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SA snow polo side ends fourth in World Cup

Our national polo team recently returned from a freezing China where they ended fourth in the Snow Polo World Cup tournament.

The competition, organised by the Federation of Internernational Polo, took part in Tianjin, a two-hour drive from Beijing, and 12 nations competed.

Representing South Africa were Tom de Bruin, Chris MacKenzie (son of former SA captain Buster) and Lance Watson with Ternece Spilsbury a travelling reserve.

Played on a smaller field than regular polo, teams are restricted to three players instead of four. The South Africans also had to contend with bitterly cold temperatures with the mercury down as far as minus 12 degrees Celcius during the day.

The horses were shod with shoes that had additional studs for better grips.

South Africa were up against Hong Kong, India, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Canada, US, France, England, Australia and England.

The first two games were relatively easy for SA as they beat India 7-3 and France 4-3 to go through to the quarters where they took on Canad.

With the temperature at a relatively ‘high’ three degrees, the snow was slushy, hampering a free-flowing game. Still, South Africa won a physical match 6-2.

That saw them taking on Argentina in the semi-final.

The South Americans ran the South Africans ragged and at halftime the score was 4-0 to the Argentinians. The SA team regrouped well though and in the third chukka pulled back to 4-3. A runaway goal from the kings of polo eventually saw them going through 6-3, but losing so narrowly to the best polo playing nation in the world was no disgrace.

Defending champions Hong Kong beat England, meaning the final would be between them and Argentina.

In the play-off for third and fourth, between England and South Africa, the Brits took bronze by a two-goal margin while the final saw Hong Kong edging Argentina by two goals in a match played in relentless snow, making for a game that never reached its true potential.


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