and 10m max. for Juniors and Seniors.
(2) The [nearest edge of the] circle must be 1m from all obstacles and at least 1m inside the boundary of the playing area.
(3) The cochonnet must be at least 1m minimum from all obstacles and from the boundary of the playing area.

The cochonnet must be visible to the player whose feet are entirely inside the circle and who is standing upright. In cases of dispute, the umpire will decide if the cochonnet is visible and there can be no appeal. At the following end, the cochonnet is thrown from a circle drawn around the point where it finished at the previous end, except in the following cases:-

(a) The circle would be less than 1m from an obstacle or from the boundary of the playing area. In this case, the player will trace a circle in the nearest valid position from the obstacle and the boundary.
(b) The cochonnet could not be thrown out to all valid distances. In this case, the player may step back, in line with the previous end's line of play, until he or she is able to throw the cochonnet any valid distance up to the maximum distance allowed, and not beyond. This may only be done if the cochonnet cannot be thrown in any other direction to the maximum distance.
If after 3 consecutive throws by the same team, the cochonnet has not been thrown correctly, it is then passed to the opposing team who also has 3 tries and who may move the circle back as described above. After this, the circle cannot be moved again even if this team has not succeeded with its three throws. In any case, the team who lost the cochonnet after the first three tries plays the first boule.

If the cochonnet thrown is stopped by the umpire, a player, a spectator, an animal or any moving object, it is not valid and must be re-thrown without being included in the three throws to which the player or the team is entitled.

After the throwing of the cochonnet and the first boule, an opponent still has the right to contest the validity of the cochonnet's position. If the objection is valid, both the cochonnet and the boule are re-thrown. If the opponent has also played a boule, the cochonnet is deemed valid and no objection can be accepted.

For the cochonnet to be thrown anew, both teams must have accepted the throw as being illegal or the umpire must have declared it so. In either case the cochonnet must be re-thrown. Any team continuing otherwise would lose the throw of the cochonnet.


The cochonnet is deemed dead in the following six cases:-

(1) When, after having been thrown, it is not within the limits as defined in Article 7.
(2) When, during an end, it is moved outside the boundary of the playing area [normally the dead boule line], even if it comes back onto the playing area. A cochonnet on the line of the boundary is still in play. It only becomes dead after having completely crossed the boundary. Where a cochonnet floats freely in water the area of the puddle is out of play.
(3) When, still on the terrain, the moved cochonnet is not visible from the circle, as defined in Article 7. However, a cochonnet hidden by a boule is not dead. The umpire may temporarily remove a boule to ascertain whether the cochonnet is visible or not.
(4) When the cochonnet is displaced to more than 20m or less than 3m from the throwing circle.
(5) When the moved cochonnet cannot be found after a 5 minute maximum search time.
(6) When there is dead ground between the cochonnet and the throwing circle.


It is strictly forbidden for any player to remove, move or flatten any obstacle on the terrain within the boundaries of the playing area. However, the player about to throw the cochonnet is allowed to test the ground by tapping it no more than 3 times with one of his or her boules. Furthermore, the player who is about to play or one of his partners may fill in the hole which was made by the last boule thrown. For not observing the above rules, the players will incur the following penalties:-

(1) Warning.
(2) Disqualification of the ball thrown or about to be thrown.
(3) Disqualification of the guilty team.
(4) Disqualification of both teams in the case of complicity.

If, during an end, the cochonnet is completely obscured by a leaf, piece of paper etc., these objects are removed.

If the stationary cochonnet is moved by the wind or slope of the terrain, it is put back in its place providing its position had been marked.

The same applies if the cochonnet is moved accidentally by the umpire, a player, a spectator, a boule or cochonnet from another game, an animal or any moving object.

To avoid any argument, the players should mark the cochonnet's position. No claim can be accepted regarding a boule or cochonnet whose position has not been marked.


