World Elephant Polo Association

Rules & regulations






1. The Game will be played by four players on each team. The game is played on a marked pitch of "100-120 metres x 60-80 metres", using a standard size polo ball.

2. The game will consist of two 10 minutes chukkers of playing time, with an interval of 15 minutes. The whistle blown by the referee stops and starts play.

3. The pitch will be marked with a centre line, a circle with a radius of 10 metres in the centre of the field, and a semi-circle, in front of the goals, with a radius of 20 metres, measured from the centre of the goal to form the 'D'.

4. Elephants and ends are changed at half time.

5. The complete ball must travel over the sideline or back line, to be out, and completely across the goal line to be a goal.

6. All throws-ins or set pieces must be off-side to off-side. Right hand for both men & women players must be the dominant side.

Both men and women players must play on the right side of the elephant. Men may only use only their right hand. However, women may use two hands to hold the polo stick if they so wish. If women choose to play with one hand not two, then it must be their right hand only (and not the left). Care must be taken when changing sides of play, in order to avoid injury with the stick to other players, or elephants. When the Umpire/ Referee judge dangerous play has been committed, a spot hit shall be given to the opposing team. All defending elephants and players must be 15 metres from the spot.

7. Teams may bring additional players, reserves, to interchange with other members of the team, as long as the number, names and arrangements have been agreed in advance by WEPA. Team members playing will be named the evening before a match. The changes, except in the case of injury where a replacement is needed, must be done at half-time when names will be given to the Referee, time-keepers/ commentators.





The play is begun when an Umpire, from outside the centre circle, throws the ball between two opposing elephants inside the ring. No other elephants may enter the ring until the ball has been hit out by either of the two opposing players. To do so is foul. A spot hit is to be given to the fouled team, from the spot where the ball was when the foul occurred. Defending elephants must be 15 metres from the ball. The umpire will throw in from opposite sides of the centre circle for each consecutive throw in.



a. "There must always be at least one elephant in each half at all times."

For example: No team with four elephants may have more than 3 elephants playing in one half of the pitch at any given time, including at the throw-in before the start of the game, and the throw-in after each goal is scored. To do so constitutes a foul. Likewise, a team comprising of three elephants may never have more than 2 elephants playing in one half at any given time. A spot hit will be given against the offending team from the place where the ball was when the foul occurred.

b. At any time when the game has stopped, the umpire can be asked by a team not to re-start the game until their elephants have changed positions.

However, if any elephant was in the "wrong half" but moving back to its correct position, flexibility should be allowed by the Umpire in order to allow continuity of the game. It need not be stopped for small technical detail of the field positions.

c. Ideally the size of the field for playing 4 elephants per side should be 100-120m long and 80m wide and for playing 3 elephants per side, the field size could be 80m x 70m.




If the Attacking team has more than one elephant in the goal semi-circle, even a small part of the foot of the second elephant, then the Defending team is given a free spot hit from a point on the semi-circle line opposite the middle of the goal unless the umpire decides to play the advantage rule.

If there are two Defending elephants in the goal semi-circle, this also constitutes a foul. A free hit is given to the Attacking team from the point at which the ball was when the foul occurred unless the umpire decides to play the advantage rule.

Elephants from the defending team must be 15 metres from the ball. This may mean that the elephants from the Defending side could be outside the D, and possibly over the goal line with "an undefended" goal-mouth.




a. All players must be at least 15 meters from the ball, or off the field of play, which in some circumstances will be less than 15 metres. If the defending elephant is endangering spectators by being positioned off the field (& 15 metres from the hit), the umpire has the discretion to instruct the defending elephant to be positioned on the pitch (and 15 metres from the where the penalty is taken)

b. When the ball goes out over a side line, the team that hits it last, whether it rebounds off any elephant or not, will be considered as the team that hit it out. A hit in from where the ball went out will be awarded to the other team.

c. Should a player hit the ball and it goes out of play, after striking the stick of an opposition player, the last player that touched the ball will be considered the one to have put the ball out of play– even if the ball is stationary when the opposing team elephant kicks it out. A spot hit will be awarded where the ball went out of the play.

