University Polo

SUPA Rules for Universities

Learn about the rules governing SUPA University fixtures

University Rules & Regulations

The rules of the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA) will govern all tournaments played. Specific SUPA rules are as follows.  Please refer to the HPA rules or contact the SUPA Universities Section Manager for anything not covered below.

Player Equipment

Players are expected to be well turned out in clean attire with safe equipment for all SUPA matches and throughout the event.  Please contact our sponsors R.J. Polo who will be glad to help with any player equipment requirements you may have.

Helmets/Hats – SUPA requires all players to wear a riding helmet that meets the HPA helmet regulations.  Polo Helmets are recommended, however any style is acceptable as long as it is compliant. It is the players responsibility to ensure their helmet fits them, therefore SUPA strongly advises that riding helmets are professionally fitted to the individual to ensure the right level of protection.

Before you can play in any SUPA tournament, every players MUST get their helmet checked that it meets the HPA helmet regulations so it can be tagged. Non-tagged helmets cannot be worn, anyone found playing in a helmet without a tag will be immediately removed from the pitch until a compliant tagged helmet is found. Any non-compliant helmets will be confiscated for the rest of the tournament. Please note that the helmet tagging only relates to the HPA helmet regulations, not to the fit of a helmet on your head.

Knee Pads   Knee pads are mandatory for playing in SUPA as per HPA rule 2,g(ii).  Players are allowed to warm up prior to a match without knee pads.

Eye protection  It is recommended that goggles or eye protection are worn by every player. Please note that we are planning to make eye protection mandatory for all players soon to bring us into line with affiliated associations in other countries.

Riding Boots Full length riding boots are recommended (over the combination of chaps/ankle boots) to be worn in all SUPA divisions.

Spurs  These are not allowed under any circumstances in any SUPA sanctioned match or Championship and no dispensation will be given.  If you are seen wearing spurs, you will be asked to remove them.

Whips – Whips must be no more than 48 inches long including any tag. Broken whips are not allowed. The whip may only be used with left hand when the ball is in play and then only down its shoulder or on its quarters.

A player may not take their hand off the reins to use the whip unless there are exceptional circumstances.  Excessive use of the whip will not be tolerated.

Misuse of the whip constitutes unsportsmanlike conduct and is therefore subject to disciplinary action.

Team Shirts Players must wear numbered matching team shirts.  In the event of two teams turning up for play wearing shirts of the same or similar colour, bibs will be worn by one of the teams. The teams will take turns to wear the bibs if they meet again during the tournament.

Polo Whites Players must wear polo whites, white jeans or white jodhpurs.

Helmet Cameras  such as GoPro cameras or any other miniature recording devices are not to be worn or held by any person once they are mounted. (Umpires are allowed to wear them for filming purposes, at their discretion and as arranged between player and Umpire).

SUPA Player Abilities

All university players must be current full time or part time students at registered universities or colleges within the United Kingdom to be able to play in the SUPA Universities Section. Only current university students can play in SUPA sections and after you graduate you can only play within the SAPA section.

Divisions SUPA offers a range of ability sections from Beginner to Open. Some sections are subdivided into multiple division to ensure every player can participate safely at their own ability, please see the Player Ability and Division Rules for player criteria. There are also combined divisions for teams made up of players from multiple Universities. Students at universities short of other players at an ability or without a polo club or should enter as individuals within the combined section, however they must contact the SUPA Section Manager before they enter if they need to find additional teammates to play alongside.

A player is only eligible to be entered into a division one higher or lower than their ability, e.g. Novice 1 or Novice 3 if the player is Novice 2 ability. Any players playing across a wider span of divisions will be challenged, (e.g. Playing in Novice 1 and Novice 4) and SUPA reserves the right to move the team or player to a more suitable division. If a player is found to be playing below their ability or handicap, their team faces disqualification. For player eligibility and division guidance please read the

player ability & divisions rules.

Handicaps A handicap is a measure of polo proficiency set out by the governing body of polo, the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA).

Within SUPA Universities, smaller proportion of players have an HPA handicap as they have only played polo through SUPA while at university. Therefore, university players are assessed by their HPA coach who will decide the appropriate SUPA division for their ability.  SUPA players with an HPA handicap will play off their respective outdoor or arena handicap. If no arena handicap is held, their outdoor handicap plus 1 is taken. Please read the Player Ability and Division Rules.

We expect all players and/or University Team Managers to inform us of any changes to handicaps. Please remember that we are able to track changes made on members accounts, therefore failure to update handicaps any attempts to mislead SUPA about a player’s handicap will result in serious disciplinary action, ranging from disqualification through to membership bans.

Polocrosse – players who play or have played polocrosse will play off their grading equivalent handicap, this will be assessed by the approved university coach/instructor using the HPA approved scale of: A = 1/2, B = 0/1, C= -1, D= -2

Overseas Players – We expect all University Team Managers and/or coaches/instructors to inform us of any players (overseas or not) that have previous experience in polo and the equivalent handicap that they have played off.  This must translate to HPA grass handicap and will determine the divisions that they are eligible to play in.

