The 2013 polo training camp saw the HAC return once more to Rugby Polo Club in Northamptonshire. Phil Baker re-established Rugby Polo Club in 2000 and was our coach for the weekend; he had previously played Pony Club polo with Tpr Luke Hartley, although there was some confusion over this fact due to the more advanced hair style that Tpr Hartley has taken to wearing of late. For three members of the team the day started on the nose of 1000 on Monday morning; regrettably, the talismanic figure of Sgt Tim Johnson was absent for much of the first session after being held up between his house in Clapham and the M1 motorway by the unexpected presence of London. Not one to be put off easily he pushed on, arriving midway through the first stick and ball of the day. While Phil admired some of the more idiosyncratic elements of the HAC style he felt that a focus on timing and smooth strokes would be beneficial, and after working us through a number of exercises we were all hitting the ball with improved fluency. LCpl Gearoid O'Connor was particularly impressive that afternoon, consuming twice the number of lunches that anyone else managed over the course of the day. Phil very kindly invited us to join club members at the leaving BBQ for Katie, a Rugby Polo Club groom who has looked after the HAC during a number of matches in the past. After some excellent food and a few drinks we retired back to the Toft House bed and breakfast so as to be well rested for the following day's play.
Fortunately the weather held and we were greeted once more with brilliant sunshine. Sgt Tim Johnson surprised everyone at breakfast by espousing his theories on the socio-economic benefits associated with increased Romanian immigration. After digesting this information the team mounted up to focus on tactical match play and positioning, both during open play and in set pieces. This developed into a practise match in which we attempted to execute everything we had been taught over the previous two days, no easy feat given the depth of content that Phil had covered.
A huge thanks to Rugby Polo Club and to Phil Baker for an excellent two days of polo. We all thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to coming back to Rugby Polo Club again soon.