UKU Tour 3 Review

#ukut3, Cardiff, Chevron, Clapham, EMO, Fire of London, news, Nice Bristols, Open, PUNT, ROBOT, SYC, Tournament Reports, womens
David Pryce, Fiona Kwan, Thomas Cliff and Christopher Bell review Tour 3 with some insight into the rest of the season…

Full standings can be found here for Women’s and here for OpenBut what happened in Cardiff?

Women’s Tour – Fiona Kwan

UKU Women’s Tour Top 8 


1. Punt
2. SYC
3. ROBOT
4. LLLeeds
5. Phoenix London
6. Iceni
7. Relentless
8. Brighton Pretty
After 3 rounds of fierce contest featuring local favourites and some great input from international competition, the 2014 Tour season has come to an end. We’ve seen highs and lows, wins and losses, and our fair share of universe points. But sadly, the bakery is now closed. No more bagels.

This review will itself be a review of the finals for the top 6. There have been some great match-ups this season, as more and more team find themselves in contention to win – 4 different teams featured in the 3 Tour finals, Iceni and Punt being the only teams to appear more than once. 

Iceni’s absence at Tour 3 was to the advantage of other top level teams who came out hard  vying for the Tour 3 trophy, and the UKU title. Here’s how it all went down…


The Final: Bristol vs. Punt
Half time score: Bristol  4 Punt
Full time result: Bristol 16 – 17 Punt

Punt have been the movers and shakers of Tour this year and have had a remarkable season. A strong performance in 2013 raised expectations for the Cambridge/Oxford side, and they didn’t let us down. Consistent finishes in all three Tour events brought them a well deserved victory in the overall tour standings, beating out SYC by 41 points. They’ll also be ranked 2nd at Nationals, a remarkable feat for such a young team.

Coming into Tour 3, there was a still a certain amount of mystery surrounding the Bristol side this year. The result of them splitting their squad at Tour 1, and their notable absence at Tour 2 meant that they weren’t seen together until last weekend. In fact, Punt hadn’t had a chance to play Bristol all season, so this was a new encounter for all players involved. With the Bristol women representing in Lecco in a couple weeks time (and many of the Punt players playing for Cambridge mixed) both teams were well drilled and ready to play. This naturally lead to a high quality contest, and a hard fought victory.

Benefitting from low player turnover from last year in addition to a full season playing together, Bristol came out strong in the first half, and despite strong defensive pressure from Punt, the Worlds-bound side took half decisively at 9-4. 

Moving into the second half, Punt stepped up their defence, resulting in a number of turnovers near Bristol’s endzone which they were able to capitalise on. In a comeback worthy of the final, Punt brought it back to 11-11. From here, both teams fought hard, but Punt made it evident that they came to win. With the combination of Punt’s defensive strength and the wind playing a role in generating turnovers for both sides, Bristol’s offence began to lose steam. Ultimately, Punt was able to overcome their opposition and beat favourites Bristol in sudden death taking the Tour 3 and overall Tour title. 

Despite the upset, Bristol still finished the season in 10th place, with an average of 230 points per event. They go into Nationals ranked 3rd. 

A new addition to the squad this year, Punt’s Hannah Boddy was awarded MVP, and took the lovely glass UKU trophy home with her. Congratulations!


A clip of the winning point from the final, thanks to Matthew Hodgson.

3 vs. 4: SYC vs. ROBOT
Half time score: SYC 7 – ROBOT
Full time result: SYC 15  10 ROBOT

SYC and ROBOT seem to have played each other a lot this season, with Tour 3 being no exception. After losing to Punt and Bristol respectively in the semis, both were looking to give a strong showing in the 3 vs. 4. Both teams played some excellent D in this game, forcing the offense to put up some shaky throws. 

From the beginning SYC came out strong, piling the defensive pressure and generating turns from the seasoned ROBOT side. While ROBOT’s O was solid with all the right decisions being made with no unforced throwaways, SYC’s defense eventually overwhelmed them. Going into the second half, the London women already had a clear advantage. ROBOT however also brought their strong defensive game, using clever poaches to mark out the younger SYC squad. This strategy worked well for them, stopping the quick and athletic style of SYC, slowing the pace to a more manageable speed, and forcing them to use their break throws.

