Our last few posts had a gaelic feel but we return to England for coverage of the upcoming Uni season with a post from the University and Midlands Co-Ordinator Chris Bamford looking into his region’s competition.
With 32 teams descending on 3 different venues across St. Albans for MUOIR here’s a preview of the teams likely to be fighting it out for the 7 nationals spots.
As a result of the strong performances of Midlands teams at last year’s national events (where they were only outperformed by the Scottish teams) the Midlands has 4 spots at Division 2 this year, allowing one more team from a perennially strong region to go and show the rest of the country what they have got.
|UKU official Uni Midland region.|
Last season James ‘Whippy’ Bauld led University of Birmingham Ultimate (UBU) to top three finishes indoors and outdoors, despite the loss of key players including Whippy, Marius Hutcheson and Carl Bullingham they remain the team to beat with multiple stars still there. including probably the most feared name in the region after his season tearing discs out of the sky for EMO. The men likely to be taking charge of the disc on offence are Lloyd Cheeseman and Ben “Borat” Burak; UBU’s high tempo game is likely to be far too much for most teams this weekend.
Having finally cracked Division 1 nationals last year second seeds Leicester University (Jesters) will be looking to repeat that feat. However they’ll have to do it without maverick playmakers George Hudson and Robert ‘Crackerlegs’ White who have now graduated, however despite their loss I expect the same bombastic offence from Jesters. The man they’ll be looking at to make the plays is Alex ‘Medic’ Charlton. Having played for a team on the receiving end of an incredible performance from him last year (for the University of Nottingham (Fling) in the game to go to Div 1) I can personally attest to his ability to single handed win matches.
The only other team that anyone predicted to win this weekend was Cambridge. The usual air of mystery surrounds this team going into regionals, with rumours flying around of multiple US imports (Justin Norden and Ben Funk) joining them this year. Combine this with Dom “DD” Dathan and George “Seamus” Anegg along with numerous very experienced players they could well cruise through the weekend and sweep all before them. However by their own admission their weakness lies in that this is indoors, which most of them will be re-learning to play at regionals.
Warwick are traditionally a powerhouse of University Ultimate and despite a perceived weak team last year they continued to put in strong performances under the leadership of Robbie Tink. With Robbie, Captain Sam Hawkins and many others remaining at the club along with the return of Moritz “Fritz” Reithmayr, Warwick Bears will be confident of a return to Div 1. They seem likely to utilise the depth of their squad this year and try to run teams into the ground. A third place seeding indicates they are not to be taken lightly.
Onto Loughborough Haze. Since indoors last season they have suffered the loss of devastating duo Ian “Teddy” Hannah and Kevin Burnard. Despite this loss they retain players who have multiple years experience, and the name Chris. With Chris ‘Jaff’ Martin, Chris ‘Pudding’ Alderson, Chris ‘Melon’ Peploe and odd one out George Grant all used to handling the onus will be on Captain Andrew ‘Pumba’ Sellers to repeatedly get free for them.
Oxford will be extremely keen to ensure that a repeat of last year where they missed out on nationals both indoors and outdoors doesn’t occur. Captain Dan Aronov and Mike West (a key player who was injured for last season) will be big players for OW, along with Harry ‘Puppy’ Mason. This is a team that prides itself on its athletic ability and they will back themselves to win any one-on-one situation they can open up.
Lincoln enter regionals seeded 8th and have not featured on anyone’s predictions for the second year running. Whilst they just missed out last year they put in multiple tight performances and I expect more of the same from them this year. Personally I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make nationals.
Another team keen to improve on last year’s results will be UEA’s AYE-AYE. After a poor year they’ll have to work their way up from the third pot of seeds. Whilst they may struggle to match UBU they will fancy their chances of taking 2nd rostering players from a range of playing backgrounds (Jen trialist Luke Frett and Tom Wildman who spent a year at university in the states, and an another unnamed American import). The undoubted star however is Howard Storey who played GBU23’s and features on many people’s ‘one to-watch’ list.
One team who could spring a surprise is Staffordshire, who are newly formed but highly rated. any team including Andy Lewis shouldn’t be discounted, but with little known about them they are a huge unknown quantity.
Saved till last is my old team Fling. From last year’s indoors team the team has only lost myself and James Lavender. Eight players were retained who all trained with EMO leading to high hopes for this year. The confidence has been somewhat dented somewhat with injuries, particularly Adrian ‘Cas’ Delport whoa Achilles problem. However captain Ben Poole has a furious desire to improve on last year’s results and he will try to take it all upon himself to do so. Handlers Robert ‘Cody’ Coddington and Tom Tongue will both look to make it easy for Ben Poole whilst Nathan Trickey’s endzone cuts (usually with his man eating dust behind him) are now a familiar sight to most of the region. Liam Reddy is likely to offer a calm approach to offence and try to rack up the layouts on defence.
The captains of all these teams were asked for their predictions and here’s an average of what came back:
1st – UBU
2nd – Cambridge
3rd – Fling
4th – Jesters
5th – Warwick
6th – Haze
7th – Oxford
It’s set to be cracking. See you there.
More from the Uni Ultimate committee to come! DP @ tSG.