UKU University 2017: Men’s Outdoor Nationals Division 1 and 2 Preview

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Another great collaborative effort from the UU team previewing the top two Men’s divisions in one!

Given how hard the teams have fought this year in the BUCS league, we figured it would be sad to just brush over the leagues entirely and go straight to a preview. Consequently, we’ve asked all our writers to give one final summary of how the season has gone so far, and use that to predict where they think their teams will finish. If you want to read a more traditionally formatted piece, feel free to head over to this piece on Reddit, after you’ve finished with ours, of course.

As a reminder, the teams were split into five regional leagues. The top three then got spots at Division 1 nationals (+ Strathclyde, who got the wildcard spot by being fourth in Scotland). The next three are all going to Division 2 (except Heriot-Watt and Winchester, who dropped out). The bottom two of each league are also demoted for next season.

Scottish Region, by Haydon Christou

Scotland yet again boasted their depth at UMIN. Four teams finished in the top six and narrowly missed out on claiming all the medals, and UMON looks set to be no different. The outdoor season has yet again been highly competitive, and those that qualified look set to dominate their respective divisions. Here is a breakdown of each team, my predictions, and I will share a throwback memory to UMON ’16 because I go the extra mile.

Although St. Andrews were more of a surprise package last year, they have continued to impress since snagging bronze at UMIN ‘16. The current indoor national champions look set to do the double, and confidence is high. Although pushed in some tough games, St. Andrews defended their BUCS league title without much issue. Captain Gabe Schechter has upped their training regime, and has wagered that they will be “the fittest team in the country”. On top of this, their depth is impressive. I count at least six guys who can comfortably move the disc, which coupled with deep threat Arek Aspinwall is a pretty daunting prospect.

I will back St. Andrews to go far, and anything less than a final would be considered disappointing to these guys. Expect a team packed with immense quality, physical fitness, and backed with depth. But they are beatable; get them rattled and frustrations can get the better of St. Andrew’s. Will we see this side of them? They managed UMIN without much bother, but outdoors can be totally different. Blood is in the water. Chump, chump, chump?

Favourite UMON ’16 Moment: Giggling away on the sideline of the Dundee vs. Portsmouth crossover as their rivals chumped it, to then get pumped by them in the quarterfinals with a Dundee team watching on.

What a season the Glasgow boys have had. They defied my initial predictions and have stormed to a second placed finish in the league, second at Mixed Nationals and narrowly missed out on a medal at UMIN. Captain Axel Ahmala may have looked back on the progress so far as a success story, but instead he wants to use it as a platform to push on at UMON. Their preparation since the league has been a gamble but it may well pay off. They sent a team to Siege of Limerick to get high quality reps, and so chose to enter a development squad to SSS Regionals and get their junior members pitch time. They continue to look very solid. The chemistry between Axel, Duncan Webster, Joel Terry and Iain Campbell will be pivotal but has looked good so far. Their reinforcements look athletic and willing to grind it out so expect a good runabout. This squad has a lot of potential, bursting with the desire to win, I’m backing a high finish. That was, until Axel and Duncan injured themselves only a fortnight before the tournament.

Favourite UMON ’16 Moment: Not winning gold, because who actually wanted Rory Curran to be a national champion?

Dundee will be the most unpredictable team at nationals without a doubt. Which team will turn up? The bronze medalists or the shoddy haircut bunch from last year? Although this has become a running joke among UK ultimate, it has been on the mind of Captain Mihael Dimitrov in preparations for UMON. The league was tough for Dundee, their toughest two games were at the start, in a semester which failed to provide much joy. However, fresh from the Christmas break, this squad has started to kick on and put in some good performances; third at indoors and a high quality SSS final vs. St. Andrews.* Mihael has backed both Henry Loan and GB dropout Angus Milliken to make a big impact along with the usual names and faces. This is a team who can win nationals or crash out in pool-play. However, I will go along with general consensus and place Dundee within the top eight.

Favourite UMON ’16 Moment: Thinking how banter it would be to play a final with ridiculous haircuts to then flop and finish 13th.

Strathclyde is the wildcard of the bunch. Strathclyde earned their qualification via the best fourth placed team and rightly so. This squad is too good for Division 2, but a lot of their success will hinge on their mental game. Their season has been a mixed bag, they pushed Dundee to universe, lost to Flatball in “awful” wind and had a great game versus Edinburgh. Captain Cameron Mackie has a lot to forward too at UMON, and has set his sights on the top eight. This is a squad with a great balance of handlers and cutters but has failed to live up to expectations so far. Iain Lindsay and Jonny Shaw will, no doubt, run the show and Mackie and his faceless cutting army will bolster the offence. This team has some serious quality, supported by rookie depth too, and has no obvious weak point. I back these to break quarterfinals but will rely on Mackie instilling a dump-and-go mentality and if Ben Cornelius can live up to the expectations based upon “that good performance that one time”.

