(Here is the press release reporting on the 1996 WEPA competition.)The Nepal National Parks elephant polo team made a clean sweep at the World Elephant Polo Championships which were held at Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge 5 - 11 December 1996. The experienced locals beat the British Gurkhas Gladiators (Hannibal's Own) 3 - 2 to win the coveted Tiger Tops Trophy in an exciting final that had to be decided with a sudden death play off. In the J & B All Nepal Shield they also beat Tiger Tops 5-0 which is played by mahouts on their own elephants.
11th December, 1996
This was the culmination of a fascinating weeks' polo which included, for the first time ever in the history of WEPA, a penalty shoot out between three teams (the Tiger Tops Tuskers, Loon's Cavalry and the International Mercenaries) to decide who would go through to the semi finals. Uday Kalaan, a professional polo player from India, was the first to score from the thirty yard line for Loon's Cavalry to secure their place in the semi final against the British Gurkhas. Nancy Slocum of USA followed, the only female in the shoot out, who scored a tremendous goal for the International Mercenaries who went on to face the National Parks. In the battle for third and fourth place, Loon's Cavalry pulled out all stops to beat the International Mercenaries 4 - 3.
The home team Tiger Tops Tuskers came in fifth place with the Z Ladies International Team finishing sixth. The Z Ladies, resplendent in their zebra print jodhpurs, sweatshirts and red coats won the Best Dressed Trophy. J & B Rare did not manage to repeat the success of previous years and came in seventh place, beating the American family Screwy Tuskers team into eighth. The new Tiger Mountain Ganesh Trophy for the Most Sporting Team went to the Screwy Tuskers.
The Tuborg Trophy for Player of the Year was awarded to Sanu Buddhi Kumal who with his skilful play was instrumental in securing his team, the British Gurkha Gladiators, their first ever place in a WEPA final. Another first in this years' Championship was that Kristjan Edwards was the first non Nepali to play in the J & B Shield, riding his own elephant. Kristjan was appointed captain of the Tiger Tops Tuskers this year by his father, Jim Edwards founder of WEPA and Chairman of the Tiger Mountain Group.
The World Elephant Polo Association Championship is an annual invitational event arranged by Tiger Tops. It is played on the polo field adjacent to Meghauly airport on the edge of Royal Chitwan National Park. Each team of four players compete two chukkas of ten minutes and use a regular polo ball which is hit with elongated sticks over two metres in length. This year the standard of play was very high but was well controlled by the referee Chuck McDougal and umpire Pradeep Rana. The polo was much appreciated by the hundreds of local people who came to watch, despite some interruptions in play due to a village dispute with the authorities concerning damage done by a wild elephant.
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