Jen Ultimate: The Interview

Coaching, European Ultimate, GB, Great Britain, Jen, Open, Outdoors
Those with a keen eye will have noticed a recent ripple in the UK Ultimate social media sphere under the mysteriously simple name of ‘Jen’. With a website and Facebook identity already established, as well as a concerted effort for word of mouth distribution by its founders, Jen nevertheless still seems to have the ultimate community unsure and left with a host a plethora of questions. What is Jen? is it a British Nexgen? Doesn’t it threaten most tour teams? Why “Jen”?! The Showgame got in touch with co founder and captain Sam Bowen to get some answers…




tSG: Let’s start with the basics: what is your vision for Jen, who are you hoping will get involved, and who are you hoping will benefit?

SB: Firstly, we hope that every Ultimate player in the UK who fits the basic criteria will apply. We want those with existing outstanding athletic ability but also, more importantly, those with the potential and desire to improve that. We are looking for strong Ultimate players with exceptional physicality, competitiveness and athleticism. Alongside this, it’s important that we take on those with a strong mentality, positive attitude and good spirit. These are the players that will make up Jen. We are confident that the training schemes and facilities will benefit all those who attend a trial or training session. We are trying to raise the profile and ability of youth Ultimate in the UK, which we believe is important for everybody in the Ultimate community.

tSG: What inspired the creation of the team, and why do you feel the need to do something different?

SB: It’s important to note that we are not trying to distance ourselves from the fantastic GB Junior setup, which we have all gained very positive and valuable experiences from.
The 3 team captains (Sam Bowen, Alex Brooks and Jake Aspin) have competed on the 
same Great Britain Junior Teams for the last 3 years, including two World Championships. Collectively, we have had experience of playing against almost every nation within that age category and we understand how Great Britain competes amongst them. There are many intricacies that make us better and/or worse than those nations. However, we realised that a number of teams were a lot more ‘athletically-driven’ than ours and this made a huge impact at big tournaments. We found ourselves trailing our man, being bullied on the mark and being outpaced or outbid, particularly towards the end of tournaments. We appreciate that this is not the only reason for our losses, but have identified it as a reparable weakness in our game. This is one of the things that we are trying to address with Jen. 

Another area that we are addressing is the strength of the player base in the UK. We are aiming not only to get more players involved in the game, but to retain and develop those with enormous potential to compete at the highest level.  Jen aims to provide support to young players that don’t receive the recognition or development that they might get a top club team. Jen will place particular emphasis on players who haven’t had this calibre of training in an attempt to improve individual player standards, but also club team standards across the country. We hope that the knowledge and experience these young players will gain from Jen can be transmitted to other teams across the UK. The long term goal being that teams get stronger, tournaments become more competitive and the overall standard of Ultimate in the UK grows stronger and stronger. 

tSG: Will the team always stay below a certain age, and if so will the founders leave when they become too old?

SB: Every new player we take on will be between the ages of 18-25. We were initially looking at inviting players below the age of 18 but we have had some issues with insurance. This is something that we are still looking into though, especially after the recent success of the GB u17 Open squad in Cologne. We cannot say whether players will move on once they become over the age of 25 as, to be honest, we really don’t know. What we do know is that the emphasis and development focus will always be placed on the young talent within Jen.

tSG: How often is the team going to train, and why are do you think these trainings will be more productive than the geo – trainings they will replace?

SB: The whole idea of Jen is that it is manageable from a player perspective. We understand the costs, time and effort involved. We do not want to lose out on talent because of these factors. Equally, we are not trying to compete against the UK’s club teams, so trainings will be on a monthly/two-monthly basis. Although there will be costs involved for the initial trial (due to the facilities and equipment necessary), we are looking at free venues around the UK for future training sessions. 

In the run up to competitions, we will select a team from our training squad and will perhaps look at training more regularly. We will liaise with club and national teams to determine suitable training times, locations and systems. A lot of the training programme will involve personal training, and we have qualified individuals to assist us with this. Whilst we are insistent to make geo-trainings work, Jen will place an enormous focus on getting the whole squad together for team trainings. We want to create a positive and competitive team environment, whereby the best young athletes in the country can push each other to improve the level of every individual, the team and UK Ultimate.
Sam Bowen captaining GB Open at the recent World Under 23 Championships. Photo courtesy of Nancy Rawlings.


tSG: Arguably GB ultimate is behind both in terms of athleticism and other aspects of the game, including simple skills. Does this team not propose an overly a simple solution to a complicated problem?

