Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Are YOU a rule breaker?

If you read the most recent issue of YOUR Curler, the Royal Club's e-magazine which goes out to members, you may have noticed a little feature on RULE BREAKING which addressed which rules are most often ignored or forgotten. You probably read the 'top ten' (above) and may have decided that you were 'guilty' of some of them! Or perhaps not.

At the Umpires’ Annual Refresher Day, the umpires present, representing more than half of all the umpires in Scotland, put together these top ten most broken rules. I found this piece very interesting as so often I see the rules being broken through the lens when I'm out and about with my camera. It's not the juniors who are the biggest offenders. In fact, they generally know exactly what they should be doing. Often it's the 'more mature' curlers who ignore the rules:

1. Only the skip and vice-skip should be behind the head when the opposition are playing.
2. Players, other than skip/vice-skip, should remain between the hog lines (or courtesy lines) when the opposition is playing especially at the delivery end.
3. Players, other than person in charge of house for each team, should not stand in the house whilst the score is being decided or measure being done. Players should stand behind back line or at hog line.
4. Damage to ice: keep hands or knees off the ice.
5. Sweeping motion must be across the running path of the stone: in other words no 'snowploughing'.
6. Sweeping behind the tee line: only skip or vice skip of nonplaying team may sweep when
opposition are playing.
7. Time wasting /ready to play.
8. Measuring: don’t use a brush to measure as risk of moving stone and automatically losing the shot.
9. Don’t use mobile phones on the ice during a game.
10. Don’t cross from one side of the sheet to the other in front of the playing team when they about to deliver or their stone is in motion.

How bad is the problem? A (fun) experiment was conducted up in Inverness recently when Nairn CC held their annual invitation bonspiel.

Alan Stanfield reports:

"Nairn Curling Club at its annual invitation bonspiel in Inverness for the Eric Brown Trophy saw eight rinks from Nairn and twelve rinks from neighbouring clubs take to the ice. It was also the occasion when all present were under the scrutiny of two umpires there to record their misdemeanours. In particular the ten most frequently broken rules (above) were the target for Alan Stanfield and Harold Forrester. No replaying stones or stones taken off but fines for each infringement, payable by the whole team. Fifty pence per offence in an end and do it again in another end and they were another fifty pence poorer!

Well, old habits die hard and despite each team being given a list of those rules at the start as well as posters on the noticeboard, many found their way into the umpires’ notebooks during the day. The winners on the day?

- The rink skipped by Neil Gallacher from Loch Ness CC who won the bonspiel.

- All 80 curlers present as they all left with a better knowledge of the rules, particularly the ‘top ten rule breakers’ and keen to take the message back to other curlers in their clubs.

- New curlers playing in their first club bonspiel left knowing more about the rules than they did at the start of the day and importantly not learning the wrong thing from seeing bad examples by more experienced curlers.

- The least offending teams from Inverness Hospitals, Ross Ladies, Ballindalloch and one of the Nairn rinks who were so good they parted with a mere £1.00 each. They were the recipients of a tangible reward from the umpires afterwards in the true ‘Spirit’ of Curling.

- Highland and Moray Junior Curling Club who were the recipients of the proceeds from their elders’ transgressions: £41.50 which will go to support the Club in its future activities.

We all have a responsibility to play the game within the rules, so this was a practical way to educate with a good measure of fun thrown in? Why not try it!"

If you have a strong disposition and are not easily offended, then there is a report on how Loch Ness achieved their success on the club's website here. (Wouldn't it be fun if there were more club websites like that of Loch Ness CC! Or perhaps it's just as well that it is unique.)

Summary of Broken Rules, and the consequences!

The Bonspiel Winners, Loch Ness CC. L-R: Alasdair Gillies, Neil Gallacher, Stewart Baird (Nairn CC), James MacRae and Gary Warburton.

Caught in the act!

Photos by Harold Forrester.