The King of the Cage tournament was held in Auckland, New Zealand on 14 and 15 April 2012. Here’s a report on what happened from our guest reporter Down Low Polo‘s Craig Johnston from Christchurch.
Auckland’s King of the Cage tournament (KOTC) attracted 11 teams. Australia once again showed their support for trans-Tasman bike polo with the Melbourne crew attending this. The two day tournament was arranged as an “own teams” tournament on Saturday and a “mix up” tournament on Sunday. The format for Saturday was a three pool randomly drawn round robin for the morning to seed teams into a double elimination bracket for the afternoon. Having only one court (without floodlights) required 8 minute games be played out for most of the day, whilst a bit on the short side I don’t believe that adding more time to any of these games would have changed the results. The final result for Saturday was that an Australian team once again won a Kiwi bike polo tournament but it took an epic 45 minute game to get there.
Sunday started with caffeine at one of the sponsors cafes and wandered lazily into a “mix up” round robin tournament which established random teams who would then play together in a double elimination bracket. Whilst not as hard fought as the Saturday games this was a great way to play with others, learn and share skills, more like well organised pick-up than a full on tournament.
Taming the beast that is Howe Street cage/courts was fairly challenging for newcomers. It has a camber and a channelled kerb which resemble playing on a suburban street. The ball rolls into the channel whenever given the chance, extracting it is clearly something the locals had dialled. Gaps in the chainlink fence were boarded up with re-purposed pallet timber and goals were made of the same material in good polo DIY fashion. There was even some netting laying around for those goals but never the motivation to fit it. Did that matter? Not one bit, the game play was pretty damn fair and the trust of players to do the right thing was evident over the entire weekend.
When asked to describe the tournament experience by a friend of mine I answered “Home baked”. I meant it in all seriousness. Like all home baking it was full of goodness, put together with thought, care and consideration and done by people you know, in small parts it was a little rough at the edges but all the right ingredients were there in the correct order and the hard work was done in the right spirit. It was another great NZ polo tournament adding flavour to the others we have here.
NZ polo is in great shape at the moment and KOTC did it’s very best to highlight this fact. Congratulations to all the Auckland players for hosting a successful weekend of polo, you guys and girls were wonderful and should be well proud!
By Craig Johnston
Photos courtesy of Gene Armstrong