Questions for the Referee

Section 5 Rule 1. Referee.

All the rules are valid regardless in which section of the rule book they are found and this blog is in reference to the last section of the rule book which deals with the officials.

Rule 1 deals specifically with the referee.

The rule is also split into three sections.

  1. What the referee shall do.

  2. What the referee shall not do and: -

  3. What the referee may do if an incident is not noticed.

I would like to address the second section, what the referee shall not do, as more than one question has been asked regarding aspects of it.

The first thing stated is that the referee may not answer any unauthorised questions. A case in point was that of an inexperienced player asking another inexperienced player acting as the referee, “which ball or balls may be struck after the awarding of a Free Ball and what would be the ruling if a ball on was potted but it was not the first one struck”? I was approached by both for clarification and was met with consternation when I replied that giving any information is not permissible.

In any competition frame this would be the case, it would be reasonable however, to try to make the rules understood in circumstances where novice players are contesting a social game.

The rule specifically states that the referee is not to indicate that a player is about to foul with any stroke made, or to give any kind of advantage to either player. Answering the question posed would have been in contravention of that rule.

To clarify further, the number of questions that a referee is permitted to answer is limited to 4.

1. The players may be told what the scores are but no mention of the difference between them can be made.

2. The striker may be informed of the colour of an indicated ball. I know two colour blind players, one of whom has great difficulty distinguishing the brown from the reds.

3. If the question is asked, the striker must be informed, when playing from in-hand, whether or not the cue ball is within the confines of the ‘D’.

4. A reply must be given, if asked, whether balls not on are touching.

Whilst it is good practice, but unfortunately not that common, for referees to call the scores at regular intervals, saying anything about the other three without the question being asked first is tantamount, and could possibly be construed, as giving an indication that a foul will or will not be committed.

The four outlined above are the ONLY questions by a player to the referee regarding play that the rule book authorises for answering.

All other questions may be answered by a blank stare.

It used to be that a fifth question to the referee was authorised which was, ‘which balls would be replaced if an offender was asked to replay a stroke after a call of foul and a miss’. The November 2014 revision of the rules made this question obsolete when it was decided that all object balls moved in the stroke must be replaced upon a request for the stroke to be replayed.

The other point mentioned in this section is that the referee is not allowed to give advice or offer an opinion on anything affecting play. It can be said that a player’s shoes are not liked, e.g. but no indication can be made that at least one of them is not in contact with the floor, except by awarding penalty points after the stroke is played.

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