Mixed Tour 2015: from Cardiff to Salford

#ukumt2, Black Eagles, Bristol, GB, Glasgow, mixed tour, news, Previews, Reading Ultimate, Shiny Happy Meeples, Thundering Herd, u23

Martyn Brown brings us the second piece in his coverage of the 2015 Mixed Tour

 It’s safe to say that Cardiff will be a tournament most people won’t forget. Whilst Saturday was challenging, it was no more difficult than the conditions we experienced in Nottingham or Cheltenham for Mixed Tours 2 & 3 respectively last year. However, Sunday delivered some of the most difficult weather that we have had to play in for a number of years with wind, rain and mud in plentiful supply.

Despite the conditions the games got under way in earnest. Pool-play threw up few surprises with both GB teams topping their respective groups. The GB U23 teams also impressed, improving on seeding and giving themselves a chance to move up the order next tour. Ireland Mixed comfortably topped Pool C after a convincing victory over Thundering Herd 1. Pool D provided the most interesting results with Shiny Happy Meeple comfortably topping the group ahead of both Black Eagles and Brighton Breezy, with returning players helping to show that they are one of the strongest contenders at Tour this season.

WUCC 2014 Mixed Division Preview: Black Eagles

Black Eagles, Mixed, news, Previews, WUCC Previews, WUCC2014
Matthew ‘Smatt’ Hodgson and Matt Dathan start off our Mixed Division WUCC 2014 previews with late additions Black Eagles.

Black Eagles at UKU Nationals 2013. Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey.



Squad
Ali Brown
Audrey Melançon-Fournier
Calum Easton
Carissa Tong
Catie Newton
Chris Knudsen
Dave Damby
Doug Olley
Gill Spy
Gordon Kerr
Graeme McDowell
Hannah Newton
Harry Glasspool
Helen Waring
James Glover (C)
Katie McLean
Nessa Forde
Niall Wilkinson
Pete Pharoah
Phil Webb
Rory Curran
Simone Whale


About Black Eagles

It may be the last year that Black Eagles have to compete alongside English teams to qualify for World’s if Scots vote for independence in September, and this year they got in by the skin of their teeth.

Rewind four weeks and Black Eagles’ players were planning a summer free of ultimate, but thanks to a late drop-out, the team accepted a late entry to fly to Lecco.

They narrowly missed out on a qualification spot last year, after an impressive start to the season in mixed tour where they fell just short. They will be missing two of their star players from previous year – Frances Dathan and Adrienne Tecza – who were both poached by Cambridge after Eagles failed to qualify.

Despite limited preparation , Black Eagles will be travelling to Lecco with largely the same roster that finished mixed tour this season with an overall fifth-placed finish, third in 2013.
They have only mustered one training session since being offered the spot a month ago, but that is one more session than they have managed together all season, so opposing teams would be wise not to underestimate the Eagles.

As with Bear Cavalry, the core players of the squad have been playing together since their university days. But the club itself was only formed in 2011 and has African football to thank for its formation.

“We were formed in a pub, after a conversation about African football teams, with the vision of playing quality mixed ultimate with our friends who are now distributed worldwide,” 

explains James Glover, the lightning quick Yorkshireman who moved to Edinburgh for university and has stayed ever since. James was one of the three founders – along with Gordon Kerr and Graeme McDowell and explains Black Eagles as “unlike most other ultimate teams”.

Playing and Coaching Style
Scottish ultimate has long been known for tight defense and the ability to play in all weather conditions and, although the weather in Lecco looks set to be a little hotter than the typical Scottish climate, tough man defence and player familiarity should outweigh a lot of the missed preparation time.

They like to deploy a no-nonsense, straightforward approach to ultimate, perhaps wise given their lack of preparation. “Our playing style is based on big shots – on the field and in the bar – and big takes,” he says.  

The Eagles have hovered towards the top of mixed tour for a number of years now, despite not holding organized training sessions and have been able to compete with and beat England’s elite, even if they have struggled to do it consistently over a whole season.

At a time when Scottish open and women’s clubs have taken a step back from the golden age – when Ro-Sham-Bo were the most feared name in university ultimate and Fusion were regularly making open tour semis and finals – Black Eagles have become the best performing club in any division from Scotland.

