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Oshawa Curling Club

Coaches Corner - 1

Editor: Chris Daffern
Date: 2014-02-13



Like any sport or organized form of recreation, curling has its rules of play that all players are expected to know and abide by. But this can be problematic. Most of us will never see an official during our games. So, the fair and lawful conduct of play relies upon the good spirit and honour of competitors. Yet, despite the best efforts of the curling powers and rules authorities, not everything is always cut and dry. When a circumstance arises that isn’t covered by the rules, it is expected to be resolved by the participants in accordance with equity, meaning what is fair and reasonable.


It is not our prerogative to choose to selectively “interpret” the rules and apply them when we want to or when it is convenient. The rules are the rules. As Bill Tschirhart writes in “The Most Common Rule Violation” on his blog (Bill’s View of the World from Behind “A Pane in the Glass” posted on www.curlingzone.com), “if a game and its rules, regulations & procedures are to have the desired impact on the integrity of the sport, its practitioners need to abide by all of them, not just the ones that are most convenient, turning a blind eye to those they arbitrarily feel not worthy of compliance.” They aren’t guidelines!


When it comes to officiated play, do competitors really want officials to interpret the rules or apply them? I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Tschirhart’s opinion that it is not the role of an official to decide which rules to apply and which to ignore. (Consider for a moment the various interpretations, inconsistencies and unpredictability that could arise.) Something may be OK with him or her personally but not in the role of an official pledged to uphold the rules, all of the rules, as printed. If interpretation is required, that’s the role of the governing bodies’ rules committees; which is why the rules of competition are reviewed every two years and modified where required - - and the 2013 2014 season is the second year of the two-year cycle.


This is the first in an occasional series of short rules reminders and/or refreshers, and from time to time the unwritten etiquette of the game, based upon questions coming back through members and observations by various coaches or certified officials of infractions or questionable sportsmanship. The rules authority is the Canadian Curling Association's "Rules of Curling for General Play" for the period from September 2012 to September 2014 that is posted on the Canadian Curling Association’s website.


The first question is:


Q.  What do we do when a rock is touched (or burned) during play?

A.  This is Rule 9. First of all, no stone in motion shall be touched by any player, equipment or personal belongings of the team to which it belongs.


Assuming the touch or burn is by the delivering team (not the opposition), there are two scenarios.

  1. If the rock is touched between the tee line at the delivering end and the hog line at the opposite end of the sheet, the touched stone is to be removed from play immediately by the delivering team.
  2. But, if the touch is made inside the hog line, let the rock continue in motion. When all stones have come to rest, the non-offending team has (a) the option to remove the touched stone and replace all stones that were displaced after the infraction to their original position; OR, (b) leave all stones where they came to rest; OR, (c) place all stones where the non-offending team (usually the skip or vice if in charge of the house) reasonably considers the stones would have come to rest had the moving stone not been touched.


Note the decisions in scenario #2 are strictly up to the non-offending team. It’s not debatable or arguable. Nor is it necessary for the offending team to agree. But, this rule and its application rely upon all players abiding by the Curlers’ Code of Ethics and Fair Play;

-        play the game with a spirit of good sportsmanship

-        conduct yourself honourably

-        never knowingly break a rule and divulge any breach of a rule, and

-        strictly observe the written rules but equally observe the spirit of the rules, whether written or not.


For another perspective on issues concerning touched or burnt rocks, have a look at the CurlingZone.com forum on this subject.

In conclusion, play well, play fair and always have fun.  After all, it’s just a game.


If you have a question about rules or etiquette, please send them to the Club through the contact on the website and they will be addressed in an upcoming Curling Coaches Corner.

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