HPA – Outdoor Membership Letter – Mid Season

Outdoor Membership Letter 2020 – Midseason

We do not normally send out a mid-season letter to members but then this is not a normal season. As you will know it has been a lengthy process to get to where we are now, with all levels of polo allowed to resume. I hope that now, at long last, your patience has been rewarded and you are enjoying some competitive 4-aside polo. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for supporting polo, your club and the HPA during this difficult time.

The procedures that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport approved are on the HPA website and if we look at other sports, we are lucky to be playing. As I write, the pilot events allowing spectators into cricket, horse racing and snooker have been suspended due to coronavirus spikes and it is critically important that everyone at polo supports and follows the procedures and no club or individual gives anyone cause for restrictions to be re-imposed.
The Blue Book and Welfare booklet are both available on the HPA website and if you have not yet received a car sticker then these are available at your club. The Victor/Victrix Ludorum tournaments have been rearranged with the new dates, also available on the website.

There have been some rule changes, which are listed later and included in the procedures on the web site, for example:

  • There are no throw ins so the game begins with a hit from the 60 yard line.
  • Restart after a goal is from a hit in from the 60 yard line to the team that conceded the goal without changing ends.

I have also added at the end of this letter the proposed Tournament Conditions for 2021. Given that the UK will no longer be a part of the European Union from 1st January most players who hold anything other than a UK passport will need to have a work permit in order to play here next season. The current agreed criteria with the Home Office are that, in order to obtain a work permit, a player must be 4 goals or above and playing a minimum number of specified tournaments in the 12-goal or above. A player who fulfils this may also play with their patron in the 8-goal.

The HPA membership is valid until 31 March 2021 and if you decide to play any of the arena, there is no extra fee payable to the HPA. You will however need to log into the membership portal – www.hpa.sport80.com – to add the free arena membership and then join an arena club.

If you have joined as a chukka member you are limited to playing chukkas at any club (subject to the club’s own membership requirements) and in the introductory 2 chukka club matches at those clubs which hold them.  Chukka members do not receive a handicap and are not eligible to be handicapped. In order to get an HPA handicap you must have passed your rules test and paid the upgrade fee for full membership. If you pass your rules test in the first year of being a chukka member then the HPA will upgrade your membership to full membership free of charge.

Insurance. The members’ cover remains with KBIS and is the same as in 2019. The policy is available on the website https://hpa-polo.co.uk/membership/insurance/ – or from the HPA office. The new policy provides public liability cover up to £10,000,000 for any HPA member for their liability arising out of their use and/or ownership and/or control of an HPA registered pony when attending an HPA affiliated club or affiliated or authorised event with the intention of playing polo regardless of handicap and the number of ponies owned. For any player who has an official handicap of two goals or less and has ten or less registered ponies the cover extends 24/7 throughout the UK and Ireland. Please note that:

  • The Strict Liability interpretation of the Animals Act can leave the liability for bodily injury or property damage caused by any pony with its owner regardless of whether or not they have been negligent and hence those above 2 goals or with more than 10 ponies will need their own cover as before when away from the club.
  • Cover does not extend to privately run polo at private grounds other than for those players who have an official handicap of two goals or less and ten or less registered ponies and therefore benefit from the 24/7 cover.
  • For all members:
    • Player-to-player liability is still specifically excluded
    • Employers’ liability is a legal requirement if you employ a player or a groom.

HPA Brand.  As with all retail, it has not been easy for Hurlingham Polo – www.hurlinghampolo1875.com but the HPA receives a royalty for every sale and the aim remains to create an income to help with improving facilities at clubs, umpiring and development of the sport. The HPA is not trying to make money from you but rather from the public through those outlets; however, to be successful, the brand must be seen as part of polo which is why we would like you to support the brand so that it is seen here and overseas around polo. The on-field line has sold well and we are very grateful for those players and teams that have supported the brand.

Rule Changes. There has been some renaming and numbering to tie in internationally and redrafting to try to make rules clearer but there are no major rule changes for 2020. Below are the points that you may wish to look at:

  • Changing boxes. Can be beside the ground if authorised by the umpires (Rule1f(ii)).
  • Captains Arm Bands. Teams to supply (2b).
  • Penalty 6 is now known as a Corner 60 rather than Safety 60 (44).
  • Best efforts to keep hold of a pony (Rule 23b and 34i).
  • Unsportsmanlike Conduct. Any such conduct can lead to a flag (Rule 34) and penalty should be moved up if awarded after a foul has been blown (Rule 50)
  • Accumulation of Flags (Rule 50c and 50e(ii) & (iii))
  • Helmets. Addition of Standard E 2016 (Rule 2.3)
  • Welfare rules apply to all polo played on private grounds (Rule 2.4)
  • Water shall be offered after polo (Rule 2.4o)
  • Muzzles shall not be adapted (2.4p)
  • Report Forms. No commitment to accept a Report Form on judgement calls (Rule2.7b)

Tournament Conditions 2020 Annex C to Part 2. There have been quite a few changes in the 2020 Tournament Conditions which have been well aired:

  • Definition of a Professional Sportsperson
  • Minimum age for 22 goal
  • How the handicap of a -1 is dealt with in the 6, 8 and 12 goal.
  • Informing the opposing team of a team change.


