polo history

1880:System of player handicaps and formation of the USPA (United States Polo Association)

This decade witnessed an expansion of the game in terms of its scope and spread. In 1881, the Meadow Brook Club was formed in Long Island, N.Y., by some early outstanding players as Thomas Hitchcock, Sr., August Belmont, and Benjamin Nicoll.

Lapolo ,20 September 2021

1880:System of player handicaps and formation of the USPA (United States Polo Association)
Hurlingham International Team

Hurlingham International Team, Public Domain

The size of the team was reduced to five and then, in 1881 in the United States and in 1883 in England, to four, the present number, by the Hurlingham Polo Committee. Furthermore, in 1888 a system of handicapping players was devised to equalize tournament play in the United States and two years later, The Polo Association (later known as the United States Polo Association) was founded together by 7 clubs in 1890 which standardized the rules. The first serving chairman of the Polo Association was H.L. Herbert. The number of clubs grew to 12 in the consecutive year, hinting at the rising popularity of the game.

Introduction of International Tournaments 

In 1885, The County Cup was inaugurated as a tournament for provincial British teams. It is the second longest-running polo trophy in the world and is the prize for England’s 15-goal Championships. The Gloucestershire were the first team to ever win the County Cup, as per The County Cup Records. Furthermore, this decade also witnessed its first international competition that took place in 1886 when a team from the United States played against the English team to win the cup at Newport, Rhode Island. Known as the Westchester Cup or International Polo Cup, this was polo’s oldest and most prestigious trophy. Initially, the match was played as a best of three games, but it was later decided that it would be played for as a single match. English and American teams started occasionally meeting for the International Polo Challenge Cup., and a total of 12 matches were played between 1886 and 1939. The Calcutta Polo Club also held its first-ever polo tournament, called the Erza Cup in 1880, which is claimed to be the first official polo trophy in history.  

Further spread of the game 

The sport also spread quickly between the skillful gauchos in Argentina, and several clubs opened in the following years in the towns of Venado Tuerto, Cañada de Gómez, Quilmes, Flores, and later Hurlingham in 1888. 

South Asia was also catching the craze of polo, with the formation of the Royal Johor Polo Club was in Malaysia in 1884 and Singapore Polo Club in 1886. 

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