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USA vs. Irish USA Match Report

Date: Thursday, July 30, 2020

The conspicuous arrival of the Irish team, by helicopter, for a center field landing, courtesy of Newport Helicopter Tours, came right on schedule last Saturday, July 25 for USA vs. Irish USA to a sold-out but COVID-regulated audience, including many long-time fans of the ever popular Irish Polo Team, whose 28-year record of consecutive matches came to an end this season. 

Even on the cheerful, sunny day with comforting breezes, and attendees throughout the venue displaying Ireland's tri-color flag and other festive regalia, the video message on the Jumbotron from Siobhan Herbst, Irish team captian, filled wistful hearts with nostalgia and the promise of the beloved team's return in 2021. 

In hometeam navy USA jerseys, Steganie Boyer made her debut in the #1 position, Tim Day and Laurel Howe alternated at #2, Dave Bullis wore the #3 and Sam Clemens played the #4 position.  In Irish green, members of the Newport Polo Club with Irish lineage assembled Teghan Torrey at #1, Roger Souto at #2, Minnie Keating in #3, and Dan Keating anchoring at #4.  Mounted Officials were Patrick Quigley and Perry Markell.

Captains assembled at centerfield following player introductions and the US national anthem, for the Official Coin Toss, presided by Christon Gibson of Newport Living and Lifestyles, a video blog journalist highlighting influencers & lifestyles that make Greater Newport THE vacation destination on the East Coast.   Color commentary during the match was provided by our loquacious authority, William Crisp, the voice of Newport Polo.  

The argyle-patterned green was in mint condition for a fast match, as the teams thundered back and forth, campaigning for the goal mouth, while defenders hooked and bumped to foil the attacking squads, but Clemens outpaced the defense for a USA goal, and D.Keating kept the Irish side in stride with a goal, to end the period tied 1-1.  In the interval between each 7 minute period of play, known as chukkers, horses were changed quickly at the field's edge, and strategies are often revised that bring about dramatic results in the following chukker.  USA must have found chinks in the Irish armor, launching a 4 goal spree by Clemens with a pair, followed by Day and Bullis before the Irish's D.Keating ended the route with a goal at the buzzer, trailing 5-2.  Clemens was still hot in the 3rd chukker, scoring for USA, but M. Keating and Torrey championed goals for the Irish, to end the first half with a slim 6-5 USA advantage.

A half-time intermission gave spectators the opportunity to have a socially-distanced and masked stroll across the playing field to replace divots, a time-honored polo ritual that helps restore the field for the second half.  Drinks were refreshed and food trucks dished out popular refreshments including gourmet hotdogs, kettle corn, homemade ice cream and refreshing shaved ice, and new limited edition official sportswear made its debut in the fieldside Pro Shop.  A soundtrack of Irish folk music by DJ LowC could be heard across the venue, as Old Glory rippled at centerfield next to the national flag of Ireland in a line of 34 international flags overhead that have participated in former seasons. 

Clemen's 5th goal to open the second half, was the straw that broke the camel's back, igniting a 3 goal rally by Irish USA, led by Souto, then D. Keating, followed by a once in a lifetime, luck 'o the Irish shot by Souto, to tie the match 7-7.  The Irish comeback continued into the 5th period with a goal by D. Keating, taking over the lead, 8-7.  Irish momentum collapsed in the final period, as USA racked up 7 unanswered points to win 14-8.  

During the match, special guest judge from Newport Living & Lifestyles scouted the perimeter to find the most festive Tailgate, Chalet, Picnic Patch or Pavilion Table, awarding a special prize from Stella Artois and Jumbotron moment of fame to the most festive group of the day.  Curated images of contest entrants will be published on the party pages of an upcoming issue of Boston Common Magazine, the region's premier luxury/fashion/lifestyle glossy!  Souvenir portrait photography is available online from Cocoa & Co..

The match concluded with the Newport Polo Fan Salute around the perimeter - a tradition originating at the Newport International Polo Series in 2003, and now emulated at polo clubs around the world, and the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Toast & Trophy Presentation with Dave Whiteny from Davitt design/build, creators of the Davitt Pavilion Patio Bar, awarding the silver Liberty Bowl, inaugurated in 1992.

