Last week saw the return of the annual Winter National Polo Championships, and Newcastle University Polo Club were in amongst the action. This year the polo governing body, SUPA, are celebrating their Jubilee year and in honour of this anniversary Winter Nationals was the biggest competition to date.
Rugby Onley Polo Club hosted over 160 University teams from across the country as they gathered fir an event which has become a highlight of their sporting calendar. Competitors included Oxford, Cambridge and teams from as far north as St. Andrews and as far south as Exeter. Of course, Newcastle sent two Novice teams to be part of the action which ran over an impressive four days, from Thursday 9th February to Sunday 12th February.
Despite some frosty weather and the odd snow shower, play went ahead without a hitch. During the winter season matches are played in an arena with a sand surface rather than the grass pitches which are more commonly associated to polo. This is due to wet weather often water logging the pitches and making them too dangerous for both horse and rider to play on. The indoor arena at Onley is an added bonus which enables multiple matches to be held simultaneously, both indoors and outdoors, as well as safeguarding play against bad weather.
The standard of play was exceptionally high and the weekend proved to be challenging for both Novice teams sent from Newcastle. The bar was set particularly high for the Novice 5 team who have recently been promoted from their beginner division. A deflating four losses in a row for the Novice 5s proved to be particularly disappointing, however they will be taking the lessons learned on the pitch into their up coming National League fixtures in which they continue to be successful.
“The Twitter love affair continued and cupid made a match”
Newcastle Novice 2s had greater success putting in some impressive performances in a particularly tough category and against many well established team such as St. Andrews and Brighton. After a disappointing start to the tournament with a narrow 1-0 defeat to St. Andrews they came back with a well deserved 4-2 win over Bath Spa.
The team demonstrated tried and tested set plays and slick stick and ball skills to earn their win. Speaking on their performance, Novice 2 team captain and club secretary, Cameron Turner said,
‘Winter Nations is always a great weekend for all the teams involved and everyone has put in some impressive performances. The teams we are against here are well established teams and always push us to our limit, but this is great encouragement and we always come out a better team for it. We can always use what we learn here in future fixtures as we move into the summer season. A win is always a very welcome bonus.’
But it appears that a win was not all they took from the pitch. Love was in the air at Winter Nationals and it seems cupid made an early appearance. Newcastle maintained their reputation as one of the most pleasant teams on the field and Brighton University congratulated Newcastle on their good sportsmanship and impressive play after the match.
The Twitter love affair continued and cupid made a match between ‘a friend’ of Brighton and the Newcastle number 3. Who knew cupid was operating via the medium of twitter these days.
So despite a few disappointing results, not all was lost for Newcastle Polo Club.
MVP: Cameron Turner