SB: We would never describe Jen as a solution. We don’t predict that the intended results 
of Jen will be instant. Instead, we are trying to continually raise the profile and standard of Ultimate in the UK, particularly amongst our young talent. We envisage that the best way to do this is to produce and develop an elite squad of Ultimate athletes from the young players in the game. Jen will not focus solely on athleticism and physicality, but also Ultimate skills and techniques. There is also an argument that in improving players’ fitness (both endurance and strength), it will assist the throwing skill base. There has been some criticism on focussing wholly on athleticism, which as discussed, is not the only sporting aspect that Jen aims to improve. However, as players get stronger they will be able to put their bodies in better positions to produce more accurate throws. Perhaps more importantly, they will be able to maintain the quality of play and skill throughout a tournament, reducing a lull in standard that can often occur towards the end of a competition. 

tSG: How do you plan on the players balancing Jen training times around other teams, both domestic and international considering the upcoming GB cycle?

SB: This is pretty simple actually. We will expect the players to manage themselves. Part of our selection process will take into account players’ ability to manage themselves, their 
bodies, time and commitments. As mentioned, Jen aims to support it’s players with fitness 
and training programmes, which many players may not have had exposure to before. We 
understand if players have existing personal programmes and it is important that they elect one that is suitable, comfortable and manageable for them, alongside their normal club training.  

Jen will never take priority over National duty, nor should it as we believe playing for Great Britain is the pinnacle of your Ultimate career. It is important that the training at Jen works alongside that of the National team. We have already liaised with GB Junior Coaches to make this work, and will continue to do so. We hope that Jen helps our National selectors to identify young talent, whilst continually raising the level of our junior outfit.With regard to club teams, the maturity to train and improve comes hand-in-hand with the respect and understanding from the leadership team. We will trust our players to make the decisions best for them and we will respect those decisions. We will have a large and competitive training squad to cope with absences, but those who have missed out will be expected to catch up.

tSG: How do you see this interplay between Jen and the players’ club teams further down the line?

SB: We hope and expect it to be extremely positive for both sides. Jen is not a tour team and plans to operate on its own cycle. It is not our aim to ‘steal’ any player, only to help young players improve. A number of our players will be competing at World Clubs this year and it is not our intention to distract them in their preparations. We hope that we can work alongside all teams to help increase the standard of Ultimate in the country. We will seek advice and training from some of the best in the game to help Jen be successful. The team will not be lead or trained by the founders alone. Jen will learn and develop together to improve our own ability and potential. We hope that we get the support from Club and National players, coaches and teams to make this possible.

tSG: People are not unreasonably making comparison between this and the recent US NexGen project – is it related to this or inspired by it in any way?

SB: Jen is not affiliated with NexGen, and nor are we attempting to completely emulate it. Admittedly, a European NexGen-type Tour is something that we’d like to achieve within 4 years. I think every young player in the game should be inspired by what NexGen have managed to accomplish. It has been a fantastic project, which has raised the level of Ultimate in the States, but also increased the coverage of the sport worldwide.  We have certainly been inspired by the results that NexGen have achieved and the level of Ultimate that they are playing at. At the moment, they are unrivalled by any other ‘junior’ team in the world and it is no coincidence that the USA Junior squads have been unbeaten for so many years. Jen will attempt to have the same impact on the UK’s junior setup, by lifting the athleticism, playing standards and competitiveness of its young players. Like NexGen, Jen will require the support and competition from the best club teams in the UK. We hope that together we can lift the standard of UK Ultimate and continue to improve our performance on the world stage.

tSG: And Finally – The question that everyone wants to know the answer to – what does ‘Jen’ mean?

SB: Jen does not mean ‘NexGen’ or ‘generation’. It doesn’t refer to a particular person or expression. Jen is all-encompassing.  Jen is everything.

Well, what do you think?! Raring to apply or still skeptical? Either way make sure to share, and of course comment below! JCK @ tSG

World Games Preview: Great Britain

GB, Great Britain, Mixed Ultimate, World Games Previews
James Burbidge, brings us the first in his World Games series: Great Britain.

 
Introduction

This series will take an informal look at the teams playing at the World Games in Cali, Colombia from the 28th to the 30th of July 2013.
 
