Polocrosse is an action-packed, team sport often referred to as Rugby on horseback. It is a family orientated sport with grades to cater for all levels of ability from the novice through to highly experienced and competitive riders. Polocrosse is unique in that it is a sport in which the whole family can play at the one event, often in the same team. Players range from 5 Years of age through to just over 80.
Games are divided into quarters (known as chukkas). A team consists of six players and divided into 2 sections. The first section plays the 1st and 3rd chukka and the second section plays the 2nd and 4th chukka. Chukkas are normally 6 to 8 minutes. That may not sound like a long time but after your first game you will understand “how long” 6 to 8 minutes can be.
The three players in each section are numbered according to their position.
- The number 1 is the attack player and (other than the opposition’s Number 3) is the only person allowed in the goal scoring area and able to score goals.
- The number 2 plays in the centre and must often switch from attack to defence depending on which side has possession of the ball.
- The number 3 defends against the opposition’s number 1.
The playing field is 146.4m long and 55m wide. The game starts by players lining up in the centre of the field (as shown) waiting for the umpire to throw the ball in. To score a goal, players must then pick the ball up using a long handled racquet, get it to their goal scoring area and pass it to their number 1 who must throw the ball through the goal posts from outside of the key. When taking the ball from one area to another it must be passed to another player or bounced over the line. There are of course many other rules but that’s the basics of the game.
Any horse can be used other than a stallion, however generally Australian Stock Horses and thoroughbreds around 15 hands are used. At the top end of the sport, the game requires highly agile horses capable of stopping from high speeds, turning around and accelerating away quickly. As players are allowed to push opponents, horses do need to be calm around other horses.
Competitions are available for almost all ages. Any player under 16 years may play in the junior competition however some younger players usually under twelve play in the sub-junior competition that is run for under 12s. This “competition” is social in nature and focuses on participation with all participants usually receiving a small prize. The youngest known sub-junior was 2 years old.
We could write lots about horse welfare and the value of a good horse but ultimately it comes down to this; if you cannot treat your horse with respect find another sport!
Costs (dollars and time)
Many polocrosse players will tell you polocrosse is more than sport and that it is a way of life. What ever your perspective, to play polocrosse it’s important you understand what you are up for. We suggest people interested in playing, contact their nearest club and take advantage of our trial player membership package to keep costs to a minimum. Additionally, clubs often have spare equipment they can loan interested people so they can try the game before jumping right in. Like other horse activities you can, to some degree, spend as much or as little as you want.
Each player must be registered and insured under the sports national governing Body, the Polocrosse Association of Australia. Once registered players can nominate what tournaments (we call them carnivals) they play at. There is an entry fee for each tournament usually around $20 for adults and less for children.