d. Should an Attacking player hit the ball over the backline of the Defence team, whether it rebounds off any elephant, or not, it shall be a hit in for the Defending team from the back line/goal line, from where the ball crossed the back line

e. Should a Defending player hit the ball out over the back-line, whether or not it deflected off any elephant, it will be hit for the Attacking team 20 metres out opposite where the ball crossed the line. Only one Defending and one Attacking elephant is allowed in the "D".

f. Should the Defending player hit the ball and it rebounds off an Attacking player's stick before going out directly, or off any elephant, on its way out over the back line, then it is a knock-in for the Defending team from the base line line, opposite from were the ball crossed the line. All elephants of the Attacking team must be 15 metres from the spot.

g. Should the ball, hit by a Defending player, deflect off an elephant and crosses the goal line, a goal will be awarded to the Attacking team, as an "own goal" of the Defending player.

h. Should a Defending player take a spot hit, or an Attacking player a spot hit or penalty, from the 20-metre semi-circle comprising the D, then that elephant is considered as the one allowed in the D from his side. No others may be allowed to stand in the D to supplement the player taking the shot. An elephant from the opposing side from the one taking the penalty, or spot hit, may be allowed, in the D, 15 meters from the spot.

i. Elephant interference when taking a spot hit or penalty: When a spot hit, knock-in from side or back line or a penalty is awarded, the player will swing at the ball and if contact is made, no matter how gentle or in what direction, the hit shall be considered as being made. However, if a player misses the ball completely, he may attempt other swings until contact is made. The opposing players may move towards the player hitting in or taking the penalty once the ball is actually hit. Should an elephant's tail, ear or trunk touch the player or the stick as the swing is taken, that is to be considered as part of overall play and the player does not get a re-hit should the ball be struck or touched at all. Should the tail, ear or trunk, interfere with the stick being swung, the player can stop the completion of the swing and retake it. However, the main criteria is once the ball has been touched, whether the player is interfered with, or not, by the elephant, it is considered a strike.



There shall be no restrictions as to the height, weight or sex of the elephants.



a. A team consists of four elephants. Teams are made up from the pool of elephants and balanced out as fairly as possible bearing in mind size and speed of the elephants. Once the teams of elephants have been selected, they shall be categorised and marked as A,B,C,D and so on.

Once chosen the elephants cannot be changed from one team to another. In case it is considered that an elephant needs to be changed, the umpires and referee shall, in consultation with Chief Mahouts, decide which elephant(s) are to be substituted from the reserve pool available. Wherever possible they will choose an elephant of similar size and speed, as a replacement(s).

b. The mahout of the elephant's chosen must play the entire game on the elephant originally assigned. The mahout cannot be changed at anytime except for injury or circumstances accepted by the Umpires and/or the Referee.

Note: On very rare occasions, and beyond the control of WEPA, elephants may be reduced from four to three per side. This decision will be at the discretion of the Referee, Umpires and Chief Mahouts. This has only happened twice in 25 years.



No elephants may lie down in front of the goal-mouth. To do so will constitute a foul. A free hit shall be awarded to the opposing side from the 20 metres semi circle in front of the goal, with only one elephant defending in the D and at least 15 metres from the spot. All other defending elephants must be 15 meters from the spot, but outside the D.



An elephant may not pick up the ball with its trunk during play. To do so shall constitute a foul. A free hit shall be awarded to the opposing team from the spot where the ball was picked up. The defending players shall be 15 metres away from the spot.



If a player falls from an elephant, the play is stopped while the rider remounts. In case of injury, where the player cannot continue, a replacement may be called upon from among the reserves nominated, at the beginning of the Championship. Play is commenced with a throw-in by the Umpire between two elephants – one from each team, similar to the start of the game, but from the spot where the ball was when the player fell off. All other elephants shall be 15 metres from the spot.



Should there be a failure in the elephant's harness, the harness must be adjusted or changed on the spot where the problem occurred. The game stops and restarted with a throw-in.

