Polocrosse was first played in Australia in 1939, but it was not until 1949 that it was introduced to Western Australia (WA). Bob Russell, of Kojonup, first saw the game at the Sydney Easter Show and after acquiring some racquets and balls, he returned to WA to form the first club at Kojonup. Bob Russell organised an exhibition game at Kojonup in 1950 in front of 200 spectators.
The Polocrosse Association of Western Australia (PAWA) was formed in 1951 with the first tournament that same year at Kojonup. In 1956, the PAWA affiliated with the Polocrosse Association of Australia. Currently the Southern, Central and Midwest are the zones of the state.
The National Championships are played every two years on a rotational basis around the seven states and territories. In 1980, the Capel club was the host of the first National Championships to be played in WA. Then in 1994 the Walkway club in the Midwest hosted National Championships. National Championships came back to WA in 2008 with the Perth club hosting what is considered to be the “best ever” Nationals. It will again be hosted in Perth in 2018!
The polocrosse season starts in autumn with tournaments for beginner horses and new players. While competitive, these tournaments are primarily fun, with no scores and no trophies. In late June the main season commences in the Midwest and finishes in the southern part of the state in December. Spectators are welcome at all venues and there is not cost to come in and watch so please do!
Tournaments are full weekend events with all grades from A to E and sub juniors competing for trophies.
How to play the game of polocrosse
As the name itself implies, Polocrosse is a combination of polo, lacrosse and netball. It is played on horseback, each rider using a cane stick, made up of a polo stick shaft to which is attached a squash racquet type head with a loose twisted-thread net, in which the ball is carried. The stick may be of any length, usually from 1.0m to 1.2m overall. The ball is made of thick-skinned sponge rubber, 100mm-103mm in diameter, and weighs 140-155grams.
Each player is permitted only one horse in each tournament, except in the case of injury when a substitute horse can be played. Although there is no restriction on the height of horses used it is generally accepted that the ideal height should not exceed 15.2 hands.
A team consists of six players, divided into two sections of three who play alternate chukkas of a maximum of six minutes each, six chukkas usually comprising a full match. The three players in each section consist of a No. 1 or “Attack”, a No. 2 or “Centre”, and No. 3 or “Defence”. The total aggregate of goals scored by the two sections in each team constitutes the final score.
The field is 146.5m long and 55m wide, with goal-posts 2.5m apart at each end. Infield, 27.5m from each end there is a line extending the width of the field which is called the “penalty line”. The line encloses what is known as the “goal-scoring area”, in which only the No. 1 of the attacking team and the No. 3 of the defending team are allowed to play. Directly in front of each goal there is a semi-circle of 10m radius, and the ball must be thrown at goal from outside this semi-circle, and within the goal-scoring area.
The No. 1 is the only player who can score a goal for the team and the No. 1 can only do so whilst in the “goal-scoring area”. The No. 2 is usually the pivot of the team, can only play in the centre area and the No. 3 is the only player who can defend a goal.
The game is commenced in centre field, the players lining up side by side, one behind the other with the No. 1 in front, and the ball is thrown in by the umpire, over-arm, well above the players’ heads. The game recommences similarly after a goal has been scored. Whenever an attempt at goal fails, the No. 3 throws the ball back into play from just behind the penalty line, at a point directly in front of the spot where the ball crossed the back line. The umpire should indicate the spot from which the throw is to be taken.
Players pick up the ball from the ground, or catch it, in the net of the stick, and ride with it or throw it from player to player until the No. 1 is in possession of it in the goal scoring area so as to be able to throw a goal. A player cannot carry the ball over the penalty line, but must bounce it on the ground, so that that player does not have possession of it while actually crossing the penalty line. However, a player may throw the ball to another player across the line on the full.
A player carrying the ball in the stick must carry it on the stick side, that is, right-handed players carry it on the off-side of the horse. A player cannot carry it across the horse, but the player can pick up or catch the ball on the non-stick side provided the player brings the stick back to the stick side immediately. Left-handed players are permitted.
Hitting at an opponent’s stick, either to dislodge the ball or prevent the opponent gaining possession of it, is allowed in an upward direction only. Hitting down constitutes a foul.
“Riding-off’ is allowed, but crossing, stopping over the ball, or elbowing constitute fouls. The wedging or sandwiching of one player between two players “riding-off” simultaneously constitutes a foul and is dangerous play. The penalty for such fouls is a free throw to the offended side.