Grass and HPA Rules

Teams, players and players' equipment, substitution. Ponies, pony equipment and pony welfare. Duties and authority of tournament committee, umpires, referee, goal judges, timekeeper, scorer and other officials. Game facilities and equipment Duration of games and chukkas, winning of games, scoring goals Commencement, interruption and resumption of play Line of the ball, right of way, crossing, checking and blocking. Riding off, dangerous riding, intimidation, hooking, misuse of whip, spurs and stick, rough or abusive play. Penalties. Annex A - suggested layout of a polo ground.
Annex B - notes for officials

Annex C - guidelines for tournaments.
Annex D - conditions for official hpa tournaments.
Annex E - rules for official league matches.

All matches, games and chukkas within the jurisdiction of the HPA are to be played under the HPA's Rules of Polo and the annexes thereto.

TEAMS, PLAYERS AND PLAYERS' EQUIPMENT, SUBSTITUTION

1. Teams

  1. Composition. The number of players is to be no more than 4 a side in all games. The team captain is responsible for ensuring that the team and its players are qualified to play in the tournament or match and that the individual handicaps of the players are correctly declared
  2. Entries. A team must submit an entry form to play in a tournament. The entry should include the names of at least 3 players adding up to the minimum handicap level of the tournament. See Annex D for levels of tournaments.
  3. Handicap Limits. A team may enter in a tournament one goal above the tournament's limit with a player whose handicap has been raised during the season. This also applies to the restriction imposed on the two highest handicap players at 8 and 6 goal level and to individual handicap restrictions at all levels e.g. a player raised to 5 mid season may play in 6 goal polo if entered but not as a substitute.
  4. Change. A team must inform the Tournament Committee or Polo Manager of the host club of its intention to change or add a player more than 48 hours before the first match the team is scheduled to play in the tournament and, subject to their agreement, may do so; thereafter any change will be deemed to be a substitution.
  5. Withdrawal. Once a team has entered a tournament and the draw has been published, it may not withdraw unless there are exceptional circumstances and the Tournament Committee agrees. Withdrawal of a team prior to or during a match without the permission of the Tournament Committee will be subject to a charge of misconduct.
  6. Team Shirts. Shirts will be in team colours with the number of the player no less than 9 inches high and in contrasting colour on the back. If, in the opinion of the Umpires or Tournament Committee, the colours of two competing teams are so alike as to lead to confusion, the team lower in the draw or second named in a league competition shall be instructed to play in another colour. Teams must have available a second set of shirts of contrasting colour.
  7. Umpire Ponies. Teams are normally required to provide one pony for umpiring but two for high goal. Green or unfit ponies must not be offered.
  8. Handicap Calculation. In all matches played under handicap conditions the handicap of each player in each team will be totalled. The lower total will then be subtracted from the higher and the resulting difference will be multiplied by the number of chukkas to be played in the match and divided by 6. This will give the number of goals to be given to the team with the lower total handicap. All fractions will count as half-a-goal. Any objection to the score posted on the score board at the start of the match must be made before the ball is thrown in.
  9. Objections.
    1. No team may appeal in any way against the appointment of any particular umpire, referee or other official nor may teams appeal against the time or venue of a game.
    2. A team captain may complete a report form detailing any irregularities by the Tournament Committee or the officials and submit it within 12 hours to the Tournament Committee who will forward it to the HPA.
    3. Not Trying. Both teams in a match must try to win. If in the opinion of the Umpires or the Referee or the Tournament Committee, a team is believed to be not trying, the team should be warned by the Umpires. If the team fails to comply with this instruction, the Umpires shall submit a report using a report form and the team or individual players may be subject to a Disciplinary Enquiry by the Club Tournament Committee who may take any action considered appropriate, including the suspension of the team and its members from playing in the rest of the tournament. If it is considered appropriate by the Tournament Committee to refer the matter to the HPA, the team will be suspended pending adjudication by the HPA.

2. Players and players equipment

  1. Membership. No person may play in matches, practice games and chukkas at or conducted by a club affiliated to the HPA in the UK or Ireland unless they are a member of the HPA in accordance with Regulation 5.
  2. Left Handed Players. No player shall play with his left hand.
  3. Dismounted Player. A dismounted player may not hit the ball nor interfere with the play.
  4. Leaving the Field. No player shall leave the field of play in the course of a match against the wishes of the Umpires. Any player doing so may be subject to a charge of misconduct.
  5. Coaching. Coaching of players is forbidden during play.
  6. Smoking. No player or official shall smoke on the ground during a game or match.
  7. Drink and Drugs. No player may play in any match, practice game or chukka under the influence of any illegal stimulant or drug including any substance referred to in Annex A to the Regulations (Human Doping).
  8. Equipment and Turnout. Players, as well as their ponies are expected to be well turned out. The reputation of the sport should be enhanced. Thus:
    1. Hats. Every player must wear a protective polo helmet and nobody may ride on polo grounds or the surrounds without a hard hat. In all cases, the helmet or hat must be worn with a chin strap properly fastened and correctly positioned. (see Note).
    2. Breeches. For matches, white breeches or jeans are to be worn.
    3. Spurs. Spurs, including any rowel must be blunt, with the shank of no more than 3 cm pointing downwards and to the rear. Any spur likely to wound a horse is forbidden.
    4. Boots and Knee Pads. For matches, brown boots are to be worn. Knee pads are usually worn. Buckles or studs may not be worn by a player on the upper part of his polo boots or knee pads in such a way as to damage another player's boots or breeches.
    5. Whips. Whips must not be more than 48 inches long including any tag. Broken whips are not allowed.
Note: The British Horse Society recommends "that hats which comply with PAS 015, EN 1384 or ASTMF 1163, ASTM F1163 and KOVFS 77.7, with either the Kitemark or SEI offer the best protection".

3. Substitution

  1. General Principles.
    1. A player may only play in one team in the same tournament except as in 3c(iii) below.
    2. The substitute must be qualified to play in the tournament and the team must remain qualified after the substitution has been made. Thus, if a team is playing above the handicap limit of a tournament by virtue of including a player raised in handicap during the season, and that player has to be substituted either less than 48 hours before the team's first match or during a match, the team must revert to within the handicap limit. However, if another player in that team is substituted, the original total handicap of the team may stand.
  2. 48 Hour Rule. If a team manager/captain wishes to replace a player in a team less than 48 hours before the first match then that replacement will be a substitute. He must inform the Tournament Committee and the opposition of his intention as soon as possible. The Tournament Committee must check the eligibility of the substitute before giving their permission for the substitution to take place.
  3. Substitution in Emergency. If a player is late or unable to continue through sickness, accident or duty, the following conditions apply:
    1. Captain's Choice. The Tournament Committee, having satisfied itself that there is a genuine need for a substitute will ask the Captain of the team requiring the substitute for his choice. They must then check the eligibility of the chosen substitute, in particular his membership of the HPA, status and handicap and that he has not already played in the tournament for another team.
    2. Chosen Substitute Not Eligible. Should the chosen substitute not be eligible, the Tournament Committee must establish if there is another eligible substitute immediately available. This will include a player of the same handicap or one goal less than the player he will replace.
    3. No Eligible Player Available. If no eligible player is available, the Tournament Committee may agree to any qualified player (a member of the HPA whose status and handicap keeps the team qualified to play in the tournament) being used though he may have played or be due to play in another team. A player who is no longer in the tournament should be played in preference to one who is still in it.
    4. Player who is Late. Should a player who is late subsequently arrive, he may replace his substitute at the start of but not during any chukka in the match.
    5. Substitution in a 3 man Team. If a team has been reduced to 3 men as a result of a player being sent off by the umpires under Rule 27b(ii) (Injured Player) or Penalty 10b, it must remain qualified in the event of any further substitution with the handicap of the sent off player included in the calculation.
    6. Effect on the Substitute. A substitute should not be disqualified from continuing with his original team, or from joining another team if he is not already in one. He may also continue to play in the team in which he has played as a substitute if the original player is still not available and his own team is no longer in the tournament.
    7. Change of Score. If the substitute is of the same or lower handicap, the score will not be altered. However, if he is of a higher handicap the score will be altered immediately to reflect the increased total handicap of the team irrespective of when the substitution occurs.
    8. Ponies. It is the responsibility of the team to mount the substitute.

PONIES, PONY EQUIPMENT AND PONY WELFARE

4. Ponies, pony equipment and pony welfare

Owners and players must take all reasonable steps to ensure the welfare of their ponies at all times. The Regulations on the Welfare of Ponies and the Misuse of Drugs at Annex B to the Regulations must be read in conjunction with this section.

  1. Vaccination. In the UK, all ponies must have a current annual certificate of vaccination against flu.
  2. Contagious Diseases. A pony with an active infectious or contagious disease such as ring-worm may not be brought to a polo ground.
  3. Turnout and Prohibited Equipment. Ponies are expected to be well turned out. (See Note for best playing or turned out pony). Each pony must be protected by bandages or boots on all four legs and it must have its tail put up. Ponies for umpiring should be equipped for polo except their tails need not be put up. The following are not allowed to be used during any game:
    1. A noseband, headpiece or headcollar which incorporates wire or any sharp material.
    2. A hackamore or bitless bridle (may be used in practice chukkas at the discretion of the club)
    3. Blinkers or any form of noseband or other equipment which obstructs the vision of the pony.
    4. The mouthpiece of any bit, whether single or double, of not less than 0.25 inch (6.50 mm) in diameter at its narrowest point.
  4. Studs. Frost nails, road studs, screws and fancy spikes or any protruding nails or sharp edges on a shoe are not allowed except as below:
    1. Rimmed shoes may be worn but the rim must be on the inside of the shoe only.
    2. A calkin or stud must be of less than 0.5" (13 mm) cubed and be fitted on the last inch (25mm) of the outside heel of the hind shoe. A non slip plug or road plug may be fitted.
    3. If a shoe has a calkin or fixed stud it must be balanced by a raised and feathered inside heel tapered for a minimum of 1.5 " (40 mm).
    4. A removable stud, which is the type strongly recommended, should be removed before the pony leaves the ground.
    5. A pony may be shod with a maximum of two road nails or non slip nails per shoe in order that it may be exercised safely on the roads. Such nails must not be on the widest part of the shoe.
  5. Condition. Ponies may not be played:
    1. If lame or showing signs of distress.
    2. If blind in one eye. The case of a pony blind of an eye must be reported by the Umpire in writing to the Tournament Committee who shall take all steps necessary to ensure that it shall not be played again in any tournament.
    3. Showing blood, whether from the mouth, flanks or any other part.
    4. If not under proper control or showing vice. In such a case, the umpires should complete a Report Form.
    5. With any form of tracheotomy or tracheostomy
  6. Use by Another Team. In high and medium goal tournaments, a pony played by one team cannot be played by any other team in the same tournament. For intermediate goal tournaments, this rule applies except dispensation may be granted by the Tournament Committee.
  7. Number of Chukkas. In the normal duration of a match a pony must not be played for more than two full non consecutive chukkas, or the equivalent time; a pony which has played in more than half a chukka may not be played again for at least ten minutes. A pony must not be played in more than three full chukkas or the equivalent time in any one day.
  8. Drugs. The administration of any drug or substance to a pony which is not a normal constituent of horse feed and is listed as banned in Annex B to the Regulations is prohibited.
  9. Injections. A pony may not be injected in the surrounds of a polo ground except by a qualified vet or by an experienced individual with the permission of an official of the host club or the HPA.
Note. Clubs are encouraged to award a prize for the best playing or best turned out pony. They must however ensure that the pony is in a fit state to collect its prize - i.e. that it is not distressed, looks well and does not have spur or whip marks, a cut mouth, sore back or any other signs of ill treatment. If a pony has received an accidental injury, such as a tread, then it should not be excluded from collecting its prize, provided that the injury has been properly treated. If a veterinary officer is present he should be asked to inspect the pony prior to the presentation.

