Itroduction of the new rules in 2005

The below material was prepared 5 years ago. Since there have been new developments in water polo, including in the rules interpretation. Nevertheless, I believe, what’s written is still relevant today.

The 13th FINA Men’s Water Polo World Cup held in Budapest-2006 was the first major official international tournament with the participation of the leading National teams that was held under the new rules after the World Championships in Montreal 2005.

What have these novelties brought to the game?

• It, undoubtedly, became faster.

• The players with good shooting technique have always been a very valuable asset. But now their role is even more important. Generally, the role of the high-class, high-powered athletes capable of accomplishing a task single-handedly, particularly in attack, remains of immense importance. The examples of such individuals represent Kasas (Hungary), Sapic (Serbia & Montenegro, further SCG), and Chatsitheodoru (Greece).

• Athletic players, with good functional speed endurance are more in demand than ever. The tendency of the last decade towards more “physical” nature of the game – to the detriment of its combinative, tactical content – continued at this tournament.

• The teams with “long benches” and capable of equivalent replacements throughout entire match receive additional advantage.

• The role of a strong centre-forward (CF) in attack remains very important, but now it is as important to have several players capable of acting competently in this position. The centre-forwards themselves are also changing; a modern CF must be not only a good specialist but a fast swimmer and a reliable defender too. Zlokovic (SCG), Molnar and Steinmetz (Hungary), Chomakhidze (Russia) are examples of such modern centre-forwards.

• Simultaneously, the role of good centre-backs is impossible to overestimate.

• Some experts would agree that whilst the game is now more dynamic and entertaining, it has not become more comprehensible for an unsophisticated, inexperienced person “from the street”. Thus, the question of attracting more spectators to water polo and its TV broadcasts on a permanent basis remains unanswered.

Generally, in my opinion, the amendments are a positive step in the right direction of attempting to make the game more entertaining and attractive for spectators.


Like it was at the previous World Championships, these two teams dominated during the whole FINA Cup tournament. The technique-tactical skills, physical and functional preparedness as well as natural athletic predisposition of their players were at a level higher than that of the others.

The introduction of the rules’ amendments did not reduce the gap in class between these and the other teams after the World Championships in Montreal 2005. Though, in all fairness, it must be said that the Greek and Russian teams to a bigger extent, and the Italians less so, did not have a number of leading experienced players among them. Apparently, the coaches used this tournament for the examination and “battle experience” of the new young players.

The Spanish and Croatian teams had a drastic rejuvenation last year. Already in many matches at this tournament the Spaniards displayed a very interesting and solid performance and managed to win the bronze medals.

Against the background of the above-mentioned, it is the SCG squad that impresses most with its depth of selection of the high-class individuals. For various reasons they lacked the mastery of such players as Vujasinovic, Trboevic, Zlokovic and Udovichic at this competition. However, the quality of the team’s performance did not deteriorate at all. In the final game against Hungary the SCG team looked better and deservedly won Gold.

One of the best SCG players in the final was 19 years old Filipovic. Obviously, the SYSTEM of preparation of the youngsters in the SCG and Hungary continues to work well and supply the National squads with highly skilled talented players on a constant basis. Due to this the process of nourishment and strengthening of these National teams goes on permanently – I witnessed this for many years.

Overall, the deeper outcomes and conclusions on the new rules and ranking will be drawn after the next World Championships to be held Melbourne Australia in March 2007. Until then many of the teams have the opportunity to experiment during the tournaments of the World League and European Championships. Although, I am sure, many will be trying to win them.

About Erkin Эркин Shagaev Шагаев
European, world, Olympic champion, two times World Cup winner Чемпион Европы, мира, Олимпийских игр, двукратный обладатель Кубка мира

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