In spite of ROBOT’s best efforts however, SYC had a convincing victory coming second in final standings; ROBOT finishing right behind them in third.

5 vs. 6: Phoenix London vs. Rebel
It’s great to see that Tour is still attracting international teams this far into the season. Rebel proved a real force to be reckoned with in Cardiff, meeting the high standard of Irish ultimate set by Little Miss Sunshine at Tour 2. They proved to be an extremely athletic team, and their short squad of 10 showed no signs of fatigue in their final against Phoenix.

After a sudden death cross-down and overall disappointing finish at Tour 1, Phoenix have been working hard to climb back up the rankings from 13th. As the season has progressed, this new London team has gelled more, and worked hard to get themselves seeded in the top 8 for the next two tours.

In this match-up, Rebel came out strong, going up 4-1. They used their poaches and zone D to throw off their London competitors, forcing turns even when Phoenix was able to break through the cup. They also proved very effective on offense, with great handler play and quick up the line movement which proved devastating to Phoenix’s D. After a well used timeout call, Phoenix were able to adjust their strategy, and come back stronger against the Irish side. They began to shut down the handler movement by putting a poach in the open lane, and reigning in their offense to be more clinical. But despite their best efforts, the damage was already done and Rebel had a comfortable victory in the end. 

A well spirited game which saw both teams finish above seed; Rebel from 8th to 5th, and 
Phoenix from 7th to 6th.

Great job to all who participated – there were some fantastic games over the weekend. Thanks for coming, and see you at Nationals!


UKU Open Tour Top 8 

1. Clapham O
2. EMO
3. Chevron Action Flash
4. Fire of London
5. Zimmer 
6. Brighton Gritty
7. Ranelagh 1
8. Manchester

A Tour – David Pryce

With Clapham consolidating back into one team after a flurry of injuries and the repercussions of the US Open, the full squad were out to prove they still could dominate at home. Overall this was what we were shown, with no real trouble in their pool and a lacklustre performance from Fire of London 1 in the semi final setting Clapham against Chevron in the final. Chevron clearly wanted this game and started off the game with a lead and some were hopeful that they could hold onto this. However, Clapham changed gear and got back into it in the second half, taking the game and the Tour title once again. Not to take anything from Chevron, Rob Schumacher (Clapham #99) tweeted:

A sign of mutual respect as the top two British teams turn on from familiar opponents to face and hopefully overcome bigger challenges; the rest of the world better watch out for Chevron as well as Clapham.

In a windy 3v4 game EMO took the win over Fire of London who end the season back in the top 4. The only team of this 4 not attending worlds, Fire now look straight to Nationals where they will want to take advantage of Clapham, Chevron and EMO having to double peak this season. 

Zimmer finished the season with a very strong performance holding off Rebel and keeping their 5th seed. This all bodes well for their upcoming campaign in Lecco. Rounding off the top 8 at Tour 3 we see the now regulars Manchester and new guard NEO. This meteoric rise through the ranks has surprised some but they have made a statement at Tour that cannot be ignored by competition going into Regionals and Nationals. 

Just outside of the top 8 we see Brighton who have experienced a slight fall, but I fully expect them to come out hard to recoup this at Nationals. The lower brackets of the a tour have seen many teams across the season, with old and new faces in CUlt, Reading, Birmingham and LLLeeds making those last few coveted A tour spots a true battleground.

Chevron Action Flash huddle up for the UKU Tour 3 final. Photo courtesy of Serena de Nahlik.

