La Martina National Universities Polo Championships

La Martina National Universities Polo Championships 2009 12th -14th June 2009.

The recipe for a successful weekend with back to back polo, students, sun, safety, parties and friendship once again made The La Martina National Universities Polo Championships a success.

78 teams gathered for the two and a half day polo extravaganza at a very sunny Offchurch Bury Polo Club. Players came by train, taxi, horse boxes, mini vans, cars and even helicopter from far and wide to attend the Championships which has grown not only in stature but in importance from 23 teams in 2004 to what it is now.

The Beginner Section was split into 2 divisions with Newcastle b overcoming Warwick c to take the Division Two title for the first time. Warwick were again the bridesmaids as they were defeated by Royal Holloway again adding a new name to the title.

The success of SUPA in the past few years has been the growth of the lower divisions and no more than in the Novice Section, where last years Beginners Champions Warwick overcame a very spirited London side to once again do the double and take the Championship, in Division 2 the Warwick b team were also successful as they defeated Nottingham in the final.  It will be interesting to see if these teams can compete in the Lower Intermediate, a new Section, next season.

The Combined saw seven  teams from far and wide competing for a rapidly expanding group title, with the level of play high throughout. The final saw Scottish Combined take on Reading Combined in a close fought game, Reading just running out the winners.

The Intermediate saw teams of varying handicaps playing each other, prompting the new Lower and Upper Intermediate Sections for 2010, and it was no surprise to see the 2 Regents Colleges sides in the final, although both Edinburgh and Oxford ran them close.  The Argentine Ortiz brothers turned on the Latin American sparkle and despite Huynen and Shelton pushing hard, the Regents a team took the title.

The Open final was full of drama, a 4 chukka match between Newcastle and Durham with the lead changing hands often.   With 3 minutes of the final chukka remaining Newcastle’s Ed Batchelor took a sickening blow to his elbow resulting in his removal to hospital (gratefully nothing broken, just badly bruised) his place taken by an Intermediate player from Newcastle,  this was the edge Durham needed and they edged home by 7 – 6.  A fitting end to an illustrious University career for Matt Cudmore who has played for Durham throughout his time there and retained the trophy every year.

The new Schools Alumni Polo Association (SAPA) sponsored by Lycetts saw alumni players take to the field, for those who never want the University polo feel to end.  Five teams entered and bolstered by a couple of ex 2 goalers the level was high and enjoyable for those who played.  We look forward to the graduates from this season to join SAPA and continue to play.

The weekend was rounded up nicely with the now well known legacy of the University polo parties – another area which needs to be congratulated was the Young Marmalade supported party on the Saturday night organised and run by Warwick University.

The coaches and suppliers have worked hard to ensure that the Roxton Safety campaign which the University Section of SUPA have spearheaded, along with the level of umpiring, meant that safety was paramount to the event. Also, included for the first time is Personal Accident coverage for every University player, in a deal brokered by SUPA and our sponsors Lycetts. This will further enhance the drive made by SUPA to ensure the safety and well being of our members.

All that was left was the prize giving where the students received their Cups, shields and superb La Martina prizes from Jeannie McNeil standing in for our sponsors.  Huge thanks must also go to Mike Robinson and Will Randall-Coath from Polo del Sol were still on hand to support as always and generously presented memento’s to all players which was received very well, as was the support of Julio Bouchon and Bancroft Wines. The Best Lady Prize was awarded to Fiona Seager from Dublin who received a Tina Sparkle bespoke pashmina and salver from MacLintock InternationalA tiring few days which would not have been possible  but for the hard work of Kim Croutear, Gemma Potter, Alex Reid, Lauren McEvatt, Sarah Styler, Lady Cowley and Charles Betz.