The UK is to launch its first ever Polo Premier League in time for the 2013 season, with eight leading clubs battling it out for the coveted title.
The league is the brainchild of the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA), the governing body for the sport in the UK, and the country’s leading High Goal players, which are those with a high handicap.
There are seven clubs confirmed to date: Guards, Beaufort, Cowdray Park, Royal County of Berkshire, Ham, Cirencester and Kirtlington. The eighth club is yet to be announced.
Each team will have a 12-14 goal handicap, and will be made up of an interesting mix of players and standards. There is to be a pool of the UK’s highest handicapped players which will be shared between the clubs, and the three remaining places will include a player from the HPA Grass Roots Development Programme, a Hall of Fame player and a ‘special player’, selected by the HPA, which will give polo fans a chance to experience the thrill of the sport at professional level.
Henry Brett, one of England’s leading polo players believes that this new league will be good for the sport.
“Like any other sport, polo needs to continually grow and develop, and an inter-club league is an excellent way of taking the game to new audiences and developing the next generation of players,” he said. “The senior England squad are fully behind the launch of the Polo Premier League and will play an instrumental role in its launch and ongoing management.”
Each of the clubs will have a squad of eight players, who will take it in turn to play. The eight teams will then be divided into two leagues, with each club playing the three other teams in their league twice; once at home and once away. The league will follow HPA rules, although there will be some changes made, which the organisers claim will “enhance the spectator value of the game.”
The games will be played between May and August, with a final play-off between the top club from each league to decide the overall winner.