UKU University Open Nationals Division 1 Preview

BUCS, Division 1, Nationals, University
Chris Bamford introduces the 16 competitors heading to University Outdoor Open Nationals this weekend

The university season is approaching its climax and many teams will be glad that Open and Women’s Nationals is returning to Manchester, after last year being hosted at the perennially windy Grove Farm in Nottingham. With BUCS eligibility rules kicking in fully, last year’s comfortable winners from Ireland can’t compete so there will be a new champion this year. For those who don’t know, the qualifiers are:

Sc
Dundee
Edinburgh
Heriott-Watt
Glasgow

N
Durham
Manchester
York

M
Warwick
Cambridge
Birmingham

W
Bristol
Bath
Exeter

SE
Sussex
Sussex 2
Imperial

Last year saw Scotland dominate proceedings open, with every team attending a nationals event (div 1, div 2, indoors and outdoors) finishing in the top 8. This performance helped them get the 4th division 1 spot in front of the Midlands; something that Glasgow will be very glad of having scrapped for the final qualification spot at regionals.

Edinburgh vs Dundee at Scottish Regionals this year. Photo courtesy of LightBox St Andrews. 
The usual combination of graduating players and development since last year always makes prediction extremely tough, but all of the regional champions will be hoping to make a run at the nationals trophy. Dundee once again won in Scotland and will be confident they can dominate their English competition. The athleticism that runs throughout their team is seriously impressive, with Benji Heywood describing some of their defensive work as ‘ridiculous’. Heriott-Watt were predicted as the dark horses to make Div 1 in Scotland by many and successfully lived up to those expectations. Div 1 outdoors is new territory for them but they will be confident that their rapidly developing team can make an impact. Close behind them Edinburgh will look to maintain their impressive reputation. Built up by an appearance in the final last year, the loss of some key players has left them looking unlikely to repeat a finals berth but they will still hope to make the top half. Taking the final Div 1 spot from Scotland are Glasgow. A strong showing indoors will have built confidence, but after under-performing at outdoor regionals they will be hoping as they did indoors to place higher at the national competition.

Northern Champions Durham comfortably saw off the usual Northern heavyweights Manchester in their regional final and I expect them to make the top 8 with ease. Having upset the usual state of affairs in the North, they’ll take a lot of confidence into Nationals and having with a handy ability to win the right games at the right time throughout this season so far, they are one of my tips to make the semi-finals. Manchester however will want to correct what they will see as an aberration in not winning regionals. Despite still possessing some top players, everyone is wondering if they have the squad depth to compete with the best in the country.  York are another team whose progression to Div 1 status has been rapid after failing to qualify last year for Division 2. Since then they have worked hard and developed into a cohesive unit – no one was surprised when they secured 3rd place at Northern regionals.

In the Midlands traditional University powerhouse Warwick sprung a surprise victory and regained their position at the top after a couple of years in the (relative) wilderness. Captain Sam Hawkins masterminded victory in a tough region, leading a squad with no big stars to a well deserved regional title. Warwick will want to add their name to a trophy they have won multiple times before, however they could be held back by several absentees from their regional squad. Cambridge won Indoors and will fully believe they can repeat the trick outdoors. Their chances are harmed by having only half of ‘those two Americans’ (Justin Norden and Ben Funk) involved as Funk is reportedly injured. This gives even more importance to the depth of their team, and opposition will be hoping to pressure squad players into errors in order to beat them. Birmingham have an impressive recent track record with victories at UMIN, UMON, as well as 3rd place finishes at UOON 2014 and UOIN 2013 and 2014. Despite this they only managed 3rd place at regionals, and needed a second attempt to beat Nottingham to qualify. Having done so they will now be looking to add more medals to their impressive collection.

In the West, Bristol surprised some to take the regional title, overcoming a star-studded Bath team as well as any doubts about their ability to cope with poor conditions. Josh Kyme is the leader of the team, and along with Joe Brown runs the handler set and with a wealth of downfield options in the Bristol cutters, their job is only made easier. Bristol beat favourites Bath to the top spot at regionals who have on their roster both GB and Jen players including Alex Brooks (Jen captain, previously GBU23 Captain and GB Open), Piers Nicholas (GB u20), Michael Guise (GB u20) and Andy Watt (Jen). Last year they won regionals but failed to break the top 8 at nationals and will surely hope to improve this time round. Cardiff make up the qualifiers from the West and they will be delighted with a regionals performance which saw them outperform several strong sides to earn a Div 1 spot, winning the game to go against arch-rivals Exeter. With their own star player in Kei Matsumoto leading a team full of developing freshers it will be exciting to see how they manage the pressure of a top level national competition.

