David ‘DP’ Pryce previews the final A Tour of the season.
The final Tour of the season always brings with it some drama. Even the eventual first draft of the schedule kicked up a fuss, but it appears that this has settled down. Clapham have cut down to one team (due to not enough players able to be fielded from their 40-man squad), and Ranelagh, Pelt and Rebel are included in place of their U24 brethren.
The schedule has reverted to a four-pools-of-four structure, as opposed to the top eight and bottom eight pools at Tour 2, where anyone in top 16 can potentially take the title.
In the first pool we have the 16-time National Champions, Clapham, whose combined team would be hard to pick against when choosing a favourite to take yet another Tour title. EMO are their main challengers going by the rest of the season.
It is more interesting to see who will take the seventh seed, and with such a strong showing from Ireland U24 in the last two events Limerick lads Pelt will be looking for this position. They can expect to be challenged strongly by Manchester, who lost to the U24s but took down SMOG (last seed in this pool), in Cardiff.
Having beaten Devon in their pool last time round, EMO will be looking to repeat the feat and get themselves back into a Tour semi-final (or even final) again. But two more Irish additions, Ranelagh and Rebel, will be looking to take down these two UK teams and there’s a good chance that one of them could claim EMO’s place in the top four and avoid a top eight crossover.
Chevron shouldn’t struggle in going through to the top half but again the next three (Ka-Pow!, GB U24 and Flump) could end up in any order. Flump will be looking to demonstrate they deserve their A Tour position after quite the topsy turvy week, finally being rightly left in the top flight. Ka-Pow! have gone from zero to hero (well 17th to eighth to now fifth) but have already lost to both U24 teams, one of which is the last team in the pool. Anything could happen between these three.
The last pool is one where results would suggest another hold for the top seed in the pool (Reading), however recent Scottish and London powerhouses Glasgow and Fire of London 1 will have something to say about that. Fire have had a rather slow start to the season but made up for some lost places by only losing one game (to Ireland U24) at Tour 2. They’ll be looking looking to get back into top eight contention. A short-lined Glasgow will hope to bring a couple more players to be able to truly demonstrate the strength of Scottish Ultimate. GB U24 Canberra will want to give all the teams in this pool a run for their money and will come out strong but I am unsure how they will cope whilst they are all still trialling and still split between two squads (with Mixed players in there too).
It promises to be another interesting weekend, with several of the fial Tour places still very much up for grabs. See everyone in the Midlands!
(Ed note – My probably-very-wrong-as-usual top 10: Clapham, EMO, Reading, Chevron, Pelt, Fire, Manchester, Ranelagh, Glasgow, Devon.)