PUBLISHED: 11:20 10 June 2010 | UPDATED: 11:45 23 August 2010
WIELDING mallets and tearing across a rugby field on bikes, Europe s elite competitors in Bicycle Polo are due to meet this weekend. Hosted at Vigo Rugby Football Club, teams from England, Ireland, Scotland and France will compete in the second leg of t
WIELDING mallets and tearing across a rugby field on bikes, Europe's elite competitors in Bicycle Polo are due to meet this weekend.
Hosted at Vigo Rugby Football Club, teams from England, Ireland, Scotland and France will compete in the second leg of the European Cup, including hosts The Oakenden Pedallers.
The club, formed in 2004, trains in Luddesdown and includes around 20 members.
Club secretary Gareth Collins said: "We were a group of lads sat in a pub trying to think up a unique sport as part of a fun day when we happened on the idea. We honestly thought we had invented it, only to discover it has been around for more than 100 years and there are around 170 clubs.
"It was really quite popular in England during the '40s and '50s."
The game is played on a football or rugby sized pitch and includes five players per team, four out-field and one in goal.
Rules are similar to traditional horse polo and the game is played in four 10-minute quarters.
He added: "It may sound a bit daft but it is actually pretty intense and very fast paced.
"On a tournament day you can play up to four games, each of 40 minutes, which is exhausting."
The game is played in a number of countries both in Europe and globally, but with no prize money involved the cost of travelling prevents widespread involvement in the cup.
Mrs Collins added: "We invited teams from Spain and Germany but they haven't been able to make it.
"The French are very keen on it and their teams are the ones to beat. We are trying to grow the sport in the UK but we cannot really expand. We play on a small field and if we grew much more no-one would be able to play."
The tournament, which will feature two Oakenden Ped-allar teams begins on Saturday and concludes on Sunday.
n For more information about the sport and to get involved, visit: www.oakendenpedallers.