The teams, in (probable) seeding order are:
– Canada
– USA
– Japan
– Australia
– Great Britain
– Colombia (host nation)
 
Teams qualified based on their performance across several divisions at the last WUGC (Japan, 2012) with the exception of the host nation who gets a spot more or less regardless.*
World Games in Cali – an IOC event

 
gooseoutlet.dk
www.gooseoutlet.dk

The tournament is a round-robin followed by the last day of finals (1v2, 3v4). Teams are limited to just 13 players (to keep costs down for the organisers) with one reserve of each sex (who can’t play once the tournament has started). Obviously playing intense games in heat with a very limited amount of substitutes makes for a tough tournament, but it also makes for some exciting Ultimate.

There were two tiebreaks to decide those seedings (Canada/USA, GB/Australia), which shows the increasing level of parity at this sort of tournament. There’s not one team (with the exception, perhaps of Colombia) on that list who won’t be justifiably disappointed not to make finals.
 
You can watch some matches from the last Games here.
It is unknown yet whether anyone will be live-streaming or filming matches this year.
 
 

Team GB

 
The Lineup
 
Issi Burke
Sophie Edmondson
Bex Forth
Beccie Haigh
Jenna Thompson
Jackie Verralls
 
Tom Abrams (Mum)
Justin Foord
Rich Gale
Ollie Gordon
Rich Harris (Gash)
Matt Parslow
Dave Tyler
Team GB.

 

About the team
 
Whittled down from a training squad of 30, this is a young team nevertheless filled with well-known faces for those familiar with UK Ultimate. A squad of only 13 players means that the selected team has moved away from defined ‘handler/cutter’ and ‘offense/defense’ roles – on this team everyone can do everything. 


The plan from the outset was to train ‘like a club team’ with regular practices in London. That being the case, it’s no surprise to see a strong core of Clapham and Iceni players at the heart of this team.  Justin and Gash are known quantities: big in the air, big throws with the disc in hand; and whilst he might not have quite as much international exposure (neither the US Club Nationals experience of Justin nor a part of the Paganello winning UTI team like Gash), Mum has been a constant on GB and Clapham’s D-lines for a few years now – big pulls and bigger D’s are at the heart of his game (this was an early indicator).


Iceni too contribute 3 players to the team. Team Manager and Iceni Captain Bex Forth has a wealth of international experience with GB and Iceni, as well as US club experience with Showdown (where she won Ultiworld’s MVP). Club teammates Jackie and Becci bring pace and engines to the cutting lanes; neither are the tallest of players but that has never stopped them from dominating their match-ups in the past.

Jenna Thompson (GB Women’s captain at WUGC 2012) is the only returner on the team; her experience at this tournament will surely be of benefit to the team. The 2 remaining women’s spots are rounded out by Sophie Edmonson and Izzy Burke. Izzy has played for the last few years on Open team Devon (top 16 in the UK), seeking higher intensity ultimate; that should stand her in good stead for the pace that top Open players bring to Mixed.


Expect consistency, a cool head and a surprising turn of speed from Rich Gale who should be an anchor on offense. Ex-NexGen-er Ollie Gordon has been a staple of the O-line for GB and Chevy (here’s why) but this highlight reel shows his capabilities on the other side of the disc too. Matt Parslow brings some more inventive throws to the offense, as well as passion on defense. The final spot on the roster is filled out by Mixed superstar Dave Tyler who has a UK University title (Warwick), a UK Open title (Clapham) and 3 UK Mixed titles (Bear Cavalry) under his belt.

 
Coach and expected playing style
 
Coach Sion Scone (Brummie) played on the World Games team in 2009, and coached GB to their highest ever finish (2nd) at Worlds in 2012. Under his tutelage the team has developed a high paced and organic-looking offense – unafraid to take on the mark and put their players into one-on-one match-ups. This aggressive style might be risky, but could pay off big. A conservative style might win against the lower seeded teams, but GB will need to take the game to favourites USA and Canada if they want to cause an upset.
 
Expected finishing place
 
A tough one to call. I’d like to think we’ve got to the stage where the top 13 players in the UK can match-up against the top 13 from anywhere in the world. I think if everything clicks and goes their way, GB can win it all. That said, the pragmatic side of me thinks the consistency of top level competition players get in North America gives them the edge in games like this.
 
– 3rd

N.B. Down on the Open team’s finish at WUGC, but significantly up on the Women’s and Mixed division results (7th and 5th respectively), this predicts GB beating their seed by 2 places.

Support our World Games squad make it to Cali. Watch them play in a ShowGame this weekend too!

