Wrapping up a successful season, the polo club team traveled to England over spring break to face Oxford and Cambridge in the second-annual Atlantic Cup.
Yale’s squad split into men’s and women’s squads and after three days of intense play, the Yale men’s team faced the women’s team in the finals while Oxford and Cambridge squared off in the consolation. The Yale men took first place with a 5-2 victory over the women. Oxford and Cambridge’s first teams took third and fourth places, respectively.
Last year, the polo team invited Oxford and Cambridge to New Haven for an unprecedented transatlantic competition. Deemed a success, the competition initiated a tradition, now known as the Atlantic Cup. This year, Oxford hosted the Yale and Cambridge polo teams. Yale players housed with Oxford students. Competition took place at the outdoor arena of the Iglesham polo club.
Accompanied by Coach Fred Schauder, six women and four men from Yale (10 of the 12 varsity team members) traveled to England. The round robin tournament featured two seven minute and 30 second “chukkers,” or periods. Matches usually have four chukkers, but two were used to speed up the round robin process.
Although Yale usually plays with separate male and female teams, Oxford and Cambridge’s teams were coed. As a result, to create two teams of 5, Mary Allison Taft Mcphee ’03 was named an “honorary male” and played with the male team. Oxford and Cambridge each had two coed teams.
Matches were extremely competitive, with Yale men and women reaching the finals. The first teams from both Oxford and Cambridge reached the semifinals. Despite the 5-2 score in favor of the Yale men, the game was close, and would have been closer if played according to American and not British rules, women’s captain Sarah Crews ’03 said.
“It was great getting to watch the Oxford teams play the Cambridge ones, because the rivalry puts Harvard-Yale to shame,” Alexandra Reeve ’05.
Yet team members emphasized the dual nature of the weekend as both competitive and friendly.
“It was a whole weekend of fun,” Crews said.
Indeed, team members from Oxford, Cambridge, and Yale have become friendly over the past two years. While competition was fierce in the arena, athletes enjoyed each other’s company at night in a relaxed, sociable atmosphere. One night, everybody enjoyed a banquet at Oxford’s Christchurch College.
Michael Dawson ’04, president of Yale Polo, said the weekend was clearly much more than simply a competition.
“It provided a great opportunity for us to get to know people on the other teams and to form great friendships,” Dawson said.
The Atlantic Cup marked the end of Yale’s polo season. Yale’s success in England was even more meaningful in light of the varied levels of experience among the team’s players. While some schools have entire rosters of experienced players, Yale combines seasoned experts with students who rode horses before but never played polo with some who never once mounted a horse.
Crews said there is “a lot of depth in the years to come.”
But next season the team will be without seniors Kumi Smith ’03, Crews and William Hsu ’03, along with coach Schauder, who will devote more time to his barn in Greenwich.
Nonetheless, players remain confident about the team’s future.
“The future potential of the team is so great,” Crews said.