Oxford enjoyed a full two days of polo last weekend, taking on Cambridge, Nottingham and Birmingham among others for the annual University Challenge Polo Tournament. Despite the disadvantage of a late start to our term and early training hindered by poor weather, our new beginners made a valiant effort against the other more experienced teams.
Oxford Beginners 1 had a tough start facing infamous rivals Birmingham, but under the guidance of Captain Daniel Zajarias-Fainsod, Kathleen Lemmon and Sydony Johnson managed to hold their own for a 2-2 draw. With star scorer Jan Calliess on board, and not allowing a defeat by Warwick to dampen their spirits, Beginners 1 finished on a high with a 3-1 victory over Nottingham on Sunday, helped by an impressive goal from Kate Robinson and some determined play by Noel Newman.
Our second Beginners team, Captained by Christiaan de Koning, were also thrown in at the deep end to take on a formidable Warwick side. With some powerful shots from Ferdinand Berthold, the threesome went from strength to strength. Sunday ended in a classic blues skirmish, with the draw bringing them up against Cambridge not once but twice. With one draw and one win for Koning and new teammates Lizzy Hamilton and Lucy Gregory, it was an overall victorious and well-deserved 4-2 to the Dark Blues.
The Novice division as always saw some fast-paced and thrilling action. Led by Captain Olivia Cords, Oxford fought fiercely against a strong Nottingham side. Elly Offutt pulled out all the stops in her first match, finishing the first goal to bring the teams 1-a-piece and neck-and-neck to the end. It was a skilful penalty by Cords that finally sealed the deal taking Oxford to victory once more.
Despite some strong tactical play by Ben Politowski, Oxford fell victim to Birmingham’s superior experience, and on day 2 strong attack from Lillian Jewell von Seggern and penalty defence from Offutt were not enough to overcome some aggressive opposition and keep Oxford in the game.
Though a mixed bag of a weekend, there was no lack of memorable moments, including an impressive breakaway run to goal by Cords, and a skilful neck shot from 20 yards by Jan Calliess – rightfully earning him the title of Best Goal. Most Valued Player was awarded to Christiaan de Koning for his natural talent and tenacity with only a small amount of training under his belt.
As always OUPC extends its gratitude to Coach David Ashby and groom Danielle Howland at The Oxford Polo School, who have ensured a fun and action-packed term. The club looks forward to the rest of the season, including upcoming Christmas Chukkas and Winter Cuppers, as well as the SUPA National Championships.