Canterbury brothers bringing polo back to Hagley Park

It’s impressive when one family member finds international sporting success, but three brothers playing professionally on the world stage brings another level of competition.

Like Valerie and Steven Adams, the McCullum brothers and the Whitelock mob, the Wood family have firmly cemented themselves in the sporting hall of fame.

The three Canterbury brothers – Charlie, Jimmy and Henry – have all represented New Zealand and played polo professionally. Their father, Roddy, 62, was polo manager for the world’s largest polo club, at Windsor, and played international professional polo for 25 years.

His sons followed suit, learning to ride as youngsters from “the moment they could walk”. The four will play together at the second annual Hagley Park Polo on Sunday.

“They are competitive, of course,” event organiser Sophie Gardner said.

“However they are a huge support to one another both on and off the field. The brothers love playing together even though it’s a very rare occasion, this will be a highlight for the whole family.”

It’s the second time the brothers have taken the field in Christchurch together after Jimmy and his girlfriend, Gardner, launched the polo event last year.

The sport returned to Christchurch’s Hagley Park after a 30-year hiatus, with around 2500 people packing into the grounds to watch the matches. A 274-metre-long by 150m-wide field is needed to play the sport – the equivalent of about 10 rugby fields.

Games last about an hour and players score by driving a small hard white ball, which can be propelled in excess of 100kmh, into the opposing team’s goal using a long-handled wooden mallet. Known as the sport of kings, each player will use approximately nine horses per game with players flying in from Australia and England to compete.

Jimmy said the dream result would be for the polo to become an established social and sporting event in the South Island social calendar, alongside premier horse racing events during Cup & Show week.

Matches would be played this weekend with the event culminating with the finals on Sunday. Unlike last year, the event would be ticketed, Gardner said.

For the first year, they wanted to give Cantabrian’s a “taste of what it’s like to spend a day at the polo” but “as with anything, it costs money and we need a bit of help to get it over the line”, she said.

Although the sport remained “relatively unknown in New Zealand”, the Christchurch Polo Club is the largest in the South Island with approximately 70 members, she said.

– Stuff

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