The Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA) has named Andrew Tucker as chef d’equipe for the England polo teams.
Tucker, 28, a former marketing manager for Horse & Hound, is a PR and sponsorship consultant whose clients include the Beaufort Polo Club and Badminton and Gatcombe Horse Trials, as well as star polo player, Luke Tomlinson.
Andrew Tucker’s new role will involve organising the team off the pitch. The idea behind his appointment is to support world cup team coach Claire Tomlinson and relieve her of administrative duties which detract attention from the game itself.
Tucker will be responsible for ensuring that players attend sponsors functions, dealing with logistics and administration, and ensuring the smooth running of press conferences.
He says of his new role: “I think I will be facing a lot of challenges, no matter how well-prepared I am.”
Polo players who represent England do not receive a match fee. Players may receive expense allowances, but much of the funding will be dependent on the generosity of sponsors.
“Sponsorship isn’t going to be easy, and getting to know the players will be a huge part of the job. Although I’ve been working in polo for three years, my involvement has been on the sponsorship and media side,” adds Tucker.
“It’s important that we use the stars of the sport — the England players — to promote the sport. It might be in the future that we need to look at some form of agreement with them to help us with this.”
The Cartier International polo match, held at Guards Polo Club, is the principal focus for the England polo team at the moment. England will be facing Chile in the fixture at the end of July.
Chile defeated England in their last meeting, but Claire is relishing the prospect of battle: “The Cartier match against Chile could be very good. England could exact their revenge.”
Thereafter, all eyes will be firmly fixed on the 14-goal World Championships at Chantilly, France. Eight teams will compete in the final stage of the championships in September. There will be 16 matches over a 10-day period. More than 250 ponies, provided mainly by France and Argentina, will be used.
Qualifying matches are still continuing in America, but of the eight teams that will participate in the championships, Australia, Brazil, Chile, England, France and Pakistan have already qualified.
Claire Tomlinson said of England’s chances: “We usually do quite well in the World Cup although we’ve never actually won it. We had a great chance in Australia, but the captain went and broke his thumb! I’m quite hopeful about our chances this year.”
Although no other international tournaments have been confirmed for this year, the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA) receives requests each year from countries wanting a team to play in fixture matches. The full England team usually play in the Cartier International as well as two away matches every year.
Tucker explains: “It would be great to have more internationals, but sadly funding is an issue – the key will be securing more sponsorship.”