Exhilaration and anticipation mounted for the final international match of the 32nd season of the Newport International Polo Series, presented by Turkish Airlines, for USA vs. South Africa on Saturday, September 16. Team South Africa was making their triumphant return from their debut in 2019 in a narrow defeat to USA.
The enthusiastic crowd filed in through the gates decked out in their finest attire to pay homage to the flag of South Africa in their green, red, blue, black, and yellow and were thrilled to show off their picnics and tailgates to the tune of the Stella Artois Best In Show competition. The patio bar served artisanal cocktails, perfectly procured by The Cocktail Guru, and bubbles from the Veuve Clicquot cart were flowing for fans along the sidelines of the field as everyone enjoyed the lawn for an afternoon picnic and fieldside vendors to the soundtrack of amplified music through the PA while they waited for the match to begin at 4pm.
Commentator William Crisp kicked off the festivities, introducing both countries’ national anthems while Lauren Green, Dir. Of Business Development from Viking Cruises executed the coin toss. Team USA (in red) took their places starting with rockstar, Roger Sourto taking the first position, the Queen of Newport Polo, Minnie Keating at #2, and local legends, Rory Torrey and Matthew Fonseca at the third and fourth positions respectively. The South African Team took their spots led by the tactical, Malcolm Ford at #1, the elite, Georgina Brittain at #2, the emerging legend, Callum Shaw at #3, and Captain and owner of Jurassic Park Polo Club, Selby Williamson, anchoring the team in the #4 position.
The umpire threw the ball in and the first chukker began! South Africa determined to avenge their loss from 2019 wasted no time as Ford scored an early goal shortly after the first minute. After stiff competition in the middle of the field, Fonseca was able to break through the congestion putting USA on the scoreboard, evening the score a 1-all. Williamson ended the first chukker with a brilliant goal in the final minute to give S. Africa the early lead 2-1. The second chukker opened with Keating scoring back-to-back goals to take the lead. Brittain and Ford responded a few minutes later with complimentary goals but Souto scored with 20 seconds left to again tie the game at 4. The 3rd chukker began with a lightning shot by Williamson. After a rigid 3 minutes, Torrey and Fonseca responded with a goal a piece to give USA the lead 6 – 5.
At halftime, fans flooded the Pro Shop to purchase the stylish new items and the patio bar to enjoy the specialty cocktail of the day, the pineapple curry margarita, handcrafted by The Cocktail Guru. Various food trucks cranked out libations to famished fans such as Amano Pizza & Gelato, Hawaii Jim’s Shaved Ice, Chelsea’s Creamery, and Newport Chowder Co. The westside of the video has specialty vendors such as Woof Woof Dog Boutique, Cutco Cutery, and Harvey Traveler. After loyal spectators returned to their seating areas after the traditional stomping of the divots, William Crisp announced the commencement of the 2nd half to the roar of the crowd.
Both teams most of regrouped at half and put an emphasis on defense as only, Williamson was able to grind out a goal again evening the score at 6. The 5th chukker saw an explosion of scoring as Ford put the team on his back and scored 2 more complimented again by Williamson but Keating and Fonseca responded for USA tying the game again at 9. The 6th and final chukker saw South Africa’s experience take over as Shaw and Williamson combined for two goals that USA could not battle back leaving fans celebrating South Africa’s hard-fought victory, 11 – 9!
The battle was followed by the ever-popular victory lap, led by Team South Africa, as fans congratulated the victors along the boards that line the field with high-fives and shouts of encouragement.
The trophy presentation took place shortly after in the Modern Luxury Lounge, where Kayla Setters, Dir. Of Strategic Partnerships of AAA Travel presented the trophy and prizes from Providence Diamond. A traditional champagne toast was made to celebrate the end of another successful and exhilarating match between superpower friends across the globe. The teams regrouped at the patio bar where fans were making a toast of complimentary Gosling’s Rum to salute the teams. Players and fans alike lined up to savor the Apres Polo Menu provided by La Costa Lobster and Tacos as the sun set over Newport Polo Grounds. DJ AM provided the beat for everyone to dance the night away illuminated by the firepit to conclude an unforgettable Saturday at Newport Polo.
Join us next Saturday, September 23rd for the Insperity Newport Cup at 4pm!
Photo by John Lincourt Photography
Live audiences can enjoy the Newport International Polo Series polo matches every Saturday as they have for 32 years to witness the timeless sport unfold on the manicured, emerald green at Glen Farm, home of the Polo Series, 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 as well as teams representing major US cities and regional rivals in one of Newport’s unique traditions & renowned attractions.
The Polo Series is scheduled to continue every Saturday through September. The schedule of teams is subject to change without notice, as per RI State mandates and US travel bans which may impact travel and Adult Sports. Stay current with the 2023 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.
The Polo Grounds’ favorable proximity to the shores of the island’s Sakonnet east passage provides reliably cool coastal effects, moderating afternoon temperatures and providing a dependable breeze for the late afternoon polo matches all summer. 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, to 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 proud to name its 2023 sponsors including Brenton Hotel, BD, TD Bank, Turkish Airlines, Modern Luxury Boston, Herb Chambers Exotics, Vanderbilt International Properties, Hotel Viking, The Vanderbilt, The Chanler at Cliff Walk, Newport Life, Providence Diamond, Veuve Clicquot, ABSOLUT, Clarke Cooke House, CCE Golf Cars, BMW of Newport, Atria Senior Living, Northwestern Mutual, Charles Schwab, Insperity, AAA Northeast | Viking, A-1 Roofing, US Polo Assn, Stella Artois, Visit Jamaica, Goslings, ROCKSTAR Limo, and Classical 95.9 WCRI; and promotional partners including Newport Helicopter Tours, The Cocktail Guru, Newport Jaguar Tours, Picnic Charters, Island Adventures, On Watch Sailing, International Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport Vineyards, Newport Mansions, Island Surf and Sport, Newport Picnic Co. and Audrain Automobile Museum.
“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 32nd season of the Newport International Polo Series, which has hosted teams from 36 nations including, Ukraine, Colombia, 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, Poland, and Switzerland.
Gilded Age Legacy. Polo is, without a 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. Arriving on Newport’s shores during the Gilded Age, the sport had evolved for 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.