France dominated the 2013 European Challenge, hosted by the Dutch Polocrosse Association in Otterlo, Holland on the 31st of August and 1st of September, to win their fourth European title in the last seven years. They won their matches against Germany, Holland and Norway convincingly to help press their case for acceptance as a full member of the International Polocrosse Council, which they have currently applied for.
Before the competition most would have thought it would be between France and the hosts Holland for the title. However, though the first Dutch section kept pace with their french counterparts their second section could not and so the game slipped away from them. Germany has, on occasion, surprised France and pushed them close, most notably in the Final in 2011, but this was not to be the case in Otterlo where they were swept aside. Norway were running out some new players, and were the only team playing on borrowed horses, and so could not offer much resistance either to the French onslaught.
Holland duly won their other games against Germany and Norway to finish second and Germany beat Norway to take third place. Norway, however, would be pleased to see Camilla Blom pick up best horse and rider combination aboard the borrowed Larouche (editor’s note: Larouche had only played horseball before but now obviously is ready for a career change!). Other winners of individual prizes were Max Schellerer (Germany) – Best number 1, Leanne Boekholdt (Holland), Best number 2, Johanne Szezesny (France) – Best number 3, Top Cat (owned by Florien Luitse of Holland) – Best Horse and the Bombers Sponsored prizes for Best Male and Best Female player went to Francois Méziéres (France) and Nathalie Garben (Holland).
France’s win means they have won four of the seven European/ International challenges that have happened since 2008. In 2008 they finished second to an English team, in 2009 they slipped to third behind an Irish team and Holland but since then the only time they haven’t won was in 2012 when the visiting Canadian team defeated them in France itself.
Alongside the main event there was also the Dutch open which featured other players from around Holland and across Europe. The whole event was hailed a big success by the European Polocrosse community and yet another step in the right direction for showcasing and growing sport on mainland Europe. All the competitors praised the Dutch Polocrosse Association for a very successful and well organised event.The event was hit by a downpour of rain on Saturday morning but after that the weather improved and there was an excellent atmosphere throughout the two days of play.
To help develop the sport further the French Polocrosse Assoication have also arranged to do a demonstration of polocrosse at the prestigious 2014 World Equestrian Games, which being held in France in August 2014. The sport has grown in France over the last few years and they hope that a demonstration at this event will help grow it further, both within France and also within the world. France are currently waiting to hear whether their application to the International Polocrosse Council to become a full member, and therefore be eligible to compete in World Cups, has been successful.