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EUCF 2016 – the British teams: Clapham Ultimate

Clapham, EUCF2016, news, Open, Previews

The European Ultimate Championship Finals begin next week in Frankfurt. Once again the best 12 Mixed and Women’s teams and the best 24 Open teams in Europe will gather to crown a champion. The ShowGame will be running a series previewing the tournament from a UK perspective, with some additional pieces about how our Irish friends may fare and what to expect from European teams coming as well. To kick us off, Sean Colfer previews how the four-time reigning Open champions, Clapham Ultimate, might do.

UKU Nationals Results

Birmingham, Clapham, EUCF, Frankfurt., Iceni, Mixed, Open, UKU Nationals, womens

UKU Nationals were held in Southampton this weekend just past. Here’s how it went…

Qualifying for EUCF 2014 held in Frankfurt are:

OPEN

  1. Clapham (Elite Division)
  2. Chevron Action Flash (Elite Division)
  3. EMO
  4. Fire of London
  5. Brighton
  6. Cambridge

Club or Country Part 1 – Game to Go

Clapham, Club or Country, Discussion, Open
Clapham’s Ollie Benjamin provides his viewpoint on the question at hand…
As 2014 moves on, there is a great sense of anticipation, excitement for what can be achieved this club season. Clapham showed dominance in 2013, taking Tour, Nationals, a strong Chesapeake appearance, and for the first time defending Europeans. A good prep year, paved nicely for Worlds in Italy next week.


The core of this team has emerged out of a 2008 transition year when the likes of Rob Alpen, Alex Bowers, Matt Woods, Sam ‘Scando’ Webber, and Adam Holt moved on.  Slowly we rebuilt the squad through new leadership of Colin Shaw, Marc Guilbert, and myself. We brought in JJ Howell, Justin Foord, Richard Harris, Cian O’Morain, brought back Si Hill, and slowly year on year have firmly re-established ourselves as the leading club in Europe.



Ollie gets high at WUCC 2010 in Prague. Photo courtesy of Tom Styles/BlockStackTV.



Slovakia (EUC ’11), Japan (WUGC ’12) and Colombia (WG ’13) as the international GB open destinations have come and gone with encouraging and yet sorrowful showings. The underlying question for club and country is: ‘how can we be the best?’. How do we create the environment that nurtures and innovates the best players, the best team. Our aim, my aim, has always been to play at the highest level, able to compete with the best of the American teams, the top 16, their top 8 and their top 4. Nationally the question begs of how can GB break and beat that top 3 (America, Canada and Japan).  


So what are the required conditions? Depth, Skill, Experience, Flexibility, Resilience – these are the words from current and former club captains at Clapham – they should resonate with those with ambition of greatness.  I am entering my 12th or 13th year as a club member for Clapham. Players come and go; London life is busy. As we (I) grow older, priorities shift, jobs become more demanding, and families emerge.  In amongst this, how do we create the best game in Europe, and how do we build that game, week on week into a system capable of producing a world beating team?  


As the necessary conditions are interpreted by subsequent GB programs, teams will thrive and fall. However there is one condition not listed in the above which might prove a useful discussion point for the GB community. It’s a condition that is wholly absent from the British and European scene at its highest level. This is the the ‘game to go’.  Jim Parinella references this in his ‘Why I’m Still Around‘ piece for Skyd and am sure that many an American and Canadian player would appreciate and understand the importance of those ‘games to go’; what they mean for individual players and what they mean for the team.  

The game to go is what got me hooked. I had the priviledge of playing ultimate in Santa Cruz during the 2001/2 season. I had returned from 18 months abroad in Germany having picked up the sport through the Goettinger 7, and later Wall City in Berlin.  Upon the prodigal son’s return, I was fortunate enough to earn a place on a team coached by Idris Nolan (Jam) and Dan Dewey (Condors) whilst being captained by Sammy C-K and Jeremy Cram (Sockeye). We had a short roster, but it was talented. We battled incrementally throughout the season always working towards Regionals – towards the game to go.  That season, Stanford were runaway favourites and the eventual winners at Nationals. Our northwest division had two places, which having lost to Stanford early on the Sunday of the Regionals meant the back door beckoned. We beat Berkeley and Washington pitting us against an Oregon team lead by Ben Wiggins and others whose names never quite stuck.  I didn’t know who he or they were, I was simply told as a D handler to not let him touch the disc. Off I went. We won the game 15-13. A huge upset. We played out of our skins – it was the stuff of heroes. We made Nationals, where we sucked, but for me it didn’t matter. We won our slot to a closed party, and that meant and still means something big.


I am recounting my small story because it’s part of what shaped me. It’s a format that encourages a level focus amongst like-minded teams.  It creates an annually repeatable camaraderie and a team environment that, if strong enough, makes you believe you actually can defeat anyone (or in my case, if not everyone, at least take the 2 seed). And the thing is, I don’t see this very often over here – with the exception of 8-10 games played with Clapham and 3/4 with GB, the do or die points have been few and far between. They do appear in the great games – queue vs. Flying Angels in 2005/2011, but they are not nearly enough.


