Date: Tuesday, August 6, 2019
With spectacular Newport summer weather on tap, Saturday's exhilarating exhibition polo match finished with USA reigning victorious over South Africa with a final score of 11-9 on August 3rd. Globally, South African polo is among the most competitive, and the USA squad was well prepared to meet the challenge, as intense play unfolded in the close match. Never more than a point separated the two teams, often tied scores and multiple lead changes played out all the way to the final period of regulation play in the Newport International Polo Series XXVIII, Presented by Brahmin.
With the South Africa and US national flags rippling over the pitch, the national anthems of both countries followed the introduction of players. In white jerseys for South Africa in the #1 position was Selby Williamson, Ali Kashef at #2, Harold Awuah-Darko Sr. at #3, and Harold Awuah-Darko Jr. at #4. Representing USA in navy blue in the #1 position was Roger Souto, Annabelle Gundlach at #2, Rory Torey at #3, and Brandon Phillips at #4.
With a challenging lineup, South Africa was prepared to take home the glory on Saturday. USA accounted for this and put everything they had into defending the trophy. Souto scored the first goal of the game practically moments after it started. Darko Jr. retaliated with a goal for South Africa to even the score before Gundlach put USA in the lead finishing the first chukker with a score of 2-1. Gundlach scored again in the second chukker, but Williamson and Darko Jr. scored two goals back-to-back tying the game with a score of 3-3 entering the third chukker. Gundlach scored a hat-trick in the third chukker. Her third goal of the game was quickly followed by two more goals for Williamson putting South Africa in the lead 5-4 entering half time.
Kashef began the second half determined to push South Africa further in the lead with his first goal of the game bringing the score to 6-4. Phillips responded with his first goal of the game making the score 6-5. USA caught up in the 5th chukker, beginning with a goal for Souto which was followed by one for Kashef. Phillips scored another which brought the score to 7-7. USA blitzed South Africa in the final chukker, with Gundlach scoring the first goal followed by the first for Darko Sr. USA scored two goals, one from Phillips followed by another from Torey changing the score to 10-8. Darko Jr. scored the last goal for South Africa making the score 10-9 before USA reinforced their lead with a final goal from Phillips making the ultimate score 11-9.
The match concluded with the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Toast & Trophy Presentation, with commemorative prizes and the perpetual USA vs. South Africa liberty bowl inaugurated in 2007 was awarded by Sue and Peter Metzger, hosts of the South Africa team during its stay in Newport. An autograph signing to meet the players followed the trophy presentation.
During the match, a lucky lady from East Greenwich, RI won a Duxbury Satchell from Brahmin in the weekly door prize drawing, and an automatic entry into the Turkish Airlines Grand Prize Drawing at the Finals to win a trip for 2 anywhere in the world! Also, during the match, the Stella Artois Tailgate Contest awarded a fabulous prize to a spectacularly decorated party of spectators decorating their tailgate with a South African theme. Specialty vendors and concessionaires present in the Vendor Village at the polo grounds, including the Bose Airstream demonstrating the latest in personal sound technology accessories, a BRAHMIN popup shop, WOOF WOOF, Lauren Hope Fine Jewelry, Seeside Design, Lululemon, Wag Nation, Newport Polo Pro Shop, the Horseshoe Wine Bar, the Davitt Pavilion Patio Bar and Shuck Truck raw bar, the Veuve Clicquot Champagne On the Go Cart, and gourmet food trucks.
Following the match, the teams and patrons joined together for Newport Polo’s annual Lobster Bake catered by McGrath Clambakes as a fitting conclusion to the climax of the season. The weekend celebratins included Diamonds Are Forever black tie charity gala on the eve of the match, with the South African team as the guests of honor at Marble House for the 19th annual Newport International Polo Charity Ball, raising funds for the Newport Music Festival.
View an album of photos from the Match.
While in Newport, the South Africa players enjoyed many of the best attractions and highlights in the City by the Sea, including VIP ground transportation from Rockstar Limo, a tour of Newport with the new Newport Jaguar Tours, an aerial tour from Newport Helicopter Tours; a glorious afternoon sail with America's Cup Charters; sightseeing fun courtesy of Scooter World; paddle boarding with Island Surf and Sport; a cocktail welcome reception on the Terrace at The Chanler and all the great goings on in the City by the Sea.
"Polo is an international sport, played in over 80 countries around the globe," stated Dan Keating, captain of the USA squad. "we are honored to have teams traveling great distances to play in Newport."
Dating back more than 130 years in Newport, the polo matches are one of Newport’s most popular traditions, a living legacy from the Gilded Age, and open to the public. Audiences of several thousand spectators enjoy the contests against international teams, as well as teams representing major US cities, playing against the home team every Sat, June thru Sept. at 5 PM / 4 PM in Sept.
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This is the 28th season of Newport International Polo Series, which has hosted teams from over 30 nations including, Ireland, Germany, Spain, England, Argentina, France, Egypt, India, Australia, Costa Rica, Ghana, Canada, Chile, Jamaica, Nigeria, Portugal, New Zealand, Barbados, Scotland, South Africa, Hungary, Dominican Republic, Netherlands, Kenya, Brazil, China, Italy, Mexico, Sweden, Singapore, Monaco, Morocco, Peru and Poland.
Minutes from downtown Newport, the International Polo Grounds are located at historic Glen Farm, 250 Linden Lane (off Rte. 138) in Portsmouth, RI. This bucolic setting is the last 100 acres of what was once a 700-acre manorial farm whose settlement dates back to the 1600's. Its classical stone barns from the Gilded Age and its park-like grounds were rehabilitated by polo series founder, Dan Keating, and thrive today as an equestrian & community recreational property, and home of the Polo Series.
The Newport International Polo Series is proud to present its 2019 sponsors including Brahmin, Davitt Inc, Turkish Airlines, TD Bank, Boston Common, Gurney's, The Vanderbilt, Hotel Viking, The Chanler, Vanderbilt International Properties, Clarke Cooke House, Stella Artois, Rockstar Limo, Atria Senior Living, Goslings, McGrath Clambakes and promotional partners that entertain our visiting teams including the International Tennis Hall of Fame, America's Cup Charters, Newport Helicopter Tours, The Cocktail Guru, Newport Mansions, Island Surf and Sport, and Scooter World. Special thanks to Schultz Marketing Partners, Van Liew Trust, Tanglewood, and WCRI, Classical Rhode Island. “Our sponsors have been with us since the beginning. Without their support, the Series would not be as extensive as it is,” explains Dan Keating, Polo Series founder.
L'esprit de Polo has flourished in Newport, RI, since the founding of America's first polo club in the seaside resort & sporting haven in 1876. Newport Polo hosts the 28th season of the Newport International Polo Series, and offers polo club member services for grass & arena polo and polo instruction year-round; charter member of the United States Polo Association.