|Teams, players and
players' equipment, substitution.
Ponies, pony equipment and pony
Duties and authority of tournament
committee, umpires, referee, goal judges, timekeeper, scorer and
Game facilities and equipment
Duration of games and chukkas, winning of
games, scoring goals
Commencement, interruption and resumption
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
Annex A - suggested layout of a polo
Annex B - notes for officials
Annex C - guidelines for
Annex D - conditions for official hpa
Annex E - rules for official league
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
TEAMS, PLAYERS AND PLAYERS'
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
2. Players and players equipment
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
- 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.
- Left Handed Players. No player shall play with
his left hand.
- Dismounted Player. A dismounted player may not
hit the ball nor interfere with the play.
- 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
- Coaching. Coaching of players is forbidden
- Smoking. No player or official shall smoke on
the ground during a game or match.
- 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).
- 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:
- 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
- Breeches. For matches, white breeches or jeans
are to be worn.
- 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.
- 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
- Whips. Whips must not be more than 48 inches
long including any tag. Broken whips are not allowed.
- General Principles.
- A player may only play in one team in the same tournament
except as in 3c(iii) below.
- 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.
- 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.
- Substitution in Emergency. If a player is late
or unable to continue through sickness, accident or duty, the
following conditions apply:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ponies. It is the responsibility of the team
to mount the substitute.
PONIES, PONY EQUIPMENT AND PONY
4. Ponies, pony equipment and pony
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.
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.
- Vaccination. In the UK, all ponies must have a
current annual certificate of vaccination against flu.
- Contagious Diseases. A pony with an active
infectious or contagious disease such as ring-worm may not be
brought to a polo ground.
- 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:
- A noseband, headpiece or headcollar which incorporates wire or
any sharp material.
- A hackamore or bitless bridle (may be used in practice chukkas
at the discretion of the club)
- Blinkers or any form of noseband or other equipment which
obstructs the vision of the pony.
- The mouthpiece of any bit, whether single or double, of not
less than 0.25 inch (6.50 mm) in diameter at its narrowest
- 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:
- Rimmed shoes may be worn but the rim must be on the inside of
the shoe only.
- 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.
- 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
- A removable stud, which is the type strongly recommended,
should be removed before the pony leaves the ground.
- 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.
- Condition. Ponies may not be played:
- If lame or showing signs of distress.
- 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.
- Showing blood, whether from the mouth, flanks or any other
- If not under proper control or showing vice. In such a case,
the umpires should complete a Report Form.
- With any form of tracheotomy or tracheostomy
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
DUTIES AND AUTHORITY OF
TOURNAMENT COMMITTEE, UMPIRES, REFEREE, GOAL JUDGES, TIMEKEEPER,
SCORER AND OTHER OFFICIALS.
5. Tournament committees.
- 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.
- Duties. The Tournament Committee will be
charged with the overall responsibility for the running of the
tournament. This will include;
- checking the eligibility of each entry and any subsequent
- informing a team of a change in the entry of an opposing
- the structure of the tournament and the draw.
- the scheduling of matches.
- the appointment of officials (but see Rule 6c and Annex D
- the provision of the grounds and the necessary equipment.
- dealing with any disciplinary matters or irregularity.
- 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
6. Umpires and referees (See also Annex B)
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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).
- No Foul. If the Referee is unable to see a
foul or adjudicate on a foul from his position, then he must rule
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Instructions. Goal judges must be properly
briefed, in particular :
- To wear distinctive clothing such as white coats and protective
riding or cricket hard hats, but not cycle helmets.
- 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
- 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.
- Back to Back Goals. Goal judges should not be
used when there is play on two grounds with back to back
8. Timekeepers and scorers (See also
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
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
GAME FACILITIES AND
11. The ground
- Ground. The ground shall be a prepared surface
to include the field of play and the safety zone (See also Annex
- 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
- 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.
- Boards. The boards shall not exceed 11 inches
(28 centimetres) in height. They may be curved at the ends.
- 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
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
- 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.
- Safety Zone. During play, the safety zone is
restricted to the players, umpires and goal judges except that:
- A stick holder may enter the safety zone but not the field of
play to hand over a stick to a player.
- A pony may be ridden back to the pony lines providing it is
safe to do so.
- 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.
- 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
- Match. A match may be played over 4, 5 or 6
chukkas as stated in the Tournament Conditions.
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- 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
- Unnecessary Delay. No player or team may cause
unnecessary delay either at the beginning or during a game.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- Last Chukka. In the last chukka play shall end
at 7 minutes on the first bell except as below.
- 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
- 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
- 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
16. Extra time with or without
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:
- normal goals at the spot from where the
previous chukka ended; ends are not changed; or with
- 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
- To Win. The side that scores the most goals,
including goals awarded on handicap and by penalties, wins the
- 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.
- Disputed Goals.
- 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
- 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
- Whistle Blown as Goal Scored. If a whistle is
blown for a foul at approximately the same time as a goal is
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- Ball Hit Out. The ball must go over and be
clear of the back line to be out.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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
- 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.
- 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
27. Play stopped for accident or
injury to player
- 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.
- Player Injured.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
28. Play stopped for dangerous or
broken tack, pony condition and equipment
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.
- 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.
- Play Stopped. The game shall be stopped
immediately in the following circumstances:
- 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
- If any pony infringes Rule 4c,4d or 4e.