DUTIES AND AUTHORITY OF TOURNAMENT COMMITTEE, UMPIRES, REFEREE, GOAL JUDGES, TIMEKEEPER, SCORER AND OTHER OFFICIALS.

5. Tournament committees.

  1. Requirement. For any tournament the host club will appoint a Tournament Committee of 3 or more individuals, who preferably should have little or no vested interest in the outcome of the event. In the absence of a Tournament Committee, the Polo Manager of the Club or his representative with the Umpires and Referee shall act as the Tournament Committee.
  2. Duties. The Tournament Committee will be charged with the overall responsibility for the running of the tournament. This will include;
    1. checking the eligibility of each entry and any subsequent substitution.
    2. informing a team of a change in the entry of an opposing team.
    3. the structure of the tournament and the draw.
    4. the scheduling of matches.
    5. the appointment of officials (but see Rule 6c and Annex D Paragraph 4).
    6. the provision of the grounds and the necessary equipment.
    7. dealing with any disciplinary matters or irregularity.
  3. Authority. The authority of the Tournament Committee will exist at all times except that immediately before, immediately after and during play the authority of the Referee and the Umpires will be absolute on matters regarding the conduct of play. The Tournament Committee may receive a report from the umpires, referee or from the team captain which they will forward to the HPA. The decisions of the Tournament Committee will be final.

6. Umpires and referees (See also Annex B)

  1. Authority. There shall normally be two mounted umpires and a referee who have the duty to control the game according to the Rules of the HPA. Their authority as to the conduct of play shall be absolute immediately before, immediately after and during play. They will complete a report form with details of any irregularities or incidents of misconduct and submit it to the Tournament Committee immediately after the game. The report form should be signed by both the umpires and the referee before submission
  2. One Umpire. The Tournament Committee may stipulate in the tournament conditions that there will only be one Umpire or, if this has not been done and in order to get a match started, invite the two Captains to agree to only one. When there is only one Umpire there will normally be a Referee but he too on occasion may be dispensed with.
  3. Professional Umpires. The Chief Umpire will appoint Professional Umpires to officiate at matches as laid down but he must inform the Tournament Committee of his choice. In the event of any disagreement, his decision is final.
  4. Consultation. The decision of the Umpires shall be final, except where they disagree, in which case they should consult the Referee whose decision shall be final. The Referee must discuss the conduct of the game with the umpires at half time.
  5. Foul. A foul is defined as any infringement of the Rules of Play. Should a foul be committed, the umpires will blow the whistle to stop play except when applying the Advantage Rule (Rule 6h below).
  6. No Foul. If the Referee is unable to see a foul or adjudicate on a foul from his position, then he must rule 'No foul'.
  7. Selection of Penalty. The Umpires have discretion as to which penalty to award. If they disagree, they should refer to the Referee who will make the decision.
  8. Advantage Rule. The Umpires may allow play to continue if in their opinion the side fouled would be clearly disadvantaged by stopping the game and awarding a penalty. They should however use this rule with discretion as often the side fouled would prefer the penalty and serious or dangerous fouls should not go unpunished.
  9. Incident not in Rules: Umpires' Discretion. Should any incident or question not provided for in these rules or in the Supplementary Rules of the Polo Association concerned arise in a game, such incident or question shall be decided by the umpires. If the Umpires disagree, they must consult the Referee whose decision shall be final.
  10. Dress. Umpires must wear a shirt or jacket with distinctive black and white vertical lines with clean white breeches or jeans and polished brown boots. They must wear a hard hat with a chin strap properly fastened and correctly positioned when mounted. The host club will normally provide an umpire shirt, whistle, pick up stick and ball bag (already on the umpire pony) for each umpire.

7. Goal judges (See also Annex B)

  1. Requirements. A goal judge shall be appointed for each goal. On occasion, two may be used at each goal. Each shall give testimony to the umpire at the latter's request as to the goals scored or other points of the game near the goal, but the umpire shall make all final decisions.
  2. Goal Scored. When a goal is scored (see Rule 17), the goal judge should wave his flag vigorously above his head to signify that a goal has been scored.
  3. Ball Crosses Back Line. When the ball crosses the back line wide of the goal, the goal judge should signal by holding up a ball above his head, and then quickly place a ball on level ground one foot within the field of play where it crossed the line except that it must not be nearer than 4 yards from the goal posts or sideboards.
  4. Instructions. Goal judges must be properly briefed, in particular :
    1. To wear distinctive clothing such as white coats and protective riding or cricket hard hats, but not cycle helmets.
    2. To remain behind a white line, which must be drawn 20 yards behind each goal, until the ball is out and the ponies have slowed down.
    3. To keep all impedimenta, eg chairs, ball boxes, spare goal posts, at least 30 yards behind goal posts. Other items such as bicycles should be placed well away from the ground so that they are not a danger to players or loose horses.
  5. Back to Back Goals. Goal judges should not be used when there is play on two grounds with back to back goals.

8. Timekeepers and scorers (See also Annex B)

A Timekeeper/Scorer (referred to hereafter as "the Timekeeper") shall be employed in all matches with an Assistant Scorer who shall man the scoreboard. The Timekeeper shall be conversant with Rules 14 - 17 which govern his responsibility.

9. Medical cover

Clubs must ensure that at all matches listed in the Blue Book as "Fixtures Played Under HPA Official Tournament Conditions", there will be present 2 people with First Aid qualifications. Clubs should inform their local ambulance service in advance that the match is taking place and ensure that the correct telephone number is readily available. A First Aid qualification means having completed and passed a British Red Cross "Basic First Aid Course (Module 7)" or a St. John Ambulance "Emergency Aid for Appointed Persons Course" or an equivalent qualification, and completed such post-training refresher courses as are required to maintain a current certificate. Should the Umpire require medical assistance for an injured player, he should signal by waving his stick above his head.

10. Veterinary cover

Clubs should establish an arrangement with the local veterinary practices. For all polo matches a veterinary surgeon should either be present or on immediate call. A lorry or trailer equipped with screens and a winch must be positioned ready for use on the edge of the ground.

GAME FACILITIES AND EQUIPMENT

11. The ground

  1. Ground. The ground shall be a prepared surface to include the field of play and the safety zone (See also Annex A).
  2. Field of Play. A full size field of play shall be 300 yards (275 meters) in length (goal posts to goal posts) by 200 yards (180 meters) in width if unboarded; and by 160 yards (140 meters) if boarded. The minimum length shall be 250 yards (230 meters).
  3. Goal Posts. The goal posts shall be 8 yards (7.3 meters) apart (inside measurement) and able to be widened to 16 yards (14.6 meters) to decide a tie (Rule 16) and centred at each end of the field. The goal posts shall be at least 10 feet (3 meters) high, and light enough to give way if collided with.
  4. Boards. The boards shall not exceed 11 inches (28 centimetres) in height. They may be curved at the ends.
  5. Safety Zone. The Safety Zone is recommended to extend at least 10 yards beyond the sidelines/boards and at least 30 yards beyond the back line. Clubs should ensure in any case that the safety zone behind the goals is of sufficient length and texture so that a player going through the goal at speed can stop with safety. Any incident of the game which occurs in the safety zone shall be treated as though it occurred on the field of play.

12. The ball

The size of the ball shall be 3 to 3.5 inches (76 to 89 millimetres) in diameter; the weight of the ball shall be within the limits of 4.25 to 4.75 ounces (120 to 135 grams).

13. Access during play

  1. Field of Play. No person is allowed on the field of play during play for any purpose whatsoever, except the players and umpires. If play has been halted, no person may come onto the ground to assist except as authorized by the umpires.
  2. Safety Zone. During play, the safety zone is restricted to the players, umpires and goal judges except that:
    1. A stick holder may enter the safety zone but not the field of play to hand over a stick to a player.
    2. A pony may be ridden back to the pony lines providing it is safe to do so.
    3. Ponies may be stationed and changed at the side (but not in the safety zone) providing there are no spectators in the area or at the ends of the ground in the corners of the safety zone. The area in which ponies are to be changed must be fair to both sides and be agreed between the umpires and the Polo Manager or Tournament Committee. The umpires must help to police it.
  3. Player Sent Off. Any player sent off must return to the pony lines.

DURATION OF GAMES AND CHUKKAS, WINNING OF GAMES, SCORING GOALS

14. Duration of play

  1. Match. A match may be played over 4, 5 or 6 chukkas as stated in the Tournament Conditions.
  2. Unfinished Match. Once a match has started it shall be played to a finish unless stopped by the umpires for some unavoidable cause, such as darkness or the weather, in which case it shall be resumed at the point at which it has stopped (score, chukka and position of the ball) at the earliest convenient time, to be decided upon by the Tournament Committee. (See also Annex F, Rules for League Matches, paragraph 6).
  3. Chukka. Chukkas are normally 71/2 minutes playing time with the exception of the last which will end on the bell after 7 minutes unless teams are tied and the Tournament Conditions require a result. (See also Rule 15).
  4. Intervals. In all matches there shall be a half-time interval of 5 minutes. For 5 chukka matches, this should be taken after the third chukka. All other intervals shall be of 3 minutes except 5 minutes shall be allowed if extra time is to be played or goals widened. A bell or hooter should be rung at the end of these intervals as a signal to the teams that the umpires are about to restart play.
  5. Continuous Play. Play should be continuous except for the specified intervals and when an umpire blows the whistle for whatever reason. The game will not be stopped for changing ponies during play unless a pony is injured (see Rule 29).
  6. Unnecessary Delay. No player or team may cause unnecessary delay either at the beginning or during a game.
  7. Stopping Play. The game will be stopped by the umpires blowing one firm blast of the whistle. The clock is stopped and the ball is then dead until either the ball is hit or hit at if a penalty is awarded, or the ball is thrown in.

