Ireland lifted the title in the European Challenge Championship trophy, with France and the UK separated on goal difference in second and third respectively. The UK and Ireland teams were not full strength squads but instead were handicaps sides with a handicap limit of four and below for each player. That should not, however, in anyway detract from the standard of play that was seen from the other European countries at the weekend, who all showed that polocrosse is very much on the up in mainland Europe. Teams from Norway, France, Germany and Holland all travelled to Kent to compete against the UK and Irish sides and it was France who caused the biggest upset by pushing the UK into third spot on goal difference. When France and the UK met on the pitch it ended in a 8 all draw and it was the French who lost by less to the strong Irish team, meaning they took the runner up spot.
The French did have a slight advantage over the other European Nations as they brought their own playing horses over from France, while Holland, Norway and Germany were all on borrowed horses. These three sides ended up playing off against each other for the Challenge Plate and it was Holland who emerged victorious, with Norway in second and Germany in third spot. Particularly impressive for the Dutch team over the weekend was Jochem Elsinga in one of their number one spots and he deservably picked up the best number 1 prize. Tania Turner of the UK picked up best number 2 while Paul Scott, the Irish Captain, picked up best number 3.
One player for each team was also given an Ambassadors award, for representing their country well both on and off the field. For Germany, who has just been accepted as an associate member of the International Polocrosse Council, this went to Andreas Rieger, who looked very assured in his number 3 spot, carrying the ball very well in midfield on many occasions and never rushing to make his passes to his number 1.
For Norway the Ambassadors Award went to Amund Svensen, for not only playing well but for also being the driving force behind polocrosse in Norway since it began there a few years ago. Likewise, in France, Barbara Beaufilis has worked tirelessly for the sport and it was she who picked up the Ambassadors Award in the French team.
In the Dutch team it was Fleur Bartels who won the Award, for playing beautifully all weekend aboard the borrowed stock horse mare Design, in one of the number 3 spots and it was also one of the Irish number 3’s, Celene Courtney Flynn, who picked up their Ambassadors Award. She played very strongly all weekend and in particular against the UK in their final win. Finally, for the UK themselves, it was another number 3 in Sophie Harding who picked up the Ambassadors Award; she defended so hard all weekend that after the final match she had to be taken to hospital to have her leg X-rayed in order to ensure that it was simply badly bruised and not broken.
Other awards were give out for the best horse and rider combination, both owned and borrowed horses, and also the Best Horse. The owned Horse & Rider combination went to Jess Fagot of the UK who scored some great goals up front for her country, and the best borrowed Horse & Rider combination went to Aimee C.R Johansen of Norway, who, along with Vibeke Svensen whose borrowed steed picked up Best Horse, proved that the Norwegians are very tough in defence. Not very much got past them all weekend and they were both particularly strong as Norway and Holland fought out a 9 all draw.