The weekend of the 27th-28th February saw York University Polo Club venture onto pastures new as they played against Cambridge University in a friendly tournament.
The novice players arrived in plenty of time on Saturday afternoon for their three o’clock chukka but, despite their best efforts, struggled against the Cambridge players and the four chukkas, all incredibly fast-paced and aggressive, resulted in a 15-2 scoreline to the opposing side, with York’s Ben Snowden bagging a brace against the run of play. It would have been easy for the York Novices to take this score to heart, but the team turned this defeat into a learning experience that has made them even more determined to improve and ultimately succeed at the Summer Nationals this year.
With everyone out of their polo gear and into the student digs where they would be residing for the night, York and Cambridge met for a delicious meal before heading out for some drinks and some good natured university banter.
Sunday morning was spent by both York teams enjoying some good breakfast and delicious cakes in the famous ‘Fitzbillies’ before the beginners had to pull on their whites and start their warm up, fuelled by a building sense of anticipation and adrenaline.
The team setting the bar first consisted of Munro Brett-Robertson, Nicola Aiken and Ottilie Wood. With Brett-Robertson playing in all four chukkas, Simon Kinsella and Stephani Lozier joined in the two concluding chukkas of the weekend. Both trios held their own and stayed loyal to the tactics always drummed into us by our brilliant coach, Tony Wesche: marking up and good communication.
The two clubs come together for a meal on the Saturday evening. The York Club are hoping to make this fixture an annual event. Courtesy UY Polo Club.
The positive attitude of the beginners was exemplified through Brett-Robertson’s comments post game:
“The beginners match really showed me how sportsmanship makes a difference to the quality of the game. Both teams congratulated the other on a good bit of play or in an odd circumstance. I remember two Cambridge players and me trying to pick a whip up off the floor together while staying on our ponies and laughing at our failure!”
The beginners have only been playing since October (with one only having played three times!) and truly showed how much progress can be made in a short period of time with the right attitude and dedication. The overall result of the four chukkas resulted in a 10-4 win to Cambridge but with three goals scored by Brett-Robertson and one by Aitken, the beginners left the arena with a well-deserved sense of elation and pride:
“I had a brilliant weekend and I thought we worked very well together as a team,” said Aitken. “It was a great opportunity to ride at a different club and meet the Cambridge players. I’m now really excited about the summer nationals and I definitely think that the match experience will help us all out in the summer!”
York’s Novice team: (left to right) Steph Ritchie, Catherine Shuttleworth, Ben Snowden, Joseph Busby, Molly Riggins. Courtesy UY Polo Club.
This tournament is the first of its kind and the club is now aiming to make it an annual tradition that future committees and players can attend and enjoy. The weekend was fantastic value considering York was playing a southern side and the club hopes to return the favour and welcome the opposition to our Northern territory at some point in the future.
York’s venture to Cambridge is a fantastic reflection of the clubs expansion this year and further evidence of the clubs development into a powerful player in the vicinity of northern and nationwide polo.