Favourite UMON ’16 Moment: Telling themselves that they deserved to be competing in Div 1 but couldn’t even medal in Div 2.

Edinburgh is a weird team, whom I fail to understand every season. Despite not being considered in the top bracket within the region, certain performances out of the blue demonstrates their ability as a team. Fifth in the league? Fine. Fourth at Regionals? Fine. Losing 9-8 to Flatball? Wait. Sixth at UMIN? What?! They have certainly exceeded expectations on occasion, but otherwise have failed to inspire good results against tough opposition. Division 2 is probably fair for them, but I expect them to dominate. Special shoutout to captain Christopher “Rocket” Burrows for not helping with answering any questions about his team, I will try to piece together the highlights of a pretty forgettable squad. The core of the team has remained as Ben Preston, Chris Habgood, Rocket and the giant Peter Dennis (when fit). If these guys can work it out, it will carry them far and probably to Division 2 gold. But, regardless of their UMON finish, their biggest triumph will be infuriating a mediocre football team (the UWS Hamilton Sweetcorns) by pinching the 3G from them for a BUCS fixture. Which was a victory for the Ultimate community.

Favourite UMON ’16 Moment: Ecstatic at winning silver but realising it was only Div 2.

Finishing Position
Team
Show Game Prediction
Division Qualified For
Relegated
Predicted Nationals Finish
1st
St. Andrews
2nd
Division 1
N/A
2nd
2nd
Glasgow
3rd
Division 1
N/A
3rd
3rd
Dundee
1st
Division 1
N/A
5th
4th
Strathclyde
4th
Division 1
N/A
7th
5th
Edinburgh
5th
Division 2
N/A
1st (17th)
6th
Heriot-Watt
6th
Division 2
N/A
Drop-out
7th
St. Andrews 2
8th
Division 3
N/A
5th (35th)
8th
Aberdeen
9th
Division 3
N/A
Drop-out
9th
Stirling
7th
N/A
N/A
lol

Northern Region, by Tom Daly

That’s it for another year in Northern 1A and it’s University of Manchester who grab the 30 BUCS points and the league title, but not in straightforward fashion. Durham 1st took second place and Sheffield Hallam had a phenomenal debut season in the top tier finishing third.

Leeds just missed out on the top three, which they will be disappointed in and will not be the best fourth placed finish either, which means another year without Division 1 Nationals. Durham 2 may have finished fifth but they were no pushover in any of their matches. York prop up the league, having been winless all year.

Manchester & Durham 1st

Manchester set the tone of their season by beating Sheffield Hallam 15-6 in their first match, and didn’t look back from there. Solid away wins over Leeds and York followed, setting up the first match back after Christmas against Durham 1 as the mouth-watering tie-breaker we all expected.

At the same time, Durham 1 set something of a precedent themselves. They made a huge statement in their opener by capping Sheffield Hallam 15-0. They followed with an impressive victories over Leeds (12-5 at home) and their own second team (15-3, also at ‘home’).

The game ended 14-11 in favour of Manchester. This effectively proved to be the tiebreaker for the title as Manchester went on to pick up a tight 12-9 victory against Durham 2, and finished their campaign with a comprehensive victory over York. Durham went on to their last game of the campaign the week afterwards and also cleanly defeated York (15-2). Durham secured second place with a much higher goal difference than anyone else, while the undefeated Manchester finished first. Division 1 Nationals for these two teams up next and both will be looking towards a top-end finish.

Leeds & Sheffield Hallam

The top two finished as expected and the consensus was Leeds would finish third with the last three being any combination of the rest. However, newly promoted Sheffield Hallam did not read the script.

Leeds had their first match away to York, who had admittedly lost players over the summer and set the bar for the league with a 15-1 away win. The followed that up with a commendable performance against Manchester 1 (a 7-12 loss), followed by a 12-5 defeat away to Durham 1. With the top two favourites out of the way and a big win before Christmas, their next BUCS match wasn’t until February in a ‘Division 1 Nationals decider’ against Sheffield Hallam.

Hallam hadn’t fared nearly as well as Leeds at this point. They were beaten away to Manchester 15-6, capped and bagelled at home by Durham 1 but did manage to get to winning ways away at Durham 2 with a 6-11 win. Their final two matches were Leeds 1 (H) and York (A) where the former would decide which team made Division 1 Nationals.

