The COVID-19 pandemic may be easing around the world but the 2021 polocrosse season now faces a new threat; a shortage of balls! Polocrosse match balls have never been the easiest or cheapest items to source, there are only two companies in the world that make them and both are based in Australia. This means that for anyone outside Australia the cost of match balls can seem a lot, especially when they disappear into a hedge or a ditch the first time they are used. However, cost is the least of the problems at the moment as players are struggling to get match balls for love or money. Both the match ball producing companies, Rosemount and Milner, are experiencing production problems and the supplies of new match balls around the world is rapidly running out.
A polocrosse match ball has to meet certain criteria to be able to be used in official matches. The International polocrosse rulebook states the following as rule 7:
The ball shall be a thick-skinned sponge rubber ball 100 to 103 mm in diameter with a finished weight of 140-155 grams. The ball should have a 55% to 65% bounce when dropped at sea level onto a hard surface.
We are not sure if anyone is regularly testing whether balls do indeed have a 55% to 65% bounce at sea level but certainly the match balls produced by Milner and Rosemount do conform to the weight and diameter requirements and both feature a thick latex skin that makes them harder wearing, as the initial foam rubber balls would get damaged quite quickly.
As well as the two match balls there have been various “practice balls” produced over the years. The two most common ones currently are the ones marketed by Bombers and SC Polocrosse. Normally the difference between these and the match balls is the lack of separate latex skin around the ball, they will simply be a moulded foam rubber ball but normally made of a harder rubber compound to cope with the demands of the game. Historically some practice balls produced have not bounced as well as match balls but the ones on the market now do bounce to a similar (though not identical) height. However, as well as impacting the production of match balls there is also problems in the production of practice balls, with Bombers now out of stock of practice balls.
Many industries around the world are experiencing delays due to manufacturing and distribution problems (primarily in Asia) and this is part of the reason for the delays, as some of the polocrosse ball brands are either made or the raw materials are produced in Asia.
Due to the shortage of balls the American Polocrosse Association has officially approved the use of SC Practice balls in matches for 2021 and we wait to see if other associations will follow suite. However, there is some hope as Rosemount have said they are hoping to have balls back in stock by July so it may be that there are new balls available again by the various National championships that run in August!
In the meantime we would suggest everyone protects their balls even more than normal! Write your name all over them in indelible pen! If they go in the hedge then send your dog / child in after them. If the dog chews them then sell the dog! And if someone steals your ball….well you know what to do!