Wellington – South Africa showed off its toughness and strength by winning four sports, including men’s rugby and polo, to defeat the United States 11-10 and capture the inaugural International Weekend championship Sunday at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
The polo match was the deciding factor for the International Weekend, a series of seven sports between teams from South Africa and the U.S. South Africa rallied from a four-goal deficit to beat the U.S. 7-4 in the series finale and clinch the overall title.
South Africa earned two points in polo, men’s rugby, tennis and women’s rugby. The United States won the golf, croquet and women’s field hockey competitions.
Wayne Ferreira of South Africa, a former Top 10 singles player, was caught up in the excitement of the entire weekend, watching rugby, cricket and polo in addition to playing three tennis matches.
“I play an individual sport so to play on a team and a team representing your country, is very special,” said Ferreira. “It’s been a wonderful weekend.”
Polo player James Armstrong of South Africa echoed Ferreira’s sentiments.
“It’s been absolutely fantastic,” said Armstrong. “I hope it becomes bigger and better next year.”
International Weekend was close the entire series.
Led by their rugged rugby “sevens” and sparkling tennis, South Africa took an 8-7 advantage over the United States after the first day. But the U.S. tied it at 9-9 with their victory in croquet early Sunday, setting the stage for the polo match.
Four men’s rugby teams featuring world-class players rarely seen in South Florida entertained an appreciative crowd on Saturday. The hard-hitting, fast-paced sport was compared to American football without pads and drew frequent applause from the crowd.
“Spectators who had never seen rugby before had a sense of awe about the sport,” said Gavin Curtis, head coach of the Fort Lauderdale rugby club who refereed the tournament. “Rugby people said what a great facility this is.”
Earl Lewis is one of the rising South African rugby stars and captains the Emerging Springboks. He celebrated with his countrymen after the polo match.
“I enjoyed it,” said Lewis, who played despite injuring his hamstring early in the tournament. “This was my first polo match. To see the horses up close when they run by. It was quite an experience.”
For more information on International Polo Club Palm Beach please visit www.internationalpoloclub.com.
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