Is everyone who plays polo this posh and handsome?
The only men who can work a white trouser
We’re all familiar with the shirts, but when it comes to actually playing polo most of us don’t have a clue.
Generally described as hockey on a horse, the notoriously posh sport is heavily associated with the aristocracy while university polo clubs are crawling with Harrys, Hugos and Milos. Enter the strapping young sportsmen making names for themselves in British polo. Turns out they are in fact polite, privileged and pretty handsome.
George Lodwick, 21, Durham University Polo Club
Whats the atmosphere like in the Durham polo club?
We’ve only just got the Durham Polo Club off the ground, so we’re trying to plug it as much as we can at the moment.
Currently we have about 15 regular members, and we sent eight to ten people down to nationals in the summer.
We are all very close, a small knit group, and because there are so few of us, and because we all usually travel down to training together in a fleet of cars, or a small minibus, you get to know everyone really well.
You spend a lot of time together, you camp out at tournaments together. You have to be able to trust each other especially when you’re flying along at 30mph.
The feeling of the club that we’re trying to promote is not that we’re trying to pick up as many good people as possible, but we’re trying to promote the ethos that it’s not just an elitist sport that you can do if you have the money.
How did you get into the sport?
I’ve been playing polo since 2010, I originally was an eventer, so I did cross country, show jumping, but then lived outside one of the polo clubs in Gloucester and I did a polo session there, picked it up and carried it on.
What does it take to be a good player?
Primarily to be a good polo player, you need to be a good rider, with polo you’re steering with your legs, whilst trying to hit a ball, so you’ve got to be able to deal with a lot of circumstances around you. But then I wouldn’t say co-ordination is one of the main features for you to have. I’ve never been good at many ball sports, cricket, or anything that needs hand-eye co-ordination. It’s mainly just confidence.
Do polo players know how to have a good time?
We have a very good Social Sec this year. We do try to vary them, because being a mix gender sport, you have to cater to everyone. It can’t just be all rugby boys drinking sessions, and sort of just nice wine tasting evenings for the girls, I know that’s quite stereotypical, but just as an example.
Considering we don’t necessarily have to be the fittest players on our sport, we do like to have a good time. So after most tournaments if you’re being hosted by another university far away from yours, they’ll usually invite you to their town or their union and you go on a night out with them afterwards, and you get to know them, and make friends at other universities.
So you’re single, how does it work with the ladies?
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t used it [playing polo] once or twice to help out [with the ladies], but I suppose it’s more the idea that you’re a horse rider, it’s got a sort of grandeur to it I feel.”
Jack Richardson, 23, Mad Dogs
When did you start playing polo?
I started playing polo when I was really young, my dad played a bit, and I grew up on our farm on West Sussex. Literally when I could walk I had a little hand stick running around, and then I had a little fluffy pony that I played on. I had my first adult tournament when I was ten.
What sort of training do you have to do?
“It requires a lot of core strength. You don’t want to get too big and muscly because then you get a bit heavy, so it’s a bit more work for the horse. It’s mainly just about getting fit, and strength. You just need to be economical with your weight and your muscles.
Do polo players know how to have a good time?
I like to escape polo when I can and see good friends. Personally when I’m not playing and speaking to people I like to get out of the bubble.
On the whole polo players do know how to enjoy themselves, but now it has become very professional so you have to be careful, its a lot more serious now than it was. Back in the day when it wasn’t such a big sport and people weren’t so professional it was a bit more relaxed and people would go and have a few beers after a game or something. So there is still that social side to it, but I think it has gone out of the game somewhat.
What do the girls say about you playing polo?
During my single days, playing polo definitely didn’t hurt my chances with the ladies, but I met my current girlfriend completely outside of polo. She doesn’t get overly involved in the polo world, but she likes horses. I don’t think she likes it that much when people asks her what does her boyfriend do, and she says a polo player. A lot of people maybe have a stereotypical polo player in mind, but I think I’m actually a slightly different one.
And what’s a stereotypical polo player?
Most people tend to perceive a polo player to be some arrogant posh guy, that turns up and plays polo, parties hard, and stuff like that…they do exist, but definitely not how I want to be perceived, I like to think I’m a little more down to earth.
I think people think it is a lot more posh than it actually is, and its a lot more acceptable. In its core it’s kind of like racing, you have the rich people who have the money, who are funding the sport and helping it move, and you have your grass routes people who are just playing for fun. There are very much different levels to it, and it’s definitely not just a posh person’s sport.
But you need a ton of horses to play though?
You normally take like six or seven horse a game. I own about 25 horses. People say it is between 70 and 80% how nice you are to your horses, and how well you get on with your horses. But in the end it is how good the driver is and how well you can hit the ball.
Matt Le Brocq, 20, Exeter University Polo Club
What’s it like playing polo?
I never expected to play polo, and it’s a thrill that I haven’t really got from another sport before, where you’re combining the high speed, the enjoyment of riding really fast, the horses, and also cricket and hockey, but you’re combining the two together.
I guess you call it hockey on a horse, as someone who has done a lot of hand-eye co-ordinated sports, thats the easiest way I found to get my head around it, the tactics and things involved.
What kind of person plays polo?
At university, I like to think it’s not the classic stereotype of a polo player. The people I joined were very down to earth, fun people.
Outside of university, there is a bit of a stereotype, because it is obviously a bit of an expensive sport, for more well off, extravagant people perhaps, who want to throw away a lot of money per minute of sport.
How easy is it to pick up?
I came into the sport never having ridden a horse, and to be able to go into it as a complete beginner and to have the tuition, and the training to learn how to play it and to get to a decent level where you can play matches I thought was absolutely fantastic.
Matt’s girlfriend, Joanna Mathews, who is doing a masters at London Met said: “I take the mick a lot, I don’t know how much I agree with the sport, but it is good fun to watch, I don’t know about it being sexy…the white skinny jeans and all. But it’s alright, I don’t hate it.
“I’ve never made him wear his boots and hat in the bedroom, and I haven’t let him use any kind of whip or anything like that either.”