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International Croquet Rules Amended

The rules of International Croquet (officially called the Laws of Association Croquet) will change from 15 March 2008.

Players will be pleased to know that several laws will become easier to understand, and many ambiguities have been removed. A small number of new laws will affect situations often encountered in everyday play, and all players should read and understand the changes explained below.

Interference with a Ball

The biggest change to the game will occur when balls from different games collide during double banking. Under the new law 33, the only time a player may replay a stroke is when (1) the double bank ball moved after the stroke began, and (2) a point may have been scored or the ball that suffered interference may have stopped in a critical position.

This means that there will be rarely be a replay after double banking interference, and players will be required to place the ball where it would have stopped. Even if they are uncertain or disagree, they now must find a compromise position.  

This restriction on replays means that it is very important for players to mark any double banking ball that might be in the way. (and please remember — you must always ask permission of the players in the other game before marking their balls. Hollering “red’s up” is not good enough.)

Replay after Playing to Misplaced Balls

Players are now entitled to a replay under 31 a 2 if they play to balls that have been moved by someone else. This usually happens when someone moves balls during double banking and does not tell the striker. Under the old law, there is no relief if the striker rushes to or roquets the balls. Now, he is entitled to a replay


Several changes have been made to the fault laws. The four changes that are most important for players to understand are

  1. it is now a fault to guide the mallet by sliding it along your foot
  2. the fault for lawn damage has been simplified and fewer strokes are now faults under this law
  3. there is a new process for faults in a handicap game
  4. a fault is judged on the balance of probabilities. This means you declare a fault when the striker or referee believes it was more likely than not that a fault was committed.


Cannons can now take place anywhere on the lawn when a group of three balls forms.

Ball Jamming in a Hoop

A player will be permitted a replay if the outcome of a stroke was affected because the ball is bigger than the hoop. Previously, a replay was only permitted if the ball remained jammed in the hoop.

For More Information

New law books will be available from the USCA office. A table setting out the changes in more detail is shown below, and the full set of laws with amendments can be found on the Oxford Croquet site. Download or print the changes in Adobe Acrobat format (requires Adobe Reader).

Law Changes

2 a 3 and others

Place and Replace Place and replace were used incorrectly in many places in the law. These errors have be corrected.

3 c 3

Steadying the Ball Players were permitted to steady the ball by applying pressure with hand or foot but not by mallet. Players are now permitted to use their mallet, simplifying the law and catering to the infirm or lazy. The law dealing with this has been moved from 19 f to 3 c 3.

4 d 4

Declaring the Stroke Played “deem” is replaced by “declare” to make the law simpler to understand.


The Stroke This has been rewritten to make it easier to understand and deal with circular reasoning. Passing is now same as playing a stroke — in the old laws, deeming a stroke and playing a stroke were treated differently. If the striker passes (declares the stroke has been played) he must now state which ball he is declaring to have played. This is required if a player later claims a wire.

6 a

Ball in Play The definition was rewritten to remove ambiguities and satisfy the pedants. A ball becomes in play when it is placed on the court prior to being played into the game.

6 c 4

Ceasing to be a Ball in Hand rewritten to clarify that failing to take croquet when required to do is covered, as intended, by 27(f), rather than being treated as a case of striking an outside agency (as had been argued by the pedants).

6 f

Yard Line Ball rewritten to clarify.

6 h

Group of Balls A group of balls can now take place anywhere on the lawn – so that a cannon can also occur anywhere on the lawn, not just on the yardline

13 a

Playing from a Baulk Line this has been amended to make it obvious the striker can either play his ball from the baulk line or take croquet immediately from a ball that it could touch if placed on a baulk-line. If the striker takes croquet, he can place his ball anywhere in contact with the other ball.

13 b

Responsibility for Position Rewritten to simplify. The word deemed has been removed, and replaced by everyday phrases. A player is now responsible for the position of a ball after all errors, but now not responsible for its position after any interference.

14 c

Complete the Running of a Hoop this has been amended to make it clear that a hoop is not scored if the ball rolls back into the hoop.

14 d 2 & 3

Hoop Point Special Situations This has been rewritten to include in-court cannons. Except for the roqueted ball, the other 2 or 3 balls in a cannon are balls in hand. The law has been amended so that a ball in hand in a cannon loses its right to complete running  a hoop – whether it is placed, lifted or even left in place.

