Bowls is one of Britain's oldest sports, with evidence of it being played in England as far back as the 12th Century. The sport is famously mentioned in the legend of Francis Drake when he insisted on finishing his game of bowls at Plymouth before he tackled the Spanish Armada. Bowls is now one of the biggest sports in the UK in terms of participation, and is now played by the young and old with many age-specific competitions being played at national level
How it Works
A bowling green is split into a number of rinks (there are 8 at Newport) with each game taking place on a rink. A mat is placed centrally on the rink and a small white or yellow ball known as a jack is bowled towards the far end of the rink. The player bowling the jack can determine the length at which the jack is set.
The jack is centred (there is a minimum and maximum length that the jack can be from the mat) and then the players take turn to roll their bowls (often called woods despite not being made of wood any longer!) towards the jack. Unlike the spherical jack, a bowl is not round-shaped; rather one side of the bowl called the bias is shaved. As the bowl slows down, it will curve towards the bias; in this way players are able to choose which direction their bowl will curve
When each player has played their bowls, an end has been played and points (or shots) are awarded. The idea of the game is to get as many of your bowls closer to the jack than your opponent's nearest bowl. For each such bowls, a shot is awarded. When an agreed number of shots are reached, the game is over.
There are many different variations of game - the traditional "first to 21 shots" is still very popular but professional tournaments often opt for a game of sets (for example, World Bowls Tour events consist of 2 sets of 9 ends, with sudden death ends to decide the winner in the event that each players wins one set each.