15. Termination of play

  1. The Bell. Where the bell or hooter ends play, play will stop immediately on the first sound, irrespective of where the ball may be and even if the Umpires fail to hear the bell or confuse the second with the first.
  2. Normal Chukka. In a normal chukka, the first bell or hooter will be sounded after 7 minutes and play will continue until either a goal is scored or awarded, the ball goes out of play or hits the boards, the Umpire blows his whistle, or the second bell is rung after a further 30 seconds. Any penalty awarded after the first bell shall be taken at the beginning of the next chukka.
  3. Last Chukka. In the last chukka play shall end at 7 minutes on the first bell except as below.
  4. Last Chukka - Teams Tied. When the scores are tied and the Tournament Conditions require a result, play will continue until either a goal is scored or awarded, the ball goes out of play or hits the boards, or the second bell is rung after a further 30 seconds. If no goal is scored, extra time will be played.
  5. Five Second Rule. If a penalty is awarded in the last chukka of a match, it shall be taken in the chukka. If it has been awarded within the last 5 seconds of either the 7 minutes or the extra 30 seconds, the Timekeeper must allow a further 5 seconds of play from the time the ball is hit or hit at. The bell will be rung if a goal is scored or when 5 seconds have elapsed unless another penalty is awarded in which case the process is repeated. If the whistle is blown and no penalty is awarded, then play shall continue for the time remaining before the whistle was blown.
  6. Foul on The Bell. If the bell rings for the end of the chukka or match just after a foul has been committed but before the Umpire has had time to blow his whistle, then the penalty must be taken in accordance with the above if the foul is confirmed.

16. Extra time with or without widened goals

After an interval of five minutes an extra chukka shall be played in which the team that scores or is awarded the first goal wins the match (sudden death). The first chukka of extra time may be started with either:

  1. normal goals at the spot from where the previous chukka ended; ends are not changed; or with
  2. widened goals if the Tournament Conditions so state or team Captains agree to save ponies and time. The first chukka with widened goals will be started with a throw in from the centre, ends having been changed but see Rule 19c.In any event, goals will be widened for the second chukka of extra time.

17. Winning: scoring goals

  1. To Win. The side that scores the most goals, including goals awarded on handicap and by penalties, wins the match.
  2. To Score. A goal is scored from play when the ball passes between the goal posts or the imaginary vertical lines produced by the inner surfaces of the goal posts and across and clear of the goal line. A ball on the line is still in play. A ball hit directly over the top of either goal post shall not count as a goal because it does not pass between their inner vertical lines. If a ball splits, see Rule 30.
  3. Disputed Goals.
    1. If the two Umpires are unable to decide as to whether a goal was scored or not, having consulted the goal judge, they must give the benefit of the doubt to the defending team without consulting the Referee.
    2. If it is considered that an error has been made in the recording of a goal, this may be brought to the attention of the Umpires during the match but once the match has ended, there shall be no redress as to the score
  4. Whistle Blown as Goal Scored. If a whistle is blown for a foul at approximately the same time as a goal is scored:
    1. The goal will be disallowed and a penalty awarded to the defending side if it is decided that the attacking side have committed a foul.
    2. The goal will be allowed if it is decided that the attacking side have not committed a foul or the foul was blown against the defending side, whether or not the foul is confirmed.

COMMENCEMENT, INTERRUPTION AND RESUMPTION OF PLAY

18. Start of game

At the beginning of the game the two teams shall line up in the middle of the ground, each team being on its own side of the half-way line. After calling for ends, the umpires should ask the team captains if they are happy with the score posted on the scoreboard (see Rule 1h for handicap calculation). After the ball has been thrown in there can be no redress even if the Umpires have failed to carry out this duty. The Umpire shall bowl the ball underhand and hard between the opposing ranks of players, from a distance of not less than five yards, the players remaining stationary until the ball has left his hand. (See also Annex B Notes for Umpires - Preparation).

19. CHANGING OF ENDS

  1. After Goal Scored. Except in the case of a goal awarded from a Penalty 1, ends shall be changed after every goal and the game re-started from the middle of the ground with a throw in. The players shall be allowed a reasonable time in which to reach the middle of the ground at a canter and take up their positions. However, no team should be disadvantaged by delaying tactics of the opposition. If this should happen, then the whistle should be blown and the clock restarted when the ball is thrown in.
  2. No Score at Half-Time. Ends shall also be changed if a goal has not been scored by half-time, and play shall be re-started at a corresponding position in the other half of the ground
  3. Score Level: Widened Goals. If the score is levelled at the very end of a match and the bell is rung before the ball has been thrown in, and the next chukka is due to begin with widened goals (Rule 16), then ends shall be changed once only.

20. Wrong line up

  1. By Teams. If the Umpires inadvertently allow the teams to line up the wrong way at any time there is no redress. However, if at the end of the chukka no goal has been scored, ends shall be changed and the game restarted with a throw in or hit from a corresponding position in the other half of the ground.
  2. By Player. If a player is on the wrong side of the line up, he may not make a play until he is behind a member of his own team.

21. Attacker hits behind - hit in

  1. Ball Hit Out. The ball must go over and be clear of the back line to be out.
  2. Hit In. When the ball is hit behind the back line by the attacking side, it shall be hit in, once the umpire has called "Play', by a defending player from the spot where it crossed the line, but at least four yards from the goal posts or boards. The striker may not circle once 'Play' has been called. The umpire shall give the attacking side reasonable time to get into position before calling 'Play'. The ball is in play the moment that it has been hit or hit at if missed (see also Rule32a(iii)). None of the attacking side shall be behind the striker nor within 30 yards of the back line until the ball is hit or hit at; the defenders being free to place themselves where they choose.
  3. Foul. If the whistle is blown for a foul at approximately the same time as the ball is hit behind the back line by an attacker and the foul is over-ruled, the ball shall be hit in.
  4. Hitting Before 'Play' is Called. If the player hitting in, hits or hits at the ball before "Play' is called the umpire shall blow his whistle and allow the hit to be taken again. For persistent or deliberate breach of this Rule, he may respond as in Rule 21e below.
  5. Delay by Defending Side. In the event of unnecessary delay by the defending side hitting in, the umpire shall call on the defending side to hit in at once. If the umpire's request is not complied with, he shall blow his whistle and award a Penalty 6.
  6. Delay by Attacking Side. In the event of unnecessary delay by the attacking side, the hit in shall be moved up to the 30 yard line.

22. Defender hits behind - penalty 6 (safety 60)

  1. Defender Hits Behind. If one of the defending side hits the ball over his back line either directly or off his own pony, or after glancing off the boards or goal posts, Penalty 6 shall be awarded. However, if the ball strikes any other player or pony, or the umpire, before going behind, it shall be a hit in.
  2. Foul. If the whistle is blown for a foul at approximately the same time as the ball is hit behind the back line by a defender as above and the foul is over-ruled, a Penalty 6 shall be awarded.

23. Ball hit over side line

The ball must go over and clear of the sidelines or boards to be out. When the ball is hit over the side line or boards, the Umpire will throw in the ball in accordance with Rule 24 with his pony just inside the boards or line where it went out. A reasonable time must be allowed for players to line up.

24. Restarting when the ball was not out: throw in

If for any reason the game has to be stopped by an Umpire without the ball going out of play or a penalty being awarded, it shall be re-started in the following manner.

  1. The umpire shall stand at the spot where the ball was when the incident occurred, facing the nearer side of the field of play, but not nearer the boards or side line than 20 yards.
  2. Both teams shall take up their positions, each team being on its own side of an imaginary line, parallel to the goal lines and extending through the umpire to the sides of the grounds. No player may stand within 5 yards of the umpire.
  3. The umpire shall bowl the ball underhand and hard, between the opposing ranks of players, towards the nearer side of the ground, the players remaining stationary until the ball has left his hand.

25. Restarting after interval

On play being resumed after an interval, the ball shall be thrown in or a hit taken as if there had been no interval. If the ball hits the boards without going over them it shall be treated as though it had been hit over them. If the ball is close to the boards or side line, the throw in must still be towards the boards but from 20 yards within the field of play. The Umpire must not wait for players who are late.

26. Play stopped for players equipment

  1. If a player loses his headgear the Umpire shall stop the game to enable him to recover it, but not until an opportunity occurs that neither side is favoured thereby.
  2. If any player infringes Rule 2h (Players' Equipment), the player shall be sent off the ground by the umpires and may not re-enter play until the offence has been rectified. Play shall be started or restarted as soon as the player has left the ground.

27. Play stopped for accident or injury to player

  1. Player Falls Off. If a player falls off his pony, the umpires shall not stop the game, until the ball is in a neutral position, unless he is of the opinion that the player is injured or is liable to be injured. What constitutes a fall is left to the decision of the Umpire. The Umpire shall re-start the game with a throw in directly the player concerned is ready to resume play and shall not wait for any other player.
  2. Player Injured.
    1. If a player is injured, the umpires shall stop the game immediately and signal for medical assistance by waving the pick-up stick above their head. A period not exceeding 15 minutes shall be allowed for the recovery of the injured player. If he is unfit to continue, the game shall be restarted as soon as possible with a substitute. If, however, the injured player subsequently recovers he may replace his substitute but the handicap of the higher handicapped player will stand.
    2. If a player be disabled by a foul, and a qualified player cannot be found to substitute (see Rule 3c), the Umpires, in consultation with the Referee, may decide to remove a player from the team that has fouled. The player removed shall be the one whose handicap is nearest above the disabled player. If the disabled player is equal to or higher than that of any of his opponents, the captain of the team fouled will designate the one to retire. The game shall continue and no change in handicap shall be made: if the team that has fouled refuses to continue, it shall forfeit the game.
  3. Concussion. In the event of a player being or seeming to be concussed the Umpires, or if no Umpires are present the senior player on the ground, will stop the game and arrange for the player to see a doctor as soon as possible. The player will not be permitted to play again for a minimum of one week without a doctors certificate of fitness. If no doctor is present when the accident occurred it will be the sole responsibility of the Umpires or the senior player present to decide if the player was actually concussed.

28. Play stopped for dangerous or broken tack, pony condition and equipment

  1. Play Continues. Unless considered by the Umpires to constitute a danger, the game should not be stopped for lost or broken tack such as a martingale, stirrup leather, iron, curb chain, or lost bandages or boots.
  2. Play Stopped. The game shall be stopped immediately in the following circumstances:
    1. If tack presents a danger to any player or pony such as a broken girth or broken martingale if the end trails on the ground, broken rein if single, broken or loose bit, or loose bandages or boots.
    2. If any pony infringes Rule 4c,4d or 4e.
The pony shall be sent off the ground by the umpires and may not re-enter play unless the offence can and has been rectified. Play shall be started or restarted as soon as the player has left the ground. The player may return on another pony.

29. Play stopped for accident or injury to pony

The Umpires have a responsibility for the welfare of the ponies and if a pony goes lame, is injured or falls within the ground, the Umpire shall stop the game immediately. Additionally:

  1. If a pony throws a shoe and if requested by a player, the umpires shall hold up the game when it is next stopped to allow a player to change his pony.
  2. If a pony falls (a pony is judged to have fallen if its shoulder touches the ground) the Umpire should ensure that it is trotted up sound and fit to play before the player remounts.
  3. If a pony is not sound, it is the Umpire's responsibility in the absence of a vet, to see that the pony is taken off the ground in the most humane way possible.
  4. If a pony is seriously injured, the Umpires must ensure that the pony is shielded by the players until it can be moved from the ground.
The Umpire shall re-start the game with a throw in directly the player concerned is ready to resume play and shall not wait for any other player who may not be present.

30. Trodden in or split ball

  1. Trodden In. If the ball is trodden into the ground, the Umpires shall stop play, remove the ball and re-start with a throw in (Rule 24).
  2. Split. If the ball splits, the Umpire should stop play:
    1. Immediately if in equal parts.
    2. When play is in a neutral position if the larger part can still be played.
The umpires will award a goal if it is clear that the larger part of the ball has gone through the goal.