Alumni Players (SAPA) – all former school or university players or full-time staff of any educational establishment may be eligible to join SAPA (Schools and Universities Alumni Polo Association).  Members may participate in SAPA polo events which often run alongside SUPA Universities events. There are three divisions within SAPA to allow everyone who has played polo at university to continue to participate safely at their ability, please see the Player Ability and Division Rules for more informationPlease note that SAPA members cannot play in University Divisions. Buying associate membership to your university club after you graduate does not constitute still being a student, you can only play in SAPA after graduating.

Although SAPA is separate from SUPA, it appears as a university on the drop-down selection menu. When you leave university, you will need to ensure that your SUPA membership is migrated over to SAPA rather than creating a new account.

University Requirements

Team Manager – All teams must appoint an official Team Manager to represent the team.  This may be the University President or Captain or another other official* from your club. The Team Manager will take full responsibility for the eligibility of the players’ SUPA Membership, oversee player entries into tournaments, as well as the health, safety and riding competence of the team(s) entered.  Your University Team Manager must inform the SUPA section manager which horse hirer they are hiring horses from that academic year and must update this prior to a tournament should this change. *The term “other official” may include the HPA approved team coach.

Horse Hire – Horse hire is a matter between the individual student/s or university club and Horse Hirers, SUPA do not get involved in organising hire.  If you are hiring ponies to play at a SUPA event, the providers are legally required to hold a current REL (Riding Establishment Licence), to hire out horses for payment or remuneration.  It is your responsibility (not SUPA’s) to ensure that your horse hirer has a current REL.

When arranging horse hire, SUPA advise getting written confirmation of hire from your Horse Hirer and prior payment of a pony hire deposit before the event, you should not rely on verbal agreements.

You must have organised horse hire before entering a tournament.  Withdrawing any team/s due to lack of horse hire or failure to organise horse hire prior to entry will result in a fine of £200 and you will not be eligible for reimbursement of entry fees or membership.

Coaches – All coaches must be a registered HPA coach– coaching at SUPA events by unlicensed coaches is not permitted under any circumstances.

Coaching from the Sidelines – We are aware of the possibly disruptive nature of side-line instructing and heckling and the effect on some players, especially in the beginner division.  During play the Umpires will determine what is aggressive coaching and what is genuine encouragement and act accordingly.  All players are requested to talk to the Umpire when play has stopped, regarding any issues they may have.  This does not mean that you cannot cheer your team on or that coaches cannot do their jobs.  On the contrary ‘atmosphere make the game’.  However, any coaching instructions or heckling of opposing teams must be deemed to have been made in the spirit of the game of polo.

SUPA Players who heckle from the sidelines – the same rules as above apply.  Please see the SUPA Universities Code of Conduct.

Any tack or safety issues that may have been missed by the Umpire or player can be indicated from the side-lines, as normal, during play.

Lessons – You may have lessons at your local polo club under instruction of an HPA approved coach without being a SUPA member.  This is subject to the club or coach acknowledging that Public Liability for all participants is covered under the club or coach Public Liability cover.  SUPA recommends that you obtain membership as soon as possible, to enjoy the benefits that come with being a SUPA member.

Rules of Play – The rules as laid down by the HPA are to be applied unless SUPA and their officials deem otherwise.  For example, in the Arena, SUPA does not score ‘2 pointers’ from goals hit outside the 25 yard mark in any division (with the exception of international matches).  The rules may be interpreted in a slightly different manner due to the facilities used by the Officials on the day.  Any changes will be listed on the notice boards, social media or tournament app before play commences.

Decisions are at the discretion of SUPA and any changes made by the Section Manager and Tournament Chairman will be final.

Conditions for Players

Code of Conduct Please see the SUPA Universities Code of Conduct.

Complaints, Protests & Objections

No complaint may be raised directly with an opposing team, player or official.

Only Team Managers, or their appointed representative notified to the Chairman of SUPA are entitled to lodge objections or protests.  These must be made to the Tournament Committee on the same day and within 30 minutes of the alleged incident and they will be heard by the Tournament Committee.

Objections/Protests should be in writing accompanied by a deposit of £100 which will be refunded if the objection/protest is upheld. No photographic evidence will be accepted in support of a complaint, protest, or objection.

Any complaints about umpiring must be made by the Team Manager to the Tournament Committee on the same day and within 30 minutes of the chukka finishing.  As above it should be in writing accompanied by a deposit of £100 which will be refunded if the complaint is upheld. No photographic evidence will be accepted in support.

Players, Parents, Coaches etc may not complain directly to the Umpire or SUPA Stewards.

As per HPA rules of Polo, the Umpires’ decision is final, and results of matches cannot be altered after the match has completed.

SUPA does not respond to anonymous complaints during, or after a tournament.

