Northern England Short Mat Bowling Association


These Rules were last modified at the AGM on 3rd Julu 2022


E.S.M.B.A. rules shall apply at all times unless modified below

ENTRY FEE – The fee to be paid by each team entering the League will be set annually at the Annual General Meeting.

FORMAT OF LEAGUE – Four Singles, four Pairs, four Triples and four Fours games to be played in the day according to the order of play defined in Rule (6). The home area will decide on the placing and numbering of each mat but once decided these must remain fixed for the duration of the match.

NUMBER OF ENDS PER GAME – Singles and Pairs games will consist of 15 ends, Triples 11 ends and Fours 9 ends.

JACKS – Heavyweight jacks (30-32 oz) will be used for all games.

NUMBER OF BOWLS PER PLAYER – Two bowls are to be used by each player except for Singles players who will use four.

ORDER OF PLAY – This will be as follows.
4 Mats, Singles, Pairs, Triples and Fours, each discipline shall remain on the mat it commenced the match on. Each mat shall be numbered accordingly to denote the discipline being played upon that mat for the duration of the match. The start time of Session 1 and the duration of the Break will be by agreement between the two Captains.

SCORE CARDS/SCORE BOARDS – Completion of the score card must be in accordance with ESMBA Law E(10) SCORING which states ‘In all disciplines except Singles, each skip must appoint one of his players, or himself, as scorer on the mat. Score cards kept by anyone other than the appointed scorers have no legitimacy.’ Score boards must be provided for each mat.

PRACTICE – Away team is allowed 20 minutes prior to the agreed starting time. The home team is allowed unlimited practice before away team. Neither team will be allowed any further practice during the course of the day.

MATS – All matches will be played at a four mat venue.

TEAMS – Teams will consist of at least 20 players who shall not play more than two games each and no player shall be allowed to play the same opponent more than once in the same discipline.

SUBSTITUTES – Teams may make a maximum of four substitutions between the morning and afternoon sessions. Players may change disciplines between sessions.

PLAYERS – All players must be registered with the ESMBA and a list of all such players being registered must be sent to the League Secretary. Any player not on this list will be considered an illegal player and the penalties defined in Rule 21 will apply.

POINTS SCORING – 2 points will be awarded for each game won and 1 point each for every drawn game. 2 additional points will be awarded for each discipline with the highest shots aggregate. In any discipline where the aggregate shots are the same, 1 point will be awarded to each team. The total points available per match will therefore be 40.

RESULTS – The home team captain will be responsible for informing the League Secretary of the result by email or telephone within 24 hours of the match. The score sheet, signed by both captains, should then be sent to arrive no later than the Friday following the match date. Late submission of the score sheet by the Friday deadline will incur a £10 fine. The score sheet must show the full names of the players.

LEAGUE FORMAT – The league shall be based on 2 Divisions of equal size with up to 6 teams in each Division. In the event of there being an odd number of teams, the Executive Committee will decide which of the 2 Divisions should be the larger. At the end of the season the winner of Division 2 shall be promoted to Division 1 and the loser of Division 1 shall be demoted to Division 2. New teams wishing to enter the league shall apply in writing to the General Secretary before the end of March and if accepted, shall initially play in Division 2. If this results in an imbalance between Divisions, the promotion/relegation stipulation will be adjusted in order to even up the number of teams in each Division.

VENUE – The home venue for every team taking part will be within the boundaries of the Area that they represent.

DATES OF MATCHES – All matches are to be completed by two weeks prior to the Individual Competitions Weekend.

UMPIRES – Two non-playing members should be nominated by the home team to act as umpires for the day. (Non-playing meaning 1 member that is not playing in the first session and 1 member who is not playing in the second session or not playing in the match at all).

FOOTWEAR – Bowling shoes or smooth heel-less footwear must be worn at all times.

