February Newsletter

Feb 21 2017


The SAEF have installed an online registration system where they require all athletes to register online. This is to cover their membership fee in addition to the athlete’s Discipline affiliation. The 2017 fee for this is R300 which SAPA has incorporated into our member’s affiliation fee. I have still to meet with the SAEF but in all likelihood we will handle this process on behalf of the members.


The 2017 Zone “E” playoffs will take place from the 29th June to 7th July this year. South Africa has been invited to send a 14 goal team to Iran who will be hosting the playoffs. Four polo clubs in Iran will provide horses and their facilities with the winning nation qualifying for the World Cup Playoffs in Sydney, Australia during October. Each participating nation will be allowed to send 7 members (6 players and a Manager/Coach) with a total handicap not exceeding 14 goals. No players higher than 5 goals or lower than -1 will be permitted to enter (FIP rule). The Iranian Polo Association in conjunction with FIP will provide 7 double rooms for the duration, 7 player meals each day, ground transport for the team members and all the ponies for the matches. There will be no pony hire fee. FIP will also provide the playing shirts for each nation. Participating nations will be responsible for the FIP entry fee and the team’s airfares from OR Tambo to Tehran. Team members will be responsible for their own travel to OR Tambo International, their visa applications and personal spending whilst in Iran. Should anyone wish to make themselves available for the South African team please email this office with your acceptance of the above conditions together with a copy of your passport (not necessary if we already have it on file), head and shoulders photo and short profile of your playing career. Given we have no sponsorship for the BMW Series this year, SAPA will be looking to secure a sponsor or patron to fund this tour.


As you all now know, Waterfall Polo Estate has been lost as a polo venue to a housing development that will see the erection of 1250 units over the next three years. Whilst SAPA has been hard at work in trying to secure an alternate venue suitable for BMW’s requirements, BMW have in the interim informed us that they will not be sponsoring the International Series in 2017. They have indicated that they would like to continue the relationship with SAPA and are willing to enter into a contract for 2018-2020 pending certain criteria being fulfilled. We had hoped for a return to Inanda for this event but BMW have major reservations with regard to Inanda’s contractual conditions with “By Word of Mouth” who are pretty prescriptive as to which service providers can be used under their contract with Inanda. As things stand BMW will not return to Shongweni but are prepared to look at a KZN international if it’s relocated to the north coast. They are also interested in engaging with SAPA for a possible Cape Town event in 2018. BMW’s decision will have serious consequences for SAPA’s 2017/2018 income stream as a major portion of the Association’s income is derived from the BMW Series. Fortunately we do have reserves set aside for such contingencies but it will mean a severe cut back on expenditure until such time as a new venue in Johannesburg is secured and the internationals restored. To this end, I am hard at work in procuring a new site with a number of promising locations currently under negotiation.


Affiliations for 2017 are now due. As in the past, members must register online using the affiliation/registration portal on the SAPA website www.sapolo.co.za  Please note no one is permitted to take part in a tournament if not affiliated. Not only is this a SAPA regulation but also a requirement for SAPA’s public liability insurance which covers all our registered Clubs.

Please note that a category called “Officials” has been added for grooms and officials. This is specifically for non-playing grooms. Grooms registering, as players must do so on the “Development Players” icon. Players who would like their grooms covered under SAPA’s Public Liability insurance policy need to be registered under the “Officials” category. There is no cost involved and one need only provide the details listed. Registering grooms will also assist with SASCOC’s transformation scorecard thereby satisfying their requirements for the introduction of previously disadvantaged people into the sport.

Exco approved the 2017 Affiliation Fees as follows:

  • Full Member - R2400
  • Temporary Member - R400 (allows a player to take part in two tournaments only)
  • Students / Scholars - R200 (provided they are bona fide full time scholars or students)
  • Development Players - Free
  • Officials & Grooms - Free (non playing)
  • Provincial Fee - As per the individual provinces

Sarah Jane has new stocks of the Texas polo balls and requests that Clubs get their orders in timeously to avoid disappointment. The price of the new shipment is the same as last year.


