November Newsletter

Nov 30 2018


At a recent SAPA Executive meeting, the committee took the decision to make use of the D6 Communicator as a means to disseminating information to the members. This is an App that can be downloaded onto your mobile phone, laptop or desktop computer and is used extensively by schools and other organisations to get information to their parents/clients/members.

You will soon receive a notification from D6 inviting you to down load the App which will then be used by the SAPA office for notifications, newsletters, calendar events etc etc. The App is easy to use and will only require you to login with your preferred user name and password.

The invite to participate in the App will come either via email or sms (or both) to your device in the near future. So, this will probably be my last newsletter in its present form. Further bits of information in the future will arrive via the D6 Communicator.


The Nedbank International Polo day held at Inanda was a great success despite the short time span available to organize and market the event. Our congratulations to Bridget and Sarah Jane who shouldered the bulk of the organization during this time. They had 8 weeks from the time Nedbank signed the contract to International day to market marquee & picnic sites as well as execute the normal logistics of the event.

Nedbank were extremely happy with the day which bodes well for the future but like all events there will always be room for improvement. Heineken who came on board as Associate sponsors were also very happy with proceedings.

Nedbank would like to keep the same date in September 2019 and suggested SAPA invite a team from New Zealand. The rugby World Cup commences in Japan a week later with the opening match between the Springboks and the All Blacks. Nedbank would like to build a hype and marketing strategy around this.

Nedbank were unhappy with the proximity of the Africa Cup and Africa Polo Open with three big events all within the space of 5-6 weeks. To facilitate the repairs to Inanda’s field it would be beneficial to move Africa Cup earlier and the APO later. Nedbank were concerned about the hype around the marketing of the APO before Nedbank’s event causing confusion around international polo in Johannesburg.


The following was agreed upon for the 2019 Midlands International:

  • The Midlands International will be played at FIP 14 Goal level using 5 goal rated players and below i.e. FIP rules
  • SAPA will include a player of colour in the South African team. It is not a prerequisite that the development player plays in the preceding weekend (EG Champs), although it would be useful for training purposes
  • SAPA to invite Australia, failing which we will look to invite Gillian Johnson with a Canadian / American team
  • A Hilton vs Michaelhouse curtain raiser match will precede the Test match as was the case in 2018
  • A possible curtain raiser consisting of 8 lady players playing for a charity will be considered
  • A kid’s curtain raiser will start the day’s program as per 2018
  • The touring team of 4 players will be expected to play in EG Champs the preceding weekend as an opportunity to try out horses and to get to know local players
  • EG Champs will be considered a selection tournament for the SA team
  • Each team in the A Section must include a foreigner from the visiting team and will be responsible for mounting this player. These horses must also be available for the Midlands International the following weekend
  • The selected SA team must provide 3 horses per player to each of the visiting players
  • SAPA to notify the visiting team by email that only 4 players will be able to play in the A Section at EG Champs
  • All players will be notified of all the criteria before making themselves available for the SA team and EG Champs A Section


You will recall Exco agreed to use 2018 as a trial year for the new rule format and it was important that the year be completed before making permanent changes. Numerous challenges were encountered with the format, particularly in KZN and EG. It is important to recognise that the playing conditions throughout South Africa are vastly different between the provinces. The playing surfaces and weather conditions during December in Plettenberg Bay are vastly different to that of KZN in June and so it’s understandable that a 4.30 min chukka in KZN could be too short. After a review of the 2018 season Exco took the decision to revert back to the HPA rules with the following amendments:

  • Tournaments of 5 goals and above will play 6 chukkas of 6,0 minutes + 30 seconds
  • Tournaments of 4 goals and below will play 4 chukkas of 7,0 minutes + 30 seconds
  • These will all follow the HPA rules
  • If a club wishes to reduce the number of chukkas for their tournament, the Club must apply in writing to the SAPA office with a motivation for permission to reduce the chukkas to be played at that tournament only.  This will then possibly be advertised on the SAPA Fixture list


There were numerous reports of ill-discipline and bad behaviour at various tournaments over the 2018 season. You will recall SAPA introduced zero tolerance some years back to combat this. Sadly, the level of zero tolerance has slipped with players resorting to abusing umpires as well as their own team mates and opposition players. This includes abuse in the pony lines between chukkas and at the conclusion of games. This has resulted in an unacceptable level of negativity which is threatening the spirit of the game, the way it is being played by some, not to mention spectator enjoyment, and more importantly sponsors - who are intolerant of anything which impacts negatively on their brands. Many players / umpires appear to be unsure of the rules pertaining to the implementation of the yellow and red cards. Sadly, the time has come for these to be implemented more strictly in conjunction with zero tolerance. With this in mind the following suggestions have been mooted to improve umpiring and the implementation of the rules:

