The Grapevine – 20/09

Bordeaux, BUCS, EUCR-S, European Ultimate, SkyD, The Grapevine, Ultiworld, Understanding Ultimate., xEUCF

The Grapevine – ultimate links and news from around the globe.

Understanding Ultimate gets literary in an interesting post that meditates on the relationship between artistic creativity and sport, and argues convincingly for the benefits of self imposed constraints in ultimate training.

The UKU have announced a new ultimate event at Fistral Beach in partnership with BUCS open to all…

Getting excited for xEUCF? The schedule for all divisions is now available…

Take a moment to fill in this feedback form for Nationals and xEUCF if you haven’t already!

From across the pond…

Lou Burruss discusses the history of offensive tactics in a post that will be of interest to anyone concerned with ‘the gap’ between UK and US teams that has been discussed of late…

The commercialisation of US ultimate continues as Keith Raynor argues for an aggressive branding of College teams.


A storm is brewing in European ultimate and its set to break out at Bordeaux. Keep an eye out for our xEUCF previews early next week! – JCK @ tSG.

Ranelagh at EUCR-S

An Irish Eye, Bordeaux, Crazy Dogs, CUSB, EUCR-S, European Ultimate, Flying Angels Bern, Freespeed, Ireland, Irish Ultimate, Panthers, Ranelagh, Tchac, ultimate, xEUCF

Mark Earley returns with An Irish Eye looking back at Ranelagh’s performance at EUCR-S.

Two weeks ago Ranelagh travelled from Dublin to Bern in Switzerland for EUCR-S hoping to have a crack at a region renowned for its strength. It was only the second time an Irish team had attempted qualification for EUCF and was to prove more difficult than the last attempt (when a Dublin Ultimate team full of pick ups finished 1 spot away from qualifying in 2010 in Nantes). The team was nearly at full strength, but also had a lot of new young players as well the established core.


Day one saw Ranelagh (9) face Italian champions CUSB (3) in the first game of the day. It started well for the Dublin team as they took the lead having started on D and stayed ahead until midway through the first half. Bologna fought back with a couple of breaks of their own and lead for a while until another Ranelagh surge saw them take half 8-7. In the third quarter of the game a combination of increased defensive pressure and some Ranelagh miscues saw Bologna jump out to a 3 point lead which they held onto to see out the game 14-10.

The second game was against Crazy Dogs (6), a team from Stans who have been turning heads both this season and last. It was a tight game, ebbing one way and flowing the other with neither team ever further than 2 points ahead. At 10-10 Ranelagh scored a break to take the lead 11-10 when lightning struck, literally. (Not on our field but not too far either). The 3 second thunder clap rule was adhered to and all play was stopped by the TD. There remained 10 minutes on the game clock. Everyone went to the nearby stadium for lunch and all games were postponed until further notice. About 90mins later the teams warmed up and played the last 10 minutes. Again it was a very closely fought affair although the nature of the game was different. Both teams were a little more anxious, a little more physical and happier to take long shots that the weather had prevented earlier on. Ranelagh went 14-12 up in a game to 15 but Crazy Dogs came back to score 3 on the trot and win 15-14. A tough loss for the Irish team that saw them go into a more difficult crossover.

Ranelagh’s last game of the day was against Parisians Iznogood and it was approached much like the other two – a full warm up and knowing that a win was needed to stay alive in the competition. Unfortunately the start was unusually flat and Iznogood took full advantage. Despite a time out and some renewed energy, the 4 point gap proved too much for Ranelagh. The shortened game ended 11-6, a scoreline that reflected a strangely off performance by the team in black. While Iznogood progressed to a quarter-final against Freespeed, Ranelagh were left to lick their wounds and play out the next day in a bottom 3 pool with Solebang and Panthers.

