With the festive season now past and the year already well into January it’s time to focus on the polo season ahead with its revamped fixture schedule. Although it’s impossible to please everyone it appears to have met with approval from most of the players so let’s hope 2012 is an enjoyable and successful year.
SNOW POLO IN CHINA:
As many of you already know, South Africa has been invited to take part in a “Snow Polo” tournament hosted jointly by FIP and the Metropolitan Polo Club in China during February 2012. Twelve national teams will take part on a knockout basis i.e. 3 pools of 4 teams with the top two teams from each pool advancing to the quarter finals. Teams of three a side cannot exceed a total of 16 goals. In choosing the South African team, the selectors opted for a competitive team that would be match fit and honed – hence all the team members having recently taken part in the Plettenberg Bay summer season. The team is as follows:
- Tom de Bruin 6 goals
- Jean du Plessis 6 goals
- Leroux Hendricks 4 goals
The proposed tour to New Zealand in February has been postponed due to a lack of availability from high goal players. Hopefully, this tour will be revived for 2013.
The Australian Polo Council has invited a South African team to play two Internationals during March/April. The tour itinerary is roughly as follows:
- Mon 26 March Depart Johannesburg - Sydney
- Tue 27 March – Test Match Horse trials
- Wed 28, Thu 29 March & 3 April – some tournament polo
- Sat 31 March – Test Match (Windsor Polo Club)
- Thu 5, 7 & 8 April – play in Kurri Burri polo tournament
- Sat 7 April – Easter Test Match @ Royal Easter Show
- Mon 9 April – Depart Sydney – Johannesburg
Concurrent with this is a Colts Under 21 tour which fortunately falls within South African school holidays giving many of our talented school boys an opportunity to tour.
SANDTON RIDE OFF:
This event was scheduled to take place in May 2012 but due to sponsor problems has been postponed to later in the year – possibly September or October. More information to follow once new dates have been finalised.
The question as to whether a lactating and/or suckling mare could be played polo was raised last season. HPA Rules categorically forbid this so please be aware that Welfare Officers will not allow such a practise.
The only ‘major’ rule change HPA have recommended for 2012 is that the ball should be placed by an umpire for Penalties 5a and 5b. This is to speed up the play and reduce the opportunity for players to waste time whilst a team mate changes a pony; and invariably a Penalty 5a or 5b is tapped anyway. The time for a player to place the ball for other penalties will be extended to 15 seconds but more rigidly enforced.
Neck shot - the rules state that a player may not take a full swing under a pony’s neck in such a way as to endanger other players or ponies. Umpires will be expected to take a stronger line on penalising players for this during the 2012 season.
These changes will only become effective once ratified by HPA and all Clubs/players will be notified accordingly.
The Association’s professional umpiring policy is still on track with a few new members eager to join the initiative. Budget permitting, SAPA will look to sponsor professional umpires at all the Provincial Championship tournaments as well as some of the calendar’s major tournaments.
On field discipline has improved and umpires will be instructed to keep it that way. The introduction of the “Yellow Flag” system has been partly responsible for this – a necessary aspect if we want to adhere to the NRC mandate of promoting polo in South Africa.
Clubs wishing to apply for interest free loans during 2012 should do so through their Provincial Chairmen before Monday 13th February 2012. These will be submitted for consideration at the Exco meeting in mid February.
AFFILIATION FEES 2012:
SAPA’s affiliation fee for 2012 will increase marginally to R750 per player for adults and R100 per scholar. Scholars include bona fide full time school children and tertiary education learners.
Any queries or feedback on the above – please feel free to contact me to discuss.
Executive Director – South African Polo Association