The match took place on a 3G pitch at SHU Sports Park, where favourites, Leeds, were beaten 8-7 by Hallam.  This massive win for the Hallam side effectively gave them Division 1 Nationals, which Hallam confirmed after winning 14-3 away to York. Leeds finished their campaign with a 11-8 win at home to Durham 2, but the damage had been done the week before. Expect this Leeds team to be back with a vengeance next year.

York & Durham 2

The battle for fifth place Durham 2 and York was always going to be a tight one as both teams are pretty strong anyway. The crunch match happened early, in the second week of BUCS. York were coming off a hammering at home to Leeds and Durham hadn’t played yet. Durham 2 ran out 7-6 winners at the Racecourse, piling the pressure onto York to get some points in their remaining matches.

The closest York came to any form of result was within 10 points of beating Manchester (5-15 at home). Following losses to Durham 1st (A) AND Sheffield Hallam (H), York were consigned to finish last in a very tough group. Durham 2, on the other hand, performed well in the remainder of their campaign by pushing teams further than they perhaps expected. They lost 6-11 to Sheffield Hallam, 15-3 to their own first team, 9-12 at home to Manchester and really pushed Leeds in an 11-8 defeat.  They finish in fifth place, but will be happy with their performances.

Finally…

Next year, Durham and Manchester will look to resume their competitive rivalry, Sheffield Hallam will look to push on even further and challenge for one of the top two places, Leeds will look to gate-crash the whole thing and raise some hell, Durham 2 and York will look to bounce back in their leagues next season and after all that, we will still have a brand new team to contend with! What’s not to be excited about?

Some students will leave their respective Universities this summer, so good luck to them and whichever club team is lucky enough to have them playing for them. Good luck to those competing at both Division 1 and Division 2 Nationals this weekend as well. Expect a lot of support from their own Northern region.

Finishing Position
Team
Show Game Prediction
Division Qualified For
Relegated
Predicted Nationals Finish
1st
Manchester
1st
Division 1
No
3rd
2nd
Durham 1st
3rd
Division 1
No
5th
3rd
Sheffield Hallam
5th
Division 1
No
15th
4th
Leeds
2nd
Division 2
No
3rd (19th)
5th
Durham 2nd
6th
Division 2
Yes
7th (23rd)
6th
York
4th
Division 2
Yes
10th (36th)

Midlands Region, by George Webb and Dan Hillman

The Midland 1A region was very tight this year. The three top teams (Loughborough, Birmingham and Warwick) all finished on a three way tie. Lower down, last year’s champions Nottingham narrowly managed to avoid relegation through a sudden-death win at home against Cambridge. Last year, the Midlands had a strong claim to being the toughest region (featuring the Division 1, 2 and 3 champions). Let’s have a look at how they’ll fare this time around.

Loughborough look to be in a good position on their return to Division 1, the question is whether or not they can step up to the high levels of Ultimate that Division 1 brings. With no previous experience at this level as a uni club, they might struggle (the last time Loughborough was in Division 1 was 2011/12). Looking at it from a different standpoint, with experienced players like Sam ‘Swilson’ Wilson, Alex Walsh and three other GB U24 players, the team should be looking to push for the top eight.

Birmingham have lost a lot of good players over the last few years, though the standard of the club has not dropped off as expected. With a lot of their players having a good amount of experience at these high levels and players like Devon 1’s Dougy Broad and GB U20 player Elliott Parnell, Birmingham will be one to watch out for as teams will undoubtedly underestimate how good they still are. Though unfortunately for them it’s not a swiss draw this weekend…

As with Birmingham, Warwick Bears have lost a few good players from last year (Romit ‘LED’ Patel) but the standard has not dropped. With GB Open’s Andy ‘Big Brother’ Hillman coaching the club and a core group of EMO players such as Jack ‘Frigate’ Skipper, they will look to improve of the ninth place of last year. One thing to note is their exams apparently start Monday. Good luck.

Reigning Division 1 champions Nottingham Fling will be disappointed coming into the weekend only challenging for the Division 2 title. Playing on home turf with a few key players benefiting from the GB U24 Development training over the last few months, combined with a handy first seed courtesy of Division 2 champions from last year Oxford, Fling are well placed to be fighting for the top four.

Coming off the back of tricky BUCS Wednesday fixtures (Oxbridge don’t get Wednesdays off lectures, unlucky for them), a relatively inexperienced Cambridge side led by GB U24 Perry Hong will do well to challenge the top half of Division 2 this year, although they can count on Fire’s Niall Jackson to provide some extra backbone.

