International Invitation Won on Home Turf
In 2015, the England team went to the FIP World Cup hosted by Chile. In the competition, England played Brazil a few times in some very competitive games. The Brazilians and English got to know each other very well both on and off the polo field. Soon after the tournament, Brazil sent an invitation to the HPA and George Pearson for the England World Cup team to travel to Brazil to play an International Test Match. The invitation was kindly accepted and the England team headed out to Brazil for a week in early March 2016. The England team had to change their number two as Jack Hyde was tied up with commitments in Dubai. The new line-up was: George Pearson (2), Fred Dear (3), Will Emerson (5) and Pete Webb (5).
The scheduled programme was originally to be made up of two practices and two International Test matches, unfortunately rain played havoc with the schedule and the teams were only able to play two practices and one International match.
The first half of the International Test match was played at high speed with all players playing simple, direct and hard polo. This was made possible due to quality the of the horses played by both teams as well as the immaculate ground at Helvetia Polo Club.
The match was neck and neck by the end of the first half. Pearson and Dear were very accurate in front of goal, scoring at all possible chances to keep level with the Brazilians. In the second half, the Brazilian 7 goaler, Olavo Novaes, took his team into the lead with some great individual goals running through the whole England team on his fantastic thoroughbred horses.
England made a decision to slow the game down allowing Emerson and Webb to dominate the game and entice the younger Brazilian team to foul bringing England back into the game. Dear produced a wonderful neck shot to make the game 10-9½, to Brazil, with just one minute to go. England had the chance to break away and win, but a miss-hit backhand broke down their counter-attack plans meaning Brazil took the top spot on the podium.
At prize giving, George Pearson thanked the Brazilians, and especially the Novaes family, for such a wonderful and fun week on and off the polo field. The England team will host Brazil in July at Cowdray Park Polo Club and at the Dear family’s private ground.
Helvetia Polo Club International Test Match teams:
England: George Pearson (2), Fred Dear (3), Will Emerson (5) & Pete Webb (5)
Brazil: Eduardo Junquiera (2), Maurilio Mendonca (1), Joao Novaes (6) & Olavo Novaes (7)
Photograph: The England team at Helvetia Polo Club in Brazil. Courtesy of Will Emerson