Water Polo regulations for 2021-22 | Published 20 August

Please note: Regulations are currently under review for the 2021-22 season and so those currently published are subject to change.

WAT i The BUCS Water Polo Championships shall be conducted in accordance with the following BUCS sport specific regulations, the BUCS general regulations, and the FINA Water Polo Rules*.

WAT ii In the event that these regulations contradict the BUCS general regulations, these BUCS sport specific regulations will supersede, unless specifically stated otherwise.

WAT iii In the event that these regulations contradict the FINA Water Polo Rules*, these BUCS sport specific regulations will supersede, unless specifically stated otherwise.

*Please note that the following FINA Water Polo Rules are not currently being adopted by BUCS and will be reviewed for 2022-23:

- The use of a time-out button for team officials.

- The introduction of an ADDITIONAL Re-entry area between the goal line and the centre field line on the team’s half of field of play (for flying substitutions).

- The use of automatic visual effects, surrounding the penalty box. i.e. Signalling the last five seconds of the expiration of the exclusion time or the time when the excluded player is allowed to come back into the game.

-The use of video monitoring system to determine goal or no goal (WP 11 Video Assistant Referee).

-The use of audio equipment by the game referees.

-The use of the GVMS (Game Video Monitoring System) for identifying and sanctioning incidents of brutality or extreme violence that occurred but were not appropriately punished or identified during a game.


WAT 1 There shall be separate Team Championships for Men and Women. The programme for each Championships shall include leagues and knockout competitions as per BUCS general regulations, Appendix 1 (‘BUCS Competition Offer and Associated BUCS Points’) and Appendix 10 (‘BUCS Promotion, Relegation and Knockout Information’).

WAT 2 Match format and timings

WAT 2.1 Men's and Women's Premier Tier/Championship

WAT 2.1.1 BUCS recommends that at least 75 minutes of pool time are booked (longer for knockout competition fixtures). Institutions/Playing Entities failing to book sufficient time will be considered to have defaulted on the match if for any reason there is insufficient time to bring the fixture to a conclusion.

WAT 2.1.2 The duration of matches and intervals shall be as per the FINA Water Polo Rules. In the event of a tie after full-time in a knockout match, the outcome of the match shall be determined by following the penalty shootout process of the FINA Water Polo Rules.

WAT 2.2 Men's and Women's Tier 1/Trophy and Tier 2 and below/Conference Cup

WAT 2.2.1 BUCS recommends that at least 70 minutes of pool time are booked (longer for knockout fixtures). Institutions/Playing Entities failing to book sufficient time will be considered to have defaulted on the match if for any reason there is insufficient time to bring the fixture to a conclusion.

WAT 2.2.2 The duration of matches and intervals shall be: 4 periods of 7 minutes with 2 minutes rest interval between each period. In the event of a tie after full-time in a knockout match, the outcome of the match shall be determined by following the penalty shootout process of the FINA Water Polo Rules.

WAT 3 Field of play and equipment

WAT 3.1 Field of play dimensions

WAT 3.1.1 Where “floating goals” are used, the distance between the goal lines shall not be less than 20 metres and not more than 30 metres for Men's fixtures or 25 metres for Women's fixtures. Where “floating goals” are used, the boundary of the field of play at each end shall be not less than 0.30 metres behind the goal line. Where "wall-mounted goals" are used, the length of the pool from wall to wall must not exceed 25 metres nor be less than 22 metres. Where "wall-mounted goals" are used, the boundary line of the field of play at each end shall be the pool wall behind the goal line.

WAT 3.1.2 The width of the field of play shall be not less than 10 metres and not more than 20 metres.

WAT 3.1.3 The depth of the water within the field of play shall be consistently not less than 1.50 metres.

WAT 3.2 Markers Distinctive marks shall be provided on both sides of the field of play to denote the following: white marks – goal line and half distance line; red marks – 2 metres from goal lines; yellow marks – 6 metres from goal lines; red marks shall be placed 5 metres from goal lines to indicate the point from which a penalty shot must be taken. It should be noted that the sides of the field of play do not have to be lane ropes and can be the side pool walls, however if the pool is more than 20 metres wide, properly marked/coloured sidelines (lane ropes) are required.

WAT 3.3 Exclusion re-entry areas

WAT 3.3.1 A red mark shall be placed at each end of the field of play, 2 metres from the corner of the field of play on the side opposite to the officials table, to denote the exclusion re-entry area.