16 c

Deeming a Roquet This has been greatly simplified. If a stroke starts with the striker ball in contact with a live ball, it is a deemed roquet. More work will be done next edition to rid the laws of the term deemed roquet

17 a

Hoop and Roquet This has been clarified without changing the meaning

22 e

Limit of Claims in Handicap Games This has been changed so that its application for non-fatal errors is clear in handicap games. If the limit of claims is not reached before the end of the turn, the limit of claims has been reached, regardless of whether the striker takes a bisque or not. The limit of claims for fatal errors would remain as the first stroke of the adversary's next turn.


Playing when Not Entitled This has been redrafted to rid it of several undesirable consequences. The law now states that when a player plays out of turn, any balls moved by the offending side are replaced and any points scored by the offending side are cancelled. There is no longer the need to replace all balls and cancel all points. This means that a striker is not penalized if his opponent plays out of turn, he does not notice it and he plays on. Under the old law, the player was required to put all the balls back to where they were when the opponent played – unfair if the striker made a long roquet or a difficult hoop. Now, only the balls that the adversary moved are replaced (unless the striker moved them) and the striker continues his turn. If the striker hit one of the balls before noticing the error, that ball is not replaced


Wrong Ball at Beginning of Game Amended to fix some logic problems with the current law. Now a ball played into the game out of order is a ball in play until the error is rectified and the ball is removed. Although academic, it stops being a ball in play when it is removed because of rectification


Playing when a Ball is Misplaced This has been rewritten to be clearer. No change in meaning is intended

28 a 1

Sliding the Mallet Along the Foot to Guide It is now a fault. This is most commonly used by players when a ball has just run a hoop and the player has a hampered backswing

28 a 7 & 8

Double Tap and Maintaining Contact with the Mallet This has been rewritten to improve it. The punctuation was bad and its applicability to scatter shots with the balls very close but not in contact was poorly understood. To ensure that the game remains playable, a laxer standard, namely that the prolonged contact must be visible, is applied to croquet strokes.  28 a 8 applies primarily to scatter shots. These are faults if the striker's ball continues forward a significant distance after a direct impact.

28 a 15

Damaging the Court the amount of damage required for there to be a fault has been defined as “affecting a ball that is subsequently played over it.” A fault has been restricted to certain types of shots - if the striker’s swing is hampered, if he is attempting a jump shot or if he is playing a cannon Referees are advised to use the following test about damage: the condition is satisfied if a ball passing over the (unrepaired) damage, at a speed such that it will stop about a mallet's (shaft) length away, would come to rest more than a balls width from where it would have done if the damage was not there.  This deviation could be in distance as well as direction. 

28 d

Exemptions to Double Taps this has been rewritten to remove ambiguities.

31 a 2

Misleading Information A player is now entitled to a replay if he plays to balls that have been moved by someone else – usually because they have been marked due to double banking. Under the old laws, there was no relief


Interference with the Position of a Ball A replay is now required for interference with a moving ball if (1) an adversary or outside agency moves after the striker takes his stance, and (2) the moving ball might have scored a point or stopped in a critical position. There is no other replay. If the players do not agree about where the ball would have stopped, they should look to law 48 d for guidance and prefer the adversary’s opinion to the striker’s. In the rare instance when the players could not know where a ball would have stopped (e.g. it was going to hit a hoop at speed) the players must decide where to put the ball.

34 c

Special Damage The definition of special damage has been expanded.

37 c 4

Turn Ends after Bisque or Half Bisque Added for clarity.

37 h

Bisques after Fault The adversary should now first decide on whether to ask for rectification after a fault, then the striker decides whether to take a bisque.

39 a 3

Restoration of Bisques Changes for clarity.

40 b

Doubles Clarifies that a player may declare a stroke played for his partner. This confirms the policy that partnerless doubles is permitted.

48 d 4

Balance of Probabilities This introduces a standard of certainty for deciding whether a stroke is a fault. If the striker or referee feels that a stroke was more likely than not a fault, he is to declare it a fault.

35 b 3

Ball Bigger Than Hoop if advertised for a tournament, the jamming law is replaced by the following law: a player is entitled to a replay if a stroke was affected because the ball is bigger than the hoop. In the US this will apply to all tournaments.





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