Battling severe weather conditions and heavy snowfall, the Hurlingham Polo Association Bryan Morrison Trophy arena match between USA and England took place Saturday, March 3. Traditionally played at the All England Polo Club in Hickstead, England, a frozen arena resulted in a last minute relocation. A break in the weather allowed for the match to be moved to the Westcroft Park Polo Club in Chobham, England. Four chukkers of intense back-and-forth play resulted in England, sponsored by Flannels, defeating USA, sponsored by Playnation, to take home the crystal trophy 14-10.
USA's Pelon Escapite takes the ball on the nearside with England's Sebastian Dawnay on his hip.
Both teams fought fiercely from the start with England’s 9-goaler Chris Hyde putting his team on the scoreboard first. Hyde’s goal was countered by USA’s Pelon Escapite. The remainder of the chukker played out evenly; all USA players contributing to the scoreboard. Moving into the second, the score was tied 4-all. “The game was close when I missed a two pointer by a couple of inches, and then they converted a two pointer to tie at halftime,” said Escapite. “I feel like that was our chance at a strong lead.” After halftime, play resumed tied once again 8-8. A field goal by England’s Sebastian Dawnay, followed by a penalty conversion from Hyde broke the tie momentarily. However, USA answered with a goal by Shane Rice.
USA's Shane Rice on the ball with England's Sebastian Dawnay defending.
The score 10-9 in England’s favor, it was anyone’s game entering the final period. Hyde scored the first goal of the chukker, quickly followed by an angled cut shot from Rice. Only a few minutes left in regulation time, Hyde converted again to increase the lead. Rice displayed amazing skill by saving three 25-yard defended penalties, but it was not enough to overcome England in the end. Two more goals from Eden Ormerod sealed the win for England 10-14.
“We were down by two in the last chukker and decided to go all in offensively, but England ultimately finished with two more goals,” recounted Escapite. “It is always an honor to represent the USA and I am hoping for a strong rematch on my own horses.”
USA's Tommy Collingwood takes the ball on the nearside.
“We played a couple of practices in the snow and then on the day of the game, it was a great day and it turned out to be a great event. It was an awesome arena and the English were wonderful hosts. I hope that we can have a rematch on our soil.” – USA’s Tommy Collingwood
Westcroft Polo Club Managing Director Richard Blake Thomas with Greta Morrison, MVP Shane Rice and Jamie Morrison.
Shane Rice was awarded The Polo Magazine Most Valuable Player for his amazing defensive work in the fourth chukker. Prada, owned by Richard Blake-Thomas and played by Chris Hyde in the fourth was presented with the Polo Times Best Playing Pony blanket.
All photos ©Tony Ramirez/www.imagesofpolo.com