(contents last reviewed 21/8/21)

The ESMBA umpires section was set up in 1992 and is headed by an Umpires Director, who is responsible for the examination of new umpires and ensuring that all umpires meet a consistent standard as well as ensuring that there are an adequate number of umpires on duty at all ESMBA competitions. Our own Chairman, Joseph Newsome served for 4 years in this post (2018-21).

Qualified umpires are graded according to the level of experience gained by officiating at various levels i.e. International, National, County and Umpire. Currently there are over 90 of which over 10% are female. All these are listed, together with their grade and contact numbers on the ESMBA web site. See The English Short Mat Bowling Association (ESMBA) – ESMBA Registered Umpires


International Joseph Newsome 01757 288842
National Richard Good  01653 697921
County Daniel Agar contact Joseph
Richard Good Joseph Newsome

All umpires are issued with a Code of Practice which lays great store on them being quiet, unobtrusive and vigilant but confident and positive when called upon to make a judgement. Apart from their main duty of officiating at matches, umpires can do a very useful job “off the mat” just by discussing areas of confusion with players. It goes without saying that umpires must be completely unbiased in the execution of their duties.


The English rules were originally drawn up in the mid 1980’s by Reg Kett, a flat green bowler from East Anglia. Appointed to the task by the inaugural committee of the ESMBA, he drew upon the EBA rules but mainly those of the IIBA – the Irish Indoor Association. The latter were formulated way back in 1962 where the short mat game has its roots. Until 2021, changes could only be made at a Rules Revision Meeting (RRM) – held every 5 years. The last was in 2019. Now in a change of policy the ESMBA management committee can make changes at any time.

The rules are available as a pocket sized  booklet and everyone should have their own copy so if an issue crops up  you can find the answer yourself rather than rely on your local “expert” – who always knows everything! A rule is not what someone believes to be true but one that is written down. So if an umpire is not present always refer to your booklet in the event of a dispute.

Rule books can be purchased from The Bowls Shop Tel 0115 929 2233