B Tour – Thomas Cliff

Welcome to crossover country.
In my humble opinion, Sunday morning in B tour is one of the most intriguing spectacles in the tour season, simply because of the sheer amount of movement that is not only possible, but probable, due to 3 sets of crossovers with chances to be promoted or relegated mid tournament.  The top 8 of B tour was unrecognisable from the start to the end of the tournament, with only 2 teams retaining a spot therein.
As always, Saturday is just a scrap for the best possible seed going into the vital Sunday morning games. The only team to rock the boat at the top of the pile were Fire 2, upsetting JR at the third time of asking this season to top their pool.
The crossovers for A tour threw up two upsets, firstly Reading taking a game from Devon and Flump being rudely shunted back down to the B tour by Leeds. As a side note Flump somehow managed to score 8 points in every single game this weekend. One for the statisticians. In the other big games the flair heavy JR pushed DED all the way but they couldn’t quite seal the deal, and Fire 2 had their hot streak ended comfortably by Birmingham’s quick-movement based play. Highlight heavy Devon went on to top B tour with a 17th place finish.
Lower down the bracket, worlds-bound BAF looked imperious, taking out all comers on their way to a crossover against an athletic Sneekys squad. BAF went on to win this, and finished their weekend as high as was possible at 21st; no mean feat from a lowly 31st position start. BAF weren’t the only lower seed to win their crossover in the middle bracket. In fact, everyone did, which ruins the fun a bit.
At the bottom of the bracket all of the newcomers, The Brown, ABH, and Camden struggled to adjust on Saturday. However all 3 managed to hold on to their B tour spots (leaving my foot securely in my mouth). St Albans however weren’t so lucky, falling to a Guildford squad who seem to have left it quite late in the season to let their presence be known.
The season is far from over with regionals an important proving ground for B tour teams looking to make the top flight for nationals. Birmingham showed this and were able to use Nationals qualification to take a step up with their team last year. With regional results just in, it will be interesting to see if any of this year’s B tour teams can make a dent in the top 16 at Southampton.
  
Stu Greer bids for Fire of London 2. Photo courtesy of Serena de Nahlik.


C Tour – Christopher Bell

Guildford went unbeaten in Cardiff as they proved to all that they belonged in B Tour all season long. Passing through their group relatively untroubled, they came up against St Albans in their crossover, before beating ABH  comfortably. In fact, they didn’t concede more than 5 points in a game until they gave up 9 against Tour 2’s C Tour champions; The Brown.

Guilford were the only team to manage the jump from C Tour to B. Rhubarb and Pingu Jam held seed on Saturday to face B Tour teams, while Black Sheep jumped seven seeds by beating Devon 2 and CUlt 2 to top their group. Black Sheep squared up against Camden 1 on Sunday morning, but after a strong first 30 seconds, lost the half 8-1 and were only able to trade in the second half. Rhubarb beat Black Sheep and Pingu Jam beat St Albans, setting up Rhubarb to win the C Tour and St Albans to finish third.

The rest of the division saw a lot of movement – a special mention must go to Curve 2, who started 20th (bottom seed) and went on to win the bottom set of 8 – finishing 13th.  Hampshire managed to improve on their initial seed of 11th to finish 5th, enjoying an unbeaten Sunday along with Curve 2 and Guildford. Many teams finished roughly where they started, with Hammertime, Lemmings, Pier Pressure, Reading 2 and Camden 2 all finishing within one seed of their starting position.

Just as impressive as that of Curve 2 was the performance of Devon 3 – they managed to climb from second-bottom to third in their group, finishing the tournament in an impressive 12th, also an 8 place increase. In fact, they only finished 4 places lower than their second team. This result points to a great foundation for the club, and a real platform for growth in the off season, as we look ahead to next year.


UltiClips review UKU Tour 3 with some great clips from the weekend!

The Tour season comes to a close but there is plenty more to play for! Stay tuned for WUCC 2014 previews and more!

UKU Open and Women’s Tour 3 Preview

#ukut3, Cardiff, Chevron, Clapham, EMO, Fire of London, Iceni, Nice Bristols, PUNT, Ranelagh, ROBOT, SYC, UK Ultimate, Zimmer
David Pryce and Christopher Bell take us through this weekends UKU Tour 3.


Welcome home to Clapham Ultimate and Iceni Ultimate, well played out there! This weekends schedule is here: http://bit.ly/TWR1As


A Tour
The final instalment of this years domestic UK club season is tomorrow! With two events already completed it is still mathematically possible for anyone near the top to take the Tour title. Clapham will be combining both lines into the Clapham D team seeding and EMO will be hoping for the London team to lose their almost inevitable semi final. With only a handful of points between them a big enough gap between these two teams on Sunday evening could be the chance for EMO to take the top spot from Clapham D. However, I don’t think Clapham will be lying down too easily. After learning some tough lessons at the US Open they will only be hungry to return to the UK and stamp their authority on their home turf. 

Hayden Slaughter makes a huge grab over Clapham D at Tour 2. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.


