The South African polo team depart for Beijing (China) tonight to take part in the Federation of International Polo’s World Cup Snow Polo tournament. The event takes place at the Golding Metropolitan Polo Club in Tianjin (approximately two hours drive from Beijing) with 12 nations competing for the World Snow Polo trophy.
The South African team consists of Tom de Bruin (7 goals) Chris MacKenzie (5 goals) and Lance Watson (4 goals) with Terence Spilsbury (4 goals) travelling as reserve. Competition will be intense but the team has plenty of experience and a pedigree to get to the finals. Tom de Bruin was in last year’s team that lost to Hong Kong in the final while Chris MacKenzie (son of former SA team captain Buster MacKenzie) is used to big occasions having played in Britain’s high goal league for the past two seasons.
Snow polo is played on a smaller field - hence only three players per team as opposed to the normal four. Conditions in China are bitterly cold with temperatures up to -12 during the day. Warm clothing is the order of the day with players needing thermal under clothing and gloves to keep warm during play. Horses are all shod with normal shoes but have studs all round to give better grip in the snow.