31. Carrying the ball

A player may not catch, kick or hit the ball with anything but his stick. He may block with any part of his body but not with an open hand. He may not carry the ball intentionally. If the ball becomes lodged against a player, his pony or its equipment, in such a way that it cannot be dropped immediately, the Umpire shall blow his whistle and restart the game with a throw in (Rule 24) at the point where it was first carried.

LINE OF THE BALL, RIGHT OF WAY, CROSSING, CHECKING AND BLOCKING

32. Line of the ball and right of way

  1. Line of the Ball.
    1. When the ball is struck or thrown in, the path along which it travelled to a stop or is travelling, and its extended path, is known as the line of the ball.
    2. The line does not change if the ball deviates from its original course unexpectedly and for a short distance, for example, if a ball hits a pony or divot.
    3. If a player hits at and misses a dead (out of play) ball the line is taken as that which the player was riding.
  2. Right of Way.
    1. At each moment of the game, there shall exist as between any two or more players in the proximity of the ball a priority referred to as The Right of Way. This shall be considered to extend ahead of the player who has established himself on it, and in the direction in which that player is riding. The Right of Way is not identical to and must not be confused with the line of the ball, and does not depend on who last hit the ball.
    2. The Right of Way can change to another player who establishes himself safely for a play that gives him precedence.
    3. If the line of the ball changes and as a result the Right of Way changes, a player must be granted the necessary time to clear the new Right of Way but he must do so in the quickest and least obstructive way without making a play on the ball. In this case, it is not a play if a pony kicks the ball.

33. Crossing

Once a player has established himself on the Right of Way, no player shall enter or cross that Right of Way except at such a distance that not the slightest risk of collision or danger to any player is involved.

  1. Two opposing players on the exact line of the ball, making a play on one another, either following or meeting the ball have the Right of Way over all other players (two against one).
  2. A player following the ball on its exact line and taking it on his off side has the Right of Way over all other players except as in Rule 33a.
  3. A player meeting the ball on its exact line and taking it on his off side has the Right of Way over all other players except as in Rule 33a.
  4. When two or more players ride in the general direction of the ball, the player that has precedence, and consequently the Right of Way, is the one whose approach to the ball is at the smallest angle to the line of the ball. In the case of equal angles, the player that has the line of the ball on his off side has the Right of Way.
  5. Two players riding in opposite directions to meet the ball on its exact line to take it on their respective off sides have equal priority.
  6. Any player riding at an angle to the line of the ball but in the direction that it is travelling has the Right of Way over any other player riding also at an angle but in the opposite direction. Both players must keep the line of the ball on their off side.
  7. If a player enters the Right of Way of an opposing player safely with the ball ahead of him, the opposing player must not ride into him from behind, but must take the ball on the near side, providing that he does not endanger in any way another player who would have been clear.
  8. If a player hits the ball forward and past an opposing player who is on the same line and travelling at the same speed, the opposing player has the right to play the ball as long as he does not cross. The player hitting the ball forward must cross to take the ball on the near side, providing that he does not endanger in any way another player who would have been clear.
  9. A player may surrender his Right of Way if, having hit the ball, he deviates from its exact line.

34. Checking and blocking

Checking is a deliberate and sudden reduction in speed.
Blocking is impeding the legitimate path of another player.

  1. A player may not check on the Right of Way of another player if by so doing he runs the slightest risk of collision with that player.
  2. A player in possession of the ball with an unimpeded Right of Way but with an opponent in a position to attempt a defensive play must continue to move the ball. Should the player walk or stop, the umpire shall award a Penalty 7.
  3. A player who enters the projected Right of Way safely, at the same speed or faster than a player in possession, but then reduces speed, thus blocking the player in possession should be penalised for blocking.
  4. A player attempting to ride off an opponent who checks on the line of the ball to avoid the ride off, thereby causing the player to cross, shall not be penalized if the umpires consider that his opponent on checking gave up the Right of Way.

RIDING OFF, DANGEROUS RIDING, INTIMIDATION, HOOKING, MISUSE OF WHIP, SPURS AND STICK, ROUGH OR ABUSIVE PLAY

35. Riding off, dangerous riding and intimidation

A player may not ride in a manner which creates danger to another pony, player or official or which places the welfare of his own pony at undue risk. For a ride off to be legitimate, a player must be travelling at a similar speed to his opponent and shoulder to shoulder. In particular a player may not:

  1. Ride off at too great an angle.
  2. Ride off at a speed that is not compatible with the speed of the opponent.
  3. Ride into an opponent behind the saddle.
  4. Ride an opponent across or into the Right of Way of another player at an unsafe distance.
  5. Ride off an opponent who is already being ridden off by another member of the team (sandwiching). However, it is not a foul for a player to hook an opponent's stick whilst the opponent is being ridden-off by a team mate of the player hooking.
  6. Continue to ride off another player over the goal line, thereby endangering a goal judge.
  7. Ride his mount up into the backhand stroke of another player from behind.
  8. Ride his mount up the line of the ball from behind and into the stroke of an opponent making a full forehand shot.
  9. Use his pony to spoil a shot by riding over the ball and into an opposing player who has already started the downward swing of a full shot.
  10. Zigzag in front of another player in such a way as to cause the latter either to have to check his pace or risk a fall.
  11. Pull across or over a pony's legs either in front or behind in such a manner as to risk tripping either pony.
  12. Ride at an opponent in such a manner as to intimidate, causing him to pull out or miss his stroke.

36. Hooking and misuse of the stick

  1. Hooking. For a player to make a legitimate hook, the following conditions must apply:
    1. He is on the same side of his opponent's pony as the ball, or in a direct line behind, and his stick is neither over or under the body or across the legs of an opponent's pony.
    2. All of his opponent's stick is below shoulder level.
    3. His opponent is in the act of striking the ball.
  2. Misuse. A player may not hold his stick in such a way as to interfere with another player or his pony or use his stick in a manner which creates danger to another pony or player such as:
    1. Reaching over and across or under and across any part of an opponent's pony to strike at the ball.
    2. Hitting into or amongst the legs of an opponent's pony. A player who is holding the ball through dribbling should be penalised if he is judged to have created the danger by then playing a full shot.
    3. Taking a full swing at the ball from the throw in or in a melee in such a way as to endanger other players or ponies.
    4. Taking a full swing under a pony's neck in such a way as to endanger another player or pony riding alongside.
    5. "Windmilling" or "helicoptering" his stick either as an appeal or in celebration of scoring a goal.
    6. Dropping the head of the stick on the pony's rump.

37. Rough or abusive behaviour

A player may not:
  1. Use his whip other than in exceptional circumstances before the ball is thrown in for the start of play. For this offence the umpires should award as a minimum a Penalty 5 (b)
  2. Use his whip or spurs unnecessarily or in excess at any time.
  3. Intentionally strike his own pony with his stick at any time
  4. Intentionally strike another player or another player's pony with his stick, whip or fist.
  5. Abuse verbally with foul language or otherwise any player, official, groom or spectator in such a way as to bring the game of polo into disrepute.
  6. Seize with the hand, strike or push with the head, hand, arm, or elbow another player but a player may push with the arm above the elbow, provided the elbow is kept close to the side.
  7. Knowingly strike the ball when it is off the field of play or after the whistle has been blown. If a hit is made after the whistle for a foul, the umpires should increase the severity of the penalty if the hit is by a member of the fouling team, or cancel the penalty or decrease its severity if the hit is by a member of the team fouled.

PENALTIES

38. Personal fouls and technical penalties

No player shall appeal in any manner to the umpires for fouls, nor may they discuss or dispute a decision with the umpires during the game, except that the captain has the sole right to ask for clarification on a decision. Personal fouls are those involving unsportsmanlike conduct such as disrespect towards the officials, arguing with the umpires (this may include the occasion when the captain continues to dispute a decision after the Umpires have, in their opinion, answered his query) or other officials, foul or abusive language, appealing for fouls verbally or with a stick. Warnings should not be given. For such personal fouls, technical penalties shall be awarded progressively as follows:-

  1. A penalty for first offence or a more severe penalty if a penalty has already been awarded for a foul. If a Penalty 2 has already been awarded and a defending player offends, then the penalty will be taken as normal but, if missed, will be taken again. If successful on the first attempt then play will be restarted with a penalty 5(b) (hit from the centre).
  2. A Penalty 10(a) (player sent off for the rest of the chukka) or Penalty 10(b) (player sent off for the rest of the match) should be awarded for a further offence.

39. Taking of penalties

  1. Ball In Play. The ball is in play the moment it has been hit or hit at and missed (see also Rule32a(iii)).
  2. Team Taking the Penalty. The team taking the penalty or hit (the attacking team) must:
    1. Not Tee up the Ball. Making a tee is not allowed: one player only may position the ball, provided he takes no longer than five seconds. The ball may only be repositioned once and not after 'Play' has been called.
    2. Not Circle. Once the Umpire has called 'Play', the striker must immediately start to take the hit. The ball must be hit at on the first approach without any circling at the beginning of or during the run up.
    3. Not Cause Unnecessary Delay.
    4. Not Strike the Ball a Second Time with a Full Shot. When taking a penalty on or within the 60 yard line, the striker and his team members, after the initial hit or hit at the ball, may not subsequently hit or hit at the ball with more than a half shot until the ball has been hit or hit at by an opponent or in such a way that the umpires consider dangerous. A half shot is defined as the head of the stick starting the downward swing below the shoulder of the striker.
  3. Infringement by Team Taking the Penalty. If the team taking the penalty infringe the rules, the umpires will normally award a Penalty 7 except for infringement as in Rule 39b(iv) when a Penalty 5a will be awarded from the spot where the offence occurred. If the rules pertaining to Penalty 2 or 3 are infringed other than in Rule 39b(iv), then the defending team shall be awarded a hit from the middle of their own goal.
  4. Infringement by Team Facing the Penalty. If the team facing the penalty (the defending team) infringe the rules whilst the penalty is being hit, then another hit will be taken unless a goal has been scored or awarded. In the case of a Penalty 2 or 3, if a member of the defending team comes out between the goal posts or crosses the back line before the ball is hit and stops the ball, and in the opinion of the umpires a goal would have been scored, then the goal will be awarded. If, however, the umpires consider that a goal would not have been scored, then the hit will be retaken. If the player who stopped the ball did not infringe the rules but another member of his team did, another hit will be awarded