In the pool stages Brighton get a chance to take that champion scalp early once again, with an opening pool play fixture against Clapham. Can they reverse the result after losing in universe point at Tour 2? EMO and Fire of London face off for the first time in this year’s regular season, can the London team take down the Worlds bound Midlands boys? Londoners Flump however have a tough introduction to this years A tour taking on the young and athletic Devon, flamboyant KaPow! and cohesive Rebel. In the D pool I would expect Manchester to come out on top, but new comers NEO took B tour with relative ease and DED have been strong throughout this season so far so it’s far from a foregone conclusion. Chevron will meet old friends and foes alike in the pool as they face Zimmer, Brighton and Clapham in their pool and will be looking to better a final game loss to EMO at Tour 2.

Can anyone take down a combined Clapham close to their season’s peak? Tour 3 sees both the tournament and overall tour title up for grabs so expect fierce competition as the best teams in Britain prepare for Lecco. 


Women’s
Iceni have chosen to pass on this weekends event to train together and get some rest after the US Open, leaving the Women’s tour title open for a number of teams to possibly take. Punt are only 60 points behind Iceni, SYC trail the current champions by 73 and even if Nice Bristols win this even they will not have enough to take first (or possibly second). This year presents a rare chance for a new team to claim the tour title after recent Iceni dominance, but it won’t come easily…

Punt made their first final last tour and showed that whilst they couldn’t take down Iceni they definitely deserved that second place. Now it leaves them to prove that they can take on Nice Bristols who return from the Boston Invite to continue their Worlds preparation. 

Iceni Captain Sonia Komenda makes a bid on Punt player Hannah Body. Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey.


SYC and ROBOT will not let any of this happen lightly. Both teams have had a very strong season and have also had some great battles against each other. Do not be surprised to see some great performances from these women as they push to for their first domestic finals of the year. 

Further down the pack, newcomers Phoenix London and second year team Relentless will be hoping they can firm up their positions in the top 8 with the likes of Leeds, Blink and Swift.

Saturday games to watch: 
Nice Bristols vs SYC (Pitch 3 at 10:40)
Punt vs ROBOT (Pitch 1 at 17:20) 

B Tour

Having finished 2nd last time out, LeedsLeedsLeeds will be hoping to finish in the top 16 this Sunday. In their group are Reading 1 (who they beat comfortably in St Albans), Brighton Echo and Vision. They have yet to face Brighton Echo this season, but they will be expecting to win every game in this group – including regional rivals Vision, who they beat at Northern Winter League on a surprisingly sunny Sunday in Manchester back in February. The Yorkshire lads may very well fancy their chances to get back into A Tour, if looking at the group they would cross with, which isn’t the strongest.

The other group in the top half of B Tour sees JR1, Sneeekys, Fire 2 and Cardiff Storm fight it out for a chance to get back into A Tour – a tough group that’s even tougher to call. JR have been there or there about for a long time now, as far as the A/B Tour line goes. Sneeekys have had an extremely impressive season, having played an entire Tour lower last year, and I’m sure would love to cap a successful season with a spot in the top 16. Fire 2 spent last year in A Tour, though there are some out there that don’t feel Fire 2 have the desire or the pedigree to get back to that level just right now. Finally, there’s Storm, who finished 13th at Tour 2 will have the home advantage of sleeping in their own beds at Tour 3 – which along with only having to do a fraction of the travelling, cannot be underestimated.

The lower half of B Tour is an eclectic mix of teams, some of which have been hovering around those seeds all season, but the majority have played in C Tour at some point this year. Each team will either want to prove that they are definitely a B Tour team (The Brown) or be looking to stake a claim in the middle tier of Open Tour by proving themselves this year (Camden). Expect plenty of close, scrappy games in these pools as each team tries to clamber up the ranks, whilst avoiding the drop back into C Tour.  Rest assured that any team that does find itself facing a crossover at the bottom of the Tour will fight extremely hard to ensure that they stay within the top 32.

Tom Pierce with a layout score for Guildford at Tour 2. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.


C Tour

A more open schedule means that the next instalment of C Tour should see some more movement in the rankings, as teams battle it out in this last chance to improve their seedings this season. 

Further incentive to top the pool is provided by the chance of a crossover into B Tour on Sunday morning. Will any teams be able to make the final push to finish in the top 32? The story that unfolds over the weekend will be fascinating – that much is for sure.

