Last weekend saw the “best 20 teams in Europe” compete to be crowned London International Invitational Champions, the tournament was held at ExCeL as part of the London Bike Show. Spring Break were honored to be invited along (thanks go to Look Mum No Hands for our new team kit).
There were a few notable teams missing (Bambule, Tough Shit, Shaft Punk, Rakete, Guns At a Knife Fight, King Salami and Budapest Bike Polo), but it was a thrill to have so many top-tier teams in one place.
Friday and Saturday involved two group stages for qualification, most teams were playing hard from the outset to avoid losing face to one other. Spring Break were in Group A and managed a 2-2 draw against Call Me Daddy, a loss to Iron Ponies (we fumbled a loose ball to go one goal down with no time to spare) and the rest were wins. Our most enjoyable games to play were against the Tigers and Edisons where things “just clicked” and we scored some great goals. We qualified in second place behind Call Me Daddy and were ready for the elimination stage.
It was a joy to watch Group B play whilst we soaked up the atmosphere, some highlights were when Cambridge’s Electric Cream beat El Club and London’s Cosmic took L’Equipe, both with one goal in it (although L’Equipe still managed to top the group with Cosmic coming second).
Everyone disappeared for food and beers as the qualification rounds came to an end and Spring Break were briefed to be court-side for 9am the following morning!
The single-elim format on Sunday had tensions running high and Buffalo Bill took the brunt of it for the first few games (Bill is one of London’s best refs and was making an impression early on to avoid any foul play during the final games of the day). The Iron Ponies went out to London’s Nice Touch (who seemed to really find their form this weekend) and Dead Rappers beat El Club to start an awesome spell of polo (Luca joined the Rappers for this tournament and had some incredible link-ups with Emmet before being crowned MVP).
Cocorico found their form against Call Me Daddy to put them out of the tournament in round two. Spring Break lost to Hooks (convincingly) after we tried to make them lose their cool with a super-hustle-style of game. Dead Rappers beat L’Equipe in one of the games of the tournament, with Luca and Emmet catching Geneva on the breaks. Cosmic put Nice Touch out (perhaps as payback for the previous day’s game when Nice Touch took the win).
In the semi-finals Cocorico beat Cosmic and Hooks beat Dead Rappers to make it an all French final..! Cosmic beat Dead Rappers to take third in the play-off and Hooks proved they are now a pretty safe bet for success at the Euros by beating Cocorico in the final.
Josh and John did London proud once again with the creation of this tournament and it was great to have such intense games so early on in the season. Hooks have really found their form and played consistently impressive (and imaginative) polo all weekend, often frustrating their opposition with instinctive passing, solid movement in defense and an ever-expanding play book.
Below is a short video edit of the tournament, including some of the best goals (well, of the few games we managed to film). Finger’s crossed we get asked back to the Bike Show next year, it was a great way of showing bike polo to the masses, once again thanks to everyone that made the tournament such a success.
All images are copyright David Anthony Fearn (there are many more polo pictures available on the link).