And they are not just representing Scotland. As the only team going to World’s who are a team based further north than the Midlands (Chevron divide their trainings between Bristol and Manchester) it shows how dominated UK ultimate is by southern, mostly London-based teams and how hard it is for players who are based in the north to reach the top echelons of the game. It would be refreshing to see a resurgence in northern ultimate and the opportunity presented by this tournament to gain elite experience is going to be invaluable.

Prediction
With little expectation, the team will be competing against the world’s best teams with nothing to lose. Although it will be frustrating competing at World’s lacking a full strength squad and not having had a full season of preparation, it is a fantastic opportunity for Eagles to gain invaluable experience in what could be their last international tournament representing Great Britain.

The goal Black Eagles have set themselves is a top half  finish and to “have fun while doing it”. Their motto – “go big or go home” – will be applied both on the pitch by day and off the pitch by night as they hit the bars lining the shores of Lake Como. 

Good luck to our only Scottish team at WUCC, more Smatt and Matt to come!

Herd Mauled by Bears in Sunny Cardiff – Mixed Tour 1 Report

Bear Cavalry, Black Eagles, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Glasgow Ultimate, Mixed, Mixed Ultimate, Nice Bristols, RGS, Tournament Reports
Matt Dathan reports on Mixed Tour 1 in sun-soaked Cardiff

Bear Cavalry took Thundering Herd to the slaughter to draw first blood in this season’s mixed tour. 

On yet another sunny day on the fields of Cardiff, Herd went into the final still milking their fine 13-10 semi-final victory over Bristol, but their performance was less than legendairy. It all looked to be going well for the Londoners in the first half as they kept up with the Bears, trailing by just one point at half.

Theo Tizard (Bear Cavalry) gets high over the Herd.

Former Bears handler Cian Ó Móráin was a constant thorn in their side and was opening up too many breaks for their liking. But tactics maestro Dave Tyler put his thinking hat on at half time and pulled out a masterstroke to contain the Irish playmaker, stifling his leftie throws.

Pint-sized birthday-boy Adam Maxwell was symptomatic of Bear’s superior fitness as he linked their handlers and deeps; Herd seemed to run out of steam and failed to put a point on the scoreboard in the second half and Herd were given the hiding they deserved with the match ending 15-7.

As Tyler fought away John Terry to lift yet another mixed tour trophy, he realised he had no more room for silverware in his trophy cabinet and magnanimously offered debut boy Matt Hodgson the chance to start his own trophy collection.

It was much the same story on the adjoining pitch in the third-place play-off. Bristol had nothing more to give and were smashed by the better half of Cambridge. Bristol, who had a storming Saturday – beating Shiny Happy Meeple, Glasgow and Black Eagles in the quarters – went into Sunday not looking so Nice, perhaps distracted by their endeavour to sell raffle tickets.

Boasting a team packed full of World’s-bound Nice Bristols and Chevron players, they were unable to compete with a well-drilled Cambridge team who have already racked up more than a handful of training sessions in their preparation for the World Championships.

The semi-finals were a different story entirely; both games went to the wire – Thundering Herd traded it out to beat Bristol 13-10 while Bears beat Cambridge Black 14-11.  
Cambridge Black will be pleased with their top three finish considering they split their teams in two in a bid to improve tournament fitness. The White half, who lost to their Black team-mates in the quarter finals, finished fifth, beating Scarecrew in the 5/6 game.

The third mixed team heading for worlds – RGS – finished the weekend in 8th, narrowly losing the 7/8th game to Brighton Breezy. The boys and girls in pink and blue have only had a couple of trainings together since trials and with a team that is almost unrecognisable from the team that dominated mixed tour last year they will be looking to gel quickly.

But one player who remains from last year, captain Jonny Clark, led by example, making a number of flying blocks over the weekend, one of which was caught on camera and can be seen here, and will be hoping his team step it up for mixed tour two in Nottingham.
Fish dominated bagel news: they started the weekend on the receiving end by losing 15-0 to Sneekys on Saturday but then got their own taste of a bagel on the Sunday, beating Black Sheep 2 (due to a forfeit) by the same score line.


