Audi International sees England clinch victory against South Africa to win Coronation Cup
Luke Tomlinson, captain of Audi England, lifted the Coronation Cup for a third successive year after a nail-biting match against South Africa at Guards Polo Club, Windsor. Audi England faced a tough and talented South African opposition and, with the teams adding up to a 26- and 25-goal handicap respectively, those watching the match were ensured a competitive and exciting display of the sport. Thousands of spectators, including VIPs Dominic Cooper, Matt Smith, Douglas Booth, Dionne Bromfield, Gemma Chan, Annabelle Wallis and Steven Moyer, enjoying some rare summer sunshine.
Under the captaincy of 23-year-old Nachi du Plessis, the Equus & Co sponsored South Africans (rec 1) also included Chris Mackenzie, Jean du Plessis and Tom de Bruin- four players under the age of 25 â€“ not only making them the youngest international team ever to have taken to Smithâ€™s Lawn on International Day, but also an indication of the young polo talent that South Africa, as a country, is producing. After the match, David Woodd, Chief Executive of the Hurlingham Polo Association was quick to praise the South Africa team saying: â€œIt was a great privilege for England to play a young go-getting South African team.â€
On the other end of the spectrum, the England line-up is one we have seen many times before â€“ James Beim once again playing in the Number One position, the Tomlinson brothers, Mark and Luke, working together in the middle, and Malcolm Borwick at back â€“ a combination that has previously produced England with the desired results. It was perhaps the team cohesion that has been established as a result of playing with one another for many years now that perhaps gave them that extra advantage, plus some coaching from another experienced International Day captain, Chileâ€™s Jose Donoso.
From the moment the ball was thrown in, it was evident that the game would be one between two very competitive sides, with the young and fresh energy of South Africa facing a more experienced England side. With the half time score reading 5-3 in favour in England, the home crowd was perhaps beginning to relax a little. However, impressive team play and confident attacks from South Africa kept England on edge and in the final chukka, with just six minutes left of play, de Bruin equalised for South Africa, and this game was very much back on. The next crucial play was by none other than the England captain himself, who executed a perfect 30-yard penalty shot to take the home team into the lead with just five minutes to go and who deservedly won the Most Valuable Player Award which he later received from HRH Prince Philip.
Adding more excitement to the game, the du Plessis duo together produced another goal for South Africa, equalising again with just two minutes left of play. It was Englandâ€™s Borwick though who would be the one to secure the 2012 show, sending what would be the final and most important shot of the day which somehow found its way between various players and finally the posts as well thus securing England their third successive Coronation Cup victory, after defeating New Zealand (2010) and Brazil (2011).
Englandâ€™s James Beim was delighted to receive the Best Playing Pony award for his own Yacht. This 11-year-old chestnut gelding is Jamesâ€™s favourite pony and he showed his delight in the post event press conference, saying â€œIt is always wonderful when your ponies are recognised, not just for me but for my grooms too.â€
In celebration of H M The Queenâ€™s Diamond Jubilee, the programme included a morning game for the inaugural Diamond Jubilee Trophy. A magnificent bronze of a leopard, commissioned by the HPA, was presented to the winners of the match between Audi Prince of Wales Young Commonwealth (rec Â½) and Howtospendit.comâ€™s Hurlingham Young England side. This match was a display of the most talented up and coming players who will surely play in the afternoonâ€™s game in the near future. This time around it was the Young England side that lifted the trophy, beating their opposition 6-3 Â½.
In addition to these two thrilling matches, 2012 has already been an exciting one for the Audi polo partnership with the introduction of the new Audi International Polo Series. This series, which has done so much to promote the England polo team, will close next month with the first Audi International at Chester Racecourse Polo Club on Sunday 8 September.
Audi England: James Beim (7); Mark Tomlinson (6); Luke Tomlinson (7); Malcolm Borwick (6)
Equus & Co South Africa: Chris Mackenzie (5); Jean du Plessis (6); Tom de Bruin (6); Ignus du Plessis (8)
Diamond Jubilee Trophy
How To Spend it.com Hurlingham (Young England): Jack Richardson (4); Max Charlton (5); George Meyrick (5); Richard Le Poer (5)
Audi Prince of Wales (Young Commonwealth): Oliver Cudmore (4); Tom Hunt (5); Dirk Gould (5); Jack Archibald (4)