Following Brexit and the departure of the United Kingdom from the EU the policy of the Government and Home Office is to provide greater support to those with British citizenship. Consequently, the Stewards have reviewed the Tournament Conditions to bring them into line with that policy. In recent years the majority of overseas players have played here as EU citizens, but after this season, unless they are clearly a patron, all players from overseas will have to be 4 goals and have a visa to play here. The visa will limit them to playing in the 12 goal and above although it is hoped that the Home Office will agree that a patron who brings in a player will continue to be able to play with him in the 8 goal. The current conditions limit teams to 2 such players in the high goal and one in the 12 and 15 goal.
It has been the clear aim of the Stewards to structure the conditions so that there is one British or Irish player in every team at every level. However, in recognition of the restrictions on EU passported players following Brexit it is considered that it would be beneficial to all concerned if 2 overseas players are allowed in the 12 and 15 goal as well. It should be noted that players from South Africa and Chile will be treated the same as other overseas players as the agreements with those countries was through the EU.
The Stewards also reviewed the minimum age and handicap for the 22 goal and it was agreed that it should remain at 15 unless the player had reached 3 goals.
You will see that we are also proposing that the number of ponies played in the 22 goal are limited to 40 for the team. This equates to the limits in place in Argentina. We will also be reviewing the 22 goal handicap at the mid-season meeting later this month.
The HPA’s Tournament Conditions.  Certain handicap limits are placed on the teams and individual players as set out below. Any Overseas Professional Player (OPP) must be a minimum of 4 goals and be here on a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa as a polo player.
Player Raised in Handicap.  If the handicap of a player or players in a team is raised during the season a 22 high goal team will be allowed to play above the tournament limit by that number of goals. A team at any level below the 22 Goal will be allowed to play one goal over the limit subject to that player having either:

  1. Played previously with that team or
  2. Been listed as a member of a team on the entry form for a tournament within seven days of the effective date of his new handicap.

The same rules as the above shall apply as to the handicap limits for individual players.

22 Goal.

  • All players must hold a 22 goal handicap of 0 goals or above; see Annex B.
  • Any player under 15 on 1st January must have a minimum handicap of 3 goals.
  • Teams are allowed a maximum of two OPPs (4 goals or above).
  • Teams are limited to playing a total of 40 ponies.

18 Goal.

  • The minimum handicap is 0.
  • Teams are allowed a maximum of two OPPS (4 goals or above).

15 Goal.

  • The minimum handicap is 0.
  • Teams are allowed a maximum of two OPPs (4 goals or above).

12 Goal.

  • The minimum individual handicap is -1.This shall not be counted towards a team’s total handicap for entry purposes. i.e. a -1 player may not play with three other players worth 13 goals.
  • The handicap of a -1 player shall be included in the team’s total handicap to decide any handicap start at the beginning of a game.
  • Teams are allowed a maximum of two OPPs (4 goals or above).

8 Goal

  • The minimum individual handicap is -1. This shall not be counted towards a team’s total handicap for entry purposes. i.e. a -1 player may not play with three other players worth 9 goals.
  • The handicap of a -1 player shall be included in the team’s total handicap to decide any handicap start at the beginning of a game.
  • The maximum individual handicap is 6.
  • Teams are allowed a maximum of two OPPs (4 goals or above) but they can only play if their high or medium goal patron is playing.

Players without British or Irish Citizenship. 

  • Overseas Professional Player (OPP). Someone who does not have a British or Irish passport, British citizenship or the right to remain stamp in their passport and is here on a Tier 2 or Tier 5 Visa as a polo player.
  • Right to Remain. Players who have a ‘Right to Remain’ stamp in their passport will be treated as a British Citizen. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/indefinite-leave-to-remain-in-the-uk
  • Spousal Status. Those who have spousal status will be treated as a British Citizen. https://www.gov.uk/uk-family-visa/partner-spouse
  • Settled Status. Those who have been granted settled or pre-settled status, or who have applied for that status, will be treated as a British citizen. https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families/what-settled-and-presettled-status-means
  • In Full Time Education. Those in full time education in UK will be treated as an OPP for entry purposes in 12 goal and above.
  • Visitors. Someone here on a standard visitor visa, or as a dependent of someone here legitimately, can only play as an amateur. As such they will not count as an OPP, but if aged 16 and playing in a semi-professional team, considered to be 8 goals or above, they will be counted as an OPP and unable to play unless they are 4 goals and have a Tier 5 visa. If 2 goals or less they will be considered on a case by case basis and will normally be given temporary membership restricted to certain levels.

Yours sincerely,

David Woodd,
Chief Executive

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