 

 
Notes
 
Team GB are looking for some support to help get staff and players over to the tournament. If you can help them out with a few pounds, you should – http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/take-gb-ultimate-frisbee-to-the-world-games
 
Official Website
 

*As long as they had a team in the Mixed division or teams in the Open and Women’s division at WUGC 2012.
 

Let’s go GB! Watch out for a different country next time. Like, share and more. London’s Calling Open preview coming up tomorrow on tSG.

Fog Lane Cup Review – setting the stage for a truly open season…

A Tour, Chevron, club, Fire of London, Great Britain, Kapow, LLL, Open Tour, Tournament Reports

Josh Coxon Kelly reviews the primary domestic warmup for the club open season.

Last weekend saw the second ever Fog Lane Cup take place at Stanley Lane Sports Ground in Chippenham. A stiff but unpredictable breeze and occasional rain made for testing conditions, and an opportunity for teams to break in rusty winter skill sets and new tactics alike.

Pool stages on Saturday saw two upsets from Fire 2, who showed grit and tenacity to come out with sudden death victories over both Kapow and Devon, earning themselves second in the group and a hard fought semi-finals berth. Chevron won-out, although not without fight from their opposition, which included a Kapow team hungry to improve on a tense 15-13 quarter final loss at 2012 Nationals. The London outfit were unable to improve upon last year’s effort however, and Chevron proceeded to top the group.

The other side of the draw saw Fire 1 and GBU23 in a battle to top the group on Sunday morning. After dispatching EMO and Devon 2 decisively (both games got to score cap at 15-2) the Under 23s had made their statement and were ready to take their first scalp as a new team. However they found themselves up against an experienced Fire squad who, unflustered by the GB unit took an early lead, and held out for the win.

GB didn’t stay dejected for long however, and made their way past Chevron in their semi-final for a chance of victory at their first ever tournament. In a game that was not lacking in familiarity between players (no less than 9 of the full U23 team are part of this year’s Chevron squad), the game nevertheless saw an exciting and fiercely competitive matchup, as both teams tested the opposing offences with an array of defensive looks. Both teams showed an ability to work the disc upwind from the first pull, with GB earning an upwind break to start. Chevron replied with a break of their own, but eventually the GB D-line brought a strong that proved too strong for the Chevron rainbow. Trading stopped after the first half as GB became increasingly efficient at converting their turns as they took the momentum for the second half against a stuttering Chevron, and eventually the game.

Fire fought Fire in the other semi-final, in a training ground match-up for a final spot. Fire 1 commanded an expected lead early on, and despite a late surge from Fire 2 (characteristic of their performance throughout this tournament), they were unable to repeat the comebacks of the previous day against their first team. With Fire 1 now down to 9 men due to injury, permission was given by the TD for the two London squads to join forces to take on the GBU23 once again.

With the earlier result still fresh in both teams’ minds, both sides were fighting for something in the final – Fire for consolidation of their earlier victory, and GB for vengeance. Despite a strong start from both, it wasn’t long before the game was slipping from the Fire squad. With the largest squad of the tournament at 21, GB didn’t waste a body as they brought a combination of athletic defence on the pitch and full-squad noise from the sideline, mounting an all-out assault on the Fire Offense. This time it proved enough, and the GB D-line showed the dominance of earlier games to take the game away convincingly 13-6.

GB U23 win Fog Lane Cup 2013. Photo courtesy of Harry Slinger-Thompson


The GB team succeeded in winning their first tournament together, and they will look to continue this winning form as they compete in the coming Open Tours 1 and 2, and finally in Toronto this July. In terms of club it was a tournament of statements. Fire 1 and Chevron topped the pack after GB, but did not yet find themselves in a rematch of last year’s National semi-final. The two teams will almost certainly meet this season, but at what point? With such a short preview of the coming tour season it’s difficult to make predictions, but this weekend also suggests that Manchester Ultimate are looking to overtake northern rivals Leeds in their pursuit for a top 8 A-tour position. Kapow are clearly out to prove right many people’s suspicions that they can run with the top teams in the country. A tour regulars Devon, EMO and Leeds have shown that they are all preparing hard for the coming season, but will they be able to hold off the ever increasing competition from new teams? With the inclusion of GBU23 as well as European teams at London Calling, it looks like we’re set up for an exciting start to the open season regardless.