Lastly onto the South East, where Sussex put on a huge demonstration of strength with their 1st and 2nd team proving stronger than anything the rest of the region could muster. This pretty extraordinary statement indicates the depth of their program and suggests they’ll have strong hopes for nationals. The first team will make their usual push for the top four with eyes set firmly on the BUCS trophy. The second team will be hoping to improve on previous showings at Div 1 events (coming last at both Indoors this year and Outdoors last year). Imperial have established themselves as the best of the rest from the South East, and no wonder with big names such as Stephan Rossbauer (Clapham), James Threadgill (Cambridge mixed), David Pryce (Fire) and Phil Sandwell (Ka-Pow). They will have aspirations of a top 8 spot at least.


My predictions for Semi-finalists are:
Dundee
Durham
Birmingham
Bristol


Three of these four are regional champions and I’m backing them to carry the habit of winning into this tournament and make the most of their strong seedings. Birmingham under-performed at regionals but have a talented squad who are used to winning and could upset their seeding from the start of the weekend in a big way.


Good luck to all teams competing at this year’s BUCS Nationals – keep an eye out for results and tournament review on The Showgame!

University Regionals 2014 Results.

Division 1, Division 2, UKU Nationals, UKU Regionals, University
Congratulations to all the teams who qualified for University Nationals 2014 from University Open Outdoor Regionals. Here are the top 6 from each region:

West
Div 1
1. Bristol
2. Bath
3. Cardiff
Div 2
4. Exeter
5. Southampton
6. Bournemouth

South East
Div 1
1. Sussex 1
2. Sussex 2
3. Imperial College
Div 2
4. LSE
5. Surrey
6. Kent

Midlands
Div 1
1. Warwick
2. Cambridge
3. Birmingham
Div 2
4. Nottingham
5. Oxford
6. Loughborough

North
Div 1
1. Durham
2. Manchester
3. York
Div 2
4. Newcastle
5. Liverpool
6. Bangor

Scotland

Div 1

1. Dundee
2. Heriot Watt
3. Edinburgh
4. Glasgow
Div 2
5. Strathclyde
6. St. Andrews
7. Aberdeen
Into possible seeds for Nationals:

Division 1 (suggested by Ashley Yeo)
1. Dundee
2. Warwick
3. Durham 4. Sussex 15. Bristol6. Heriot Watt7. Manchester8. Cambridge9. Birmingham10. Bath11. Edinburgh12. York13. Sussex 214. Cardiff15. Imperial16. Glasgow


Division 2
1. Nottingham
2. I1
3. LSE
4. Strathclyde
5. St. Andrews
6. Oxford
7. Exeter
8. Aberdeen
9. Newcastle
10. Surrey
11. Southampton
12. Bournemouth
13. Liverpool
14. Bangor
15. Loughborough
16. Kent

UKU Uni Indoors BUCS Championship Review (Div 1)

Cambridge, Division 1, Exeter, Glasgow, Nationals, Open, UBU, University
shopparajumpers Times New Roman, serif;”>Newly appointed University Coordinator Chris Bamford gives us his review of Uni Open Indoors Div 1 Nationals.

This weekend shopparajumpers the Alan Higgs Centre in Coventry was the venue for the UKU University Indoor BUCS Championship. With 16 teams having fought their way through regional qualification all fancied their chances of making the top 8 and claiming BUCS points. The unpredictable nature of the tournament, with most teams having not played each other since nationals last year meant the 5 regional champions: Dundee, Manchester, Cambridge, Exeter and Sussex started as slight favourites with Dundee returning as defending champions.