Sunday morning and the rain was back again, but without the thunder and lightning of the previous day. A depleted Solebang squad (10 players) were up first and both teams started well with fast offense being the order of the day. Much like the opening pool games the teams were pretty evenly matched and until 10-10 it looked like anyone’s game. In that all important final quarter the Ranelagh D took charge and with it the Solebang legs began to tire. The game ended 15-11 to the Dubliners, both teams looking forward to future match ups with two full squads.
Ranelagh’s last game was against the less famous of the Bern teams, the Panthers. A strong start from the Irish resulted in a 4-0 lead but the Panthers regrouped and threw some unusual zone looks that got them back in the game. Another dogfight was brewing and both teams exchanged the lead as the game came to the final stretch. However, it was to be Ranelagh who ended up victorious, closing the game out 15-11 after a long hard battle to finish as seeded, in 9th place. A disappointing but interesting visit to the European qualifiers scene for a team that felt it didn’t perform quite as well as it could have.

Elsewhere, there were a few teams that stood out for me. FAB looked very strong (until the final), with a practically faultless & precise offence. Tchac were exciting to watch –  a young and athletic French team with power and pace to run with most teams. Freespeed didn’t look as good as previous years, with some odd mistakes, especially in big games but they dug deep and took 3rd so won’t be too worried. CUSB were the surprise – a team loaded with talent and youth with well thought out systems, a very strong running game and receivers to compliment the throwers’ range of throws.

The tournament itself was very well run and excellent value too. Two breakfasts, two lunches and a hot dinner all included in the fees as well as decent fields. The TDs faced a tricky situation and dealt with it quickly and openly. While the weather was a pain in the ass, the experience was one that Ranelagh will bank and learn from. The style of play, the pace of the games and the new systems made for a change from the UK Tour and something that might be useful going into next season with places at WUCC and EUCF soon up for grabs.
Finally, does it not strike anyone else as odd that qualification for a tournament taking place in 4 weeks time takes place so late on the season? If we had qualified – flights, accommodation and all other costs would have proved difficult for a large portion of our roster. Surely these competitions could be moved to earlier in the summer? Also, it seems a shame that not all countries can be represented at xEUCF. It is, of course, the pinnacle of club Ultimate for Europe and ideal for the best teams to be there so our elite can grow to challenge the elite clubs worldwide, but for clubs gearing up for WUCC it seems a shame for them to be unable to attend xEUCF (or in old money the much more open EUCC). Growth has to happen at the two ends of all spectrums.

Both images courtesy of Flying Angels Bern.

Sadly no Ranelagh in Bordeaux but some Irish players will be there for UK teams! More news, views and opinions to come … DP @ tSG.

A long road to Europe

EUCR-S, Great Britain, Irish Ultimate, Open, Open Tour, Outdoors, Ranelagh, Rebel Ultimate, xEUCF

Mark Earley tells us about Irish open teams and the challenges they face on the road to European Ultimate Championship Series.

Last Friday night saw the final game of a three team round robin take place in Dublin, Ireland. The Open teams involved were playing for a spot at EUCR-S in Bern this August with the long-term goal of securing a spot at xEUCF in Bordeaux. In effect they were qualifying for a qualifying tournament.


There are lots of reasons for this. Firstly, Ireland’s performance at previous European club competition is practically non-existent. Rarely has an Open team come from Ireland to compete at EUCC or xEUCF. Ally this to the fact that the national Open team has not improved on 2007’s 6thplace finish and it looks like the Open division teams merit little more than one spot at a qualifying tournament. Furthermore, Ireland has moved region. Irish teams used to be a part of the EUCR-W region, which uses the final standings of UK Nationals as qualification. However, the Irish Flying Disc Association decided that it would be in the clubs’ collective best interests to look to qualify elsewhere. At the time this was a wise move with teams rarely finishing higher than the 12-16 bracket at A Tour. Whats more, it was thought that the variety of European competition would stand to Ireland’s best players, not to mention the chance to play Ultimate in a warmer climate! As a result, Ireland’s clubs now play in the South region along with Italy, France and Switzerland.

