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New Rules, Protocols and Information for 2020 Hockey Season

Below should answer all your questions on what is happening for our 2020 Hockey Season. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.


  • Competition start date – HNZ had stated that competition hockey should not start before the 13th of June. The reason for this is they want to ensure we provide a sufficient “pre-season” period for our athletes prior to competition games. If we do start on the 13th of June as suggested by HNZ you will have least 2-4 weeks of training opportunities before competition. However, we are comfortable with the competition starting on the 6th of June if this could result in a more meaningful competition window and ensure a season finish before the start of Term 4 (see next point).
  • Competition end date – Our preference is, especially for junior and youth hockey, is for the hockey competition to end prior before term 3 ends. However, if an additional weekend is required to complete a meaningful season than this is acceptable. Although, please note on-going conversation about potential opportunities for Secondary School Tournaments and a revised format/timing that could look at a window during these holidays.
  • NHA will confirm the start date this upcoming week aiming to start on JUNE 13th.

Please refer further below a draft “new rules proposed” document that HNZ-Colin French has developed in conjunction with key people from our community. HNZ is keen to finalise this in the next week. We will inform you all when/if these rules are finalised.

  • A decision on winter tournament week has not yet been made and we would like to gauge feedback from the key stakeholder groups of schools and Associations before doing so. HNZ have requested a survey to be completed by COB Monday 25th May.
  • NHA has been designated to host FOUNDERS CUP this season, (TBC)

HNZ and all 32 Associations around the country have been meeting weekly working collaboratively during this challenging time. HNZ leaderships, support and guidance have been outstanding.

Find attached FIH guidance on return to play from Covid-19. We believe we have most of this collectively covered with our approach.

Over the lockdown, it came to our attention that members were letting themselves into the grounds as the code for the lockbox was widely known. Due to this, we have had to change the code and will now only give the code out as required. During this international pandemic it is critical that people are only entering the grounds when NHA can ensure all health and safety protocols in place are used correctly.

We have made the decision that you will be allowed to enter 10 minutes prior to your booking. This decision was made in conjunction with aligning ourselves with other hockey organisations around New Zealand and the concern mentioned regarding crowding at the gate and not enough time to organise yourself before training. However, it is still necessary that all groups gather their things and leave the grounds quickly after their training.

IDME is a new system, and we understand the confusion regarding this. Click here for a step by step instruction guide on how to upload details.

New Rules and Protocols for 2020 Hockey Season (Draft)

Community hockey is being reintroduced in a cautious and methodical manner, based on the best available evidence to optimise participant and community safety. In order to be aligned to Hockey’s overarching “return to play” considerations; the following rule changes have been proposed to come into effect immediately:

Spitting and bushman nose blowing (blowing your nose without a handkerchief or tissue etc) is a practice that unfortunately occurs in our sport and must stop as it poses a significant risk to other participants.

New Rule:

  • A 2 min suspension (green card) to be issued to any player or participant caught spitting or bushman nose blowing.
  • Repeat offenders to be shown a yellow card (5 mins).
  • Consistent repeat offenders will be subject to a Judicial process
  • Standard suspension rules to apply

Umpiring Guidance/tips:
Apply this rule consistently to all participants (i.e. no exceptions). Safety is always the key consideration. Ensure players and team management are aware of new rule changes before starting a match.

New Rule:

It is probable that in some cases technical benches, suspension seating (or similar) may not be in use. Accordingly, in these situations suspended players will be allowed to serve their suspension in their respective team dug outs where required at certain turf venues. All other existing suspension rules are to apply.

Other Important considerations/protocol’s:

Application of Rules

When umpiring hockey, our 2 key pillars are to keep the game fair and keep the game safe. As well as the technical appreciation of a rule, it is just as important to understand the intent of the rule to ensure the best practical implementation. Apply common sense, context, and a consistent application of the rules at all times.

Under the current Covid-19 environment, wherever practical the safety aspect now needs to be extended to include new procedures to reduce contact by players and participants to an absolute minimum. All participants have a personal responsibility to identify and adhere to best health and safety protocol’s pre, during, and post a hockey match. Accordingly, the following measures are mandatory:

All protective equipment, including face masks, gloves, (and any other defensive PC equipment to be used) are not to be shared under any circumstances. Accordingly, defenders at penalty corners will need to be nominated and will need to have their own identified equipment to be allocated and worn solely by themselves.

All Penalty Corner equipment shall be cleaned and sanitised prior to and post each match.

No goalkeeping gear is to be shared during a match under any circumstances. In the event of a goalkeeper (injury or otherwise) needing to be replaced during a match, if no additional goalkeeper or goalkeeping gear is available, teams will need to revert to playing with a full complement of field players (e.g. 6 aside, 11 aside, etc.). All goalkeeping gear shall be cleaned and sanitized prior to and post every match.

No individual players gear (sticks, shin pads, gloves) is to be shared under any circumstances. Mouthguards obviously should not also be shared, and players are strongly recommended to keep mouthguards in their mouth during the entirety of the match. Removal of mouthguards on the turf needs to be reduced to an absolute bare minimum. Mouthguards should be cleaned at home/away from the turf venue prior to and post every match.

Individual players are strongly recommended to clean all their equipment (water bottles, mouthguards, face masks, gloves, etc.) at home/away from their respective hockey venue wherever practical (both prior to and after each match). Where required, Associations will have designated areas for cleaning of players equipment.

We all know that these are no longer socially acceptable. However, the acknowledgment of teammates and opponents is an important part of our sport. As such all participants should be strongly encouraged to promote the “hockey handshake” as per the following link. We know many do this already but let’s get it out there.

The following measures are strongly recommended:

No rule changes proposed; however, to minimize contact the following protocols are strongly recommended:

  • Where practical any injured players should be treated by their own team members/management or medical professional
  • Team Managers (or equivalent) should prepare and preplan what actions they need to undertake for injury situations

We also recommend that umpires and team management review and understand rules that apply to injuries and blood protocols, and also to check in with your Associations and turf venue to ensure that local procedures are in place and to have an awareness of what these protocols and guidelines are.

To minimize the number of touches/contacts to hockey balls, we recommend:

  • Match ball to be cleaned prior to and at the end of every match
  • The non-offending team reclaim the ball and return it to where the penalty is to be taken without handling the ball

Where a coin toss is required (e.g. starting a game, starting shootouts etc.), then the coin should be tossed by one umpire with a team captain/representative to call accordingly.

The use, format, and completion of match cards will differ within Associations. Consider arrangements that will again limit touches/contacts by individuals such as:

  • Team names and numbers are pre-printed
  • Umpires fill out cards only from details provided by team managers
  • Use of electronic match recording where practical


Match cards, coin, hockey balls, hockey sticks, goals, face masks, boxes, shin pads, mouth guards, gloves, goal keeping gear, water bottles, injuries, blood, suspensions, dugouts.

  • Promotion and relegation rules that may be unfair due to changed competition format
  • By-laws and judicial process may need to be reviewed
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