Final Results (Spirit scores)

1. GB u23 (9.8)
2. Fire 1 (11.5)
3. Chevron (11)
4. Man-up (10.8)
5. Fire 2 (10.3)
6. Ka-pow (11.1)
7. Leeds (11)
8. EMO (11.1)
9. Devon (11.6)
10. Devon 2 (11.6)


Note – some of the final games were rearranged to avoid replays, hence final positions.

Open Tour will start in two weekends time with London’s Calling and expect battles all over. Look out for our previews for both Open and Women’s divisions. REMEMBER; like, share, comment and contribute! tSG

Lessons from Japan

Coaching, Great Britain, Open, WUGC2012

GB Open and World Games coach Sion “Brummie” Scone tells us what he and the Open squad learnt at the World Ultimate and Guts Championships last summer. 


Brummie: This is an article that I originally wrote for Ultimatum (the UK Ultimate annual magazine) in the days immediately after my return from Japan last summer; however, I managed to forget to click “send” on the email, so it has been sitting in my drafts the whole time.  Oops.




As expected, Worlds showed a wide variety of new offensive and defensive strategies.  Here is a collection of thoughts centred around GB Open’s performance, but also looking at all the games I saw in all divisions – particularly the impressive Japanese women’s team – and a group of lessons that we can take home as things to work on over the next four years.

1.    Throw, throw, throw

Our throwing ability is short of the top teams; particularly USA and Japan who had strong throwers across their entire team. They also were comfortable with a wide variety of throws;  bladey throws and inside-outs over short distances being two main ones that other nations use well for handler resets and zone breaking.  The Japanese women were probably the best throwers across their entire team, and they won handily.

Lesson: Throwing skills are massively overlooked in the UK in favour of athletic ability. We need to continue to challenge our throwers to improve; why not use games and drills which force your players to use new throws? Don’t worry about turns – there will be plenty! – but the long term improvements will be huge.  GB Open used a modified version of Lou Burruss’ Kung Fu Throwing routine for a year before WUGC, and I highly recommend using it (or the Wiggins alternative) as a starting point.


Throw, Throw, Throw! Wessex vs ManUp, 2012 season. Courtesy of Kat Smith.

2.    “Safety First” makes you dangerous

We need to have better resets; Japan Open in particular had very strong resets that led to continuation and constantly kept us on the back foot, while the USA were confident at recycling the disc under pressure.  Both teams were great at turning a reset into an attacking position.

Lesson: Our resets need to be more than just “get the stall back to zero”, and should instead come with brutally effective continuation. Consider continuation as being part of your reset; failure to hit continuation is failure to reset properly.


  

3.    Legal, active marks

Most European teams play with static marks that are too close and foul often. Good throwers will abuse these with ‘contact’ calls or calling ‘foul’ during the throw.

Lesson: be mobile and legal on the mark for the most effective defence; sometimes being in the cutting lane, outside 3m of the thrower, is the most effective thing you can do to prevent flow, and is certainly better than fouling.


4.    Improve your offence by coming up with new defences

Your team needs to be adaptable if they are going to be effective.  Man-zone hybrid defence is going to become more and more prevalent in the future; when teams know precisely when and where they should be poaching and how to switch effectively, these defences are tough to beat (Sweden, Japan women). It is important to note that these zones were mostly effective because of good work ethic away from the disc; early repositioning and timely switching helping to stifle flow, rather than apply pressure on the disc, then quickly repositioning as the disc is swung.
GB Open’s zone offence generally failed to keep the disc moving against zones (Sweden / Japan), even once the cup had been bypassed, and this comes back to the issues with handler resets (as mentioned above). Only by swinging the disc with fast throws, and constantly taking small gains with handlers, is it possible to take these zones apart (see USA / Canada / Japan Open teams).  Short range overheads, and short leading throws, are also areas we need to improve on. 

Lesson: learn to throw the disc hard and play fast if you want to beat any non-man defence; continuation is just as important with zone O as with resets. All teams also need to be able to effectively switch and poach if we want our clubs to understand and be able to combat these types of defence.  I would encourage all teams to think about creating a new defence, and *stick with it*; they take time to work, maybe two years or more.


5.    Gritty defence starts with knowing your role

As a defender, know what you’re taking away, i.e. “Know where your kitchen is”, and what you can allow. (GB Open called the area just in front of the disc on the open side “the kitchen” and being beaten into this space was a big no-no.)  Most defenders are purely reactive, seen chasing their man around the field, rather than proactively adopting a body position that will prevent the bad guy getting into your kitchen and flirting with your mum!  So, regardless of where you are and where the person you’re guarding is, make sure you know your relative position with respect to your “kitchen”, and never allow them to slip through and steal your dinner.
 