The Warwick 2nd team has improved massively since the start of the uni season, transforming into a team that don’t carry many second team traits. With great team chemistry and a team intensity that any captain would dream of creating, it’ll be interesting to see whether the lack of experience in the Bears 2 team will be their undoing at the Wind Farm this weekend.

Finishing Position
Team
Show Game Prediction
Division Qualified For
Relegated
Predicted Nationals Finish
1st
Birmingham
1st
Division 1
No
9th
2nd
Loughborough
3rd
Division 1
No
10th
3rd
Warwick 1st
5th
Division 1
No
12th
4th
Nottingham
2nd
Division 2
No
2nd (18th)
5th
Cambridge
4th
Division 2
Yes
6th (22nd)
6th
Warwick 2nd
6th
Division 2
Yes
11th (37th)

Western Region, by Andrew Eck

The BUCS matches are well behind us and Uni Nationals isn’t far away now. Let’s look at how things shook out in the Western region and talk about where they might place at the upcoming tournament.
In Division 1 we have Bath, Bristol, and Exeter. These teams fought each other to extremely close games, with Bath only defeating Bristol and Exeter by three and two points respectively. Bristol then defeated Exeter 14-12, another close game. Whatever they’re doing with the Bath program, it seems to be working as they’ve started to look like a regional dynasty. What this means practically is that while Bath has an edge going into Nationals, it’s still anyone’s guess what the final standings will look like. A well drilled, focused Bristol in particular could surprise us with some upset wins. However, it feels to me that the teams in this region have weakened slightly since last year. For example, both Bristol’s and Exeter’s captains discussed how hard their leaving players hit them, and their close matches vs. Bath could indicate that Bath has suffered losses as well (as does any University team but some years are worse than others). Last year Bath finished a respectable seventh, Bristol tenth, and Exeter 15th. This year, I would expect all the teams to find themselves in the bottom half of the bracket at tournament’s end. My best guess? Bath ninth, Bristol 11th and Exeter hold on at 15th.
Division 2 gets a little more interesting, if only because things are more up in the air. Neither Winchester nor Falmouth played at Nationals last year, while Swansea finished a disappointing 29th (13th out of 14 Div 2 teams). However, looking at the regional matches, Winchester lost all their games and finished the season with an eye-catching -70 points differential. It seems sad they’ve dropped out of Nationals, and won’t get a chance to leave a different memory of the season. Falmouth and Swansea, on the other hand, have been leapfrogging each other all season. I predicted Falmouth would defeat Swansea and knock the Welsh Uni into relegation, but Swansea pulled out a pretty convincing win. Falmouth have beaten Swansea at other tournaments, however. It seems to me that Falmouth’s greatest opponent is the BUCS format. They’ve struggled to field their full team for Wednesdays. They’re so far out of the way, I’m sure they’ve seriously looked at flights as a cheap option. At a weekend tournament, they may exceed expectations. Despite that, these Div 2 teams will probably find themselves on the lower half of the bracket once when the final whistle blows. Falmouth 24th/8th and Swansea 25th/9th.
Finishing Position
Team
Show Game Prediction
Division Qualified For
Relegated
Predicted Nationals Finish
1st
Bath
1st
Division 1
No
9th
2nd
Bristol
3rd
Division 1
No
11th
3rd
Exeter
2nd
Division 1
No
15th
4th
Swansea
5th
Division 2
No
9th (25th)
5th
Falmouth
4th
Division 2
Yes
8th (24th)
6th
Winchester
6th
Division 2
Yes
Dropped Out
Jarvis Lim for Surrey at last years event. Photo by Andrew Moss.

Jarvis Lim for Surrey at last years event. Photo by Andrew Moss.

South Eastern Region, by Jonny Arthur

As predicted at the start of the season, the top of the South East division all came down to a heavyweight matchup between the region’s two main powerhouses. Both Sussex and Portsmouth showed throughout the season that they were a cut above the rest of the division with performances at a consistently high level. They will both go into nationals with eyes on the very top prize. The final spot in Division 1 proved to be completely up for grabs, with all four of the remaining teams looking like they would grab it at various points in the season.

Sussex have been mightily impressive in their run to the South East title, running through pretty much all opposition with multiple defensive looks and patient offense that looks to make the most of every possession. Sussex effectively won the title back in December by overcoming Portsmouth 14-9, before cruising to the finish (conceding a total of six goals across their three post-Christmas games). Coupling this outdoor form with their second place finish at indoor nationals, Sussex will be looking to beat anyone and everyone in Nottingham.

