Thousands of spectators including VIPs Dominic Cooper, Matt Smith, Douglas Booth, Dionne Bromfield, Gemma Chan, Annabelle Wallis and Steven Moyer attended the first Audi International at Guards Polo Club, with the sun making a rare appearance, acting as the perfect complement to the thousands of stylish guests.
This year has already been an exciting one for the Audi polo partnership with the introduction of the new Audi International Polo Series, yet this International has undoubtedly been the most anticipated event on the UK’s polo calendar.
In celebration of H M The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the programme included two matches, with all four teams drawn from the Commonwealth. Kicking off the day’s action was a game between an Audi Prince of Wales Young England (rec ½) and Howtospendit.com’s Hurlingham Young Commonwealth side with the two sides competing for the new and, suitably named, Diamond Jubilee Trophy – a display of the up and coming talent, featuring individuals who will probably play in the afternoon’s game in the near future. This time around it was the Hurlingham side that lifted the trophy, beating their opposition 6-3 1/2.
Guests were then invited to watch the Coronation Cup match, which saw the Audi England side face a South African opposition and, with the teams adding up to a 26 and 25 handicap respectively, the crowd was ensured a competitive and exciting display of the sport.
Together England and South Africa (rec 1) produced an exciting match showcasing both fluent team play, and also examples of the individual skill and talent that was in action on the field today. However, 2012’s Coronation Cup victory belongs to England, who managed to defeat South Africa 9 - 8. Following the match though, David Woodd, Chief Executive of the HPA, was quick to praise the South Africa team saying: “It was a great privilege to play a young go-getting South African team.”
Under the captaincy of 23 year old Nachi du Plessis, the Equus & Co sponsored South African line-up also included Chris Mackenzie, Jean du Plessis and Tom de Bruin- four players under the age of 25 – not only making them the youngest international team ever to have taken to Smith’s Lawn on International Day but also an indication of the young talent that South Africa, as a country, is producing.
On the other end of the spectrum, today’s England line-up is one we have seen many times before – 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 – 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.
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 five goals to three in favour of 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 man to take control was none other than the England captain himself, performing a perfect 30-yard penalty shot and taking the home team into the lead with just five minutes to go – a play that would have undoubtedly contributed to the Most Valuable Player Award, he was later presented with this accolade by 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 England’s Borwick though who would be the one to secure the 2012 show, sending what would be the final and most important goal of the day through the posts, securing England Coronation Cup victory.
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).
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).