Galia Dviri, who is the newly elected ladies representative on Exco has been hard at work planning “all ladies” fixtures at some of the 2017 tournaments. These include the Karkloof Classic, Highveld Champs and SA Champs. Val de Vie have already hosted a very successful ladies tournament over the weekend 4th/5th February. My thanks to Tessa Moxon for her organisation with this event. Provinces are encouraged to include a ladies section in their provincial championship tournaments should the demand warrant this. SAPA will be hosting a reciprocal ladies tour from Colonel Suarez where a South African invitational ladies team toured in January/February this year. The visitors from Colonel Suarez will participate in the ladies section at the Karkloof Classic. Galia has also been instrumental in organising a ladies coaching clinic to be held at ERPC over the weekend of the 10th – 12th March. ERPC have very kindly offered their facility free of charge whilst many of SAPA’s senior players have agreed to assist with coaching. It is envisaged that this will be repeated later in the year as a follow up to further improve/hone the ladies skills.


South Africa was fortunate to be invited to the 2017 FIP Snow Polo World Cup hosted by the Metropolitan Polo Club in conjunction with Fortune Heights and FIP. Other participating nations were Hong Kong China, United States, England, Argentina and Australia. The South African team consisted of Tom de Bruin (7), Chris MacKenzie (6) and Jannie Steenkamp (3). Gareth Evans travelled with the team as Manager/Reserve. Results from this successful tour were circulated to affiliated members but my congratulations to Tom and his team in finishing 3rd after being knocked out of the semi’s by Argentina. Given that during our last tour in 2015, South Africa didn’t win a game, the results were a remarkable turn around and will hopefully earn us an invite for 2018.


The Plett December season under the auspices of the Plett Polo Club’s Tournament Committee produced some really good polo thanks to the efforts of the Committee in restoring their fields to their former high standards. The Committee also introduced some trial rule innovations as follows:

  • Chukkas were shortened to 4:30 minutes with 30 seconds extra time per chukka – as per normal chukka.
  • The number of chukkas was increased from 4 to 6 chukkas per match but still equated to the same playing time as a standard 4 chukka match.
  • The total playing time remained the same as the present system of 7:00 minutes with 30 seconds extra time over 4 chukkas.
  • The matches were separated into two “halves” consisting of 3 chukkas per half.
  • The direction the teams played was decided by a coin toss before the start of the match. The team continued to score in that direction until half time where upon the teams changed ends for the second half.
  • Each half was started with a line out in front of the main crowd.
  • The other chukkas started with a line out from where the play ended if the chukka ended with the ball in play. A hit in if the ball went over the back line or a lineout if the ball went out over the boards.
  • After a goal was scored the defending team took a hit out from the 80 yard mark, with the attacking team keeping a 30 yard radius distance from the ball.
  • The umpire’s only called play once all 8 players had got into position.

The results were encouraging and it created some fast exciting polo. Comments from non-polo playing spectators indicated that it made the game easier to understand and follow.

Points to highlight:

The ponies seemed to do very well from the change in format. With quite a few levels of polo being played in a busy schedule (2,8 and 12 goal) ponies were able to play back-to-back games without difficulty.
Very few mid chukka changes were needed.
It wasn’t necessary for 6 ponies for 6 chukkas. Horses were able to double and their recovery was quicker.
The hit in after a goal worked well although this should rather be taken from the 60 yard line as opposed to the 80.
Umpires felt it was easy to manage avoiding the regular time wasted that players use to “discuss” decisions as they return to the middle.
Without the throw-ins the field did not tear as badly in the middle and recovered far quicker to be played on again. It also prevented ugly clashes in the lineouts with the usual scrum of small fouls.
The low goal seemed to struggle occasionally with this format.

The format needs to address is the time taken between chukkas when changing ponies. There is no point in trying to speed up the game if players then take in excess of three minutes to get back on the field. The time taken with penalties also needs to be addressed especially the long looping circles taken by many of the penalty hitters. The HPA are currently evaluating the format and will in all likelihood have a trial run later in the season. They have indicated that they have some reservations regarding some of the changes but acknowledged that polo needs a revamp. The HPA’s priority is to ensure one set of playing rules between themselves, the USPA and AAP. This is very close to being finalised with the present rule format and it is unlikely they will make any new changes until such time the three major Associations have achieved this.

The Plettenberg Bay International took place on the 29th December on the Pavilion field at Kurland. The 15 goal English team were no match against a comparative South African team with the hosts running out winners by 9 goals to three. Despite the one sided affair, the day was a great success with probably the largest crowd since the days of the Kurland International. My congratulations to Mike Griffith and his Committee for a very successful event. All indications are that this will continue to grow in popularity and hopefully attract some meaningful sponsorship.

As usual, any comments or suggestions are welcome.
Managing Director – South African Polo Association