Pool A – Dundee, Birmingham, Southampton, Sussex 2
A crash on the M40 delayed the arrival of Southampton and threaten to cause serious schedule issues until Sussex 2 volunteered to switch games and play back to back matches, allowing Southampton the extra time they needed to get to the venue. After their belated arrival a solitary win for Southampton over Sussex 2 put them 3rd and 4th in the group respectively, whilst Birmingham’s sudden death defeat to Dundee meant the Scottish team held on to top seed.
 
shopparajumpers Roman, serif;”>Pool B – Manchester, Exeter, Nottingham, Edinburgh
The toughest looking group had two of the regional champions in Manchester and Exeter, as well as regular Division 1 competitors Edinburgh and new boys to Div 1 Nottingham. Exeter started the day with a clinical display against Nottingham. They also beat Edinburgh and only missed out on top spot following sudden death defeat to Manchester, who won all three group games. Nottingham picked up a win their final group game leaving Edinburgh winless and bottom of the group.
 
Pool C – Cambridge, Glasgow, Durham, Imperial
This pool proved extremely tight fought. Imperial came bottom with 3 straight losses but only by 2 or 3 point margins. For the three other teams Cambridge beat Durham, who beat Glasgow, who beat Cambridge, resulting in the first a several 3 way ties over the weekend. The final standings ended up with Cambridge topping the pool but carrying a loss against 2nd placed Glasgow into their power pool.
 
Pool D – Sussex, Heriot-Watt, Newcastle, Bristol
The final pool saw Sussex 1 power to 3 comfortable victories whilst Heriot-Watt beat off Newcastle and Bristol to secure 2nd place in the group. Newcastle then had to fight hard to earn a 2 point win against Bristol and avoid bottom place in the group.
 
Upper Power Pools – Pool E (Dundee, Birmingham, Cambridge, Glasgow) and Pool F (Machester, Exeter, Sussex, Heriot-Watt)
The power pools gave Manchester the opportunity to make a big statement by adding to the win the carried in by beating Heriot-Watt and thumping Sussex 1 10-4 finishing Saturday as the only team undefeated. However Sussex managed to avoid a Sunday morning by beating Exeter. With the top two spots decided and both teams confined to a crossover to protect their top 8 place Heriot-Watt won against Exeter to earn themselves an easier game.
 
In the other upper power pool Birmingham were unable to claim any victories so finished bottom of the group. Victories for Cambridge against Dundee, and for Dundee against Glasgow lead to another three way tie. This time Glasgow weren’t so lucky and came out 3rd, with Dundee holding onto top spot and Cambridge second.
 
Lower Power Pools – Pool G (Durham, Imperial, Southampton, Sussex 2) and Pool H (Nottingham, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Bristol)
In these lower power pools we saw an impressive displays from Nottingham (destroying Newcastle 12-4) and Newcastle in securing the top two spots in one group and therefore a chance to get back into the top 8 via the crossovers against Birmingham for Nottingham and against Glasgow for Newcastle. The other group had Southampton play two sudden death games, coming out on top against Imperial and on the wrong side against Durham. This earned Durham and Southampton crossovers against Exeter and Heriot-Watt respectively.
 
First thing Sunday was the crossovers, always a tense affair. Birmingham managed to see off Nottingham by two points but all three other games resulted in sudden death. Exeter pipped Durham and Southampton bested Heriot-Watt. The pick of the games was Glasgow against Newcastle, where Glasgow came from 6-4 behind with only 20 seconds on the clock to win 7-6.
 
Onto the quarter finals, where only one of the higher ranked teams managed to win as Glasgow, Exeter and Birmingham carried the momentum from their crossovers wins to beat Sussex, Dundee and Manchester.  Only Cambridge managed to win as the higher seed and even then it was a sudden death victory against Southampton (who were by now playing in their 4thconsecutive sudden death game).
 
So the semis were set up with Glasgow playing Exeter. Glasgow’s iso play eventually won them the game which was yet another sudden death game. In the other semi Cambridge matched up against Birmingham in a rematch of the midlands regional final and earlier power pool game. Cambridge repeated their victories there with a more comfortable 10-6 win.
 
Whilst the top teams had been fighting for a spot in the final the bottom 8 had seen Nottingham and Imperial win their quarters and semis to reach the plate final where a 7-6 win gave Nottingham the 9th place finish.
Going down to one pitch meant a growing audience for the 3v4 game between Exeter and Birmingham. A match where both teams looked to run hard man defence and reset the disc until a good opportunity opened up finished 11-7 to Birmingham meaning they repeated last years 3rd place finish.
 