40. Specific penalties

Penalty 1 - Penalty Goal

If, in the opinion of the Umpire, a player commits a dangerous or deliberate foul in the vicinity of goal in order to save a goal, the team fouled shall be allowed one goal. The game shall be restarted at a spot ten yards from the middle of the goal of the team that has fouled (defending team) with a throw in. Ends shall not be changed.
Penalty 2 - 30 Yard Hit
The umpires will give the captain of the team fouled (team that is taking the penalty) the choice between: Either: a free hit from the spot where the foul occurred; none of the defending team to be within 30 yards of the ball, nor come out from between the goal posts. Or: a free hit from a spot 30 yards from the goal line of the team that has fouled, opposite the middle of the goal. All the defending team to be behind their back line until the ball is hit or hit at, but not between the goal posts, nor when the ball is brought into play may any of the defending team ride out from between the goal posts. The team taking the penalty to be behind the ball at the moment it is hit or hit at.(See Note 1)
Penalty 3 - 40 Yard Hit
A free hit from a spot 40 yards from the goal line of the team that has fouled opposite the middle of the goal. All the defending team to be behind their back line until the ball is hit or hit at, but not between the goal posts, nor when the ball is brought into play may any of the defending team ride out from between the goal posts. The team taking the penalty to be behind the ball at the moment it is hit or hit at.(See Note 1)
Penalty 4 - 60 Yard Hit
A free hit at the ball from a spot 60 yards from the goal line of the team that has fouled opposite the middle of the goal. All the defending team to be behind the 30 yard line. The team taking the penalty shall be free to place themselves where they choose.
Penalty 5(a) - Free Hit from the Spot
A free hit at the ball from the spot where the foul took place, but not nearer the boards or side lines than four yards. None of the defending team to be within 30 yards of the ball, nor behind the ball. (See Note 1) The team taking the penalty shall be free to place themselves where they choose.
Penalty 5(b) - Free Hit from the Centre
A free hit at the ball from the centre of the ground. None of the defending team to be within 30 yards of the ball, nor behind the ball. (See Note 1) The team taking the penalty shall be free to place themselves where they choose.
Penalty 6 - 60 Yard Hit (Opposite where ball crossed the back line - Safety 60)
A free hit at the ball from a spot 60 yards distant from the back line, opposite where the ball crossed it, but not nearer the boards or side lines than four yards. All the defending team to be behind the 30 yard line. The team taking the penalty shall be free to place themselves where they choose.
Penalty 7 - Throw In
A throw in in accordance with Rule 24 from the point where the foul occurred.
Penalty 10(a) - Player Sent Off For The Rest Of The Chukka
The Umpires may send off a player for the rest of the chukka in progress in addition to any other penalty (see Note 2). If Penalty 10(a) is awarded, a report form must be submitted by the umpires.
Penalty 10(b) - Player Sent Off For The Rest Of The Match
The umpires may send off a player for the rest of the match, in addition to any other penalty (see Note 2). If Penalty 10(b) is awarded, a report form must be submitted by the umpires.
Note 1: Behind the ball is interpretated as being behind a line parallel to the back line and running through the point where the ball has been placed.

Note 2: Umpires must agree that a player should be sent off. If not in agreement, the Referee must be asked to decide. The side to which the sent off player belonged shall continue with three players only.

ANNEX A - SUGGESTED LAYOUT OF A POLO GROUND

grassrules

Length: 300 yards maximum, 250 yards minimum.
Width: 200 yards maximum unboarded, 160 yards maximum boarded.
Safety Zone: At sides about 10 yards, at ends about 30 yards.
Markings: Broken lines or full marking may be used across the grounds. Marks on the boards or flags (clear of the safety zone) are useful as a guide to the umpires. A line of tees clear of the centre spot should be marked on the centre line. A double tee as shown will help keep teams apart at the throw in.
Boards: Boards keep the ball in play, allow the ground to be narrowed and spread the game more evenly across the field. They should not exceed 11 inches in height and be of treated timber at least one inch thick. A metal peg should be inserted down the middle to secure them to the ground. They should be tongued and grooved at the ends or joined by a metal plate. A board should be easily replaceable during a match if damaged. A triangular arris rail (4x2in) may be fitted at the base of the board to deflect the ball back into play. Boards may be curved from the 30 yard line to15 yards into the back line.

ANNEX B - NOTES FOR OFFICIALS

GENERAL

These notes are included in order to explain some of the tasks of referees, umpires and other officials. They are also designed to clarify and elaborate on some of the Rules of Polo and the penalties to be taken subsequent upon the infringement of these rules. The notes do not attempt to interpret all the incidents of play which are covered in the rules. They are not comprehensive and where there is apparent confliction the Rules of Polo take precedence.

The referee

The Rules shall be administered by a referee and two mounted Umpires as laid down in Rule 6. The Referee has a very responsible position and he should have considerable polo experience at least to the level of the match which he is refereeing. He must be in an elevated and isolated position at the centre of the ground from which he can best observe the play. He will be consulted if the two Umpires disagree as to the foul or as to what penalty to award. Thus he must concentrate throughout the game, as the decisions he will make will have a bearing on its outcome. He must avoid distractions such as talking to neighbours or using a mobile phone. If an Umpire appeals to the Referee, he will in the first instance raise a hand and if the Referee is satisfied that he saw and understood the play then he will confine his decision as to whether a foul occurred or not. If he considered that a foul did occur and it is obvious which side fouled, then he should raise one hand above his head and point with the other in the direction in which the hit is to be taken. If however he considers no foul occurred, or he could not see the incident because his sight was obscured, he should stand and make the wash out signal by moving his hands horizontally across his body.
If the Referee is in any doubt as to the nature of the foul or direction in which it should be given, he should make the come hither signal and move onto the ground. The Umpires should canter towards him for consultation. This should be kept as brief as possible and be carried on out of earshot of the players and spectators. Alternatively, the Umpires might wish to consult with the Referee in their own right in which case they should proceed as above.
On occasion the Umpires will agree that a foul has occurred but disagree as to the penalty to be awarded. They will then point to the two alternative spots (e.g. centre or sixty) and the Referee will point to the spot at which he considers the penalty should be taken.
The Referee must make his position known to the Umpires before a match and consult with them at half time highlighting any particular aspects of play which may have escaped their notice.
The Tournament Conditions may stipulate that there will be only one umpire in which case the Referee has to act as a second umpire to whom the mounted umpire can appeal for assistance. In certain cases the Referee too may be dispensed with.

The umpires

GENERAL
The authority of the Umpires should be absolute in all matters affecting the conduct of play immediately before, immediately after and during play. Polo is one of the hardest games to umpire due to the complexity of the Rules, the speed at which it is played and the need to make immediate decisions based on an assessment of speed, angle and distance. The good Umpire must therefore know the rules, concentrate on the play throughout and be consistent, clear and decisive in his judgements. In this way he will earn the respect of the players and make his task much easier. He should treat the players with fairness and understanding being ready to defuse any potentially explosive situation; he should be a dictator without being dictatorial. The Umpires should do all that they can to make a game flow and minimise delays but at the same time punish offences and maintain firm control. It is not in the gift of the team captains to agree time out except if agreed for friendly matches or if one or other team is on borrowed ponies.

SELECTION
There will normally be two umpires but the Tournament Committee may stipulate that there be only one umpire. They should select the umpires for a match with care. For preference, those who have an interest in the outcome of the match and those who have a relative playing should not be asked to umpire. The Committees should use discretion when selecting umpires avoiding as far as possible those who have a record of dissent from certain teams. There are never enough experienced Umpires to go round so a pairing with one less experienced is to be encouraged, not least to give the latter a chance to learn. A team captain may inform the Committee that his team is not happy with a certain umpire before the tournament but once the umpire has been appointed he may not appeal in any way against the appointment.

PREPARATION
An Umpire should arrive at the ground at least ten minutes before the match is due to start. He should be smart in appearance; dressed in white with boots and helmet. He must report to the club official in charge of umpires for his match and be issued with an umpire shirt, whistle and pick up stick. He should then check the pony which he has been allocated to ensure that it looks up to the job and that it is fully tacked for polo with ball bags (tails bandages are optional). It is extremely important that the umpires are well mounted on reliable and fit ponies. It is not sensible to allocate a green or unfit pony as the Umpire will not be able to carry out his duties effectively and the pony may be damaged. The Polo Manager will give the Umpires the go ahead when the teams are ready and all his officials, including medical and veterinary, are in place. He should also brief the Umpires if there is going to be a parade before the match. If so, it is advisable for the Umpires to have tossed up to decide ends before going onto the ground.

The Umpires should take the following action at this time:

  • Ride onto the ground at least two minutes before the scheduled start time of their match, with the teams if there is to be a parade.
  • Blow their whistles to check their efficiency and alert the teams.
  • Check on the teams' colours to ensure that there is sufficient contrast. The Polo Manager should have already done this but the Umpires have the ultimate say.
  • Check on the Referee and locate him.
  • Check on the location of the medical support.
  • Check that the Time-keeper and Scorer are alert.
  • Check the scoreboard to ensure any handicap difference has been correctly credited.
  • Decide on which side and back line each is to take. They may swap at half time if the sun is troublesome.
  • Call together the Captains of the two teams for the toss to decide on ends. The captain of the visiting team is normally asked to make the call. The Captains should also be asked at this time if they are happy with the score as posted. Once the ball has been thrown in there is no redress.
  • Be prepared to penalise any player who whips his pony before the ball has been thrown in.
  • The Umpires should now be ready to throw in the ball. Should however one Umpire be late the team captains on being asked by the Polo Manager, may agree for the game to be started with one umpire.

UMPIRE POSITIONING
The Umpires are a team and must work together. The more experienced Umpire of the pair must do all that he can to bring his partner with him and encourage him to make his own decisions. If the more experienced Umpire takes upon himself the decision as to a foul without consulting his partner he will undermine his position and allow the teams to drive a wedge between them. Umpires will inevitably disagree but they must be aware that too frequent reference to the Referee will delay the game unnecessarily and serve as above to undermine their authority.

Having agreed before the start which side and back line each should take, the Umpires should try to complement each other in order to cover the whole ground, similar to partners in a doubles tennis match. The correct position should be one Umpire tailing the play on the line of the ball and the other level and parallel with the play. Not withstanding an Umpire's position on the ground, he must not hesitate to blow his whistle if he sees a foul as his partner may have been unsighted or be in the act of turning. It is above all imperative that the umpires keep up with the game to make the correct decisions swiftly and to maintain control. However the umpires should try to keep out of the game keeping on a flank or behind as far as possible. Should the ball hit an umpires' pony, play will continue.

STOPPING THE PLAY
The whistle must be blown decisively and loudly with one long blast which will stop the play and the clock. The Umpire should have the whistle in his mouth or his hand ready for instant use. If the decision to blow is delayed the moment will have past and the foul may go unpunished or, if blown late, the call will cause confusion and loss of confidence.

The Umpires must remember that the Time-keeper acts on their whistle and unless blown loudly he may not hear it, particularly if there is a strong wind or background noise. In general terms the whistle should not be blown when the ball goes over the boards, back line when hit by an attacker or when a goal is scored. The Umpire, particularly if he is alone, may however blow the whistle to stop the clock after suitable elapsed time to allow himself to get into position for a throw-in.

Umpire A having blown his whistle should check quickly that Umpire B agrees with the foul and the proposed penalty. This should be done by pointing or other pre arranged signal. Discussion between the Umpires should only take place if there is disagreement so that delay is cut to a minimum. If they still cannot decide then they must refer to the Referee by raising a hand and cantering over towards him. This procedure can be short- circuited by Umpire B if he believes Umpire A has made a wrong call, by raising his hand to obtain a decision from the Referee. As an overall consideration nothing is more damaging to the authority of the Umpires and to the flow and enjoyment of the match than delays caused by excessive consultation between the Umpires and the Referee. Decisive, immediate and firm action is to be preferred to shilly-shallying and consultation which often results in no more than a throw-in.