Number 1 seeds, Guildford, may feel this is their time, after sudden-death losses to current B Tour teams in the knock-out stages of the previous two tours stalling their attempts at promotion. They will expect to dominate in their group and continue that form into the Sunday. Rhubarb (3rd seed) will similarly be aiming high after an impressive showing throughout the season so far. Perhaps Pingu Jam can find some extra motivation to convert their obvious talent on the pitch to a rise in the seedings akin to that which they enjoyed at Mixed Tour.

Below the teams topping the pools, there is much room for upset with another six or seven teams definitely capable of going toe-to-toe with the big guns. CUlt 2 will be hoping to go one better after a great performance in Nottingham. Likewise, teams such as Lemmings and Black Sheep have bolstered their ranks as they push to challenge those currently at the top.

It will be very much a case of which teams show up this weekend as to who will be able to provide those shock results – but don’t expect everything to go to seed! There is an incredible amount of potential for some huge changes in the C Tour landscape this weekend, with pride and a place in B Tour as the prize.

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… 

The Grapevine – 28/03

Brummie, Cardiff, ESC, Flatball Film, mixed tour, SkyD, The Grapevine
The Grapevine.

Brummie is really getting around now with another skills clinic, this time in Croatia also featuring some guest US coaches. Get Horizontal mentioned the tournament last year that will run alongside the clinic. Sign up for both now, looks immense!

Mixed Tour 1 has gone paperless and exclusively online so make sure to follow all the updates on the #ukumt1 tagboard!

SkyD have released their 2014 Mock Draft (US ultimate minds creating their fantasy draft from the best players in the open game) and two UK players, Justin Foord and Tom Abrams (Clapham), made one of the teams.

The Flatball Film has been in production for sometime now but this exciting movie chronicling the history of ultimate needs our help! Go and support the maker now! Watch the trailer below. 



Western University Open Outdoor Regionals Preview

Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Plymouth, Previews, South West, Southampton, UK Ultimate, UKU Regionals, University

Andrew Moss starts off the University Outdoor season from the Western region perspective.


Always challenging, the run up to the University outdoor season seems to have been particularly tough this year with the addition of flooded fields and 80mph winds meaning it has been nearly impossible for teams to get outside. Those who have persisted will be rewarded, however, with the opportunity to represent their University at the BUCS National Championships.

Ben Powlay in blue for Plymouth University. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.

The South Bristol Sports Centre will host those Western University teams hoping to make the elusive top six in our regional competition, and thus a spot at Nationals in Manchester. An expanse of quality, well-drained fields means the tournament has a huge capacity, and clubs have taken advantage of this with most fielding second and third teams. Some fairly exposed pitches means that wind will likely be key factor in this tournament.


WUOOR Results 2013:

Bath
Southampton
Cardiff
Exeter
Bristol
Plymouth


Southampton consistently make the final in this division, but last year a determined Bath side meant they had to settle for second. A strong Nationals saw them placed as the highest Western team and sixth in the country. Bring his experience from European competition, William Caldwell (Ka-Pow!) hopes to captain Skunks back to first place, and looks forward to his team playing a quick offence with isolated cuts. Big plays are likely to be featuring GB u23’s Mike Speer and up-and-coming rookie Joe ‘Beans’ Benians.

Predicted to join them in the final are defending champions Bath.  They have a star-studded team of GB and Jen players hoping to retain that top spot. Alex Brooks (Jen captain), will have been enforcing his club team’s ethos of elite athleticism on this university squad, which combined with already experienced players Piers Nicholas (GB u20), Michael Guise (GB u20) and Andy Watt (Jen), this is going to be a powerful team looking to retain their spot in Division 1. Watch out for Danny ‘Jumps like a Salmon’ Ryle (Reading Ultimate) leaping over people in the end zone.

Bristol placed in fifth last year, but beat Bath at indoors so are going into the tournament confidently and with eyes on that Division 1 spot. Josh Kyme (GB u23 Open, Chevron) leads a team relying on their athleticism from a standard stack play. This team includes solid handler Joe Brown, who missed the indoor season with a string of injuries and returns to the firsts in a blaze of outdoors glory. With James Bogie (Mythago’s ‘Most Charming Man’), Jamie Lowe (Mythago’s swimsuit calendar ‘December’ 2013) and Ollie Towers upfield, opposition will have a hard time containing the flow these quick guys can maintain. However, translating indoor success to outdoor victories isn’t an exact science, and if the weather turns nasty, it remains to be seen if Bristol have the depth of handling experience needed to deal with the difficult conditions.