The Polo Grounds' favorable proximity to the Sakonnet shore provided its reliable cooling coastal effect on Saturday, July 18, moderating afternoon temperatures and providing a pleasant breeze, while much of the inland region was under a heat advisory, in time for one of this season's rare 17 matches, as the Polo Series held its 8th consecutive match, still the only live sporting event in New England since the start of the pandemic.

Under a State-approved plan including reduced capacity with socially-distanced tables in the Davitt Pavilion, fieldside Tailgates and Picnic Patches on the lawn from which to view the matches at the polo grounds, sold-out audiences have enjoyed the Newport International Polo Series polo matches every Saturday since Opening Day on June 6, where spectators for nearly 30 years have witnessed the timeless sport unfold on the manicured, emerald green at Glen Farm, home of the Polo Series for the past 28 seasons, in a classic exhibition of horsemanship and valor, with host, the Newport Polo Club, where the home team - Newport/USA - meets challengers each season from around the world and as well as teams representing major US cities and regional rivals in one of Newport's unique traditions & renown attractions.  

The Polo Series is scheduled to continue for the next 9 weeks, every Saturday through September. The schedule of teams is subject to change, as per RI State mandates in effect at the time, on international travel and Adult Sports.  Stay current with the 2020 team lineup & stats, latest news, events, and more by e-scription to the Gameday Briefing (sign up) and weekly eMagazine (sign up). Both subscriptions are private and spam-free.

Safety being a top priority, RI State approved COVID-19 safety measures are in effect at the polo grounds this season including online sales, masks required when not seated, social distancing and greatly reduced capacity.  Read full details

Minutes from the bustling Newport waterfront, the International Polo Grounds are located on the acreage of Glen Farm, 250 Linden Lane (off of Rte. 138) in Portsmouth, RI. This bucolic setting is the last 100 acres of a pre-colonial settlement from the 1600’s that became the Town of Portsmouth's original gentlemen's farm, an 800-acre manorial estate established during a Gilded Age movement of retreat from the high life into pastoral country acres, that would become the future home of polo in the next century. Its classical 19th century stone barns and its park-like grounds were rehabilitated by Polo Series founder, Dan Keating in the early 1990’s and continue to thrive as an equestrian & community recreational property, and home of the Polo Series.  

The Newport International Polo Series is honored to present its 2020 sponsors including Gallo|Thomas InsuranceDavittBoston CommonHotel VikingThe ChanlerThe Newport Harbor Hotel & MarinaVanderbilt International PropertiesVeuve ClicquotClarke Cooke HouseStella ArtoisROCKSTAR LimoAtria Senior LivingGoslingsMcGrath Clambakes and Catering, and promotional partners including The Cocktail GuruTYGER | Event Design + ProductionNewport Jaguar ToursNewport Helicopter ToursAmerica's Cup ChartersInternational Tennis Hall of FameNewport MansionsIsland Surf and SportNewport Sport Fishing ChartersProvidence River Boat Company, and Newport Harbor Guide.  Special thanks to Schultz Marketing Partnerships, Van Liew TrustTanglewood, 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.

This is the 29th season of Newport International Polo Series, which has hosted teams from 34 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.

Cover Photo by Stephen Almeida.  View the Album

Polo, Since 600 b.c.

Polo is, without doubt the oldest ball game in the world today. First recorded in the 6th century b.c. when the Turkomans beat the Persians in a diplomatic tournament, the alluring game caught on with equestrian royalty and cavalry, and took off with globalization, withstanding the tests of time. By the time Polo arrived on Newport’s shores during the Gilded Age, the sport was nearly 2500 years steeped in tradition, captivating newcomers like Newport's summer sporting set who embraced the new pastime, establishing America's first polo club in 1876.  A charter member of the United States Polo Association, the club today is still a trailblazing model polo club, hosting the Newport International Polo Series public exhibition matches, supporting philanthropic causes, organizing tournaments, polo club member services and polo instruction year-round. Experience the king of games in its American landing at Newport Polo.