Once they have agreed that one or other side has fouled then the Umpires must decide on the penalty to award. In doing so they must remember that the side defending the penalty, i.e. the side that has fouled, have the opportunity to regroup and get into the best position for defence. Thus the penalty should be made to count, being moved up the ground if the defending team have fouled and, at the very least, a hit from the spot if the attacking side fouled. Having agreed on the penalty to be awarded, Umpire A should announce 'Cross against Red, free hit from the spot' and without waiting canter to the spot where the foul occurred drop the ball and take up his position

Should the referee signal 'No Foul' then the umpire should throw in the ball at the spot where it was when the whistle was blown (Rule 24).

The Umpires should use the Advantage Rule (Rule 6h) with discretion as the side fouled would often prefer a penalty rather than to have play continue. It should never be invoked for a very dangerous or deliberate foul.

If a player is disabled by a foul, every effort should be made to find a qualified substitute. On occasion this may or may not be possible in which case the umpires, in consultation with the Referee, may decide to remove a player from the side that fouled. (See Rule 27b(ii))

APPEALING
Rule 38 states that 'No player shall appeal in any manner' This is probably the most frequently broken rule in the book and one in which Umpires must use a certain amount of discretion.

If a player sees an opponent about to commit a foul which may endanger him or his pony, his instinctive action is to raise his stick, and sometimes his voice as a warning; that is to say I am more interested in self preservation than hitting the ball and inter alia as a signal to the Umpires that he thinks a foul is about to be committed. The Umpires must be aware that appealing with a stick or verbally is a foul and thus under normal circumstances must be penalised. Any form of frantic waving of the stick in the air (helicoptering) must always be a foul as it constitutes a danger to other players and their ponies. The Captain of each team has the right during the game to ask the Umpires for clarification of a decision but this does not include the right to challenge the Umpires on that or any other decision they may make. Sometimes the Umpires can pre-empt a potentially explosive situation by calmly explaining why the foul was given. They should not under any circumstances, either during or after a game, enter into discussion with the captains or any other player as to their conduct during the game.

REPORT FORMS
The Umpires are required to fill in a Report Form (Rule 6a) for any irregularities or incidents of misconduct and submit the form to the Tournament Committee immediately after the game. The Tournament Committee will take such action as they consider necessary and forward the form to the Chief Umpire or HPA Welfare Officer as appropriate. The umpires are required to fill in a report form when implementing Penalty 10a and b or if a pony is seen to be blind in one eye or showing vice.

PONY WELFARE
Umpires are responsible for the welfare of the ponies during play in particular they must check the length and serviceability of whips, length and sharpness of spurs and studs. A pony showing signs of distress or with blood in its mouth or on its flanks must be sent off.

Throw-in

General
Umpire A, who is to throw-in the ball, must ensure that the teams are lined up on a T or equivalent with the nearest players at least five yards from him and with a distinct gap separating the two teams who must remain stationary. Umpire B will be about forty yards away at the back of the throw-in ready to move parallel and level with the play. The ball should be thrown-in hard and under hand so that it remains low to prevent players hitting wildly in the line-out. All rough and dangerous play should be penalised instantly. Umpire A will take up position as trailing Umpire.

Centre
Used when starting or restarting after a goal has been scored or the goal posts have been widened. Umpires should allow a reasonable time i.e. a canter, for the teams to return to the centre after a goal has been scored. Should the Umpires inadvertently allow the teams to line up the wrong way there is no redress but if by the end of the chukka no further goal has been scored, then ends should be changed and play started at a corresponding position in the other half of the ground.

Boards
Used when the ball is hit across the boards or sidelines. Umpire A stands with his pony inside the boards with the teams lined up at least 10 yards from the boards and separated until the ball is thrown in. Thereafter proceed as above.

Towards the Boards
Used to restart the game at any spot if a Penalty has been awarded, a foul has been overruled, the ball is buried or damaged, after an accident or incident which has caused play to be stopped, unnecessary delay in taking a penalty or as the second element of Penalty 1. Proceed as from the centre.

Hit in

Umpire A, on whose side the ball has been hit out over the back line, should be behind the ball but clear of the goal so that he can see the exact line and get a clear view of a opposing player coming in for a meet. He will become the trailing Umpire. When he is satisfied that both sides are in position, and no unnecessary delay has occurred, he should call 'Play'. Umpire B should be keeping an eye on the 30 yard line to see that the opposing side do not cross the line before the ball is hit or hit at. Umpire B is in the parallel position and should move up the ground level with the play. Should there be unnecessary delay by the side hitting in, a Penalty 6 shall be awarded. If the opposing side cause unnecessary delay then the hit in is moved up to the 30 yard line.

Penalties

General
There are ten specific penalties listed which Umpires will use to penalise players for breach of the Rules. They should know both the number and name of the penalties but in any event they must know the name. The majority of penalties in common use involve a hit by the side fouled but the Umpires may award a throw-in if a penalty is incorrectly taken, after the ordering off of a pony or player or sending off a player. Umpires must ensure that any penalty awarded is appropriate to the foul committed, taking into account the direction of play, severity, position on the ground at which it occurred and prevalence. They must be consistent in their award, showing equal disfavour to both sides within the above parameters. Rule 39 covers the correct taking of penalties. In brief, teeing up is not allowed and only one player may position the ball, provided he takes no longer than 5 seconds. If the ball rolls into a hole, it may be repositioned once but not after 'Play' has been called. Nor is the striker allowed to circle once the Umpire has called 'Play'. Failure to comply is penalised with a throw-in from the spot (Penalty 7) where the penalty was to have been taken. The ball is in play the minute it has been hit or hit at. When taking Penalties 2, 3, 4, 5(a) or 6 on or within the 60 yard line, the striker and his team members, after the initial hit or hit at the ball may not hit or hit at the ball with more than a half shot i.e. the head of the stick not starting above the shoulder of the striker. Failure to comply is to be penalised with a free hit from the spot (Penalty 5a).

Penalty 1 (Deliberate or Dangerous Foul to Save a Goal)
The Umpires, having awarded Penalty 1, shall instruct the goal judge to wave his flag to signify a goal. Umpire A will throw in the ball towards the side of the ground where the foul took place. Teams line up ten yards out from and opposite the centre of the goal.

Penalty 2 (Thirty Yard Hit or Hit from the Spot)
Umpire A must ask the Captain of the team fouled if he would like a hit from the spot where the foul took place or a hit from the 30 yard line opposite the centre of the goal. Umpire A then places the ball. Umpire B should meanwhile take up position on the back line or equivalent distance to the ball ensuring that the defending players are correctly positioned (i.e. 30 yards from the ball and not between the goal posts) and that no player crosses the back line or equivalent before the ball is hit or hit at or comes out through the goal. Umpire A should call 'Play' when he is happy that the stage has been set.

Penalty 3 (Forty Yard Hit)
Umpire A drops the ball on the cross at 40 yards from the goal and then proceed as for Penalty 2.

Penalty 4 (Sixty Yard Hit)
Umpire A drops the ball on the 60 yard line opposite the middle of the goal and takes up position behind the striker. Defending players to be behind the 30 yard line. Umpire B will be behind the right hand goal post as he looks out from the back line with the goal judge on the left post. The Umpires must watch the flight of the ball carefully as many disputes arise as to whether the ball went between the posts projected vertically upwards or not. In the event of dispute, their decision, not the goal judge's, is final but they should give the benefit of the doubt to the side defending. They should be on their guard to penalise a full shot after the initial hit (Rule 39b(iv).

Penalty 5a (Hit from the Spot)
Umpire A drops the ball where the foul took place. Umpire B positions himself down field to ensure that none of the defending side are closer than 30 yards to the ball or behind it. Penalty 5a can be awarded to the side fouled within the opponents 60 yard line (normally if the foul was near the boards and the goal was not immediately threatened but Rule 39b(iv) applies).

Penalty 5b (Hit from the Centre)
Umpire A places the ball on the centre line opposite the centre of the goal. Umpire B acts as in Penalty 5a.

Penalty 6 (Ball hit behind by Defender)
This penalty is awarded if a defender hits the ball over his own back line (Rule 22) either directly or off his own pony or after glancing off the boards or goal post. If however it strikes any other player or an umpire before going behind it is a hit in. A free hit is given on the 60 yard line opposite to where the ball crossed the back line but at least 4 yards from the boards. None of the defending side to be forward of the 30 yard line. The attacking side can be where they choose.

Penalty 7 (Throw-in)
The Umpire may award a Penalty 7 for the incorrect taking of a penalty from the spot where the penalty was due to be taken (Rule 39c). They may also award a Penalty 7 for unnecessary delay or for any other offence which would penalise too severely the team against whom it was awarded. However, for unnecessary delay by a side hitting in, a Penalty 6 should be awarded.

Penalty 10 (a) (Player Sent Off for Rest of the Chukka)
The Umpires may send off a player for the remainder of a chukka, in addition to any other penalty, for a foul or conduct prejudicial to the game (Rule 38). The player sent off must return immediately to the pony lines and the game continue with three players on the side penalised. Before they send off a player, the umpires must be in agreement. If not then the referee must decide. The umpires must make it clear to the player being sent off and his team captain whether they have awarded Penalty 10(a) or 10(b) particularly in the last chukka. The umpires must complete a report form at the end of the match and hand it to the Polo Manager of the host club.

Penalty 10 (b) (Player Sent Off for Rest of the Match)
The Umpires may send off a player for the remainder of the match for a similar but more serious offence than Penalty 10(a). The same restrictions will apply but in addition any substitution must comply with Rule 3c(v).

Explanation of some rules

Prolongation of Last Chukka in Event of a Tie (Rule 15).
The last chukka shall normally end, although the ball may be still in play, at the first stroke of the 7 minute bell. However if the scores are tied and the match is to be played to a result, then the chukka shall continue until the ball goes out of play or the second bell (7 1/2 minutes) is sounded. If still a tie then after an interval of 5 minutes, the match shall be continued until sudden death. Ends are not changed. If, however, goals are to be widened by agreement of the Captains, because the Tournament Rules require it or because the extra chukka has been scoreless, then ends are changed and the ball is thrown in from the centre. Play with widened goals must not start with a Penalty. Any such awarded will be played out in the previous chukka.

Prolongation in Case of Penalty Awarded (Rule 15e).
If the Umpires award a penalty within 5 seconds of the end of the match, whether in normal or extra time, they must ensure that the time-keeper is aware of their decision and he knows that 5 seconds of play must be allowed from the moment the penalty striker hits or hits at the ball. On occasion, another penalty can be awarded during the 5 seconds period, in which case the clock should be reset to allow a further 5 seconds of play and so on.

Line of Ball and Right of Way (Rules 32 and 33)
The Umpires must watch the play very closely so that they are certain of the line of the ball each time it has been hit and thus know which player has the Right of Way. The moment the line of the ball is changed they must know who is entitled to the new Right of Way and in what direction it lies. A player who was on the old Right of Way must be given sufficient room to pull up or turn otherwise a foul should be blown (Rule 32b (iii)). This Rule has become increasingly difficult to apply with the current form of play in which a player taps the ball to the side and follows round on the new line.