  • SAPA will embark on a “road show” in conjunction with Steven Evans early in the new year whereby the use of the yellow and red card is explained in detail to ensure it is used more extensively and strictly in the 2019 season
  • Suggestion that all provinces introduce the system currently in use in the Highveld which appeared in my last newsletter. The Free State and KZN have both undertaken to put this into effect in 2019
  • SAPA ensures the implementation of the zero-tolerance at all tournaments – through its provinces and filtering down to Clubs

The system currently in use in the Highveld works very well and is worth consideration by all the provinces. For those readers interested, I have included the mechanics of this from my previous newsletter below.

Zero tolerance means no communication with umpires during the chukka by anyone. Only the team captain may query a decision at the end of the chukka after he/she has changed his/her pony. Umpires must ensure there is no verbal abuse towards fellow players and opposition members. Transgression of this will immediately invoke a yellow card. It is vitally important we clean up our act if we want to grow this beautiful sport and attract sponsors and spectators.
From my previous newsletter – Highveld’s Umpiring initiative:
Due to the lack of qualified umpires in the province, exacerbated by the high number of low goal players with little knowledge of umpiring, the Highveld Executive introduced a system whereby all its affiliated players were allocated a rating of “Rated” or “Non-Rated”. The initial ratings were conducted by the Club captains in conjunction with the Chief Umpire.
Only rated umpires are used to umpire at tournaments and are paid R200 per chukka after their mandatory umpiring duty (traditionally all players are required to do an umpire duty at tournaments). Funding to cover the payments for rated umpires is derived from a R500 levy imposed on the entry fees of non-rated players – these players are not required to do any umpiring duties at all.
The initiative is not a money-making effort and is designed that the income derived from the umpire’s levy is sufficient to meet payments to rated officials. It does improve the quality of umpiring in all matches especially those played at the lower levels i.e. zero, two and even four goal. It also serves to encourage non-rated players to learn the rules and attempt to become rated umpires.
In order to become rated, prospective umpires must pass the HPA rules and umpires test and then gain umpiring experience during club chukkas under the supervision of their club captain. Once the club captain is satisfied they know the rules sufficiently and have a proficiency to umpire at lower levels they are screened by a Committee and graded to “Rated” or otherwise.
Whilst the system is not perfect and imposes a considerable administration burden on office bearers, there is no doubt that the quality of umpiring, and by extension, player satisfaction in the lower levels, has improved dramatically.
I am of the opinion that other provinces should introduce a similar format. Depending on club entry fees the figures can be adjusted accordingly provide there is still enough incentive for rated umpires to officiate more than one match per weekend.


The SAEF annual subscriptions have doubled from R400 to R800 per member for 2019. SAPA will continue to “sponsor” members this fee for the 2019 season. This “sponsorship” will not apply to temporary members. They will be required to pay this over and above the SAPA fee. It is now a SAEF prerequisite for all polo ponies to have their own passports. If a horse is bought off the racetrack, then it should already have its own passport, alternatively passports can be purchased from the SAPA office at R160 per passport. These will be required for the transportation of horses. It is a SAEF ruling that every horse playing in a polo tournament has to have an up-to-date passport.


SAPA Adult Full Membership: R2 500
SAPA Scholar / Student Membership: R200
SAPA Temporary Membership: R1 000

The provinces decided to keep their fees the same for 2019, with the exception of the Western Cape who have increased their fee from R200 per player to R400 per player. The Temporary membership fee of R1 000 will remain the same. A player requesting this option, must apply in writing with a motivation to the SAPA office for approval.


Only SAPA can sanction and run International tournaments that can be labelled as “international” using the terms “South Africa” versus “visiting team”.  Only these teams i.e. SAPA’s best teams can play in the green and gold wearing the Protea badge. The bottle green blazer with the Protea badge will only awarded once the player has played three matches for his country. 14-goal teams (i.e. FIP standard) or higher can play in the green and gold and labelled as “South Africa”, but with the SAPA logo (not the Protea badge) on the left breast. Lower handicap teams to wear the SAPA logo only on the left breast and play in white and green shirts. These teams cannot be referred to as “South Africa”.

That’s it for now - as usual, any comments and/or suggestions are always very welcome.
Managing Director – South African Polo Association