If, during an end, the cochonnet is moved onto an area where another game is in progress, either on a marked or unmarked terrain, the cochonnet is valid subject to Article 9. [Dead in 1990 league]

The players using this cochonnet will wait for the players in the other game to finish their end before completing their own.

The players concerned are asked to show patience and courtesy.

13 If, during an end, the cochonnet becomes dead, one of three cases can apply:-
(a) If both teams have boules to play, the end is void.
(b) If only one team has boules left to play, then this team scores as many points as it has boules to play. [Not 1990 league]
(c) If neither team has boules to play, the end is void.

14 (1) If the cochonnet, having been hit, is stopped by a spectator or by the umpire, it remains where it stops.
14 (2) 

If the cochonnet, having been hit, is stopped by a player, his opponent has the choice of:-

(a) leaving the cochonnet in its new position.
(b) putting it back in its original position.

placing it anywhere on the extension of a line from its original position to the point where it is found, but only within the playing area, and so that the end can be continued.

Paragraphs (b) and (c) can only be applied if the position of the cochonnet was previously marked. If it was not marked, the cochonnet will remain where it lies.

If the cochonnet, having been knocked on, crosses a boundary of the playing area [the dead boule line] but comes to rest on a permitted area, it is deemed dead and the rules defined in Article 13 apply.


If, during an end, the cochonnet is moved outside the boundary of the playing area, the next end is started at the point from which it was displaced providing (see Article 7):-

(a) The circle can be traced at 1m from any obstacle and from the boundary of the playing area.
(b) The cochonnet can be thrown at all valid distances.



The first boule of an end is thrown by a player belonging to the team that has won the toss or the last scoring end.

The player must not use any object to give aid in playing a boule or draw a line on the ground to indicate or mark the point of landing. Whilst playing his or her last boule, he or she must not carry another boule in the other hand. It is forbidden to wet the boules or the cochonnet.

If the first boule played goes out of play, the opponent plays and so on alternately while there are no boules in play.

If after shooting or pointing no boules are left in play, the rules defined in Article 29 apply.


During the time allowed for a player to throw a boule the spectators and the other players must observe total silence.

The opponents must not walk, gesticulate or do anything that could disturb the player about to play. Only his or her team-mate/s may stand between the circle and the cochonnet.

The opponents must remain beyond the cochonnet or behind the player and, in both cases, to the side of the end's line of play and at a distance of at least 2 metres from the one or the other.

The players who do not observe these rules will be banned from the competition if, after a warning from the umpire, they persist in their conduct.


Once thrown, a boule may not be replayed; except that it must be replayed if it has been stopped or deviated accidentally from its course between the circle and the cochonnet by a boule or cochonnet coming from another game, or by an animal or any other moving object (football, etc.), and also in the case defined in Article 8, second paragraph.

No one is allowed a practice throw during a game.

If the terrains have been marked out by the organisers [into separate pistes], the cochonnet must be thrown within the terrain [piste] allotted to each team.

During an end, boules and cochonnets going outside the marked terrain are valid (except as in Articles 9 and 19). The following end is nevertheless played on the original marked terrain.

If the terrains are surrounded by solid barriers, these must be a minimum of 30cm outside the dead ball line, which will surround the terrain at a maximum distance of 4m.These rules apply also to the "Carre d'Honneur" [terrains used for finals, etc.].


Any boule that goes entirely outside the boundary of the playing area [normally the dead boule line] is out of play. A boule straddling the boundary is valid. It only becomes dead after having completely crossed the boundary.

If the boule subsequently comes back into the playing area, either because of the slope of the ground or by having rebounded from any object, moving or stationary, it is immediately taken out of the game. Anything that it has moved after re-entering the playing area is put back in place [if it has been previously marked].

Any boule out of play must immediately be removed from the playing area, if it is not it will be deemed live as soon as the next boule has been played.


Any boule played that is stopped by a spectator or the umpire will remain where it comes to rest.

Any boule played that is stopped by a player to whose team it belongs is deemed out of play.

