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News > Rugby School News > A brief history of Polo at Rugby School

A brief history of Polo at Rugby School

Tessa Collett and Jane Phelps
Tessa Collett and Jane Phelps

Rugby Polo Club opened in 1893 by the three Miller brothers, George, Ted and Charles. The club became one of the most prestigious clubs in the country let alone being the oldest. Spring Hill Farm where the grounds are situated in Rugby became the home of polo for HRH the Prince of Wales, HRH The King of Spain, the Duke of York, the Aga Khan and Sir Winston Churchill.  In 1900 the club had over 200 playing members and was holding tournaments still played for outside the club today.

Then wars came and while there was an attempt to get it going again after WW2, this didn’t work.

When I joined Rugby in 1992 I took on equestrian as my sport.  I took pupils to local riding schools but as most of them were good riders this was largely a waste of time.  Then I met Diana Johnson, Tessa’s mother, and she offered us her hunters which worked well for us in the winter and spring.  She then suggested that we try polo which we did and enjoyed.

I met Philip Baker when he was still at Bloxham and we went to his Dunchurch home  to play in a small barn at the bottom of his garden.  I wanted to get the pitches back in action but the bursar at the time said it would cost £17,000 to restore them which was not in the budget.  I hired a sit on mower and prepared a small pitch that we could at least play on which proved it was possible.  The Baker family agreed to restore the pitches if they could play rent free and this was agreed so In 2000 things were going sufficiently well for Phil and David to open their Onley farm to restart the Rugby Polo Club.  This has gone from strength to strength with amazing facilities making polo playable all year round.  Rugby became a force to reckon with in the school polo world, and we won many tournaments and inter school matches.  We had wonderful polo tours to Jamaica, Argentina, South Africa. Spain, Ireland, great Wednesday chukka evenings and a wonderful mix of boys and girls and ages to make up our teams.  I left Rugby in 2011 leaving a very healthy group of polo players. 

Written by Jane Phelps

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