History of the Laws of Bowls
It is to a
Scot that we owe our appreciation for the democratic spirit in which the game of
bowls is played in that he drew up a complete code of laws which were adopted
and have formed the basis of our present laws.
He was William Mitchell, a Glaswegian solicitor, and although the reading of
those laws as originally written is amusing in their simple dated terms we can
see how our present laws were derived.
There were, however, earlier Laws of the Game, which were drawn up to suit the
game as played in the time of King Charles II. This game bore little relation to
the game as we know it.
Mitchell's laws sufficed from the time they were drawn up in 1850 until the
formation of the Scottish Bowling Association in 1892, who as one of their first
tasks had a revised set of laws drawn up. This provided for the first time a
standard minimum bias for bowls.
In England things were a little confused. Not until a joint New Zealand /
Australian team of bowlers arrived for the first international bowls tour, did
it become apparent that an organisation to administer such events was required.
Also there was the question of "Who's Laws do we use". The Scots were
reluctant to allow their laws to be used as they had taken the step of
copyrighting them. To solve these problems the Imperial Bowling Association was
formed and drew up their own Laws of the Game, but as can be imagined, followed
closely the Scottish laws.
Incidentally, it was on the above occasion that the Australia Cup was presented
to the Imperial Bowling Association and has been presented to the winners of the
"Fours Championships" at National finals every year since.
In 1903 the English Bowling Association succeeded the Imperial Association under
the leadership of the famous W. G. Grace, followed closely by the Welsh and
Irish associations, and most importantly the International Bowling Board.
The name of this organisation was changed to the World Bowls Board and
subsequently to World Bowls Ltd.
This Authority has become recognised internationally as the sole authority for
production and revision of outdoor laws, which except for slight modifications
for local conditions, apply to every country where bowls is played.