Any boule pointed that is stopped by an opponent can, on the decision of the player, be replayed or left where it comes to rest.

If a boule shot or hit is stopped by a player, the opponent has a choice to:-

(a) leave it where it stopped, or

place it on the extension line from the original position where it (boule or cochonnet) was hit from to where it is found, but only within the boundary of the playing area and if its position was previously marked.

Any player purposely stopping a moving boule is immediately disqualified, along with his or her team, for the game in progress.


Once the cochonnet is thrown, each player has 1 minute at most to play his or her boule. This time starts from the moment when the previous boule or cochonnet has stopped or, if a point has to be measured, from the moment the outcome has been decided.

This rule also applies to the throwing of the cochonnet after each end.

Players not respecting this rule will incur penalties as stated in Article 10.


If a stationary boule is moved by the wind or slope of the ground etc., it is put back in its place. The same applies to any boule accidentally moved by a player, the umpire, a spectator, an animal or any other moving object.

To avoid any disagreement, the players should mark the positions of the boules and the cochonnet. No claim will be accepted for a boule or cochonnet which has not had its position marked, and the umpire will only give a decision according to the position of the boules and the cochonnet on the terrain.


A player who plays a boule other than his own receives a warning. The boule played is nevertheless valid, but it must immediately be replaced, after measuring, if necessary. In the event of it occurring again during the game, the player's boule is disqualified and everything it has moved is put back in place.

Before throwing a boule, the player must remove from it all traces of mud or any other substance. Penalties for this rule are as stated in Article 10.

Players must not pick up the played boules before the completion of the end.


All boules thrown contrary to the rules are dead and everything they have moved is put back in place. The same applies to a boule played from a circle other than that from which the cochonnet was thrown.

However, the opponent may play the advantage rule and count the erroneously played boule as valid. In this case, the boule pointed or shot, and everything it may have displaced, is left in its new position.

The team about to throw the cochonnet must erase any previous throwing circles located near the new one.



To measure a point, it is permitted to move temporarily, after having marked their positions, the boules and any object situated between the cochonnet and the boule to be measured. After measuring, the boules and the objects moved are put back in place. If the objects cannot be moved, the measuring is done with the aid of callipers.


The measuring of a point is done by the player who played the last boule or by one of his or her team-mates. The opponents still have the right to re-measure the point. Whatever positions the boules may hold, and at whatever stage the end may be, the umpire may be called to adjudicate and his or her decision is final.

Measuring must be done with appropriate equipment, which each team must possess. It is, for instance, forbidden to measure with one's feet. The players who do not observe these rules will be banned from the competition if, after a warning from the umpire, they persist in their conduct.


At the finish of an end, all boules picked up before the agreement of points are void if their positions were not marked. No claims can be made on this subject.


If, whilst measuring, one of the players moves the cochonnet or a boule being measured, his or her team loses the point.

If, during a measure, the umpire disturbs or moves the cochonnet or one of the boules and if, after re-measuring, the point is held by the boule which [the umpire] had originally judged to be on, then, in all fairness, he or she may declare it so. Even if the point is no longer held by that boule, the umpire may, in all fairness, still declare that it wins the point.


If two boules belonging to opposing teams are equidistant from, or touching the cochonnet, the end is declared void if there are no more boules to be played, and the cochonnet is thrown by the team winning the previous end or toss.

If only one team has boules left to play, it plays them and scores as many points as it has boules closer to the cochonnet than the nearest opponent's boule.

If both teams have boules to play, the team which played the last boule plays again, then the other team, and so on alternately until a boule is holding the point. When only one team has boules left, they play them as in the above paragraph.

If, after completion of the end, no boules remain within the boundary of the playing area [normally the dead ball line], the end is declared void


Any foreign bodies adhering to the boules or the cochonnet must be removed before measuring a point.


To be accepted, all claims must be made to the umpire. Claims made after the result of the game has been agreed cannot be considered.