At the discretion of the umpire, in consultation with the mahout, if the player is considered to have made a mistake, and there is nothing basically wrong with the harness, the game is restarted with a free hit from the spot or even a penalty given, to the opposing side with all other elephants 15 meters from the spot.



a. Should a stick be broken, the game is stopped, except if it occurs in the D, when the game is NOT stopped. A person designated by the team may run on to the field to replace the stick. The game is re-started by the Umpire with a throw-in between two opposing elephants. All other elephants must be 15 metres from the spot. At the discretion of the Umpire, a foul may be awarded against the team where a player breaks the stick more than once in a chukka. Players sometime use "slashing" or hitting the ground hard in front of an opposing player in order to intimidate the player and in the process can break a stick. This the Umpire, or referee, will judge. If a foul is given, all elephants must be 15 metres away from the spot.

b. Dropped Stick: Should a stick be dropped, the game is not stopped. It must be picked up immediately by the elephant/ mahout of the particular player and handed back as quickly as possible. Should a player of a dropped stick infringe the movement of the game, a free hit may be give, at the Umpire's discretion, to the opposing side.

c. Request to change an unbroken stick: The game is not stopped if a player wishes to change a stick. Should a player wish to change his/her stick, he/she must wait for a stop in play to do so.

d. Broken Stick in the D: The game is not stopped should a stick be broken in the D, but must continue. However, a person designated by the team may run up to the D-line or the goal-line (approached from behind the goal) and try and change sticks with the one that has been broken. On no occasion must the person trying to change the stick run into the D. To do so will result in a foul and a penalty hit, for the opposing team, from the spot where the ball was when the foul occurred.



Elephant drivers and players must wear a hat in the form of the traditional solo topi or any other polo hat during play. Should a player's or elephant driver's hat fall off, the game is not stopped but the hat must be recovered immediately. Players and elephant drivers must not continue play without a hat being worn. At the discretion of the umpire, a free hit will be given against the player infringing the rule.

Note: As with sticks, hats can easily be picked up by the elephant/ elephant driver. Dropping of hats or sticks must not be used to infringe the flow of the game.



Sugar cane and or rice balls packed with vitamins (molasses and rock salt) and water, as needed, shall be given to the elephants at the end of each match; and of the end of the morning games soft drinks for the elephant drivers.



The following acts constitute a foul.

a. Hooking the opponent's stick.

b. Deliberately crossing in front of an elephant when the opponent is moving with the ball. Elephants may ride each other off or may be deliberately placed between elephants, without the ball, in order to impede their progress in getting to the ball but deliberate crossing in front of the elephant with the ball constitutes a foul.

c. Standing "on" the ball, backing or going forward over a ball to stop a player reaching the ball.

d. Intentionally hitting another player, or Umpire with a stick.

e. Dangerous play. "Round house" swings considered a danger to other players or elephants. "Round house" swings are allowed if there are no other players, or elephants, of either side, at the risk of being hit. The definition of "too close" is at the discretion of the Umpire.



The use of the ankush or any pointed/sharp object (including stick) is forbidden during all games.



a. When a player from a team commits a foul, from a, b or c, of "Personal Fouls", the opposing team is allowed a free hit, from where the foul occurred. Elephants from the team that fouled must be 15 metres from the spot.

b. The penalty for breaking Rule 14d, and 14e, will be at the discretion of the Umpire. The Umpire may award a spot hit against the offending team, from the spot where the ball was when the foul was committed, or if serious enough, especially following repeated warnings, may award a penalty from the 20 metre semi-circle with one opposition player guarding the goal. All other elephants must be 15 metres from the penalty spot.



a. There will a Senior Umpire together with an assistant Umpire mounted on the Umpire's elephant. An official Referee may be on the Umpire's Elephant, or be positioned anywhere suitable to observe play. The Referee and Umpires must follow the play as closely as possible without impeding it. The Senior Umpire may consult with the Referee should there be any serious doubt as to infringements and which penalties to be awarded, or concerning any official protest from a team captain

b. There will be a goal judge at either goal.

c. There will be at least two Time Keepers on one side of the pitch at the mid line.

d. When the ball is knocked out of bounds time is stopped, at a signal from the Umpire using a whistle and flag. Once the ball is knocked in again, the clock restarts.

e. Time is also stopped when a free hit or a penalty is called by the Umpire. Again by using a flag and a whistle, the game and clock is re-started, after the free hit, or penalty, has been taken.

f. Both chukkers will end at the ten-minute whistle and flag when the time-keepers will ring the bell. However, if the ball is in the D at the end of the 10 minutes of each chukker, the game shall NOT be stopped until the ball has travelled out of the D, whether across the D line itself, back line or a goal scored. The bell is rung when 10 minutes has elapsed on the clock, the umpire then controls continuation of play when the ball is in the D, not the timekeepers.

g. If the ball is "buried" in the field, and impossible to hit out cleanly, the game (and clock) will be stopped by the Umpire, and a throw in between two opposing players will start the game (and the clock). All other elephants must be 15 metres from the spot.