Perhaps a controversial prediction is for Exeter to miss out on that Division 1 spot. Despite edging a final victory in Open Indoors at the end of 2013, the absences of Tom Cartwright (Chevron, GB u23) and Rhys Evans (Chevron) means this regional tournament could be a struggle. Squad depth will be tested as inexperienced players have to step up to the first team, some in their first ever tournaments for the University. Don’t underestimate this team however, as under the captaincy of Rob Vile (Devon) and backup from Greg Mann (Devon), this team still has a wealth of ability and will be fighting for those top spots.

Picnic have had a strong season so far, and look likely to comfortably take one of the Division 2 places. Captain Ben Powley (GB u23, Chevron) has unleashed his tactical creativeness in the form of some special offensive plays, including what might appear to the layperson as ‘running around a lot and seeing what happens’. A large addition of freshers to the firsts is likely to make this a volatile team where anything could happen. We’ve been warned to expect a team of ‘mystery and wonder’ who will be trying something different.


Last year saw Cardiff take third, although current form puts them as only an outside chance for taking that Division 1 spot again. However, after an indoor season focusing on player development, this team promises an unpredictable tournament as they move into their preferred outdoor domain. Kei Matsumoto will be leading the plays as usual, with a solid base coming from experienced players Mike Walter and Alden Ching who offer solid handling when required. It is the influx of freshers who may have the largest impact on Cardiff’s standings – Dan Rowland and Ollie Crowther have showed promise on D, and if Cardiff’s outdoor focus this year has paid off, we can expect big things from these rookies.

Swansea have had a fantastic season so far, making Indoor Nationals in both the Open and Mixed divisions. They are hoping to see similar success outdoors, after missing out closely last year. Ben Yarnold (BAF) continues to lead the team, implementing a new playbook for 2014 which is likely to utilise Jacques Laloë’s (Brighton) pinpoint hucks and Matt Bolton’s consistency and experience. A team which has primarily been associated with the social side of the sport, they’ve demonstrated this year that they can put their heads down and cause some big upsets. Expect a good game-to-go on Sunday afternoon.

Seaside team Bournemouth has come a long way since their starring role in the ‘World’s Most Mediocre Callahan’ video this time last year. Captain Mark Shepherd has had an influx of fresh talent to choose from, in addition to some legacy returning players he hopes won’t be too much of a liability. Historically around the seventh place mark in this competition, making Nationals only once since the team was founded, Bournemouth will want to make a dent in some of the top teams and squeeze into that last Division 2 spot. Rapid fresher Henry Pym will be showing his youthful enthusiasm for the disc, whilst Will Burton’s stamina will only be matched by his side-line heckling.

Finally, Winchester have entered Uni ultimate with a very large club considering their infancy. Two teams at Mixed Indoors and showing solid standings from their first team, they will be in contention for those Nationals spots in future years. Phil Rowlandson captains the team to their first ever outdoor regional event, accompanied by familiar face Robin Younge. A strong contingent of freshers complete the team, who are already starting to make impressions at club indoor nationals and the GB junior trials. Expect a lively game from these guys, who won’t just roll over and give you an easy win.

2014 predictions:
Southampton
Bath
Bristol
Exeter
Plymouth
Cardiff


More from other regions soon! 


Western Uni Womens Indoor Regionals

Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, South West, Southampton, University, womens
Kathryn Elsby from Southampton Skunks has provided us with the preview of Western Women’s regionals.

With twelve teams descending on Cardiff this Saturday for WUWIR, here’s a preview of the teams fighting it out for one of the three elusive spots at Nationals. The West consistently proves to be an unpredictable region with seven first teams, three second teams and two third teams battling it out, all with many committed, talented women who are all passionate about Ultimate. With a developmental year last year for many teams, this led to the highest Western team finishing 13th at UWIN 2012. This means that many teams will feel they have a lot to prove this weekend, and with returning players from years abroad and many players reaching their final years of study, it looks set to be an exciting one… 


First up is Cardiff No Frills. With three teams entered in regionals this year, it is clear that Cardiff Women’s Ultimate is going from strength to strength, and looking to go for at least one of those places at Nationals. The teams have different aims, with firsts aiming for nationals with a wealth of experienced and fresher players alike, and seconds looking forward to a competitive weekend. Many players in the third team will be experiencing their first tournament, building bonds and focussing on individual strengths. Cardiff are looking forward to facing up against Uriel and Bristol, with plenty of friendly rivalry and close games in store. Ones to watch on the first team include Heather Scullion and Dina Dent with big grabs and lots of experience – although the team as a whole is looking pretty formidable.

