As the name implies, it is a combination of polo and lacrosse. The game was developed in Australia before the Second World War. In 1938 Mr. and Mrs. Edward Hirst of Sydney read an article in an English Horse Magazine on Polo Crosse. As both were keen on horse breeding and horse sports they decided to find out more about it when they got to England. On arrival, they visited the National School of Equitation at Kingston Vale near London, where two instructors had developed an exercise to supplement the work at the riding School and help young riders take better charge of their horses.
The exercise was played indoors with two riders a side and markers on the wall from which the ball bounced back into play. The goals were elongated basketball nets hung at each end of the arena. The sticks were old polo sticks that had the polo mallet removed and replaced with a squash racquet head. This had a shallow string net, which they used to scoop up the ball. The idea was to scoop up the ball, which was a little larger than a tennis ball, ride with it to the end of the arena and drop it into the net to score.
Realising the possibilities of this exercise as an outdoor horse sport, the couple returned to Australia with sticks, balls and rule books where they sought the assistance of Alf Pitty, a well known horseman and polo player.
After many hours of discussion, practising, and much trial and error and with constant revision of the rules, they finally came up with a new and exciting game using only one horse per player and able to be played by a person of any age. They called the new game Polocrosse.
The modern game is played outside, on a field, on horseback. Each rider uses a stick to which is attached a racquet head with a loose, thread net, in which the ball is carried. The ball is made of sponge rubber and is approximately 4" across. The objective is to score goals by throwing the ball between your opponent's goal posts.
A team consists of 6 players, divided into two sections of three who play alternate chukkas of a maximum of 8 minutes each. Six or eight chukkas compromise a full match. The three players in each section play the position of a No. 1 "attack", a No. 2 "centre", or a No. 3 "defence".
The field is 60 yards (55m) x 160 yards (146.5m), with three separate areas. The goal scoring areas, on each end, are 30 yards long. Only the No.1 of the attacking team and the No. 3 of the defending team can play in these areas. The middle area is 100 yards long. The line separating the goal scoring and centre areas is called the penalty line. Goal posts are 8 feet apart. To score, the ball must be thrown from outside an 11-yard semi-circle in front of the goal.
Players can pick up the ball from the ground, catch it in their racquet, and ride with it. They will throw it to other players until the No.1 has possession in the goal scoring area. A player cannot carry the ball over the penalty line, but must bounce it so that they do not have possession of it while actually crossing the line. However, it can be thrown to a player over the line. When carrying the ball, a player must carry it on the stick side, i.e. right-handed players must carry it on the offside of the horse. They can, however, pick-up or catch the ball on the non-stick side provided they immediately bring it back to their stick side.
The game commences in centre field with the players lining up, one section beside the other, with the No. 1's in front. This is called a line out and is similar to a rugby line out. The umpire then throws the ball, over the player's 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 behind the penalty line, as directed by the umpire.
Players are allowed to hit at an opponent's stick, either to dislodge the ball or to prevent them from gaining possession of it, but players are only allowed to hit in an upward direction. Riding off is allowed, but crossing, stopping over the ball, or elbowing constitutes fouls. Sandwiching of one player between two others also constitutes a foul. Fouls result in a free throw to the offended side.