Final positions will be coming soon… 

UKU Mixed Tour 1 Preview

Bear Cavalry, Black Eagles, Brighton, Cambridge, Dyn-O-Mixed, mixed tour, Previews, RGS, Shiny Happy Meeples, Thundering Herd, WUCC2014
Matthew “Smatt” Hodgson starts his tSG career off with a quick preview of #ukumt1.

With teams attempting to prepare for the World Club Championships this year, the Tour will feel simultaneously significant and insignificant. Whilst results won’t “matter”, the worlds teams will want to prepare as best they can and notch some wins against the other teams going, and the teams not going to worlds will be eager to cause some upsets. (Note: as far as I’ve seen, the qualification method for EUCF in Frankfurt hasn’t been announced).

Below is an analysis of the top 10 seeded teams for UKU Mixed Tour 1 this weekend in Cardiff. 

Teams going to WUCC
Bear Cavalry: The focus for Bears is worlds. They have retained almost the entire squad from the European Championship winning team, brought in D line contributors, and comfortably handled business at Winter League (not conceding more than 5 points in a game). The Bears are out to win the tour and continue their legacy as a mixed powerhouse on their route to WUCC.

Cambridge: have taken the interesting decision to split their worlds team between O and D lines for Mixed tour 1 (and possibly beyond?). Whilst this will undoubtedly provide plenty of exposure to the highest level of mixed ultimate across the roster, and get more game time and grow connections along the two lines, I see them losing some games on the decision as well. Having said that, with this long to go before WUCC, losses likely won’t provide as much of a sting if the progression is there.


Royal Goaltimate Society: did not enter Nationals or Euros last year due to their players prioritising open and women’s, despite winning tour. You can’t argue with the results of the respective open/women’s clubs results, but it means they have had to re-tool this offseason and therefore have not had as much time to gain team cohesion. The core of RGS this year appears to be Ka-Pow! guys and SYC girls, which are arguably two of the better teams in the Open/Women’s divisions to not be attending worlds, and therefore there will be pockets of team cohesion throughout the team, but it awaits to be seen as to whether they will be fully ready for Mixed Tour 1. Having said this, RGS will be using this as one of the first steps on their road to worlds, and have a strong squad so should come away with plenty of positive results this weekend.

Established mixed clubs
Thundering Herd: The cow print always play the top teams close, and are always training hard and putting in the time to develop as a specialist mixed club. The Herd have selected large squads (53 players between the two teams) which should help given there are some injury concerns, and they have remained committed to their rigorous pre-season training schedule. The herd have been bolstered by plenty of new faces and will be hoping to take more than a few wins this weekend and throughout the season.

Brighton: For the past few years, Brighton have not been able to re-capture the magic of their xEUCF winning team from 2009, whilst still hanging around at the top of the mixed tour. The renewed focus on Open and Women’s has put mixed on the back burner, but Brighton should not be overlooked as they always come with a strong squad, even when understaffed. It remains to be seen whether every Brighton club will be playing the Mexican offence that seems to have taken hold in the city, but regardless, expect Brighton to be unconventional on offence regardless of the formation, and play hard on defence.

Bristol: They have had the potential to really challenge on the mixed circuit for a couple of years now, which has only been helped by the continued development of the women’s club. With a renewed focus on the guys training to keep up with the girls and get back to UKU Nationals, Bristol could put in a serious contention for the top spots. I picked them as underdogs last year when they went into Mixed Tour 1 seeded 13th and by the end of Saturday they were the top seeds, but there won’t be many teams surprised by them this year.

Black Eagles:  After coming up short in their quest to reach Europe last year, falling at the last hurdle at nationals against a DED team they had beaten earlier at the tournament, the Black Eagles may be using the tour to redeem themselves and build towards nationals and Europeans again. If they retain enough of their players from the squad which finished 3rd overall across the tours last year, they can definitely be finals contenders.

Shiny Happy Meeple: This club established last year that they were prepared to play above their perceived potential, and managed to finish in the top 10 over the three tours (maxing out at 8th place at MT3). Whilst they may not be contenders for a top spot, and generally don’t focus on results, they can definitely put pressure on the top teams.