Next up are Exeter Ultimate. Uriel have also entered three teams into the tournament, which shows their success as a club and their drive to get as many players involved as possible! A strong performance by their first team at last year’s regionals means they will be hungry for a repeat performance this year, with eyes on that Nationals spot. With experienced players in all three teams, things might not be as clear-cut however with some potential surprises on the way. Exeter are looking forward to playing most teams but especially Cardiff and Bristol, with high intensity and challenging matches in store. Players to watch include Katie Hall of GBU20, Eyan Sham with 5 years experience, and international player Molly Norrbom. 

Defending regional champions Bath are up next. Seeing this year as more of a development year, Bath are looking for the chance to build their women’s team and give their freshers plenty of experience. Look out for some strong and athletic freshers showing some solid performances. With their traditionally very strong zone defence and ISO offense, it will be exciting to see what Bath have got in store for us this year.

The return of Bristol shows a team of returning players and new faces alike, with Mythagirls aiming to better their fifth place finish last year. They are looking forward to playing new teams such as the likes of Swansea, and familiar faces such as Cardiff with whom they played with at Outdoor Nationals, and Skunks (although this may just be for the amazing call of Bunny Bunny). Captain Rachel Naden and GBU20 Amy Samson bring a lot of experience to the team, making a fantastic handling pair. A solid group of freshers will also be looking for plenty of run through Ds. 

Finally, we move on to Southampton. Skunks are using regionals as a chance for freshers to build on what they’ve learnt at Skunks Beginners tournament/SICKO, but with an incredibly strong fresher intake and a core of experienced players who have played together for a few years, they will be looking to grab a place at nationals. They are looking forward to playing Bath as a re-match of last year’s final, and also Cardiff for a competitive, well spirited game. Keep an eye out for the super speedy Hannah Gilchrist, GBU20 player Kathryn Elsby and Brighton tour player/4th year Megan Baxter for some big throws and breaks. 

So, it looks like the tournament is wide open with plenty of chances for teams to excel and clinch those places at Nationals. On the back of this all, I’ve based predictions on the surveys we had returned:


1st Uriel 
2nd Skunks 
3rd No Frills

More to come from WIR! DP & JCK @ tSG. 

Women’s Tour 2013 Review

Cardiff, Iceni, LLL, Nationals, Nice Bristols, PUNT, SYC, Tour 3, Tournament Reports, Women's Tour, xEUCF
With Charlie Blair away on U23 duties the review of the Women’s season falls to me (DP), hope I can do it justice. It was an absolute corker!

A fortnight has passed and the dust has settled on Women’s Tour 3 in Cardiff. With considerably less teams than we started with (15 down from 21) and some great battles at previous Tours, most would have expected Iceni to take this tournament with ease. However things were not quite there for the ‘full fat’ squad with a few key players missing and the Welsh heat taking its toll on many. I have since spoken with some of the Iceni players and they agree that Nice Bristols outplayed the overall champs. I asked Sarah “Saz” Garner, Nice Bristols captain, whether this was the first time that this had occurred and how it felt:
“Yep, this is the first time since the club was formed that we’ve won a Tour, which feels like an incredible achievement. I’m quite tempted to retire my captaincy on this high! I think we’ve all known for a long time that we’re capable of doing it on paper, but we’ve never actually managed to string the right set of results together over one weekend before.”

When asked what was different SG mentioned Iceni missing their World Games players at this tournament, and Fran (Scarampi), a huge player for them, is still recovering from a dislocated shoulder” however she stressed that they were also missing Ali (Smith) and Brigid (Harty) – both GB players in Japan last year”. This doesn’t mean to say that Iceni or Nice Bristol are both solely made up of superstars but as SG correctly pointed out “a lot of the play can go through the well known faces, and that can leave a bit of uncertainty when they’re not around. I personally felt that Iceni didn’t quite have the confidence in themselves that they usually do, and I think we capitalised on that by coming out firing in the early part of the game both times we played them.”

