The Indian women’s fours team of Rupa Rani Tirkey, Pinki, Nayanmoni Saikia and Lovely Choubey assured India’s first-ever Commonwealth Games lawn bowls medal by reaching the final.

Update: Lawn Bowls meals – India create history in women’s fours, defeating SA in final to win goldand later in the Games, the men’s team followed up with a silver medal after defeating England in semi-final.

But what exactly is lawn bowling? In the simplest terms, lawn bowling can be seen as a mix of ten-pin bowling and the winter sport of curling.

Whereas in ten-pin bowling the aim is to take down pins at the end of a lane, in lawn bowling, the aim is to get your bowl, as the spherical ball is called, closest to a ‘target’ at the other end. Much like curling.

Bowls can be played indoor, where it is called indoor bowling, or outdoors, where it is called lawn bowling. Lawn bowling is the version played at the Commonwealth Games.

It is a game that involves immense accuracy and understanding of angles.


Like its name suggests, lawn bowls are played with bowls. Unlike the ball in indoor bowling, the bowls used in lawn bowls are weighted and more rounded on one side. This allows the bowl to curve without the bowler needing to apply a spin to it like in indoor bowling.

The bowl is typically made of wood, rubber or plastic resin and have indentations on them to help players grip the bowl. Depending on the material used, bowls typically have a diameter between 112mm to 134mm and need to weigh up to 1.59kg.

The jack is smaller and lighter than the bowl and is either white or yellow in colour.

Players have to bowl standing on a 600mm long and 360mm mat.


In a fours event, the bowler who bowls first is called the lead and is followed by the second and the third with the last bowler called Skip, the leader so to speak.

For Indian women’s fours team, that is Rupa Rani Tirkey, who can be seen play calling for her teammates before going across to complete the last two bowls.

Each lawn bowl rink has two ends on either side. The game is started by a coin toss with the winner choosing which end to begin the game from. They then place the at the end and roll the jack towards the other end. (The jack is the key to everything).

The jack has to travel at least 23m to be considered in play. After the jack comes to rest, it is moved to the centre of the rink and teams begin their series of bowls.

The bowler has to have at least a part of one foot on the mat when they are bowling.

The aim of the game is to get your bowls closest to the jack. The bowler stands on the mat and rolls their bowl towards the jack at the other end.

In fours events, each team member gets two bowls per round (called END). When all eight bowlers have bowled both their bowls, they switch over.


Points are awarded at the conclusion of each end to the team or bowlers who have their bowls closest to the jack. For an example, if team A has three bowls closer to the jack than their opposition’s closest bowl after an end, team A will get three points. If just one is closer, then one point.

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Umpires use a device called a box measure which uses string to measure the distance between the jack and the bowls if it is not visually evident.

In fours event (Where the Indians have reached the final) each match is decided after 15 ends with the winner being the team which has the most points. If the scores are tied after 15 ends, the teams will play extra ends until a winner emerges. The number of ends across events can vary.

If the rules are still a bit confusing, let bowler Janice Gower and umpire Allan Thornhill explain it to you.


With inputs from World Bowls