Unknown

Dyn-O-Mixed: Dyn-O-Mite has typically been a bit of a boys club, frequenting Glastonbury and indoors tournaments, and up until now they have fallen short of their potential at these events. Entering a mixed tour is a new realm for this team though and after drafting in some strong female players they start the mixed season with the 8th seed. If their squad is made up of the top level talent that has played with them before, and if their guys and girls have built up enough chemistry they could definitely make some noise.

Great start Smatt and we look forward to more from Smatt and his KaPow teammate Matt Dathan! Make sure to check out the liveBlog feed on the home page!

UKU Mixed Nationals 2013 – Review

ABH, Bear Cavalry, Black Eagles, Brighton, Cambridge, DED, JR, Mixed, Thundering Herd, Tournament Reports, UKU Nationals, WUCC2014, xEUCF

David Pryce reviews the Mixed division at UKU Nationals.

Last weekend saw eight UK Mixed teams competing at Southampton’s Wide Lane Sports Ground for the title at UKU Nationals, a spot at WUCC 2014 and a place in the top 3 to go to xEUCF 2013 in Bordeaux.

In the first round all games went as expected, although JR came close to upsetting Black Eagles the Scots pushed for the win in sudden death. The second round saw two early big match ups in DED vs Black Eagles and Bear Cavalry vs Cambridge. Going with tour seedings Black Eagles dispatched DED 15-10 but the return of David Tyler and too many mistakes from Cambridge gave Bear Cavalry an easy win 15-6.

These two rounds acted as seedings for the QF’s on Saturday afternoon which all went to tour seeding and put Cambridge vs Black Eagles in one semi and DED vs Bear Cavalry in the other. Semi final 1 was the closest but Cambridge utilised their clinical offence and took full advantage of Black Eagles turns in the wind and rain of Sunday morning, game ended 15-10 Cambridge. The other semi was a very one sided affair; Bear Cavalry winning 15-2. 

DED snatch 3rd and a place at xEUCF. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.


The final and the game to go to xEUCF were as a result replays of the second round games: Cambridge against Bear Cavalry and DED against Black Eagles. The final started off very close, with both teams getting used to the cross wind but still able to fire in goals with relative ease. Towards the end of the first half Cambridge’s O didn’t seem to click and Bear Cavalry took advantage with a couple breaks to take half 8-5. This loss of concentration carried over into the second half and the lead was extended to 10-5. Cambridge then turned on their zone and tightened up all over to get back to trading 12-7, however it was too little too late. Capped to 13 and on defence Bear Cavalry got the D and scored the final point to take the championship for the second time in a row. MVP of final: James Freeman from Bear Cavalry.

On the show pitch the game to go provided the other great rematch with the added excitement of the winner qualifying for xEUCF. Having not been able to watch much of this game live or on VOD I cannot say too much but from what I do know, DED took half, up a couple breaks and held on to take third and a spot in Bordeaux by the same score that Black Eagles beat them the day before. This means Black Eagles only hope of going to WUCC lies with RGS not going or an extra spot being given to the UK. DED will have to finish above Cambridge in Bordeaux to secure a spot in Lecco next summer also. We can only wait and see.

Congratulations to Bear Cavalry on winning the tournament plus joint spirit winners and securing spots at xEUCF and WUCC, also to Cambridge and DED who will also be representing in Bordeaux. Full game results can be found on our Ultiapps score reporter plus final results below.

Finishing Positions
1. Bear Cavalry (qualified for xEUCF and WUCC) [Spirit winners]
2. Cambridge Ultimate (xEUCF)
3. Dog Eat Disc (xEUCF)
4. Black Eagles [Spirit winners]
5. Brighton 
6. Thundering Herd
7. JR
8. ABH

Bears with their medals, now go represent!! Photo courtesy of Matt de Lacy Alders.

REMINDER: for the remaining WUCC spots (similar to the Open and Women’s divisions) the 2nd spot will go to the highest UK team at xEUCF that is not Bear Cavalry. The third and (for now) final spot will then be allocated based on Tour 2013 rankings. 
Thanks to PushPass for filming so many games and getting them out very quickly, since I was not playing in the Mixed division, would have been impossible to write this without them! Go buy all the games for £10.99, thats less than £1 per game = bargain!

Keep updated on facebook, twitter and here! Nationals reviews, xEUCF previews and more to come! DP @ tSG.