Charlie Blair about to get horiztonal in the final. Photo courtesy of Louise Smith.
A key to Nice Bristols success and the growth of women’s Ultimate in the UK is the development of younger players and getting them to play in big semis and finals [which] is something Bristol have been keen on for a long time, and I think that women’s clubs up and down the country are now seeing the benefit of doing this too.”

Massive congratulations to Nice Bristol on their T3 victory, looking further down the results we see Punt displacing both LeedsLeedsLeeds and SYC to take third, finishing off a great rising season. With the exception of ROBOT (who fell from 4th to 9th) and the rising Nice Bristol 2 team (who grabbed the last top 8 spot) the remaining positions were as expected. A special mention to a Rebel player who in the first game had to be taken off the field by paramedics, we wish you a speedy recovery back in Ireland! 


So that’s Tour over and done below we can see the full results using the official UKU points

The regular season movement in the 2013 Women’s Tour.


















Full official results can also be found here.
The T3 final did little for the overall standings with Iceni still coming out top, Savage do appear rather low down but that would be due to only attending the first two events. On average they would move up a couple slots. 

It is promising to see more and more Women’s teams springing up and 3 clubs able to put out regular second teams and still keep the skill level high. I continued to ask SG if this require anything different in training:
“I think we’ve had the skills there for a while. Making the Nationals Final last year, and performing well at our first EUCF (6th and Spirit) did a lot for our individual and team confidence about playing at a high level, and whilst we continue to bring new players into the mix, there are a good core of us that have been playing together for several seasons now and have a good understanding of each other. In the past couple of seasons we’ve upped the intensity of our training sessions throughout the year, so that stepping up a gear at Tour doesn’t come as a complete shock, and I think that has gradually allowed us to start winning those games that previously we didn’t quite have the belief or experience to do.”

Sarah continued by saying that
“… it’s really important to remember that we play together for fun, and no matter what the scoreline and whoever the opposition, we try and have a bit of banter with everyone on the sideline to keep things lighthearted and keep ourselves relaxed, which is when we play our best. My captains speeches usually try to reflect this, and usually turn into me digging myself out of a hole I’ve just created. Highlight of this weekend being ‘look after yourselves ladies, and stay wet’. I meant hydrated…”

Now what? Well there is no regionals for the Women’s division, yet, but Nationals is only a month away now. I asked Sarah what will Nice Bristols be doing for preparation

“We certainly won’t be looking to change anything major tactically this late in the season, it will be more about building on and tweaking what we have achieved so far. Within the team there is a great sense of trust that everyone will do what they need to to prepare for Nationals individually, and when we come together for training that is only part of that preparation. There is a lot of individual responsibility on players to know what they need to do and when – whether that is at training, on holiday, or during a Tour final – and everyone responds really well to that and puts in the hard yards outside of club training.” 


As ever the positions at Nationals will decide who goes to Euros and this year. With it being xEUCF the UK gets 4 Women’s spots, plus the added pressure of the winner of Nationals getting a WUCC 2014 spot I pressed SG for a prediction for the Euros slots:

“I’d say this year it’s very difficult to call. I think Iceni would still be favourites going into the tournament, given their history, but as for who else is capable of making a final and Euros – Leeds, SYC, Punt, Seven Sisters and, naturally, Nice Bristols, will all be in the mix. It’s going to be a fantastic tournament, probably the closest in years, and I’m sure there will be lots of sudden death spectaculars and more than a few upsets!”

Punt rise high over Leeds but what team will they bring to Southampton? Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.

My final question looked back at the epic change in weather that we had from Tour 2’s rain, wind and cold to Tour 3’s heatwave, so I asked what Nice Bristol eat or drink to recover from these extremes,

“Vanilla ice cream in a waffle cone with a flake and lots of raspberry sauce. I discovered that this weekend. My teammates were also drinking Pimm’s from Nalgenes on the drive home. It was hot tea after Tour 2 though.”

Let’s hope that Nationals and xEUCF is ice cream weather not hot tea.

Looking forward to the return of Charlie Blair? Do keep supporting the World Games squad with the #gbwg2013 hashtag and following them online however you can! DP @ tSG.