It was agreed that the organizers of each tournament should have the right to make decisions due to local elephant conditions for health and safety purposes.

i. The Advantage Rule - The Umpire's discretion will be applied to allow the advantage rule. Once the decision is made then the game continues, with no spot hit awarded retrospectively, and the umpire must communicate loudly to the players that he is playing the advantage rule



WIN = 2 points, DRAW = 1 point, LOSS = 0 points.

a. Should there be a draw in any of the two Leagues to decide first and second semi finalists there will be a penalty -shoot out from the centre of the 20 metres D with no elephant defending the goal. Should it still be a draw after all four players from each team have made their hit then a "sudden–death" penalty shoot out will follow. Each team will have the same number of shots. The team that first scores a goal, with the opposition player failing to do so will be the winner.

b. Should there be a draw for second and third place then two-five minute chukkers will be played between the teams to decide who is second and third. Should there be a draw at the end of the two-five minute chukkers then a penalty shoot-out between those teams will also be conducted as with rules spelled out in 18a.

c. Should there be a draw for third and fourth place then it is to be decided upon by a penalty shoot out, as per rule 18a.

d. Should multiple teams draw in any league then penalty shoot-outs will be taken between each team, as per rule 18a.

e. The penalties shall be taken from the centre of the 20 metres semi-circle. The ball may only be hit once. As per rule 4 h, interference by elephants will not be considered. Should the player miss the ball completely other swings may be taken until there is contact. A goal is awarded whether the ball goes directly in or deflects off an elephant or post, across the line. Once decided the first two teams from each League play off for the WEPA Championship. The remaining teams play off for the Amateur League Trophy.

f. Penalties order of play: Each team will present its order of play (ie which designated player shoots 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th). This order must be adhered to until such time as the shoot-out moves in to sudden death mode, after the first series of 4 penalties have been taken. At this stage the order can be changed as long as all 4 players in each team continue to take successive shots.

g. If 3 teams are tied at the end of the league qualifying stage, then a penalty shoot out will be held and the top team will go through as the leading team in that league. The 2nd placed team in the shoot out will go through as the 2nd place team, and the 3rd placed team will play in the Olympic Quaich. There will not be another penalty shoot-out held between the top 2 teams so as to determine 1st & 2nd place in the league.



The top two teams from each league go through to W.E.P.A. Championship Finals.



a. If the score is a draw at the end of both chukkers, the game shall be first decided by "sudden death" with extra time of 5 minutes of playing time. Ends shall be changed, but not elephants. The first team to score a goal wins the match.

b. Should there still be a draw at the end of the 5 minutes extra time, then the game shall be decided by a penalty shoot out. Each member of the team will take a penalty shot, in turn, from the 20 metres spot on the D opposite the goal as in rule 18a.



a. The teams that qualify to play for the WEPA Olympic Amateur Quaich Trophy will be those that do not reach the semi-finals of the two leagues.

b. The WEPA Olympic Amateur Quaich Trophy was created in 1999 by Chivas Regal in order to give teams that were considered of an "Amateur" status a chance to win an important trophy, should the WEPA Championships be out of reach.

c. The rules of play for the Quaich are as for WEPA.

d. The WEPA Committee members present will therefore decide which teams that have qualified for the Quaich Tournament contain players who are considered to be "professionals" with experience as elephant and or horse polo players. The professional players on each team could be heavily handicapped, and even dropped from the team, depending upon the make-up and balance of those that qualify for the Quaich. The decision of the Committee will be final.



In the case of injury, sickness or extenuating circumstances during a chukker/game a substitute(s) is allowed. The substitute(s) must be of a similar standard, or less, than the injured, or person being replaced.



The handicapping committee shall meet at the beginning of each championship to decide each team's handicap bearing in mind the experience of each player (as a horse or elephant polo player), and the overall make-up of the team. Their decision shall be final.


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