Wednesday, 14 March 2012


The South African team recently returned from China after a very successful tour. Having never played on snow before we were not expected to get past the pool stages but thanks to some determined efforts often under pressure the team succeeded in making the final. This was lost to Hong Kong (7-4) after a poor start from which the team never quite recovered.

The pool results were as follows:
-- Lost 7-6 against England (who were the tournament favourites and top seed)
-- Won on a penalty shoot out against Argentine after ending the match 2-2
-- Beat India 9-2

This qualified us second in our pool for the quarter finals where we came up against Australia (Glen Gilmore, Kelvin Johnson and Will Gilmore) This was by far one of the toughest matches on tour and we were ecstatic to win the game 5-3. Sweet revenge after our defeat at the hands of the Aussies in last year’s BMW Series.

The tournament was staged at the Metropolitan Polo Club in Tianjin (which is a big city about two hours drive from Beijing) The facilities at the MPC are unprecedented with state of the art stables, indoor arena and two magnificent polo fields. These are over looked by the five star Goldin Metropolitan Hotel which makes many of our top hotels poor cousins!!!

The organisation of the tournament was slick and the quality of the horses (mostly bought in from Australia and New Zealand) was very good. The South African team consisting of Tom de Bruin, Jean du Plessis, Leroux Hendriks and Terence Spilsbury (reserve) were great ambassadors for our country. It was a happy tour with no disciplinary problems both on and off the field. South Africa was complimented by the FIP for their good behaviour on and off the field, punctuality and smart turn out. I got the impression that we surprised many of our competitors and soon became the tournament favourites.

For those interested, pictures of the tour will be posted on the SAPA website.   

The team travelling to Australia for the March/April series is as follows:
  1. Davey Evans (4)
  2. Brad MacGibbon (5)
  3. Joe Henderson (5)
  4. Duncan Watson (5)
Duncan Ellis will travel with the team as “Manager/Coach” and will also fill in as a substitute in the event of an injury. Joe Henderson was one of South Africa’s highest rated players but due to his overseas professional commitments has never played for South Africa. He is delighted at the prospect and his astute tactical knowledge can only benefit the team.

The South African Colts Under 21 team will travel with the national side and will do duty in the curtain raiser matches to the Internationals. The SA Colts team is as follows:
  1. Byron Watson (2)
  2. Dirk van Reenen (2)
  3. Cody Ellis (2)
  4. Joe Mandy (2)
South African has been invited to play against England for the Coronation Cup. This is an extremely prestigious international particularly as it marks the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. The fact that we have been afforded this honour bear’s testimony to the high regard the HPA hold South African polo.

England have requested a 26 goal team to play against their top team which will consist of two seven’s and two sixes. The international will take place at Guards Polo Club on Sunday 22nd July. More information on this will follow in future newsletters.

In terms of the National Sports & Recreation Act of 1998 as amended in 2007, all equestrian disciplines are compelled to fall under the South African Equestrian Federation which in turn reports directly to SASCOC (South African Sport Confederations Olympic Committee). SAEF is governed therefore by the rules and regulations of the Sports Act - the most important of which is the awarding of Protea National Colours to its members. These will in future have to be submitted to SASCOC for approval in all instances.

On the “plus” side SAPA, as an affiliated member of SAEF, can apply for government funding for the development of polo in South Africa and for assistance with overseas tours.

SAPA has set aside a considerable budget for the use of professional umpires at all provincial championship tournaments as well as one other prominent tournament in each province. This will be in addition to the SAPA run tournaments on the calendar. First prize would be to sponsor all country tournaments but budget constraints prohibit this.

It appears that the HPA won’t be making many rule changes for 2012. The only one that I am aware of is the Penalty 5(a) and 5(b) where the umpire will place the ball and call “play”. In other words the player will not have the opportunity to tee up the ball. There could also be an amendment to the time taken for penalties with umpires giving players a time limit when taking penalties. South Africa will only adopt any rule changes once they have been ratified and published by the HPA which we expect to take place during the course of this month.

The following members have been voted in by the senior players as national selectors for 2012.
  • Duncan Ellis
  • Campbell Macnab
  • Donovan English
SAPA Exco appointed Clive Peddle to serve as Convener. Congratulations to these men who give up a lot of their time to assess and select teams for the various Internationals.

A ladies international against the touring World Fusion team is planned for May and will be held at the same time as Highveld Champs. (East Rand Polo Club). Amy Gace has already notified the ladies on this and it is hoped to field four teams, each with a touring visitor participating on Friday and Saturday. The ladies international match will take place on the Sunday as a curtain raiser to the final of Highveld Champs.

Canada has also issued an invitation for a national ladies team to tour their country in July. This coincides with the Calgary Stampede and should be a wonderful tour. It is hoped Canada will reciprocate with a tour to South Africa over President’s Cup.

A South African Schools girl’s team will be selected at the SAPA Clinic – it is envisaged that this team will take part in the ladies section of President’s Cup. Girls eligible for selection must attend the Clinic unless they have other school sports commitments that might clash.

I have no doubt that you are all looking forward to the season/year ahead – let’s hope it’s a successful one for our national teams and Clubs some of which are fighting for survival. 

Executive Director – South African Polo Association

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