WAT 3.3.2 The exact dimensions of the re-entry area will be determined by the dimensions of the pool, the dimensions of the field of play and whether “floating goals” or “wall-mounted goals” are being used. If not clearly marked by lane ropes and/or the pool walls, prior to the start of the match the referees should inform the team captains of the specific boundaries of the re-entry area.

WAT 3.4 Sufficient space shall be provided to enable the referees to have free movement from end to end of the field of play.

WAT 3.5 The table officials shall be provided with separate white, blue, red and yellow flags, each measuring 0.35 metres x 0.20 metres.

WAT 3.6 Goals

WAT 3.6.1 Two goal posts and a crossbar, rigidly constructed, rectangular with a dimension of 0.075 metres facing the field of play and painted white shall be located on the goal lines at each end, equal distances from the sides.

WAT 3.6.2 The inner sides of the goal posts shall be 3 metres apart and the underside of the crossbar shall be 0.90 metres from the water surface.

WAT 3.6.3 For "floating goals", limp nets shall be securely fastened to the goal posts and crossbar to enclose the entire goal area and shall be attached to the goal fixtures in such a manner as to allow not less than 0.30 metres clear space behind the goal line everywhere within the goal area. For "wall-mounted" goals, the goal space shall be a minimum of 0.4572 metres deep without any obstructions and they must have a backing that is loosely attached to the goal fittings to enclose the goal space in front of all supports.

WAT 3.7 Possession/Shot clocks For Premier Tier/Championship fixtures possession/shot clocks are compulsory. For all other fixtures, possession/shot clocks are not compulsory, but where not provided it is a requirement to have an audible whistle to signal the end of possession.

WAT 4 Match officials Match officials should be appointed as per Appendix 5 (‘BUCS Match Officials Requirements’).

WAT 5 Balls The home team is responsible for providing three regulation match balls. Should balls not be deemed suitable the away team may provide match balls. The referee will have the final decision.

WAT 6 Teams and substitutes FINA WP 5 shall be followed with the following exceptions:

WAT 6.1 Squad size Each team shall consist of a maximum of thirteen players: eleven field players and two goalkeepers. A team shall start the game with not more than seven players, one of whom shall be the goalkeeper and who shall wear the goalkeeper’s cap. Six reserves may be used as substitutes. One of the reserves may also be used as a substitute goalkeeper but must wear a red cap. A team playing with less than seven players shall not be required to have a goalkeeper.

WAT 6.2 Minimum number of players for a fixture to start The minimum number of players per team required for a fixture to start will be six.

WAT 6.3 At any time in the game, a player may be substituted by leaving the field of play at the team’s designated substitution areas. The substitute may enter the field of play from the exclusion re-entry area as soon as the player has visibly risen to the surface of the water within the re-entry area. Substitution from the designated lateral substitution area is allowed when both players, the exiting player and the substitute, are in the water, outside of the field of play and touch hands above the water. If the team has less than seven players, the team shall not be required to have a goalkeeper. No substitution shall be made under this Rule between the time a referee awards a penalty throw and the taking of the throw.

[NOTE: In the event that the goalkeeper is not entitled or able to participate, a team playing with seven players shall be required to play with an alternative goalkeeper who shall wear a red cap.]

WAT 6.4 FINA WP 5.9 shall not apply.

WAT 6.5 Should a goalkeeper retire from the game through any medical reason, the referees shall allow an immediate substitution.

WAT 7 League points

WAT 7.1 Two points will be awarded for a win, one point for a draw and no points for a loss.

WAT 7.2 Where a walkover has been awarded/conceded (REG 13), two points shall be given to the non-offending team and two points deducted from the offending team.

WAT 7.3 No points will be awarded to either team in the case of a void fixture.

WAT 8 Championship/Trophy Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and Finals

WAT 8.1 The eight teams qualifying for the Championship/Trophy Quarter-Finals may agree to organise fixtures for the Quarter-Final and Semi-Final rounds in the following format. Should agreement not be reached by all teams, fixtures will take place in standard knockout format.

WAT 8.1.1 The eight teams that progress through Rounds 1 (Last 32) and 2 (Last 16) of the Trophy/Round 1 (Last 16) of the Championship will play in a Northern or Southern round robin in two groups of four.

WAT 8.1.2 These round robin ‘Semi-Finals’ are to be organised by the qualifying institutions/Playing Entities.

WAT 8.1.3 The top team from each group will contest the Trophy/Championship Final which shall be held at a venue decided by BUCS.

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