A Guide To Lawn Bowls At The Commonwealth Games

  • By: Reece Williams
  • Time to read: 4 min.

A guide taking you through the basics of lawn bowls at the Commonwealth games.

A Guide To Lawn Bowls At The Commonwealth Games

Lawn Bowls is one of the core sports at The Commonwealth Games, having featured in all but one edition of the Games since the first competition in Hamilton, Canada, in 1930

What is the Commonwealth Games?

The Commonwealth Games is an international multi-sport event involving athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations. The event was first held in 1930, and, with the exception of 1942 and 1946, has taken place every four years since then.[1] The Commonwealth Games were known as the British Empire Games from 1930 to 1950, the British Empire and Commonwealth Games from 1954 to 1966, and British Commonwealth Games from 1970 to 1974.

Editions of the games featuring lawn bowls

Lawn bowls has featured in 19 editions of the Commonwealth Games in total. Here is all of the host cities where lawn bowls has been played, and the year the Games was held.

  • Gold Coast 2018
  • Glasgow 2014
  • Dheli 2010
  • Melbourne 2006
  • Manchester 2002
  • Kuala Lumpur 1998
  • Victoria 1994
  • Auckland 1990
  • Edinburgh 1986
  • Brisbane 1982
  • Edmonton 1978
  • New Zealand 1974
  • Edinburgh 1970
  • Perth 1962
  • Cardiff 1958
  • Vancouver 1954
  • Auckland 1950
  • Sydney 1938
  • London 1934
  • Hamilton 1930

Lawn bowls at the Commonwealth Games

Lawn Bowls is one of the core sports on the Commonwealth Games programme. This means it has been played at every Games since 1930, with the exception of Kingston in 1966, where no Lawn Bowls facilities were available.

Lawn Bowls has featured twice at the Commonwealth Youth Games, making its debut at Bendigo in 2004, followed by an appearance at the Samoa 2015 Games.

Para-Bowls is now also a core discipline and featured at the 1994, 2002, 2014 and 2018 Games. Formats played at the Commonwealth games

Over the years the following formats have been played:

  • Singles (4 wood)
  • Pairs (2 and 3 wood versions)
  • Triples (3 wood version)
  • Fours (2 bowls each)

In a singles competition, the first to score 21 points will win, whereas in pairs, triples and fours competition, the team that has amassed the most points in total over 21 ends will secure the win.

Tournament Structure

The current tournament structure consists of 4 round-robin groups. The top 2 in each group then go forward to knock out stages consisting of 4 quarter finals, 2 semi-finals, a Gold/Silver final, and a Bronze play-off.

Most successful countries

Here is the all-time medal toals (as of Gold Coast 2018)

3South Africa19111444
5New Zealand12121640
7Northern Ireland451120
10Hong Kong3261

England Lawn bowls at The Commonwealth games

England have a rich history of lawn bowls. They currently sit second in the all-time medal list, however they have struggled in recent times. The England team didn’t get any gold medals in 2018, and only received one in 2014.

England’s most successful Commonwealth games lawn bowler was David Bryant, winning 4 Gold medals in singles between 1962 and 1974.

Team England have a strong lawn bowls pedigree with Ellen Faulkner and para-lawn bowler Paul Brown both winning medals at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Ellen Falkner is one of England’s most successful lawn bowlers, having competed at five Games and won five medals

Team England

Scotland Lawn bowls at The Commonwealth games

Top of the all-time list, Scotland are now the most successful bowling nation. Scotland has had great success in recent Games, winning 9 medals, and 5 Golds in the last two games in Glasgow and Dehli.

Scotland’s Alex Marshall is the most successful Commonwealth games lawn bowler in history, winning 6 medals, including an impressive 5 golds. He will look to add to this tally at Birmingham 2022.

Team Scotland

Lawn Bowls at the Commonwealth Games 2022

The next edition of the Commonwealth Games is due to begin in 2022 in Birmingham, England. The lawn bowls events will be played at Royal Lemington Spa. you can find out more about the event in our [guide to Lawn Bowls at the 2022 Commonwealth Games]({% post_url 2021-02-12-commonwealth-games-2022-lawn-bowls %})

Para-Lawn Bowls at the Commonwealth Games

Para-bowls has featured in the last 2 Commonwealth Games and is due to return again in 2022.

Two Para-Sport medal events in B2/B3 Mixed Pairs and B6/B7/B8 Open Triples


For the para-sport events, the mixed pairs must include one male and one female athlete. The combination can be either two B2 bowlers, two B3 bowlers, or one B2 and one B3 bowler. Each athlete will be accompanied by an athlete directon.

B2 Bowlers with a visual impairment (VI). They can recognise hand movements and have a visual acuity of 2/60. B3 Bowlers have a visual acuity of more than 2/60 and up to 6/60.

B6 Bowlers with balance difficulties rated as a loss of 5 points or more. Athletes may be ambulant (walking) or use a wheelchair.

B7 Bowlers with minor difficulties with balance rated as a loss of fewer than 5 points. Athletes may be ambulant or use a wheelchair.

B8 Bowlers with no noticeable impairment of function but have a permanent impairment. They are rated as having lost 10 points on the bench test. Athletes are ambulant.


B2/B3 Mixed Pairs: Each athlete will use three bowls with the games being 15 ends.

With regards to the B6/B7/B8 Open Triples event, the team must include at least one B6 player.

B6/B7/B8 Open Triples: Each athlete will use two bowls with the games being 15 ends.

Para-Bowls Rules

Para-Bowls Tournement Format

Sectional play – The competition will begin with a sectional play where the teams will play in groups in which all players/teams in the group play each other. A final ranking order for each group will be calculated and the top four ranked teams will advance to the semifinal.

Knock-out stage – The winner of each semifinal advances to the Gold medal round, and the losing semifinalists meet in the Bronze medal match.

Para-Bowls will be played alongside the Lawn bowls competitions at Royal Leamington Spa Bowling Club.