The UK Polocrosse community is reeling as the news that both Guy and James Robertson has decided to stop playing polocrosse spreads around the country. Guy has withdrawn from the UK’s 2011 World Cup squad and says he will be taking a break from the sport. It is thought he will not be playing any polocrosse in 2011. His younger brother James is also believed to not intend to play at all in 2011.
This shock withdrawal leaves the UKPA with a weakened World Cup side, as Guy has been one of their top male players for the last few years, and also it means they lose one of their biggest figures in the sport. Guy’s exact reasons for ceasing to play are not known, in a brief statement he said, “There are number of reasons but mainly I need to concentrate on developing my business.” Guy runs Robertson Horse Training and is currently in Texas, USA, breaking and schooling horses.
The reason for James not carrying on playing is not known, but he is expecting his first child this year with his girlfriend Sarah Dernie and that could be a key factor, possibly along with the fact he was overlooked for the UK’s World Cup side last year. With both brothers gone it is thought that Highlanders Polocrosse Club will fold and the remaining players will go to other clubs, possibly band together to form a new club, or play A grade for an existing club which does not have an A grade side.
If Highlanders do fold it is a sad loss, though not one of the old clubs they have been one of the most successful in recent years and they have provided some brilliant moments. Formed in 2005 by Rick Murray with the express intention of winning the A grade at Nationals they were initially disliked by many people in UK polocrosse and at points were boo’ed on the pitch. However, after Rick stopped playing for them in 2007 and Guy took over as chairman, most people softened to them and Guy’s policy of development of good, young UK players through the club and their success on the field won them many fans. They were also very successful, they won the A grade at Nationals in 2005 and 2006, before they were defeated by Kent in 2007. They struck back in 2008 but Kent won again in 2010 (the 2009 National final was abandoned) while the Highlanders finished 3rd, with Cotswolds in second place. Overall in 2010 they did not have a good year, finishing in their lowest ever positions in the UK leagues and this could have marked the beginning of the end for them, even before Guy and James announced their decision to not play.
Guy has been a fixture in the UK side for the last 6 years and played in the UK’s 2007 World Cup team which finished second to the Australians, and was meant to be in the 2011 team as well. He captained the men for the last two years, though Jason Webb was going to be the men’s captain for the World Cup in 2011.
James won his first full men’s cap against the South Africans in 2009 and played against the Irish in 2009. However, to the suprise of many, he was then not picked for the 16 strong UK World Cup squad at the end of the 2010 season, from which the final team was then selected.
The UK coach, Simon Shearing, has said that James Davidson has been moved up from reserve to the World Cup team and that they would confirm the new reserve later this week. He said, “Though Guy was a key player for us, this is not a competition that will be won or lost because of one player and in many ways James Davidson is the perfect replacement for Guy, he plays in a similar style, he is a big, strong player and can play the same positions.” The exact format of the World Cup team will be decided nearer the time but James can play all three positions well and indeed has been trained by and played alongside Guy at Highlanders for the last few years, so if anyone can step up and fill his boots it could well be the man the UK fans call Davo.