World Elephant Polo Association

Founded at Tiger Tops, Nepal - April 1982

Organisation of the Game

  1. The game will be played by four players of each team on a marked pitch 140 x 70 metres, using a standard size polo ball.
  2. The game will consist of two 10 minute 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 15 metres in the centre of the field, and a semi-circle with a radius of 30 metres measured from the centre of the goal line at either end of the pitch.
  4. Elephants and ends are changed at half time.

Rules of the Game

Note: There were some rule changes adopted at the 1996 Annual General Meeting of WEPA.

  1. START OF PLAY: The play is begun when the Referee, from outside the centre circle, throws the ball in 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 a foul. A spot hit is to be given to the fouled team, from the spot where the offending player fouled.
  2. NUMBER OF ELEPHANTS IN EACH HALF OF PITCH: No team may have more than 3 elephants in one half of the pitch at any given time. To do so constitutes a foul. Spot hit to be given from the point where the ball is when the foul is committed. Elephants from the defending side shall be 15 metres from the ball.
  3. GOAL - SEMI-CIRCLE: If the attacking team have more than 2 elephants in the semi-circle, then the defending team are given a free spot hit from a point on the semi-circle line opposite the middle of the goal. Opposition players to be 15 metres from the abll. If there are 3 defending elephants in the semi-circle, this also constitutes a foul. A free hit is given to the attacking team from the point at which the ball is when the foul occurs. Elephants from the defending side should be 15 metres from the ball.
  4. HIT OUTS - SIDELINE: If one's team member hits the ball out of the sidelines, a player from the opposing team hits it back in, from where the ball crossed the side line, when signalled to do so by the Referee. Defending players to be 15 metres from the ball.
  5. HIT OUTS BACK-LINES: If the attacking team hits the ball and ball goes out over the defender's line, whether or not it deflects off either an attacking or defending elephant, the defenders hit it in from the spot where the ball went out, when signalled to do so by the Referee.
  6. If the defenders hit the ball out over their own end line, whether or not it defelcts off any elephant whatsoever, the attacking team gets a free shot from 30 metres out from where the ball went over the line. The defending players must be 15 metres from the ball.
  7. ELEPHANTS - SIZE - SEX AND BEHAVIOR: There shall be no restrictions as to the height, weight or sex of the elephants.
  8. 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 30 metre sem-circle in front of the goal.
  9. An elephant may not pick up the ball in its trunk during play. To do so shall constitute a foul and 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 from the spot.
  10. FALLING OFF: If a player falls from an elephant, play is stopped while the rider remounts. In the case of substantial injury, where the player cannot continue, the reserve may be called upon. Play is commenced with a throw from the Referee, between two elephants, one from each team, similar to the start of a game, but from the spot where the player fell. All other elephants shall be 15 metres from the spot.
  11. ELEPHANT HARNESS: Should there be any failure in the elephant's harness, the elephant shall retire to the side or end line to repair it, but the game is not stopped.
  12. BROKEN STICK: Should someone break a stick when play is in the D, the game will not be stopped until the ball leaves the D. For a broken stick when the play is outside of the D, the game can be stopped while the player changes his stick. Play commences by throw in by Referee, other players being 15 metres away.
  13. HEAD GEAR: Elephant drivers and players must wear a hat in the form of the traditional solar topee, or polo helmet, at all times. Should a player's hat fall off, the game is stopped while it is recovered. A spot hit is awarded to the opposing side and the game shall resume when the umpire signals to do so by whistle and flag. Defending players must be 15 metres from the spot.
  14. PICK-ME-UPS: Sugar cane or rice balls packed with vitamins (molasses and rock salt) shall be given to the elephants at the end of each match and a cold beer, or soft drink, to the elephant drivers and not vice versa.

Personal Fouls

The following acts constitute a foul.

  1. Hooking thee opponent's stick.
  2. Crossing in front when the opponent has the ball and is moving with it. The player with the ball has the "right of way" and an opponent cannot impede his line of advance.
  3. Hitting another player, or Referee, with the stick.
  4. Dangerous play. More than one "round house" swing is not allowed prior to hitting the ball, except if there is no other player nearby. The definition of too close is at the discretion of the Referee.


When a player from one team commits a foul, from 1 or 2, of "Personal Fouls," the oppposing team is allowed a free shot from where the foul occurred. Team members from fouling teams must be 15 metres from the spot.

The penalty for breaking Rule 3 or 4 sill be at the discretion of the Referee, especially if a player, mahout or elephant or Referee, is hit by a stick. In that case the Referee may award a spot hit to the team offended, from the spot where the foul was committed, or from the 30 metre semi-circle with only one opposition player guarding the goal.

Should the attacking team be awarded a penalty on or within D, only one defending elephant will be allowed in the D, but it must be a minimum of 15 metres away. The other defending or attacking elephants cannot be in the D, or must be a minimum of 15 metres away. They can be anyway outside the D, including behind the goal line but cannot enter through the goal mouth. They cannot enter the D until the ball has been hit or hit at.

Referee, Goal Judges, and Time Keeper

  1. There will be one Referee and, where appropriate, an Assistant Referee, mounted on an elephant, who will follow the play as closely as possible without impeding it.
  2. There will be a goal judge at either goal.
  3. There will be a Time-keeper on one side of the pitch at mid-line.

Extra Time

If the score is nil all, or tied, at the end of both chukkers, it will be decided by "sudden death."

Ends shall be changed, but not elephants.

The first team to score a goal wins the match.

Handicapping & the League

[a] Should there be a draw in the league between two teams (2 points - win; 1 point - draw) there will be a play off, of 2 five minute chukkas. After this, if there is still a draw, there will be a sudden-death play off i.e. the first team to score wins. Before the sudden-death play off, the teams change ends, but not elephants. (60 seconds of play at end of the second chukka will be allowed, but the game will end when the ball goes out of the field of play.)

[b] In the event of more than 2 teams tied on points, the two teams which scored most goals, including handicaps between the teams will go through to play off.

Nepalese Experienced Player

The defending champions have the option to choose their previous Nepalese player - note: this forfeits a goal. All other teams' N.E.P.'s are chosen at random from a hat.

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