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New blood for British Polo

"To make the final of three 8-goal tournaments and win two of them was phenomenal"

The Covid-19 pandemic struck hard just before the start of the British polo season. There were many uncertainties and for the season to be canceled was a real possibility. Fortunately, polo pulled through and, with many limitations, the ball kept rolling. In spite of the current situation, new people continue to get involved in polo. That is the case with Simon Franc and his Quatervois Polo Team. 

Simon Franc started playing polo last year at Fifield Polo Club and then graduated to Guards Polo Club this year. At Guards, he recently won the Committee Cup, a tournament that was cancelled, due to the pandemic. After they defeated Mad Dogs 9-5½ in the final, Simon spoke to CLICKPOLO.

Photo by The Art of Polo

-You just won the Committee Cup. What can you say about this tournament?

"I think this tournament must now be the longest on record having taken 91 days. We started in the first week of June and played the final on the 31 of August. During the second game of the group stages, I got hit by a horse and had to go to A&E. Fortunately, my ribs were not fractured, just severely bruised. And then before the semi-final was played, I was put up from -1 to 0-goals with immediate effect. As a result, we started as an 8-goal team and finished as a 9-goal team with a ½ goal against us in both the semi-final and final.”

“I was fortunate enough to play with an amazing team: myself, Thilo Sautter, Henry Porter, and Hissam Ali Hyder. I was awarded MVP in the final but really, in my view, that should have gone to Henry Porter who was sensational. And most certainly, MVP of the tournament was Hissam Ali Hyder."

-What can you tell us about your first season playing at Guards?

"I started polo last year at Fifield Polo Club and then graduated to Guards this year. Everyone told me that Guards was a whole new level. And that in your first season, and perhaps for many seasons to come, you should be prepared not to win anything at all. So, to make the final of three 8-goal tournaments and win two of them was phenomenal. But the real credit has to go to our polo manager Sophie Kyriazi. Without her, Quatervois Polo simply could not achieve all that it has in such a short space of time. A special mention also to Brian Stein who, in my view, has steered the club superbly through the COVID crisis."

-You are currently playing with your girlfriend. How has the experience been so far and how does it feel to share this passion with her?

"Expensive, but then isn’t everything in life that’s worth having. On a more serious note, they say that every cloud has a silver lining and my silver lining from the cloud of COVID has been to have met the most amazing woman. Alice and I were in Sotogrande as friends when the country was locked down. We very quickly left and went back to Jersey where Alice is from. What was meant to be a few weeks turned into three months and we came back to the UK as a new couple for the start of the polo season. Life is nothing if you cannot share it with those you love and so I immediately got Alice up on a horse and riding. As with all she does, she took to it like a duck to water. A huge thanks also to Sebi Merlos for taking Alice under his wing and teaching her to play. My only concern is that by the end of next season she may well be better than I am."

Photo by The Art of Polo

-What are your plans for next season?

"On to bigger and better wins, but most importantly to have as much fun as we did this season – hopefully without masks! I plan to play all of the 8 and 12-goal tournaments at Guards. Alongside which Alice and I will be moving to stable at Black Bears and so plan to play together in club tournaments. I also hope that we can get Alice playing some Ladies polo with Olivia Merlos and Sophie Kyriazi. The fourth team member is still a TBC."

-What do you think of the new rules?

"On a serious note, I would ask the HPA to maintain the rule that we play in the same direction for an entire chukka and only change ends at the beginning of the next. If polo is to be sustainable into the future, we have to attract new players and the only way that can be done is to attract bigger audiences. The old rule of changing direction every time a goal was scored was impossible for the public to follow. They would turn around to talk to a friend or re-fill their glass and when returning to the game, would have no idea who was going which way. If you cannot follow a sport one very quickly loses interest.”

“The single direction per chukka (the same set-up as almost all other sports) has allowed spectators to more readily follow the match and has even made them keen to watch more! Exactly what we all want and need!".

Photo by The Art of Polo


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