What Happens if You Hit the Jack in Petanque? | A Complete Guide

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

Without a doubt, one of the most talked about things when it comes to Petanque is what happens when there is a pushed jack. Players are always talking about it, discussing what happens when the jack is hit in a game of Petanque.

The pushed jack question is one that can be the cause of much debate, but there are actually two questions at hand. The first is, can the team whose boule has been hit challenge the jack? And if the jack is challenged, how would the teams then determine the validity of that jack?

The question of “can you hit the jack in petanque” is one that does not have a simple answer. This is your guide for the answer to that question. So, what happens if you hit the jack in petanque?

A Scenario

So, in a scenario laid out above, Team A would throw out the jack as well as the first boule. The first boule then hits, or “pushes” the jack. Would Team B be able to challenge that jack and, if so, how would the teams then determine the validity of the jack?

The short answer is that team B would be able to challenge that jack. Then, the validity of the jack would be determined through a measurement. The measurement would be the distance between the circle and the pushed location of the jack. Should the jack be anywhere between 6 and 10 meters from the circle, then the push is valid.

There are a few notes to consider. There is a case in which the jack was first thrown, the location was marked, and then it was pushed by the initial boule. When this happens, the teams measure the marked location.

The other thing is that most players are generally concerned about the distance of the jack from the circle. That said, there can also be concerns about the distance of the jack from the pointing obstacle or dead-ball line.

There is no written documentation on the matter of a pushed jack, though the FIPJP technical committee has been in unison about their ruling since 1996. That said, there have been international umpires that maintain that the pushed jack could not be challenged.

The rules can get a bit muddied and confusing; it can ultimately come down to local rules. That said, the official FIPJP ruling is that a pushed Jack can be moved under the aforementioned situation.

Other Questions About Challenging the Jack

In order to “challenge the jack,” the game will be paused. This is to ensure that all of the necessary requirements for a valid jack are met. There is an article within the specific rules, known as the Challenge Rule, which outlines the procedures for challenging a jack.

Some players tend to throw the jack and the first boule so quickly that it doesn’t give the opposing team a chance to raise their challenge. Thanks to the Challenge Rule, the opposing team has the ability to challenge the jack even when the first boule has already been thrown.

There is some question about whether the jack can be challenged when they have already verbally accepted it. The answer is that, even if a verbal declaration has been made, the team can still challenge the jack should they so choose.

Verbally accepting the jack is not an official acceptance of the jack; it does not waive the right to challenge for that team. Some would consider it to be poor sportsmanship, but it definitely is not illegal and there are no rules – official or unofficial – being broken.

There is also the matter of challenging the jack after the first boule has been thrown. The short answer is that, no, they cannot. When the first boule has been thrown by a team, they no longer have the right to challenge the jack. The challenge window is closed.

Finally, there is the question of whether a jack can be challenged if the jack is pushed past 10 meters of the original position. The answer is no, though there are some players that would argue that the second team has the right to play a jack between the 6 and 10 meter mark; this is not true. There is no such rule and there is no challenge to be made.


Though the rules to petanque are relatively straightforward, there can be some confusion when it comes to pushing the jack. Though it ultimately comes down to the local rules, the “official” rules state that it can be pushed so long as the new location is within 6-10 meters of the original placement.

Going further than that can get a bit confusing and lead to discussion, so it can be simpler to just follow that guideline as the basis for the rules.