Attendance – Given the size of SUPA University tournaments we require all players to attend for the entire duration of the SUPA Tournament. We try to accommodate genuine requests for early/late chukkas where possible. Alternatively, we recommend players half seat to suit their availability. Please ensure when entering that all members of team/s can attend for the full duration of the tournament or they may forfeit their entry fee.  Please refer to the attendance requirements below.

Winter Arena National Championships – 4 days, Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday for all ability sections.

Summer National Championships – 4 days Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday for all ability sections.

University Challenge – 2 days Saturday & Sunday for all ability sections.

Membership – All players must have purchased their annual SUPA membership before they can enter a tournament.

Tournament Entries – All team entries must be placed by the Team Manager at each university. Only complete teams should be entered, placeholders are not allowed and any incomplete teams will be withdrawn once entries have closed.  If player/s are no longer able to play in the team they’ve been entered in, the Team Manager must request the change on their Team Manager account. All player changes must be requested and confirmed by SUPA. SUPA reserves the right to select the substitute player with an appropriately handicap.

You may half slot in any of the divisions, but you must tell us the names (and handicaps where applicable) of both players sharing a seat.

Spare Players/Spaces in Teams – Prior to each tournament, spare players/spaces in combined teams can be posted on the SUPA University Polo Network group on Facebook. SUPA will still retain the right to select the substitutes for teams requiring a substitute player. Any player choice will be arbitrary but fair and no player will be guaranteed a place in any team they may have chosen without SUPA approval.

Scores – The final score of any match in any section must be agreed between the scorers, umpire, and players from both teams prior to them leaving the arena/pitch.  Any objection must be raised with the umpire before the teams leave the arena/pitch.

Late for play – During tournaments any players who are late for the start of their chukka and do not have a valid excuse or have not informed SUPA well beforehand, may result in penalties being awarded to the opposition, or the ball being thrown in and the match being played without the player.  The late player may not join play until the whistle has been blown for a break in play.

Medical Insurance – SUPA does not provide any level of medical insurance coverage within your membership.  The only exception being SUPA International away matches, as SUPA will insure players whilst abroad.  All players must determine and confirm whether their University offers sports insurance inclusive of polo.  All players are advised to seek personal sporting insurance cover inclusive of polo.  Polo can be a dangerous sport and you participate knowing the potential risks it involves.

Entry Refunds – refunds requested prior to entries closing will incur an admin fee of £5 to £10 depending upon how payment was made.

Withdrawal of Team due to lack of Horse Hire – It is your responsibility to ensure that you have horse hire secured before you enter any tournament.  If you cancel after the event has closed due to not having horse hire you will incur a fine of £200 and you will not be eligible for reimbursement of entry fees or membership.

Late Entry of Withdrawal of Teams/Players – If a team or player has to withdraw after entries are closed, the entry fee will be forfeited and penalties may be affixed.  Please coordinate with the Section Manager to mitigate as early as possible.  Withdrawals on the day of the tournament will also be subject to the entry fee being forfeited and SUPA may impose appropriate fines and substitute a replacement team at your cost.

Cancellation/Postponement of Event/Tournament –

  1. In the event of cancellation/Postpone of your tournament due to unforeseen or difficult to predict circumstances such as adverse weather conditions, infectious equine or human diseases or government directives that curtail sporting events.  SUPA will endeavour to give as much notice as possible of cancellation.  SUPA will try to reschedule the same tournament for a later date.  If this is not possible or if there are players who may not be able to attend on the rescheduled dates SUPA will then reimburse entry fee less a £10 admin fee per transaction.
  2. SUPA accept no responsibility and are not liable for the compensation of any charges that maybe incurred by horse hire or coaches/instructors.

iii.  SUPA accept no responsibility to reimburse contractors for cancellation/postponement of services due to circumstances listed (i.) above.

SUPA Sanctioned Events

A University SUPA sanctioned event is a tournament held at an HPA approved or affiliated polo club.  Please click on link below for full information.

SUPA Authorised Events and Disclaimer[36]


SUPA, the HPA and tournament and event organisers or any person acting on their behalf, do not accept liability for loss, damage, accident, injury or illness to competitors, spectators or any person or property whatsoever.

Players/University Team Managers acknowledge and agree that equestrian activities are dangerous and involve risk of serious injury and/or death and/or property damage and that polo is an extremely dangerous and ultra-hazardous activity. Players/University Team Managers consciously and voluntarily assume all such risks, dangers, and hazards inherent in these activities.

SUPA, the HPA and tournament and event organisers aim to meet the necessary medical, veterinary and health and safety standards but the responsibility for the players, spectators and supporters rests with the individuals both on and off the ground or in/out of the Arena.

A player with a known medical condition must obtain qualified medical approval before participating in any SUPA activity.

Every eventuality cannot be provided for in these rules

It is the Players/University Team Managers responsibility to ensure they are complying with the rules of the competition.