All that remained was to play out the final, where Cambridge were looking to reverse the defeat to Glasgow in the group stages, their only defeat of the weekend so far. The final proved a superb end to the weekend. A match full of layouts, huge grabs, iso’s and sidestack’s went all the way to sudden death and Cambridge were forced to score the final point not once, not twice but three times after contested in/out and picks calls were made on the first two attempts.
 
Congratulations to Cambridge and bring on UWIN next weekend.

Thanks to Chris and the whole UU committee! DP @ tSG.

University Nationals Review: A Gaelic Affair.

BUCS, Division 1, Division 2, Open, Tournament Reports, UCC, University

David Pryce reviews an exciting weekend at University Open Nationals in Nottingham.

Last week I previewed this event and made a tentative attempt at predicting the outcomes.   Yet again the University teams gave us some great action but most of all some surprising results. The full version of these can be found here.


Division 1 was very hotly contested from the start where my predicted pool of ‘death’ befitted this title with a three way tie. Early on Sussex beat Edinburgh then Sussex would get beaten by Manchester who would lose to Edinburgh. Manchester (finishing 4th) came out on top, giving Sussex and Edinburgh the crossovers. They managed to power through to quarters where sadly Sussex could not pass Cork and would have to be content with 5th. 

In the other pools Sheffield battled their way into top 8 but couldn’t quite hold onto their momentum for Sunday finishing 8th. Three teams of pool D managed to get into top 8 places and Birmingham eventually beat Manchester to take 3rd. 

The final was between Edinburgh and Cork, this turned out to be a one sided affair where Cork only conceded a handful of points. This was not for Edinburgh trying with some great plays on both ends of the field. However, everyone will agree that the boys from Munster were out and out the best team there this weekend and congratulations to them, taking the UK University Nationals title.

Edinburgh vs Cork in the final. Courtesy of Andy Moss 2013

Division 2 was, as predicted, full of surprises:

  • All three Scottish teams finished in the top 8
  • Limerick (the other Irish team to attend) were very strong and got themselves to the final
  • Only one SE team (Imperial, finishing 3rd) made it into top 8.
The final was in fact between Nottingham and Limerick. Both teams had looked strong throughout Saturday. To get themselves there they had to battle somewhat harder against the likes of Warwick and Imperial but deserved their finalist positions. The game itself was still going on well after any other game had ended with one of the last points lasting a good 20 minutes. Calls were made, disputed and discussed with eventual resolution the score was held at 6-6. Then Nottingham powered through to score two on the trot and take the title. 

The Alumni Cup was also running alongside and after a day and a half of play Bangor and defending champions Leeds were in the final. Leeds could not quite hold onto that title and Bangor are now the best Alumni team in the country. Did you play university ultimate and want to challenge them? Well make sure to enter next year!

With two Irish teams doing well, including Limerick who actually came 4th at their ‘regional’, one question was heard all around the tournament: should the Irish region get another slot? Well this would mean one less slot for another region or a bigger tournament. We shall have to wait and see what the UKU does. I for one saw the strength of both these teams and was very impressed, the work done by the IFDA to bring through juniors and create the ultimate hotbeds around Cork and Dublin has clearly paid off. 

Regardless, Irish university ultimate have thrown down a gauntlet this year – will the mainland teams be able to step up to the challenge?

Limerick and Cork bring a top class game to Nottingham. Courtesy of Andy Moss 2013

Women’s and Alumni will be covered by the end of the week. Any suggestions for pieces? Got some cool photos? Submit them to showgameblog@gmail.com. Also follow us on Twitter and FB.

University Open Outdoor Nationals

BUCS, Division 1, Division 2, nottingham, Open, Outdoors, Previews, University

David Pryce brings us his brief preview of University Open Outdoor Nationals being held this weekend in Nottingham.

This weekend 32 open teams will travel from their respective corners of the country to University Nationals. Regionals was (for most) a month ago, the snow has cleared and we have even had some sun. I will now attempt to give a brief preview of the upcoming weekend and, after 7 years of failing, attempt to make some predictions about both divisions. 


