South Africa triumphs by half-point at Apes Hill: Chukkas in Barbados is 2nd trip for Tshwene Polo Team


This bout saw yours truly arriving at the conclusion of the warm-up match where Williams Industries won by 8 to 7, but I was on time for the main Event which was very keenly contested. Oliver Williams was the commentator for the matches and it was rather hilarious in an unexpected way… Backseat commentaries! He’d say “…looks like a foul?” Then suddenly from one side, “OF COURSE THAT’S A FOUL, ARE YOU – ” Then before any further trouble can arise, the sounds of the Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black emanate from the speakers (Is that tune for the Apes’ Hill black shirts?), all of this playing while I am sure an annoyed grandson reprimands his irate grandfather as to who is doing the commentary!

It was a great idea from Oliver to have music play while he had a lull waiting for results in his stint, if he is not up for a running patter like Jonathan Simpson then he has found a good way to compliment his laconic delivery. Hopefully, incidents of ‘backseat-commentary‘ will be lesser in future, um, give the next generation a chance, ok?


Guy Watson, Chick Leigh, George Gemmell and Tom DeBruin made the Tshwene Lodge Spoofers quartet, while the Barbados team had Teddy Williams, Jamie Dickson, Pablo Crespin and Wayne Archer on point.


Wayne scored the first goal at 6’40” into the first chukka, then Chick Leigh replied at 4’10” and Teddy Williams swung back almost 60 seconds later and this was just the first bout!


In the 2nd chukka Tom DeBruin got a 60 yard penalty which he scored at 3’55” and Jamie Dickson returned the volley with a goal at 2’54”! Tshwene had the handicap of the half point advantage as their team had better ranks (In polo, when you have a handicap it is not that at all, it is how well you play. -2 is about average, 0 is considered good but 7 or above is fine yet rare; Argentina has four players with a 9 handicap, the ultimate is 10), they took advantage of that in the game and made it count at the end when they held the Barbados team off and finally when the horn sounded for the 4th and last chukka it was 7.5 for Tshwene and 7 to Barbados.


After the game I got a chance to chat with both Guy Watson and Chick Leigh. Guy explained this was his 2nd trip here and he played in 2004, he was looking forward to the Sentebale charity match – which is a good idea in Watson’s view as his own Polo Lodge is about 13 miles from Lesotho and he is aware of the hardships they endure in that nation.

Watson is actually a second generation player, his father and uncle plus his brothers have all plied chukkas in numerous matches representing South Africa.

Chick Leigh only started swinging a mallet from 30 but he confided to me if he knew how sweet polo was from the start? He’d’ve begged his dad to play from the beginning! He started as a cricket player and was semi-professional but once the thrill of horse and mallet seeped in, he forgot the wickets altogether!Chick has also toured America, England, Ireland and India.

Left, with Heineken in his hand, is Chick Leigh and to the right - in Polo vest, is Guy Watson

Left, with Heineken in his hand, is Chick Leigh and to the right - in Polo vest, is Guy Watson

Chick also is a bit of a movie buff, he was impressed with Clint Eastwood’s interpretation of Invictus – in Chick’s view, the final scene of the rugby match with Rugby Captain Pienaar &  President Mandela was almost exactly as Clint Eastwood portrayed it and Chick also enjoyed “Gran Torino” but he did not get to see Clint’s seminal “Bird” from 1989 which was on the life of jazz musician Charlie “Yardbird” Parker as portrayed by Forrest Whittaker.


Well, the Tshwene Lodge Spoofers take on the Sentebale team this Sunday at Apes Hill and I understand tickets are sold out already, good thing I got mine since the beginning of this month!

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