There are many rules which govern the sport of Polo.
Rules can vary from country to country.
Rules are in general to make sure that polo ponies and polo players are kept safe at all times during play.
There are rules on polo pony welfare as well as how to play, what actions are deemed as fouls by players, and how a foul is dealt with.
Polo rules whilst set are also constantly evolving to enhance both the safety of pony and the player as well as make the game more enjoyable for spectators.
Polo rules are set by countries that have their polo associations or a National Polo Association may decide to utilise and implement rules decided by more experienced polo-playing nations.
There are 3 main polo-playing nations, the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, the United States of America, and Argentina.
Each of these 3 countries has a governing body or National association which sets rules which are adopted by many other nations worldwide.
In the UK - the governing body for polo is the Hurlingham Polo Association or HPA.
In the USA - the governing body for polo is the United States Polo Association or USPA
In Argentina - the govering body is the La Asociación Argentina de Polo or AAP
In the Czech Republic we have the Czech Polo Association or CeskaPoloAsociace
The Most Fundamental Rule in Polo
The Line of the Ball (LOB) and the Right of Way (ROW)
Here is the classic definition according to the Rule Book of the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA)
27. LINE OF THE BALL. The line of the ball (LOB) is the extended path along which the ball has travelled or is travelling. This includes when it has been kicked by a pony or has hit a player’s or umpire’s pony or any other impediment on the field of play. If a player has a free hit but misses the ball, the LOB is taken as that direction in which the player was riding. The LOB is the reference for deciding precedence as between players. See Annex B.
a. Two opposing players riding on the exact LOB and simultaneously making a play on each other, whether following or meeting, have precedence over all other players.
b. A player on the exact LOB with the ball on his offside, whether following or meeting, has precedence over any other players, except when meeting two players as above.
c. No player shall enter in front of the player on the LOB except at such a speed and distance that not the slightest risk of collision or danger to any player is involved. If a player enters safely and gains control of the ball, an opponent must not ride into him from behind.
d. When no player is on the exact LOB and two or more players ride in the same general direction, whether following or meeting, the player riding at the lesser angle to the LOB has precedence. If the players are at equal angles, the player that has the LOB on his offside has precedence.
e. Any player riding in the same direction as the ball is travelling or has travelled has precedence over any player or players riding from the opposite direction unless they are in accordance with 28a or b above.
f. No player will be considered to have precedence because he was the last to hit the ball if having hit the ball he has then deviated from the exact LOB.
g. During a throw-in, a precedence as between players will only be established when the ball leaves the line out, either direct from the throw by the umpire or if hit away by a player. Until such time, players may play the ball from any direction or angle providing they do so without creating danger or a risk of danger to themselves, other players, or ponies.
h. A player shall not be entitled to play the ball on his nearside if he endangers another player who would otherwise have been able to make or attempt to make a legitimate play.
28. RIGHT OF WAY. A player with possession is entitled to continue down the LOB to hit the ball on his offside unless he is subjected to a legitimate play.
a. Ball Deflected. If one or more players are riding on the LOB with possession and for any reason the ball is unexpectedly deflected for a short distance, those players retain the right to play the ball if they are still able to do so without changing direction, and if not, to continue for a short distance on the original LOB. They may not make a play on the ball if another player is established on the new LOB.
b. Changing the LOB.
(i) If a player suddenly changes the LOB towards, into or under an opposing player, that player must clear the new LOB and may not make a play; but the player in possession must allow the opposing player to do so. The player in possession will foul if he rides into him to claim a foul for himself.
(ii) A player in possession with the ball on his offside may move the ball at any angle to his left and a trailing opponent only has a nearside play.
c. Hitting Past a Player. If a player in possession hits the ball past an opposing player riding on the same line and at the same speed, that opposing player has the right to play the ball on his offside provided he does not cross the player following. The player following must not ride into him from behind.
d. Delay of Play. A player in possession of the ball when marked by an opposing player must keep moving the ball. Should he stop or reduce to a walk or walking speed he may tap the ball only once and thereafter he or any member of his team must within 5 seconds either hit the ball away or run with it. The umpire may call ‘5 seconds’ or ‘use it’ if in position to do so. A player is considered to be marked when an opposing player is within two ponies’ lengths of his own and the player in possession is neither being blocked nor ridden off and therefore has the freedom to continue down the LOB.
e. Turning and Play on the Boards. The first player to the ball may not turn in front of a player on the LOB but if the player following checks or reduces speed the first player may then turn the ball in either direction providing that he maintains speed and continues the play. If the play is on the boards, the player once he has turned must keep going in his chosen direction.
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