As the 2018 Malaysian polo season starts to warm up, there are a few new players needing to take an RMPA Rules Test before they can be allowed to play in open company. The Rules Test is based on the Hurlingham Polo Association’s playing rules. Their 2018 rule book has yet to be published – it usually comes out at the end of March, in time for their 2018 English season. RMPA’s next rules test is scheduled for 7th April, and will be based on the 2018 rules.
I have had some inside information that the 2018 HPA Playing Rules will see the implementation of these rules:
- A hit if the ball goes out of play
- The Blocking rule
- HPA sticking with 7 minute chukkas for 2018
- Less time for hit in and penalties
- Helmet Rule
- Starting on Yellow flag
The two biggest changes will be in the hit-in rules if the ball is hit out by a player and the new blocking rule.
Here is are the new rules if the ball is hit out of play over the boards or side lines:
A little like soccer, there will be a hit-in from the boards (the equivalent of soccer’s throw-in). Playing the ball over the boards to use up the clock is going to become a thing of the past, as what this rule does is to give possession to the opposition. It is also going to speed up the game – if the ball goes out of play, you will have 8 seconds to get into position to play or the hit-in from the boards.
I was at the Argentine Open Final last year and had the benefit of watching this rule in action. I think that in all the games I watched at Palermo, I saw the ball go out of play only twice. The players tied their best never to hit the ball out of play, because it would immediately give possession to the other team. They kept the ball in play and tried to keep possession themselves. Of course, at the Argentine Open I was watching the best players in the world, and they showed us what they thought was best – never give up possession!
Another rule change that is going to speed up the game is the new blocking rule:
This new no blocking rule is going to make sure the hitter(s) in dead-ball situations (penalties or hit-ins) can be challenged without being blocked by other players. It should speed up the game in encouraging the hitters to hit away.
Another rule change is that players will have less time to take hit-ins and penalties. Once play has been called, the hitter must play the ball at a hit-in within 10 seconds or within 20 seconds, if it is penalty.
Injury time has been reduced to 10 minutes, but may be extended at the discretion of the officials. The rule on yellow and red flags has also been tightened so that flags and suspensions are carried through to the next games of tournaments.
The RMPA has conducted rules tests since 2009. These rule tests are designed to ensure that players have a knowledge of the playing rules, and do not hold up play unnecessarily. I have created these multiple choice tests since 2009, and every year we have had to have changes to the tests. Having new rules is nothing new. The game of polo evolves, and rules change.
Having said that, I believe the new rules of 2018 is going to have quite an effect on the game.
RMPA will be conducting upgrades for our graded umpires to brief them on how to handle the new rules. The RMPA Rules Test will be based on the new rules, once they are published by the Hurlingham Polo Association.