MISSING PLAYERS – If a team is unable to field a full team (20 players) the missing players shall be deemed to have been playing in the following games – Fours and Triples. (Therefore if a team turns out with only 19 players they will have one Four which consists of only 3 players and likewise if a team turns out with only 17 players they will have two Fours which consist of only 3 players and a Triple which consists of only 2 players). If any game is not played due to a team having insufficient players the game will be awarded to the other team by a score of 10-0.

ILLEGAL PLAYERS – Any game involving an illegal player will be automatically awarded to the non-offending team by a score of 10-0 and the additional points for aggregate will also be automatically awarded to the non-offending team.

DRESS – Ladies will wear mid-grey or black skirts, culottes or tailored trousers with plain white above the waist and gents will wear mid-grey or black tailored trousers with plain white shirt above the waist. Areas may dress in their own Area colours provided ALL players in the discipline are the same. The colour below the waist may be either grey or black with no requirement for team members to be the same.

LUNCH – There is no requirement for the Home team to provide a meal for the visiting team. If they choose to do so they are entitled to charge the visiting team and any supporters, a cost per head for each meal provided. In advance of each match, the Home team Captain must establish with the Away team Captain exactly how many meals are required and the total cost which is to be paid on the day of the match. Beverages should be provided free of charge to visitors.


Where Counties /Areas have multiple teams entered in the NESMBA League, the teams should be renamed to represent their position in the leagues.

All but the bottom team should have 12 players starred. Starred players cannot play for any other team than the one they are starred for.

Any member who plays 3 matches for a team above theirs shall be automatically starred to that team and be bound by (a) above.

For any County/Area with more than one team in the same division, no interchange of players whatsoever will be allowed between those teams.

If a County/Area has more than 2 teams, any player not starred may play for one of the other teams but may only substitute into one team. They shall then be classed as locked to that team for substitution.

If a County/Area has 2 teams in Division 1 and one team in Division 2, one team from Division 1 must be nominated to allow substitutions. No substitutions will be allowed from the other team in Divisions 1.

LEAGUE POSITIONS – In cases where there is a tie for league positions at the end of the season, shots difference will be taken into account to determine final league positions. Should there still be a tie the team scoring more shots will be awarded the higher league position. Should this also be equal the final positions will be decided by the toss of a coin.

PRIZES – The winning team of each Division will receive 20 trophies. Winning teams can opt to have additional prizes at cost price. The League Secretary should be advised of the number required together with payment at least 14 days prior to the date of the presentation. Should this not be possible, the additional prizes will be presented at the AGM.

DISPUTES – Any disputes should be brought to the attention of the Executive Committee whose decision will then be final and binding.

MOBILE PHONES – If a player/s ‘phone rings during play in a Singles, Pairs, Triples or Fours game then

  1. the playing of that end ceases immediately
  2. the guilty player/s lose THREE shots or his/her opponent can claim the score for that end as it stands at that point (on assumption that it may be higher than three).


Any league fixture may be postponed if in the opinion of EITHER Captain, weather conditions are such that it would make travelling unsafe. The opposing Captain must be contacted to explain the conditions making the postponement necessary and to agree a mutually agreeable re-match date. Other reasons for postponing a fixture can ONLY be considered should BOTH Captains agree. In all cases the League Secretary must be advised in writing of the new date or if it is impossible to agree one then written reasons for the original postponement must be submitted.

If it proves impossible to re-arrange the fixture, the League Secretary, once all other matches have been completed, will award points as follows.

The Home team will be awarded the average number of points/shots gained in their other completed Home games.

The away team will be awarded the average number of points/shots gained in their other completed Away games.

If the points thus calculated for each team when added together are greater or less than 40 then they will be adjusted proportionally so that they equal 40.

Any team failing to fulfil a fixture for reasons other than unsafe travelling conditions or for other reasons that have not been mutually agreed, shall receive zero points for that fixture. Their opponents shall be credited at the end of the season with their average number of points/shots home or away as defined above.