So, where am I leading – have you guessed?  I suggest a structural change that allows the team who wins Nationals to take on the helm of representing GB.  They decide who leads the club, who is part of the club, how often they train, what they eat, where they sleep. The one who wins that game to go decides.


The naïve instantly look to the facts. Clapham has won Nationals 13 years in a row, meaning we should be GB, is that right?  Well, yes. I think so.  The team who wins Nationals is the best in the country – full stop.  We have proven this year on year, but have not made the leap to being world beaters.  Why? Well aside from not having enough depth, skill, strategy, there is one reason – and it boils down to simple scheduling.

GB years are a nightmare. They distracts the team’s best players, take them away from I don’t know how many weekends. They drain money, time, etc., and what if that was all invested into the team that won Nationals?  Might that not mean we train more often? Play in more tournaments – and over years, might we not progress more quickly?  We can define the frame for how it might work. The victorious team might elect to take on 5 outside players, or they might keep the squad the same.  Tryouts might be a bit fiercer, and maybe quarterfinals, semis and even finals at Nationals might be that much tighter.


There are lots of ingredients needed to make the leap. The game to go is one element that I know has impact, so why not give it a go – what’s to lose? This country has lots to offer. The upcoming players are serious, as are the senior ones. The mix is right, our members just need to take a leap.

Coming tomorrow – a different perspective from Mark Penny of Chevron Action Flash…

Club or Country? Introduction

Chevron, Clapham, Club or Country, Discussion, EMO, GB
Josh Coxon Kelly introduces the next edition of Discussion titled: Club or Country?


Next week teams will compete for the right to call themselves the greatest Ultimate club in the world. Now only a number of days away, excited qualifiers from 40 different countries and 161 different teams will be adding the finer touches to their preparation for this momentous opportunity at time of publishing – getting their bodies and minds perfectly ready to take on the rest of the world. At the height of elite non-commercial ultimate the WUCC held this year in Lecco, Italy is only challenged in terms of prestige by international competitions that occur between the World Club years. Players and coaches will still talk with a hushed reverence of Maribor, Southampton, Sakai, Vancouver as they share stories of their brushes with international glory or defeat, and our whole community is undeniably galvanised by the prospect of GB being represented and competing at Ultimate on the highest international stage.


The EUC and WUGC not only carry an extra weight with the privilege and national pride bound up in their medals, but also arguably present a more tantalising prospect for underdog ultimate nationals given the single-team restriction placed on entrants. With only a single entrance from USA, Canada, Japan, or any other of the growing list of world class Ultimate nations (Switzerland, Germany, Australia, Colombia…), the elusive quarter and semi final brackets are notably more viable for the underdog. The most recent example of this comes from close to home with our very own GB open squad making a first ever appearance in a world final in the recent summer of 2012, in Sakai. Whilst the defeat to USA may have been a decisive one, the GB Open performance in Japan provides lasting inspiration for up and coming British players whose dreams of international success were shown to be more viable than perhaps we had all thought a few summers ago.


Whilst not all players at in Lecco will have represented their country, there will be very few international competitors who do not have a club team at WUCC 2014, and depending on the nation, the distribution of national players varies greatly. There are clearly some quite disparate approaches across the international community to balancing the push and pull between club and country.


In the UK Clapham Ultimate have been open National champions for 13 years, and Iceni have held the women’s title for 8 out of the last 10 years. Whilst neither team is completely unscathed, they are widely held as the best teams in the country and there has is a sense building suggesting that we are starting to develop our own domestic ‘gap’, between the best London club and the rest of the country. Accompanying this suggestion, is the discussion of whether or not we should as a country be sending our most successful teams, or a combination of all-star players from across the country’s most competitive squads.

Daniel Furnell (EMO) passes to Si Dathan (Chevron) for GB in Japan. Photo courtesy of Stuart Austin.

It is undeniable that London seems to gravitationally attract a huge portion of young people in the UK whether for career, financial or other reasons. This effect is only going to be further exacerbated for our young sportsmen and women by the high percentage of the Ultimate community who learn and/or mature as players at their universities, and subsequently seek out employment in the larger cities. The country is evidently lopsided population wise, and this as well as the bustling London scene is drawing more and more talent to bolster the already dominant London clubs. Yet, despite this weighting towards the capital, top players from clubs across the country consistently prove at tour and GB selection processes that they can bring their own individual dominance over others from further down the London rosters.


There are clearly many variables and opinions in the balance in this debate, and the pieces in this series will provide an analysis of the British approach and comparison to other world powerhouses, as well as speculation on what steps need to be taken to best progress in the future. Sion Scone will be providing an in-depth analysis of the various options open to us. Supplementing this analysis will be two contrasting opinions from the UK Open club scene [Editor’s note: these supplementary posts are knowingly open-division-centric. We would love to expand the scope of this discussion to other divisions – comment below or get in touch!]: Ollie Benjamin (Clapham ~ 10 years) and Mark Penny (Chevron ~ 7 years). 