The schedule and pools are out and in Div 1 we have:


  • Pool A: Sussex, Manchester, Edinburgh, Leicester – some would say the pool of death with current champs and a lot of strength in all four clubs. I would say Sussex and Edinburgh to edge it and take the top two spots. 
  • Pool B: Cork, Cardiff, Surrey, Aberdeen – A very similar pool to last year for Cork, Aberdeen and Cardiff. These three are at a similar strength to a year ago and so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a three way tie here.
  • Pool C: Bath,  Cambridge, Sussex 2, Sheffield – All props to Sussex 2 for making it this far but I cannot see them getting higher than third in the pool here. With Alex Brooks pushing Bath all the way and Elliott Moore and Dom Dathan doing the same for Cambridge few would bet against one of those two topping the pool. 
  • Pool D: Dundee, Southampton, Birmingham, Durham – Of the four pools I would say this is the most open but if asked to go for it, I would put Dundee and Southampton as the top two but very closely contested by Birmingham.


This would make the top 8 look something like: Sussex, Edinburgh, Bath, Cambridge, Dundee, Southampton and two of Cork, Aberdeen or Cardifff. With a couple crossovers, quarters and semis to play before the final and the Nottingham venue known for it’s windy temperament you might favour the Brighton and Scottish teams but as is the way with our sport it’s about who peaks at the right time. I predict a Sussex versus Edinburgh final. 


From a very open Div 2 we have:


  • Pool E: ExeterLeeds, Strathclyde, Portsmouth – A real tough pool to call here with a lot of strength across the board. Exeter still hold the edge at top for me and one of Leeds or Strathclyde. Too hard to call between the two but 12:10 on pitch 17 will decide for me.
  • Pool F: LoughboroughLiverpoolSt AndrewsPlymouth – Another hard one however the Loughborough and St Andrews teams have very strong training programs and so I would put my money on them.
  • Pool G: Bristol, Newcastle, NottinghamImperial – I am slightly biased here so for integrity will avoid talking about Imperial directly however I wouldn’t write us off in this pool. Another three way tie between Bristol, Nottingham and Imperial? 
  • Pool H: Warwick, Glasgow, LimerickLSE – An Irish team are always a tasty addition to Nationals but I think the strength of Glasgow and Warwick will power through to the top 8.



This make the top 8: Exeter, Loughborough, St Andrews, Glasgow, Warwick and three of Leeds, Strathclyde, Bristol, Nottingham or Imperial. As you can see and know div 2 is much more open than div 1. There are definitely more teams able to sneak into the top 8 and to the point where these predictions are pointless. Expect some upsets and unexpected finalists here.

All in all, look forward to big plays at both ends of the field, old postgrads getting angry and even, fresh faced first years skying and laying out for everything. Not forgetting the Alumni Cup in it’s second year, anyone can win it BUT can Leeds defend their inaugural title? Can’t wait, see you there UK!



Push Pass Productions will be filming predominantly on pitches 11 and 12 so look out next week for releases of finals etc, like them on Facebook to stay informed!
Blockstack.tv will also be covering the event with team photos and gameplay photos too: contact Andy Moss for more details.

Twitterazzi have already started commenting with the hashtag #ukuuon and follow all the teams’ tweets for results. David will be at the tournament with Imperial so if you have any ideas or questions go ask him and don’t forget to like and follow us too!!





UCC Ultimate – from Cork to Nottingham, via Maynooth

BUCS, Division 1, Irish Ultimate, Nationals, Open, Outdoors, Previews, Trinity, UCC, ultimate, University

Mark Earley brings us the story of University College Cork’s year so far in their journey to Nottingham. Cork will be attending UK University Nationals next week with aims to avenge a painful finals loss at the hands of the Sussex Mohawks last year. 

In Ireland the tournament that decides which university teams are the national champions is called Intervarsities and it takes place relatively late in the calendar year (April). Given the size of Irish Ultimate the Mixed and Women’s Intervarsities are smaller affairs with the Open division tournament canada goose Canada Goose mænd being the centerpiece of the university season. That said, the Cork outfit, UCC Ultimate currently hold both the Women’s and Mixed events and were looking to win their third title of the season last weekend. There is no qualification process for Open Intervarsities and all colleges are encouraged to bring as many players and teams as they can muster. Since the first Intervarsities took place the number of teams in attendance has ebbed and flowed, peaking at 16 in 2009, a number almost equalled this year.

Open Intervarsities took place last weekend in Maynooth, a town just outside Dublin in wet and very windy conditions. Fifteen teams took part with a pick up canada goose Chateau Parka team helping to round out the schedule. Going into the tournament it was hard to look past one of three teams as potential winners – UCC from Cork who had won the tournament 3 years in a row, and the two strongest Dublin-based college teams, UCD and Trinity. Three other teams, DCU – the college team from where WJUC took place last August – UL, from Limerick and NUI Maynooth, the home team, were expected to battle it out for the remaining semi-final spot.