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:
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
30. Trodden in or split ball
The umpires will award a goal if it is clear that the larger part
of the ball has gone through the goal.
- 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).
- Split. If the ball splits, the Umpire should
- Immediately if in equal parts.
- When play is in a neutral position if the larger part can still
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
- Line of the Ball.
- 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.
- 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.
- If a player hits at and misses a dead (out of play) ball the
line is taken as that which the player was riding.
- Right of Way.
- 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.
- The Right of Way can change to another player who establishes
himself safely for a play that gives him precedence.
- 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.
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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Two players riding in opposite directions to meet the ball on
its exact line to take it on their respective off sides have equal
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Blocking is impeding the legitimate path of
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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
35. Riding off, dangerous riding and
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:
- Ride off at too great an angle.
- Ride off at a speed that is not compatible with the speed of
- Ride into an opponent behind the saddle.
- Ride an opponent across or into the Right of Way of another
player at an unsafe distance.
- 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.
- Continue to ride off another player over the goal line, thereby
endangering a goal judge.
- Ride his mount up into the backhand stroke of another player
- Ride his mount up the line of the ball from behind and into the
stroke of an opponent making a full forehand shot.
- 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
- 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.
- Pull across or over a pony's legs either in front or behind in
such a manner as to risk tripping either pony.
- 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
- Hooking. For a player to make a legitimate
hook, the following conditions must apply:
- 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.
- All of his opponent's stick is below shoulder level.
- His opponent is in the act of striking the ball.
- 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:
- Reaching over and across or under and across any part of an
opponent's pony to strike at the ball.
- 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.
- 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.
- Taking a full swing under a pony's neck in such a way as to
endanger another player or pony riding alongside.
- "Windmilling" or "helicoptering" his stick either as an appeal
or in celebration of scoring a goal.
- Dropping the head of the stick on the pony's rump.
37. Rough or abusive behaviour
A player may not:
- 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)
- Use his whip or spurs unnecessarily or in excess at any
- Intentionally strike his own pony with his stick at any
- Intentionally strike another player or another player's pony
with his stick, whip or fist.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
38. Personal fouls and technical
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:-
- 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).
- 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
- Ball In Play. The ball is in play the moment
it has been hit or hit at and missed (see also Rule32a(iii)).
- Team Taking the Penalty. The team taking the
penalty or hit (the attacking team) must:
- 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.
- 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.
- Not Cause Unnecessary Delay.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
ANNEX A - SUGGESTED LAYOUT OF
A POLO GROUND
Length: 300 yards maximum, 250 yards
Width: 200 yards maximum unboarded, 160 yards
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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.
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.
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
- Blow their whistles to check their efficiency and alert the
- 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
- 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
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
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
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))
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Penalty 2 (Thirty Yard Hit or Hit from the
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
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
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
Prolongation of Last Chukka in Event of a Tie (Rule
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
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
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
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:
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).
- Taking a full swing at the ball from the throw in or in any
scrimmage in such a way as to endanger another player.
- Striking hard into the legs of a group of ponies in the
- Striking the ball in the air so as to endanger other
- Taking a full swing under the neck in such a way as to endanger
a player riding alongside.
- Striking an opponents stick in such a way as to cause
Accident or Injury to Player or Pony (Rule 27,28 and
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
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.
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.
The Timekeeper should be conversant with Rules 14, 15, 16 and 17
which govern his responsibilities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Before Match Goal judges should be in position 10
minutes before the scheduled start of a match and should check that
- 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
- 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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).
The Council have approved the following arrangements for the
guidance of Club Secretaries when making arrangements for visits
from other Clubs:-
- 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
- It is suggested that the charges to be made are set out by the
Host Club in their Schedule of Conditions for the tournament.
- 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
- 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.
- Team Composition. All entries will be checked
by the host club against the restrictions for official tournaments
as set out below:
*OSP = Overseas Sponsored Player (see Status Guidelines for
||2 Best Players H'cap
||No. of OSP*
||Min H'cap of OSP*
|17 to 22
|15 to 18
|12 to 15
|8 to 12
|4 to 8
|-2 to 5
- 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
- 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.
- Officials The recommended minimum Umpire
Grades are as follows:
||1A & 1A/B
||1B & 1B/C
|Low Goal: 4 to 8
|Low Goal: 4 & below
- 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
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
|High Goal 17-22
||To these may be added a fee
for Professional Umpires.
|High Goal 15-18
- Use of Private Grounds
- All private grounds must be inspected by an official of the HPA
and passed before they may be used for matches played in official
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- To decide the order of merit in each league a points system
will operate with either:-
- 1 for a win and 0 for a loss in tournaments that are played for
- 2 for a win, 1 for a draw and 0 for a loss in tournaments where
draws are acceptable to the Tournament Committee.
- 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
- 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:-
- the "who beat who" rule, as set out above
- a play off
- other equitable test or
- toss of a coin
- 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.
- If a league match cannot be played or, if started, cannot be
continued and if in either case if cannot be re-scheduled, then:-
- 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.
- 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.
- If the tournament is played on the open and handicap basis:-
- A team that wins both the open and handicap section in a league
must go for the open final.
- 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.
- 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
- Scoreboards should show the 'Open' score, any handicap should
be shown on a separate number hung below the appropriate team.
- 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
- 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.
- 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