The last catch in Lecco will be followed by joy, desolation, celebrations and relaxation for many who move past the pinnacle of their seasons. For some however, it won’t be long after this that the focus turns to EUC’15, WUGC 2016, and the trialling, training and competitive journey of international ultimate that swiftly rises to the height of priority. Should we reassess our current system, and would doing so lead to short term, long term improvement, neither or both? Should we be focusing on top level or grass roots? Should such questions even be imposed on those who make up these teams, and should these people have the responsibility to do both? Let’s start the discussion…

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!

WUCC 2014 Open Division Preview: Clapham Ultimate

Clapham, news, Open, Previews, WUCC Previews, WUCC2014
Sean Colfer brings us the final Open Division WUCC  preview: Clapham Ultimate.


Matthew Parslow makes the grab at Tour 3. Photo courtesy of Nick Moss.



Squad
Marc Guilbert (C)
Justin Foord (C)
Richard Harris (C)
Anthony Solomon
Matt Parslow
Jaimie Cross
Philip Johnson
Ollie Gordon
Philip Garner
Richard Raz
David Stobbs
Andy Mitchell
Benjamin Funk
Tom Abrams
Chris Frazer
Chris Baker
Magnus Wilson
Robert Schumacher
Dominic Clark
Ashley Yeo
Giacomo Maltman
Max McCartney
Cian Ó Móráin
Colin Shaw
Ollie Benjamin

About the Team
The latest version of the dynasty that has ruled UK Ultimate for 13 years now, this Clapham team is absolutely terrifying for any British or European opponents. They have cherry-picked the best players from several of their rivals, they have developed their own players to the point where they rival the best in the world. Their reputation precedes them in Europe where they do what the very best do in every sport; they win half of the game before they even step on the field purely because of the jersey they wear.

However, the recent US Open showed that North American teams do not suffer with the same trepidation when faced with the Bullfrog – indeed, Sockeye seemed to perform Clapham’s own trick on them. Their 2-5 record in Minnesota will give them food for thought, but it certainly does not mean they are incapable of competing with the Americans. They were able to reach double figures against every opponent and defeated Canadian powerhouse Furious George (albeit a weaker Furious squad featuring triallists) with a squad missing several O line players – including captain and key player Justin Foord for a portion of the tournament – and contending with some nervous-looking drops throughout the weekend. WUCC will be more like home turf for Clapham and they will feel good about turning some of those four and five point losses into much closer games, especially if they can avoid the worryingly slow starts they had in Blaine.

Clapham boast surely the deepest roster in Europe, from top to bottom and stacked with GB players from various teams and eras. Justin Foord will be the main focus of defences but GB Open cutter Rob Schumacher, GB Mixed handler Jaimie Cross and GB World Games player Matt Parslow are just three of the other players that will demand attention. The defensive line is led by GB World Games player Richard Harris and features fellow World Games squad members Ollie Gordon and Tom Abrams. Marc Guilbert captains and leads the team. There is not much in the way of weak links here, and that is why they are the best European hope of breaking the North American and Japanese hegemony at the top of the tournament.

Coaching and Playing Style
Clapham’s offence faced something of a surprise against the Americans at the US Open as they often seemed to struggle to initiate their plays when their first option was taken away. In the Tour season they have rarely struggled and, despite a wobble at Tour 2 against Fire, have scored comfortably on every team they have played. They use a lot of movement from a variety of setups and try to isolate cutters down-field, particularly young receivers Andy Mitchell and Ashley Yeo. Their recycling between handlers is especially effective and is one of the reasons why teams find it so difficult to get blocks against them.

Defensively they have stuck largely with man this season and have relied on their athleticism to get blocks. As they are arguably the most physical team in Europe, that has worked well for them. However, they may have to change things up in Lecco as the level of their opponents goes up – something they will certainly be aware of and will have planned for. Their positioning  is one example of something that will need to improve; it was found wanting at times against Sockeye with the Fish finding space up the line far too often for Clapham to be comfortable.

Clapham train together three times a week and have been to Windmill Windup and the US Open this year in preparation for WUCC. If, for any reason, they do miss out on their targets, it won’t be for a lack of preparation.

Expected Finishing Place
This is the toughest category for any of these previews, but with Clapham it is a little easier. After missing out on the quarter-finals of WUCC 2010 by a single point (losing in sudden death to Canadian team Invictus), they will be looking to get to the top eight this time around. That will be the minimum requirement of this team, and rightly so as they are without a doubt talented and committed enough to make it to the quarters.

I have little doubt that their aim is to go further than that, but to do so would require beating several of the North American or Japanese teams – current seedings suggest a potential quarter final meeting with either Sockeye or Buzz Bullets. Progression beyond knockout stages will be an incredibly tough task even if they cut out the simple errors that plagued them at the US Open. They will need to find solutions for the problems the Americans they have already encountered posed them and also for Buzz Bullets (who defeated them heavily in Prague), but they are capable of doing just that if everything comes together. Hopefully for them, and for Ultimate in the UK, they do so with aplomb.

Predicted finish: 7th
That’s the Open Division done, more to come!

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.