Each team is responsible for checking their opposing team (licences [or BPA membership cards], classification, terrain, boules, etc.).



During the draw and the announcement of its result, the players must be present at the control table. A quarter of an hour after the result of the draw has been announced, any team which is absent from the terrain will be penalised one point which is awarded to their opponents.

After this quarter of an hour, it will forfeit one point for every five minutes continued absence.The same penalties will apply during the competition, after each draw and in the case of a re-start of play after a break for any reason (e.g. lunch).

Any team not arriving on the terrain in the hour following the announcement of the draw will lose and forfeit the game.

Any incomplete team may start without its partner/s, but may not use their boules. [Discretion allowed]


If, after an end has started, any missing player arrives, he or she may not take part in that end, but may join in at the start of the following end.

If a missing player arrives more than one hour after the game has started, he or she loses all rights to participate in that game.[Discretion allowed]

The player arriving late may take part in the following games provided he or she was registered with that team originally.

If the competition is played in leagues, he or she may take part in the following games whatever the result of the first game.

An end is considered to have started when the cochonnet has been validly thrown in accordance with the rules.


The replacement of a player in doubles, or of one or two players in triples, is only permitted up to the official announcement of the commencement of the competition (whether vocally or by whistle, gun, etc.), and provided that the replacement/s were not previously registered with another team in the same competition.


In the case of rain, all ends started must be completed, unless a contrary decision is made by the umpire who, along with the jury, can decide to stop or call off play because of "force majeure".

If, after the announcement of a new phase of the competition, (2nd round, 3rd round, etc.), certain games have not finished, the umpire may, having been advised of the situation by the organising committee, make any decisions deemed necessary for the smooth running of the competition.

No player may leave a game or the terrain whilst a game is in progress without the permission of the umpire. If this is not given, Articles 32 and 33 apply.


Any collusion or sharing of prizes is strictly forbidden.

Any teams taking part in the final stages, or any other stages of the competition, who show a lack of sporting spirit or respect towards the public, officials or umpires, will be disqualified from the competition. This may affect the relative positions obtained in the final results as well as invoke penalties as in Article 37.


The player who is guilty of breaking a rule or showing violence towards an official, an umpire, another player or a spectator is liable to one or more of the following penalties, depending on the seriousness of the fault:-


Exclusion from the competition.


Withdrawal of licence [or BPA membership card].


Confiscation or restitution of rewards and prizes.

The penalty imposed on the offending player can also be imposed on his or her team-mates.

The first and second penalties are imposed by the umpire.

The third penalty is imposed by the Organising Committee which, within 48 hours, sends a report with the rewards and prizes retained to the Organising Committee [Office of the B.P.A. Council] who will decide their destination.

As a last resort, The Managing Committee of the Federation [The BPA National Officers] will make a decision.


The umpires designated to control the competitions are charged with ensuring that the rules of the game and the administration rules are strictly adhered to. They are allowed to disqualify any player or team who refuses to obey their decision.

Any spectators who hold a valid or suspended licence and who, due to their behaviour, cause an incident on the terrain, will be reported by the umpire to the Federal Organisation [B.P.A. Council]. The Federal Organisation will convene a Disciplinary Committee which would then summon the accused person/s and decide any penalties to be imposed.


All cases not provided for in the rules are put to the umpire who may refer them to the competition's jury. This jury comprises at least 3 people and at the most 5 people. The decisions taken by the jury are without appeal. In the case of a split vote, the decision of the President of the Jury is final.

A reasonable dress is expected of all players (bare torsos and bare feet are not acceptable). All players who do not observe these rules will be disqualified from the competition after a warning from the umpire.

Note: The present rules have been approved by the International Congress of the Federation Internationale de Petanque et Jeu Provencal held in Brussels on 21 September 1995.

Originated...  10 October 2002, Revised... 16 April 2003, Upgraded... 19 December 2004,

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