It is very important that Umpires understand the meaning of the Right of Way, which is set out in detail in Rule 32b. In general terms, it follows the line of the ball with the player parallel to it following down the exact line taking the ball on his off side having priority over all others. A player riding in the direction the ball is travelling at an angle to its line has the Right of Way over a player meeting the ball at an angle but two players riding to meet exactly on the line or lines projected have equal rights. The player who strikes the ball and then deviates from its line surrenders his right to the Right of Way. Two players when riding in the same direction of the line of the ball simultaneously making a play against each other, have the Right of Way over a single player coming from any direction (Two against One Rule). The Umpires, as well as establishing in their mind the Right of Way at every moment of the game, must also assess the relative speed and distance when a player crosses or enters the Right of Way. If there is no danger whatsoever and no requirement for the player already on the line to check, then no foul will have been committed.

Riding Off, Dangerous Riding and Intimidation (Rule 35)
At all times the Umpires must have the welfare of the players and their ponies uppermost in their mind. Thus Rule 35 contains a lot of examples of dangerous riding which could cause injury to player or pony. A player carrying out one of these actions must be immediately penalised. A player may ride off an opponent who is making a half shot providing he is parallel, level and travelling at approximately the same speed. Should the player ride into a full shot he is hazarding himself and his pony and should be penalised. Umpires have to be alert to police the rules of dangerous riding and if in doubt should penalise a player who is seen to endanger another player or pony.

Hooking and Misuse of Stick (Rule 36)
The Rule states that a player may only hook or strike at an opponent's stick when the opponent is in the act of striking the ball and his stick is below the level of the shoulder. Some examples of the dangerous use of the stick are:

  1. Taking a full swing at the ball from the throw in or in any scrimmage in such a way as to endanger another player.
  2. Striking hard into the legs of a group of ponies in the scrimmage.
  3. Striking the ball in the air so as to endanger other players.
  4. Taking a full swing under the neck in such a way as to endanger a player riding alongside.
  5. Striking an opponents stick in such a way as to cause injury.
Any player intentionally hitting his own pony with his stick, or abusing his pony by excessive use of the whip or spurs, must be the subject of a report, a copy of which should be sent to the Chairman of the Welfare Committee. Furthermore any player intentionally striking another player or his pony shall be severely penalised to the extent that the umpire may award Penalty 10(a) or (b).

Accident or Injury to Player or Pony (Rule 27,28 and 29)
The Umpires have a responsibility to do all that they can to prevent accident or injury to players or ponies. For example, if a player is behaving dangerously so as to be a hazard to himself or other players he must be warned, penalised and if necessary sent off. Common faults are dangerous use of the stick particularly in a melee, zigzagging in front of another pony, slowing down on the ball and hitting the ball hard into a crowd of players. Equally a pony which is out of control or has dangerous tack must be ordered off to prevent injury to others.

Should an accident to a player or pony occur then the Umpires must immediately take charge. If a player is injured then the Umpires should stop the game and summon medical assistance by waving the pick-up stick above the head. They should keep players and any others who come onto the ground away from the medical team except those who are actively helping. They should consult with the Team Captain of the injured player about possible substitutes and keep the Commentator informed as to what is happening. Taking into account the paramount need to treat the injured player in the best conditions possible, the Umpires should endeavour to restart the match as soon as possible. They must get clearance from the Medical Officer before allowing a player, who could have suffered concussion, to play. If there is no Medical Officer present then this responsibility devolves onto the Umpires.

If a pony falls or appears to be lame, the Umpires must stop the game and see that the pony is trotted up. If not sound it should be taken off the ground in the most humane way possible. Should a pony be badly injured or stay down the Umpires should ask the players to form a circle to shield the pony from spectators. If a Veterinary Officer is present, then he will take charge otherwise the Umpires should ensure that screens are erected, if necessary and the pony is removed by trailer from the ground as humanely and speedily as possible. Try to keep the commentator informed to cover up as best he can.

Umpire grading committee

Every Associate Member of the HPA as well has being allocated a handicap should also have an Umpire Grade. Each member is assessed by an Umpire Grading Committee annually and the grade published in the Blue Book. It is incumbent on all those who play polo not only to know the rules but also to take their turn as umpires. A player of -1 handicap and above has an umpire grade of CP until he has passed his C grade umpire test or been upgraded by the Umpire Grading Committee. Umpire tests are held in April and May and also at other times on demand.

THE TIMEKEEPER/SCORER

GENERAL
Rule 8 states: 'A Timekeeper/Scorer (referred to hereafter as 'The Timekeeper') shall be employed in all matches with an Assistant Scorer who shall man the scoreboard'. In many cases, the Timekeeper and Scorer will be the same person.

Timekeeper

The Timekeeper should be conversant with Rules 14, 15, 16 and 17 which govern his responsibilities.
Clocks
The Timekeeper must be provided with a proper polo stop-clock, which can be stopped and started at will. This clock will govern the time, the clock on the scoreboard is for guidance only. He will also require an ordinary stopwatch as a back up and to time the extra 5 seconds of play (see below).
Stopping the Clock
The time during which a penalty is being exacted or an accident being dealt with does not count in the 7 minutes playing time. The fact that the time is not to be counted (i.e. the clock is to be stopped) is indicated by the Umpire blowing one firm blast on his whistle. The time starts to count again when the Umpire says 'Play' and the ball is hit or hit at. Note that the clock is not stopped when a goal is scored or the ball goes over the sideline.
Ringing the Bell
It is the Timekeeper's duty to ring the bell when the 7 minute chukka finishes, and again 30 seconds later if play has not already stopped. Great care must be taken that the stroke of the bell coincides exactly with the termination of the 7 and 71/2 minutes. In the case of a close match, a ball may pass between the goal posts a second before or after the correct time of the conclusion of the final chukka. The Timekeeper's responsibility in this matter is therefore of great importance.
Intervals
Between each chukka there is an interval of 3 minutes. In all matches there is a half-time interval of 5 minutes. Should play begin before the 3 minutes are up, it is unnecessary to ring the bell but the clock should be started at the moment that play begins. If the play has not begun at the end of each interval, then the Timekeeper shall ring the bell, but he must not start the clock until play actually begins. In the event of a tie requiring that an extra chukka be played, the interval shall be 5 minutes. In this case it is the Umpire's duty to see that the game is not started again until the 5 minutes interval has been taken.
Additional 5 seconds
Rule 15(e) is extremely important to the Timekeeper, as he is the only official who can carry out this rule.

Scoring

Before Match
The Polo Manager should provide a score sheet completed as far as possible. From this sheet the handicap received by a team will be put on the board by the Assistant Scorer. The Scorer will particularly note the colours in which the teams are playing and alter details on the score sheet if necessary.
During Match
The Scorer will record the goals scored (noting if possible the name of the player scoring the goal, the time at which the goal was scored and the direction of play). He will instruct the Assistant Scorer to put up the score on the board being particularly careful to check that the correct team has been credited. At all times it is the Scorer's figures that count.
End of Match
At the end of the match, the Timekeeper will add up the goals received on handicap and scored, fill in such details as weather, the time the match was completed and any unusual occurrences, sign the form as correct and hand it in to the Polo Manager. This score sheet will then act as the official record of the match.
Objections
No objection may be lodged after the game to the Tournament Committee, Umpires or the Goal Judges as to whether a goal was scored or not, or an error was made in recording the score or team handicap. Note, however, that it is the duty of the Umpires to draw team captains' attention to the score as posted before a match (i.e. any goals received on handicap) and changes may be made as agreed. However, thereafter no objection may be raised. If the Umpires fail to carry out this duty, there can be no objection from either team.

Assistant scorer

The Assistant Scorer is responsible for preparing the scoreboard before the match, and updating goals scored and chukka numbers during the match. He should have communication with the Timekeeper if they are not sitting together.

The goal judges

General
Rule 7 covers the role and duties of goal judges. Under the rules the Club has the responsibility to ensure that goal judges are fully trained, are fit and active, of an age as laid down by the Health and Safety at Work Executive, and have parental permission if required. It is recommended that Clubs draw up their own set of standing orders to be issued on signature to all goal judges. The Club must also ensure that a line is drawn 20 yards away and parallel to the goal line behind which the goal judge must stay during play and that spare goal posts and ball boxes are left no nearer than 30 yards from the goal line. Other items such as bicycles should be placed well away from the ground so as not to be a danger to horses. Goal judges must not be used when play is in progress simultaneously on two grounds with back-to-back goals.
Equipment
The Club must issue goal judges with protective headgear (a cricket helmet is recommended) and distinctive clothing, normally white, and ensure that they are worn during play. Goal judges require a bag or box of balls, a white flag and access to spare goal posts.
Before Match Goal judges should be in position 10 minutes before the scheduled start of a match and should check that they have:

  • A flag
  • Sufficient balls in a box or bag.
  • Immediate access to spare goal posts.
  • The ability to change a goal post if it is broken and widen the goals if required.
  • The goals post in the correct position and that they are vertical.
  • No impedimenta, other than balls, on the ground or within 30 yards of the goal line.
  • Distinctive clothing and are wearing a hard hat. Wet weather clothing should also be available.
  • Knowledge of the team colours so they can distinguish which side is attacking and which is defending.
During Match
Once the match is started, the goal judge must observe the play carefully at all times as the situation can change very quickly. When play comes down the left hand side of the ground, the goal judge should begin to move to the right to keep the ball in his sight between the posts and if the play comes from the right, he should move to the left. At all times however, he must remain behind the 20 yard line until the ball is out of play and the ponies have slowed down. The goal judge must also keep his eye on the ponies as they approach to see which way they are turning or swinging. Evasive action should be taken if essential but it is often better to stand still as the player will turn away. It is an offence for two players to ride each other off over the goal line.
Goal Scored
In normal play, if the goal judge is certain that a goal has been scored (i.e. the goal went over and clear of the goal line), even though play continues, he will wave his flag vigorously over his head until receiving acknowledgement from the score-keeper. It is sometimes difficult for the goal judge to be certain that a goal was scored as his view may be obscured, he may be taking evasive action or he may be confused by the flight of the ball. In this event, he should make no signal at which point the umpires should come to him to consult and then make their decision. The goal judge should never get into discussion with a player as he is answerable only to the umpires who should protect him from pressure and abuse. Once a decision has been made by the umpires, they will instruct him either to wave his flag to signify a goal or to place the ball for a hit in. The goal judge must also be on the alert for the umpires whistle which will render the ball dead and thus, if it subsequently goes through the goal or over the back line, no action should be taken by him. In the normal course the umpires will award a penalty and play will continue with a hit or throw in.
Penalties
When Penalties 4 or 6 are being taken, the goal judge should be behind the left hand post as he looks onto the ground and one of the umpires will take the right hand post. For Penalty 6 the goal judge and umpire should be on the straight line drawn between the ball and the goal post. He should then be able to tell if the ball went over the goal line and inside the goal post projected vertically. Judgement may be required if the ball hits a flag blowing in the wind, if the ball swerves in the air or goes over the post. Before making a signal, the goal judge should receive confirmation from the umpire who will normally raise his hand if he is satisfied it was a goal. If the umpires award a Penalty One or a goal as a result of a foul by a defender, they will instruct the Umpire to wave his flag as if a goal had been scored.
Hit Over Back Line by Attacker
If the ball was hit over the back line by an attacker, then the goal judge should signal by holding a ball above his head. When the ponies have slowed down he should run forward and place a ball just in front of the back line where it crossed but no nearer than 4 yards from a goal post or the boards. He should make a good lie for the ball otherwise time will be wasted as the striker tees it up. Remember that the clock is still running. Then pick up any loose balls and return swiftly behind the 20 yard line.
Hit Over Back Line by Defender
If the ball was hit over the back line by a defender, then the umpires will award Penalty 6 which is taken on the 60 yard line opposite where the ball went out of play. The umpires might ask the goal judge for help in deciding if a defender or attacker hit the ball over the back line (see Rule 22). The goal judge may relax a little between chukkas and at half time although he must remain alert to players coming onto the ground to stick and ball. He can usefully tread-in in front of his own goal, collect up any stray balls and be prepared for the umpires to come up to him at this time to replenish their ball bags.
Two Goal Judges
Should there be two goal judges for each goal, they will work as a pair covering each goal. They must be particularly alert to avoid being ridden down as the options for the players are reduced.