In second place, Portsmouth also had an impressive season, having beaten every non-Sussex team by at least five points. Portsmouth bring excellent zone play which will be a huge plus for them in the wind of Nottingham, whilst also being able to match most teams man for man and will be looking to improve on their ninth place finish at indoors, where they only lost to eventual winners St. Andrews on universe point. Expect to see both these teams in the top eight at Nationals and I wouldn’t even be overly surprised to see both teams making it to the semis and fighting for the national title.

Hertfordshire claimed third in the division by virtue of grinding out tight wins against the rest of the field, in what has been a great first outing in Division 1, following promotion last year. Their two universe point wins away from home against UCL and Surrey show just how tight the fight for third was, with just a few crucial points in key games separating third and sixth place. It’ll be interesting to see just how many more universe point victories they will been able to take against national competition.

There was a slight bit of controversy in the placings of the bottom three in the division. Surrey started the season with losses against Sussex and Portsmouth, meaning they would need a run of wins to get the final Division 1 spot they were aiming for. However in their next matchup against UCL they were unable to field a team, because of a driver breaking his wrist on the day (as I understand it) and had to take a walkover loss and the -3 points that come with it. From then on it was a near mathematical impossibility to avoid relegation and Surrey lost their final two games, unable to find the form they felt themselves capable of. Whilst it’s sad to see an injury having such an impact on a team’s’ season, the Walkover is an important part of keeping BUCS competition fair, so it’s up to Surrey to go into Division 2 nationals now and show everyone what they are capable of after finishing sixth in the region. Personally I expect them to show up with some fire in their belly and push right to the top.

Last year’s league champions UCL took fourth place following the walkover win and an impressive showing against St. Mary’s. Having only missed out on third place in their universe point loss to Herts, UCL will be looking to show the strength of the South East Division with some quick handler movement and accurate deep shots being able to punish any team who underestimates them.

Completing the round up is St. Mary’s in fifth place. In their first season in Division 1 St. Mary’s put in some impressive performances, particularly in their 15-4 win against Surrey to get some points on the board. Despite some big losses during the season St. Mary’s will go to Nottingham full of confidence that their unique brand of offense and defence can turn up some victories for them, much like it did in their first trip to Indoor Nationals earlier this year.

Finishing Position
Team
Show Game Prediction
Division Qualified For
Relegated
Predicted Nationals Finish
1st
Sussex
2nd
Division 1
No
2nd
2nd
Portsmouth
1st
Division 1
No
6th
3rd
Hertfordshire
6th
Division 1
No
15th
4th
UCL
4th
Division 2
No
7th (23rd)
5th
St. Mary’s
5th
Division 2
Yes
11th  (27th)
6th
Surrey
3rd
Division 2
Yes
3rd (19th)

Final Predictions by Uni Coordinator: Harry Mason

It’s been fascinating following the BUCS leagues this season and seeing the storylines develop. I’m sure next year will be just as fascinating, and we at the Show Game will be looking for more ideas and people to help us cover it!

Alright, onto the actual predictions. I wasn’t overly surprised to see that none of our writers was willing to take the plunge and predict that a team from their region would come last (we had three different teams predicted to come 15/16 in Div 1). I was a little more surprised that no writer wanted to predict a team from their region coming first either.

For me that choice is clear. St. Andrews is very much the in-form team of the moment. This tournament can be considered theirs to lose. Sussex (with Ashley Yeo) are less in form, but have just as much potential. As long as Glasgow’s injury situation doesn’t prove too devastating, all Scottish teams in the top half would not be an unexpected result.

  1. St. Andrews
  2. Sussex
  3. Manchester
  4. Dundee
  5. Durham
  6. Portsmouth
  7. Strathclyde
  8. Glasgow
  9. Birmingham
  10. Bath
  11. Loughborough
  12. Bristol
  13. Warwick
  14. Exeter
  15. Hallam
  16. Hertfordshire

For Division 2, I see Edinburgh doing what they just fell short of last year, and claiming a BUCS trophy. The top of the league should still be fairly competitive, with Nottingham, Leeds, Surrey and Cambridge all in with a reasonable shout of an upset. It would also be interesting to see if Durham 2 can turn their close results this season against good opposition into any wildcard results here.

  1. Edinburgh
  2. Nottingham
  3. Leeds
  4. Surrey
  5. Cambridge
  6. UCL
  7. Falmouth
  8. Swansea
  9. St Mary’s
  10. Durham 2
  11. York
  12. Warwick 2

Feature photo by Andrew Moss.

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