Irish Ultimate Frisbee (IFDA)


Over the past few years it has become apparent that Irish teams can, and do, hold their own when competing against the top clubs in the UK. While no team has managed a win against the ‘big two’ of Clapham and Chevron, teams like Ranelagh, Paddy Murphy, Dublin Ultimate and Rebel Ultimate have picked off wins against most of the chasing pack at some point or another. With the strength of Irish university Ultimate proving itself (most recently courtesy of the ever-impressive UCC Ultimate) it will be interesting to see if this will translate up to club form this summer, which has brought people to wonder if the IFDA’s decision to change region was the correct one.

The UK has 6 places available to Open teams where the South region has but 4. Furthermore, the style of Ultimate played in the UK is one that Irish teams are both accustomed to playing against and to playing themselves. With UK Tour set to be as competitive as we have seen in a long time it’s hard to tell how Ranelagh and Rebel will fare. With Clapham sending two teams, Chevron building on European silver medals, and a host of teams impressing pre-season including Ka-Pow who have recruited strongly, Fire, always there or thereabouts and last year’s surprise package DED, there will be an intriguing power struggle in the top 8.

So how does that compare to the South? Well, the top Swiss teams are among the strongest in Europe with FAB and Freespeed consistently dangerous. Crazy Dogs are another excellent outfit, whose Juniors program is producing very tangible results and it would be hard to overlook Solebang, another Swiss powerhouse. Italian teams are traditionally temperamental and it’s hard to tell how they will perform but in CUSB Bologna and Cota Rica they have two teams full of athletic ability and skill. Finally, the French. French Ultimate has flattered to deceive for a while now, but as seen in 2011 when the Open team picked off some huge scalps, the produce of their successful Juniors teams is beginning to make it’s presence felt at Open level. Tchac are an example of this and Friselis, reigning French champions are another side with obvious pedigree. Ultimate Vibration might not be the force they once were but along with Iznogood, have ample experience to run with any strong team. All of these teams are competing for 4 spots in Bern.

Ranelagh FC

Which brings us back to Dublin last Friday. Going into the game there was little to separate the two teams involved. Rebel Ultimate have dominated Irish Ultimate for a few years now, winning most domestic tournaments in all divisions. Their Open team lost the finals of both the Indoor and the Outdoor All-Ireland Championships last year (one to Broc and one to Ranelagh) but would argue that they didn’t play their best, especially in the outdoor final. Ranelagh are their main rival and the Cork team currently has a 4-1 record against them, the most recent win coming in February’s Indoors final, albeit against a weakened Ranelagh squad. With the focus this season thus far on university Ultimate, both teams have only played one competitive game, against Pelt Ultimate from Limerick, which they both won with ease, so the stage was set for a good battle.


Despite the cold and windy conditions approximately 50 fans turned up to watch the game in Dublin and they were treated to a great battle. The game started in sunshine with a gentle crosswind (that by the end of the game was a strong, cold wind) and with Ranelagh on offence. Rebel came out fired up and broke to score the first point. The game settled a little and both offences took control, with the teams trading after Rebel’s early break. Ranelagh got a break back and after a few more scores took half 9-7. The second half proved a slightly more cagey affair with both teams able to go on runs both due to big Ds and some unforced turns. First was Ranelagh who courtesy of some huge plays from young guns Rob Holland and Robbie Brennan jumped out to a 4 point lead to go 12-8 up. The strong wind was having more of an effect and Rebel decided to introduce their zone. It was an inspired decision and some huge Ds from John Doc and Mark Fanning got them to within 1 score. At 12-11, in a game to 14 it was all to play for and Rebel had their tails up. Ranelagh were able to close the door though and despite more big bids from the Cork team Ranelagh veteran Dominck Smyth broke the force for the match winner to another young player Cillian Flynn. 14-11 to the Dublin team.

So, this August Ranelagh will travel south to Bern where they will face very stiff competition for the chance to represent Ireland at European clubs top table. With three UK Tour competitions to come it will be a battle-hardened team by the time August comes around and not one to be taken lightly. 

Watch out for Ranelagh at Open Tour 1 at the end of May in London.  Have something to say? Comment below or email showgameblog@gmail.com. Remember to like, share, tweet and contribute!