ANNEX C - GUIDELINES FOR TOURNAMENTS

General
In drawing up the schedule for a tournament, the Polo Manager must first establish whether the tournament conditions require a knockout, a league or combination of both. He must also know how many teams are likely to enter, how many playing days are available and any constraints enforced by the outside commitments of players. Based on this information he can decide on the format for the tournament which should be included in the schedule. It has become increasingly popular to start a tournament on a league basis, finishing with a knockout, as this guarantees each team a number of matches and also enables a firm timetable to be drawn up.

Knock Out Tournament
A knock out tournament is one in which teams are drawn to play preliminary rounds, quarter finals, semi finals and finals. Unless there are eight teams in the tournament there will be a requirement to have bye rounds. The method of placing these is shown in the table below. It is often popular to have a subsidiary to the main tournament to give the teams beaten in the first round a minimum of two matches. The subsidiary matches should be scheduled so that they fall as close as possible to the time and date of the equivalent matches arranged for the winning teams.

League Tournament
In a league tournament, teams are placed in a league and each plays the other in that league. Teams can also be placed in paired groups with an equal number of teams in each so that each team in one group plays each team in the other. The league and group system can be combined, for example if there are fourteen teams in a tournament there can be two leagues of four and two groups of three so that every team plays three matches during this phase. The order of merit can be established using the system laid out in Annex F (Rules for League Matches). If it is necessary to establish an order of merit of teams playing in paired groups then it is fairer to take all the results together rather than those within one group only. Once an order of merit has been established then a knockout phase may be held starting with quarter finals, semi-finals or going straight to a final.

Round Robin or American Tournament
If three teams are to play on one day, then a Round Robin is a good answer. Normally each team plays two or three chukkas against the other. Two of the teams play consecutively e.g. the first four chukkas or the last four and the third team has a break in the middle. It is recommended that each match should end on the final bell whether the score is level or not and that two points are awarded for a win and one for a draw. To decide the order of merit refer to Annex F (Rules for League Matches).

Expenses
The Council have approved the following arrangements for the guidance of Club Secretaries when making arrangements for visits from other Clubs:-

  1. At all tournaments or matches, official or unofficial, the Host Club may provide stabling, straw, hay and board and lodging for grooms on a repayment basis if prior arrangements have been made between the Secretaries of the Host Club and the visiting teams.
  2. It is suggested that the charges to be made are set out by the Host Club in their Schedule of Conditions for the tournament.
  3. The Captain of a team winning any challenge cup is expected to have the name of the team and of its members engraved upon the cup at his own expense.

ANNEX D - CONDITIONS FOR OFFICIAL HPA TOURNAMENTS

  1. General. Official HPA Tournaments take priority over non-official Tournaments and as a general principle, the higher goal tournament takes priority over the lower goal. Any queries may be referred to the Stewards of the HPA whose decision will be final.
  2. Team Composition. All entries will be checked by the host club against the restrictions for official tournaments as set out below:
    Level Term Chukkas Min H'cap Nax 2 Best Players H'cap No. of OSP* Min H'cap of OSP*
    17 to 22 High Goal 6 0 10 20 2 4
    15 to 18 High Goal 5 0 10 18 1 4
    12 to 15 Medium Goal 5 0 10 15 1 3
    8 to 12 Intermediate Goal 4 -1 7 14 1 3
    4 to 8 Low Goal 4 -1 6 8 1
    6 Low Goal 4 -2 1x4 6 1
    -2 to 5 Low Goal 4 -2 3 1
    *OSP = Overseas Sponsored Player (see Status Guidelines for Overseas Players).

    In addition:

    1. No team may have four overseas players unless it is an invited national team which has been approved by the Stewards. However, the Stewards are likely to waive the condition for an established overseas patron who wishes to play with an immediate family member who is also from overseas. In the case of a substitution in such a family team, normal tournament conditions and rules will apply.
    2. The Stewards may permit substitution with an OSP where, through sickness or injury, a British player over 5 goals is prevented from playing. In order to complete a game and to save delay, the Tournament Committee, in the absence of the Stewards, may exercise the same power.
  3. Officials The recommended minimum Umpire Grades are as follows:
    Umpires Referee
    High Goal 1A & 1A/B A/B
    Medium Goal 2B B/C
    Intermediate Goal 1B & 1B/C C
    Low Goal: 4 to 8 2C C
    Low Goal: 4 & below 1C
  4. Entry Fees a. Clubs should not generally charge as much for knock-out tournaments as for leagues, particularly if there is no subsidiary. The suggested maxima should be:
    High Goal 17-22 5,000 To these may be added a fee
    for Professional Umpires.
    High Goal 15-18 2,500
    Medium Goal 1,500
    Intermediate Goal 1,000
    Low Goal 750
    b. The host club may arrange for qualifying rounds of its tournament to be played at another club in which case the host club will refund 75% of the entry fee of those teams that do not qualify to the club holding the qualifying rounds. A team that plays only one qualifying match will be refunded 50% of the entry fee by either the host club or the club holding the qualifying rounds. c. When a single match is played away from the host club, then 20% of the entry fee shall be paid by the host club to the club holding its match.
  5. Use of Private Grounds
    1. All private grounds must be inspected by an official of the HPA and passed before they may be used for matches played in official HPA tournaments.
    2. A Tournament Committee that, in agreement with the owner, schedules a match to be played on a private ground, must contact the Polo Manager of the Club designated as the overseeing club for that ground. The Polo Manager should inform the Tournament Committee of the matches and teams that have been played at that ground in previous tournaments. If in agreement, then the designated club has the responsibility for all matters referring to the match including the officials, the necessary medical and veterinary cover, any substitution and disciplinary action and finally to send in an authenticated score sheet.

ANNEX E - RULES FOR OFFICIAL LEAGUE MATCHES

  1. As a policy clubs should accept all entries, although they have the right to refuse an entry or use their discretion as to how many are accepted.
  2. When there are two or more leagues in a tournament then the winner, runner-up etc., will be decided by a system of play-offs as decided by the tournament committee.
  3. Every match in a league will be played for a result unless otherwise stated in the tournament conditions. If a draw is acceptable, the conditions must state whether the draw is called after an extra chukka or not. Tournament conditions must specify when goals are to be widened.
  4. To decide the order of merit in each league a points system will operate with either:-
    1. 1 for a win and 0 for a loss in tournaments that are played for a result,
    2. or
    3. 2 for a win, 1 for a draw and 0 for a loss in tournaments where draws are acceptable to the Tournament Committee.
    4. If two teams are tied with the same number of points, the first placed team will be the team which won the match between the two teams (this is the "who beat who" rule); if Rule 4 (b) above is being played and the result of that match was a draw, the order of merit is established using the total of net goals credited to each team, i.e. the sum of the goals scored minus the sum of the goals against, both including those received on handicap, counting all the matches between the teams in that league. Should the teams still be tied on net goals, then the difference in gross goals (goals scored and those received on handicap) determines the order of merit.
    5. If three or more teams are tied on points, taking into account all the matches in their league, then the order of merit is established between those teams, only taking into account the points awarded in the matches between the tied teams. Should two teams still be tied, then the "who beat who" rule applies. If, however, three or more teams remain tied on points, taking into account the matches between these teams, the order of merit is established using the total number of net goals credited to each team. Should teams still be tied, then the difference in gross goals will determine the order of merit (see (c) above for definitions).If the teams still remain tied, then the Tournament Committee shall determine the order of merit by using:-
      1. the "who beat who" rule, as set out above
      2. a play off
      3. other equitable test or
      4. toss of a coin
    6. It may sometimes be necessary to establish an order of merit across leagues, particularly when there is an uneven number of leagues in a tournament. The order of merit will be headed by the first placed team in each league. Thereafter an overall order will be established taking into account all the teams in the tournament. In calculating this the who-beat-who' rule will not apply, so it will be based first on points scored, secondly net goals and then gross goals. If there is still a tie then the Tournament Committee will proceed as in (d) above. This system will also be used in calculating the order of merit within groups i.e. when teams listed together play teams in another group rather than their own.
  5. If a league match cannot be played or, if started, cannot be continued and if in either case if cannot be re-scheduled, then:-
    1. If not played: the score is calculated by taking the gross goals scored by each team in their other matches divided by the number of matches played. If this produces a tie, each team will be awarded half a point.
    2. If started: the score will be calculated by dividing the score at the time the match was abandoned by the number of chukkas completed and multiplying by the total number of chukkas in the match. If the teams were equal when the match was abandoned, each team will be awarded half a point.
  6. If the tournament is played on the open and handicap basis:-
    1. A team that wins both the open and handicap section in a league must go for the open final.
    2. When the positions of the teams in a league are being calculated, the games against all teams in the league will be considered. If there are two or more teams tied, only the games between the tied teams are considered as in rule 5 above, except that a team that has won the open section of the league shall not be considered as a tied team.
    3. As in rule 4 above, matches must be played for a result in both the open and handicap sections, although there may be a result in one section at the end of 7 minutes in the last chukka, play may have to be extended for a further 30 seconds and extra chukkas played according to the tournament rules, in order to get a result in the other section. When the result of one section is established, that result will not be altered by subsequent play that may be required for the other section in that match. It is important that umpires and time-keepers are briefed on this requirement.
    4. Scoreboards should show the 'Open' score, any handicap should be shown on a separate number hung below the appropriate team.
  7. A team wishing to withdraw from the tournament before completing the league programme, through sickness of horses, etc., must satisfy the tournament committee that its reason is bona fide. If withdrawal is accepted then those matches which the teams have already played in the league will be declared null and void and points and goals gained by other teams subtracted from their total.
  8. Should a team be disqualified by the tournament committee then a similar ruling on points and goals to that for withdrawal outlined in para 8 will apply.
  9. If the result of a league is known before the last matches are played and the result cannot be influenced by those matches, they may be cancelled provided both team captains, the club where the matches were due to be played and the tournament committee all agree.
 
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