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Polo at the 1900 Paris Summer Games:

Men's Polo

Polo at the 1900 Summer Games: Next Summer Games

Events:
Phases:

Host City: Paris, France
Venue(s): Bagatelle Polo Club, Boulogne Forest, Paris
Date Started: May 28, 1900
Date Finished: June 2, 1900
Format: Single-elimination tournament.

Gold: MIX Mixed team-1
Silver: MIX Mixed team-2
Bronze: MIX Mixed team-4
MIX Mixed team-3

Summary

It is difficult to make sense of what was and was not the “Olympic” polo tournament in 1900. Many different match scores, tournament results, and team rosters have been seen in the varying sources. The reason for these problems is that there were actually four (4) different “main” polo tournaments which took place in Paris at almost the same time. In fact, the “main” tournaments overlapped and were held at the same site: the Polo Grounds of the Bagatelle de Paris team at the Bois de Boulogne.

The four tournaments were contested as follows: 1) Grand Prix International d’Exposition – 28, 29, and 31 May (scheduled); 2) Prix de Longchamps – 30 May, 1 and 4 June; 3) Grand Prix International de Paris – 5, 7, and 9 June; and 4) Coupe de Bagatelle – 6, 8, and 11 June. However, the 1900 Official Report lists the “Concours de Polo Hippique” as the event which began on 28 May and continued over several days. This was the Grand Prix International d’Exposition, which also sounds more like the “Olympic” event as it was a title given to other similar events in other sports. The Grand Prix International d’Exposition was scheduled for 28-29, and 31 May but the second- and third-day matches were postponed to 31 May and 2 June 1900.

The 1900 Olympic polo tournament also appears to have been a bit of a lark, with the players changing teams, and representing various nations with no real rhyme or reason. The tournament was won by a team representing the Foxhunters Hurlingham Polo Club, which is in England. However, riding for the team were two Americans and one Irish player.

In addition to the “main” tournaments described above, however, there were multiple other polo events contested during the 1900 Paris Exposition. I term the above four events the “main” tournaments because they were the four events described in the 1900 Official Report. It should be noted that although the 1900 Official Report mentioned “cing coupes internationales,” it then describes only four – the four mentioned above.

We owe our knowledge of the other events to the Spanish Olympic historian Juan Fauria Garcia. The following four events – Grand Prix de l’Ouverture, Grand Prix de Suresnes, Cup Match, and Grand Prix des Dames – are mentioned in an article in Citius, Altius, Fortius (later the Journal of Olympic History), “The First True Spanish Olympic Medalists,” by Fauria Garcia (Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 6-7). He wrote as follows, “The official book (1900 Official Report) of “Exposition Universalle Internationale de 1900” concerning the Concours d’exercises physiques et de sports mentions only “Cing (5) coupes internationales,” but a rare Spanish book, published about 1930, entitled El Polo exists. Written by Norman James Cinnamond James, a member of the Real Polo Club de Barcelona (founded 29 May 1896), the book explains the eight (8) events, with the winners as follows . . .”

In the article, Fauria Garcia listed the winners of the events and the team members. Coverage of all the 1900 polo events is available primarily, however, in The New York Herald (Paris Edition) from 1900. The newspaper covered all of the events and I have been able to discover game scores and descriptions for basically all of the events described by James and, later, by Fauria Garcia. I have to say basically because some of the winning team rosters in The New York Herald (Paris Edition) do not agree with James and Fauria Garcia, but most do.

The 1900 polo events lasted from late May through early July. The last event contested was the Grand Prix des Dames, which ended 9 July, and after which, The New York Herald (Paris Edition), noted, “This ends the polo season in Paris for 1900.”

Final Standings

Rank Team NOC Medal
1 Foxhunters Hurlingham-1 MIX Gold
2 BLO Polo Club, Rugby-2 MIX Silver
3T Bagatelle Polo Club, Paris-3 MIX Bronze
3T A North American Team-4 MIX Bronze
5 Compiègne Polo Club FRA