University Ultimate 2016: West Men’s

Bath, Bristol, Exeter, South West, University

Continuing our University previews, Andy Eck takes a look at the still-developing (and oddly named) West Midlands and Wales region.

This region is small, still finding its footing among the more established Ultimate teams of England and Scotland. The most powerful squads hail from the English half of the region, while teams still in development find their home in the Welsh half. While often overlooked, give this region five years and it’ll be as diverse and hotly contested as any. For now, shake ups among the six universities are rare and the big players dominate the scene.

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! 


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.

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.