England secured a comfortable victory over France in the annual Playnation Arena Polo Test Match at the All England Polo Club, Hickstead on Saturday March 2.
It was the first time France had played in the International Test Match and they found the Flannels England team on dominant form, with the home side lifting the Bryan Morrison Trophy for the fourth year in succession.
England started strongly, scoring four goals in the first chukka to build a healthy lead over the visiting team. By half time, England’s Arena Polo experience was clearly showing and they led 9-0. But their rivals picked up in the second half, with captain Pierre Henri Ngoumou scoring to get the French off the mark, and by the end of the third chukka the scoreline read 15-7.
An exciting fourth chukka saw both teams add to the scoreline, but France could not fully bridge the gap and Flannels England of Ed Banner-Eve (6), Eden Ormerod (6) and Will Emerson (6) rode out the winners 17-9.
“The whole match from beginning to end was fast, furious and flowing – which is how Ed, Eden and myself like to play,” said Will Emerson, who captained the winning England side. “This made for a great match to watch, as well as being such fun to play in.
“England, of course, had home advantage, and our horses and players have far more experience and knowledge of arena polo. But the French players are quality players and they learnt quickly. The first half was dominated by England, however the second half was more closely contested.”
Emerson expressed how honoured he was to be asked by the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA) to captain the England Team, and he also thanked the visiting team for their commitment to playing in the Test Match. “It was fantastic that France made such an effort for the event: getting the horses fit, playing practices in France, then transporting all the horses to England for the match.”
AEPC Chairman John Bunn added: “Congratulations to England for another superb victory in the Playnation Arena Polo Test Match. It’s always an honour to host this match and we are very grateful to the teams, the sponsors and the HPA for making the day such a success.”
Earlier in the day, the 12-Goal Challenge saw Centtrip Wales beat Hedonism Wines 19-13. At half time the scoreline was 7-7, but Centtrip Wales really picked up in the second half to take the win.
The sport was followed by the traditional post-match luncheon, where the players, organisers and supporters were able to celebrate the Test Match and the end of another successful Arena Polo season at Hickstead.
The Playnation International Test Match for The Bryan Morrison Trophy
Flannels England (18): Ed Banner-Eve (6), Eden Ormerod (6) & Will Emerson (6 – captain)
France (19): Clément Delfosse (6), Pierre Henri Ngoumou (7 – captain) & Patrick Paillol (6)
The Polo Magazine Most Valuable Player: Ed Banner-Eve
Polo Times Best Playing Pony: Pierre Henri Ngoumou’s Pulga
Centtrip Wales (13): Amy Guy (1), Richard Blake-Thomas (5) & Pete Webb (7)
Hedonism Wines (13): Evgeny Chichvarkin (1), Tim Bown (4) & Jonny Good (8)
The Polo Magazine Most Valuable Player: Pete Webb
Polo Times Best Playing Pony: Richard Blake-Thomas’ Gypsy