Trans-Tasman polo in Tai Tapu
The New Zealand polo team is set to take on classic rivals Australia this weekend for the first time in the South Island, and all for a charitable cause.
The annual Day At The Polo hosted by the Port Hills Polo Club (PHPC) raised funds for the Ronald McDonald House South Island. Those funds supported families who had to travel to Christchurch for their children’s medical needs.
This year, the PHPC had managed to secure the services of the riders in black and gold for a test match. PHPC’s Hamish Cottier said the popular and often packed out event regularly raised around $100,000 for Ronald McDonald House.
‘‘We don’t charge anything, it’s all free entry. We all want to get behind the cause for Ronald McDonald day. It’s great the [New Zealand team] are getting involved.’’
Coming from different clubs around the country, New Zealand players Jimmy Wood, Lochie Hunter and Sam Martin said the team would be riding with past team mates and rivals on Saturday.
‘‘A lot of us have played with or against each other before, so it doesn’t take too long to pick up the combinations and know each others game quite well,’’ Hunter said.
Each side would have four evenly matched players on the field at a time for the course of six chukkas - seven minute periods.
Wood said his first international test was against the Australians and the Kiwi side was lucky to ‘‘come away with a wee win’’.
‘‘They’re tough, they always put up a good fight. There’s always that New Zealand, Aussie rivalry so it’s always a big game,’’ Wood said.
Hunter said it was a ‘‘pretty awesome honour’’ to play the test match for the Ronald McDonald House cause.
Australian captain Jack Archibald said he and his team were excited for the charity event, which promised to be a tough match between mates.
‘‘They’ve got four very good players so it’s going to be really tough for us. We’ll have our work cut out for us.’’
Spots on the catered tables were sold out but entry to watch the match at PHPC’s Tai Tapu field was free.
As well as the international test match, there would be a match between emerging young South Island players, auctions and a bar and food tent provided by major sponsor Lion Nathan. There was also an online silent auction, which people could register for by texting POLO2017 to 3840.
Jimmy Wood and Lochie Hunter are set to ride against Australia this weekend.