Saturday, December 09, 2006

Forget English cricket and rugby, let's celebrate heavyweight Scottish success...

Never mind the rugby and cricket: Let's celebrate British glory and pride that has been restored on the world stage by the Duke of Argyll.

The good Duke is on top of the world after he led Scotland to be crowned world champions in one of the great traditional sports that the Brits have given the world.

Yes, elephant polo which as everyone knows, was, like television, invented by the Scots.

The Duke captained the Scottish Chivas team to victory in the Elephant Polo World Championships in Nepal, beating National Parks of Nepal in the final by 12 goals to six to regain the world title Scotland last won in 2001.

For the uninitiated, the BBC explains that each elephant on the field carries two men. One fights for the ball, while a mahout concentrates on driving and steering the elephant.

No elephant may lie down in front of the goal mouth, as to do so constitutes foul play.

If a player falls off an elephant, play is stopped while the player remounts.

The game consists of two 10-minute chukkas of playing time, with a 15-minute interval.

The Inveraray-based Duke of Argyll said national pride played a part in Scotland's success. Eight teams had competed in the week-long tournament. They were from Hong Kong, Thailand, India, and the UK. There was also a ladies' international squad taking part. The Duke went on:

With this victory, no one can deny Scotland are one of the world's sporting heavyweights.

To travel to Tiger Tops in the Chitwan National Park, and come away a world champion was an experience of a lifetime.

We'd heard news from home that there was a call to make St Andrew's Day a national holiday and day of national celebration.

This inspired us to pull out all the stops and it worked. After all, elephant polo was co-founded by a Scotsman.
Registered as an Olympic sport with the Nepal Olympic Committee, elephant polo was invented by Scotsman James Manclark in 1983.

The World Championships have been staged every year since against the backdrop of the Royal Chitwan National Park in Nepal, famous for its population of Royal Bengal tigers and other wildlife.

Scotland manager Jim Long said talented elephants were vital to a team's chances of success.

You have someone to drive your elephant, so you can concentrate on trying to get contact with the ball.

Each team of elephants has a range of speeds, with each having a small elephant which can move quite fast - you tend to put your best player on that one.
I suppose the first challenge in playing the sport in Scotland is finding your elephant...

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