In a highly contended match, England defeated the United States to capture the Bryan Morrison Trophy in the 2016 International Arena Polo Test Match at the All England Polo Club. The highest-goal arena polo championship in the world, the event is held in England every other year, alternating with the Townsend Cup at Empire Polo Club in Southern California. America was hoping to level its Bryan Morrison record at 2-2, but England’s 16-14 victory put it ahead 3-1.
In Saturday’s match the U.S. team started with a two-goal advantage to compensate for its rating of 20, compared to England’s 22. Leading the U.S. lineup was 10-goal player Tommy Biddle, among the highest-rated indoor players in the world. Chris Hyde, also a 10-goaler, led England’s team. Biddle, playing No. 3, made nine goals, and Hyde scored 12. The U.S. roster included Pelon Escapite and Kareem Rosser. Ed Banner-Eve and Jonny Good rounded out the team for England.
“These were two well-matched teams,” said Ed Armstrong, chef d’equipe for the U.S. “We were up at the half and caught up again within one goal before losing by two points.” He noted that the Bryan Morrison Trophy is “great for building relationships between the two countries and two associations.” While together for the test match, United States Polo Association (USPA) representatives meet and confer with the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA). “The camaraderie among the players is amazing,” added Armstrong. For example, he said, Biddle recently invited British player Good to play on one of his teams in the U.S.
The second half opened with clever stick work by Biddle. On the frigid day, he “hit the ball so high it almost came down with snow on it!” said the announcer. As the pace escalated in the last chukker, he observed, “Tommy Biddle is playing the game of his life, and England are hanging on by their shirt tails.” In a pivotal moment, with 2:47 left on the clock, Biddle scored. Banner-Eve answered with two consecutive goals, giving England the win.
Team USA’s Pelon Escapite was named Most Valuable Player. Best Playing Pony was Promise, played by Chris Hyde in the second chukker, in which he made five goals, and in the fourth.