UCC Ultimate Logo

After an upset free Saturday, it was Maynooth who caused the big shock of the tournament by winning their quarter-final on universe point against DCU. This was quite a break through for the team and their first time making it through to the semi-finals. (Later in the day they would add the Spirit Award to their top 4 finish). Cork, Trinity and UCD all joined them, as expected. The pick of the semis was a battle between long-term rivals UCD and Trinity. Both teams had looked strong up until meeting and went in to the game confident but it ended up being a match that will be remembered for the upwind downwind conditions as opposed to for the Ultimate. At first, neither side managed to do much more than play for territory but it was Trinity who imposed themselves getting a brace of upwind goals to build a 4 point lead that they kept until half. UCD fought back in the second half but the gap was too much and Trinity progressed.

Elsewhere UCC took care of a young and determined NUI Maynooth with little fuss, advancing into the final, making it a rematch of the previous year. UCC captain John ‘Doc’ Doherty put their performance against what he called ‘the tournament surprise package’ down to their considerable advantage in terms of experience. ‘A lot of us playing so well in this game was down to the fact that we were much more experienced than Maynooth in the windy conditions, and they had a lot of up-and-coming players who probably hadn’t played that much in such conditions before’.

Trinity’s Hugo Fitzpatrick with a big bid in the final

The final took place on a slightly more sheltered field and Cork came out on D to start. They turned Trinity in the first point and after a dropped pull in the second were very soon 2-0 up. This became 3-0 after more tight defence and the Corkonian team were in a position they are familiar with – bossing the pace of a game having taken an early lead. Trinity captain Finnian Flood explained that having gone three points up early ‘UCC played with a lot of hunger and composure. Suffocating our O with their strong defense and hitting the open man on their offence whether it was an under cut or a deep strike’. This was echoed by his counterpart Doherty who was pleased with their performance; ‘The offence was patient, the D was tight. We played like we knew we could in the first half to get the lead. I think in the second half we could have been a little more patient, because the wind picked up a lot, and we tried to force it a bit’. Trinity came back into the game with Sam Mehigan, Brian Boyle and Sean O’Mahony helping to add a measure of respectability to the scoreline but realistically it was all over as a competitive game by half-time. Standout performances came from a number of Cork players including veteran Donal Murray and captain John Doherty, It’s worth noting that UCC had lost twice to Trinity earlier in the season so to win the final 13-6 to win their 4th title in as many years will have given them great pleasure.

Trinity’s David Ferguson throws around the mark of UCC captain John Doherty 

Given how late the Intervarsities tournament takes place, qualification for UK Uni Outdoor Open Nationals takes place via a University League held in February. UCC will be representing Ireland in Nottingham next week and are looking forward to it. We spoke to their captain Doherty about the trip and he had the following to say: ‘It is always hard to tell what we will come up against in the UK. I saw some of the defending champions Sussex at Siege of Limerick, and they looked even stronger than last year. So we have them as the team to beat standard-wise in order to be good enough to win it. We are missing a good few big players from last years team – last year’s captain Donal O’Donohoe, Mark Fanning and the star player all weekend Kevin Rice, but we have five new first year students this year who we think are capable of stepping up when needed’.

Last year the boys from Cork finished runners up after an excellent string of results but couldn’t beat a Mohawks side who were (and arguably still are) in a rich vein of form. That said, Doherty and his team are going over with only one thing in mind: ‘My team mates would be amazed if I said we have any other plan than to go over to Nottingham to win the tournament. It’s been our goal all season to win our own Irish IVs, and to then go to the UK and win UK Nationals’. This comment could be construed by some as arrogant but it would be slight on the Cork mentality to brush it off like that. Focus, determination, hard work and tactical intelligence are the mark of this team. As Flood, the Trinity captain, commented ‘They (UCC) are a very experienced, hungry team with a lot of athleticism and confidence and should do very well in Nottingham. Teams will have to play smart to beat them, but one thing is for sure – at UK Nats they won’t give up anything easy’. 

We wish them the best of luck on their trip, as no doubt do the many Irish players they are representing.

Photos courtesy of Sarah Cummins & Mark Earley.