Newcastle University Polo Club went head-to-head with St Andrews last weekend, in a string of friendly chukkas, which showcased two beginner and two novice teams. The matches worked in a round robin fashion, with the winner emerging after 12 hard fought chukkas.
The Scottish winter took hold of the day’s proceedings and typically, chukkas had to be moved indoors due to bad weather. This delayed the start of play, but did not put Newcastle off their stride.
The day kicked off with Newcastle Beginner A holding out against a strong St Andrews side. After establishing an early lead, they continued to open up the scoreboard and, after a cracking closing goal from Will Jones, they emerged as victors. Newcastle Beginner B also put in impressive performances, but sadly failed to pick up the points necessary to close the gap between themselves and their peers in the points league.
The Novice squad had a more difficult task ahead, as they faced a long established St Andrews side. Opening chukkas didn’t get off to the best of starts as St Andrews stole an early lead against Newcastle Novice A, and maintained a 2-0 lead heading into the second game. This then extended to 10 goals, but Newcastle managed to bring the score to a dignified close, placing 5 goals on the scoreboard.
“At the close of the friendly chukkas, Newcastle Beginner A topped their category”
In their head-to-head match, Newcastle Novice A and Novice B fought it out in a battle of pride. The score bounced back to level multiple times in the two-chukka match. Finally, the A team emerged victorious, with a late goal enough to steal the game.
At the close of the friendly chukkas, Newcastle Beginner A topped their category. However, the Novice squad have a little work to do in the run up to their next competition.
This clash with St Andrews was the perfect training opportunity for the polo players as they step into the newly established national league. Joint polo President Katie Dalby has worked in conjunction with the University of Kent Polo Club President, Mille Torg, to establish a national league that promotes weekly chukkas and regular play.
Newcastle has entered into the northern category and will face Leeds, Durham and York in the coming weeks. The winner of each region will advance to the national finals in the new year, and Newcastle are optimistic about their chances in their campaign.
Katie said, “We have worked hard this year to promote participation and get the beginners to as many lessons as possible, so that they feel prepared for the upcoming league. It is the first time any polo club in the country have organised anything like this, and we are looking forward to get involved. Hopefully this will help our campaign to be recognised as a BUCS sport in the future.”
The friendly also functions as prime preparation for their upcoming Winter National competition, hosted at Rugby Polo Club in January. This competition draws teams from across the country to play in the indoor championship, and Newcastle will have to pull out all the stops to impress.