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  • Henri de By


You might not have noticed it in the excitement of last weekend’s US Open final. However, not one of the seven professionals there would have been allowed to play this final had it taken place in the UK. For the English 2018 polo season, the HPA has outlawed all of the helmets they wore (from brands Cavalier, Casablanca, Falcon, and Millarville). Notwithstanding that the HPA’s own CEO, David Woodd, last week told me he did not see “any evidence” that polo helmets of these brands are unsafe or to blame for any injury.

Surprisingly, some readers still reacted by saying we were surely “safer” now. Such as the former England player who thundered that he knew 12 people who had died playing polo. Who, when asked, came up with only 7 names. About all of which he, too, when it came to helmets being to blame, eventually had to admit: “Obviously, I don’t have the medical evidence”. So, let’s make it clear once more: I have nothing against increasing safety. I do have something against the ruling body in a sport (HPA) making safety regulations — that also affect who makes £1,000,000 this year alone from helmet sales — based on innuendo and conjecture. The latter became clear when I received an email from Dr. Victor Chua, who announced to “lead the safety committee at the HPA”.

I find it shocking that Dr. Chua uses the names of players who died in polo accidents to write: “There is of course no way of knowing if they still would be alive if they did wear certified helmets, but my belief as a qualified doctor is that they would be” (italics mine). There are laws against doctors diagnosing patients they have never laid eyes on. I did speak to medical personnel who, contrary to the speculating HPA-doctor, were actually present at and/or involved in the aftermath

of several of these fatal accidents. Fact is: in not one of these accidents was there evidence that the helmet and its manufacturer were to blame for the death. By nonetheless doing so, Dr. Chua could put both himself and the HPA at considerable risk of becoming the legitimate target of devastating lawsuits.

So, yes, I find it remarkable that the helmet brands that now reap a £1,000,000 windfall in sales this season alone are all English; while all the manufacturers locked out of the UK market just happen to be Argentine. And, yes, I am curious if the HPA was bamboozled — unwittingly — into the new safety regulations?

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