Lesson: To play great defence requires great focus, and that focus only comes through training under pressure, but, more importantly, every member of the team needs to be a great athlete. You have to be in great shape to be a contender; this is no great surprise. We should be proud that “British defence” is strong enough to get the disc off any team in the world.  We need to focus on improving our D team’s ability to score more consistently under pressure to take advantage of these hard-won turns, particularly against teams like Sweden, Canada and Colombia that try to change the pace of the game to take you out of your comfort zone.

6.    Play fast and small

The faster you play, the harder you are to stop. Being able to work at high speeds, and in tight spaces, are the key factors that will be vital in years to come. “Old skool” offences which isolate a single player in a large proportion of the pitch were not hugely effective at Worlds. Likewise, failing to swing the disc quickly (fast throws) plays into the hands of poach sets.

Lesson: offences need to be adaptable enough to take advantage of momentary advantages which will be presented by poach sets, but everyone needs to be on the same page to prevent costly mis-communication turns. Learn to throw fast passes to stationary players to minimise hang time and reduce the effectiveness of poaching. In short, offences need to be comfortable playing in the small space in front of them, rather than needing large areas of clear space to advance the disc.


7.    Take the most damaging option, but keep the risk as low as possible

GB Open broke the mark more consistently than all the teams we played other than USA, and we had success because of it. Japan’s approach was more along the lines of “avoid the mark, but get it to the undefended side anyway”, which was brutally effective and tough to stop.

Lesson: be confident breaking marks, but you don’t necessarily need to break the mark in order to get the disc where you want it, which is generally in the hands of a receiver cutting towards the break side of the field. As long as their defender has no bid on the disc, it is a great option. If you don’t need to risk breaking the mark to achieve that, that’s perfect. One way to achieve this is to isolate a cutter on the open side and have them cut to the break side; the resulting pattern will be an open side throw for the thrower, but will still be away from the receiver’s defender. Win-win.


GB Open take Silver at WUGC 2012 in Japan. Courtesy of nzsnaps.com.

Liked what you read here? We hope to hear more from Brummie in the future. Do support him and the World Games team in any way possible. Don’t forget to share, like and tweet this piece and our blog too!

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!

Mixed Tour 1 2013 – Cardiff

Cardiff, club, Great Britain, mixed tour, Tournament Reports, ultimate, world games

The British outdoor season kicked off again a week ago in Cardiff with the first instalment of the UKU Mixed Tour. David Pryce summarises the weekend’s action.

 
A grand total of 52 teams descended on the University of Cardiff sports fields including two trialling (now selected) World Games teams, GB U23’s and Ireland’s U23 squad. 
 
Alongside these national squads the regulars canada goose Calgary Jakke mænd of Bear Cavalry, Thundering Herd and Brighton were mixed in with newer/pick up squads Royal Goaltimate Society (RGS), Magic Toast and Meeples. Further down the seedings we saw the likes of Reading, JR, Guildford, ABH, Steal and many more battle it out for a possible higher seed at the next tour. 
 
Below is a graphic of how the teams rose or fell from their initial seeds. Of course, I know that the TD’s struggled with the seedings this time round, not made easy by the new teams. Overall most teams stayed within a fair margin of their original seed so the TD did a great job there (and with the rest of tournament, as ever). However their were a few big jumps:
  • Ireland U23 +11
  • Reading +10
  • ABH C +10
  • Steal +10
and falls:
  • Choke Hazard -15
  • GU1 -14
  • St Albans -13
  • Flump -9
Some of these falls are most likely to do with strong players going to new teams or not playing at all but in general I think the returning national players missed over past canada goose Canada Goose dame few years now in the WG, Magic Toast, RGS teams has pushed the standard up once again.

The teams eating up seeds appear to have worked really hard and fought out every game, everyone loves a challenge and being that initial underdog can really work in your favour. 


Highly Notable: 
Black Eagles yet again perform well after a solid season last year.
Brighton are always high in the tour and remain solid at 4th.
Some Team rising from 38th to 29th have really found some flow.

Note of interest:
Bear Cav were missing their main man Dave Tyler and so didn’t top the club team table but I wouldn’t count them as out yet. For teams in the top 10 anything can happen.

National teams: 
GBWG really showed us what they plan to take to Cali with everyone able to pick the disc up and scoring easily with defences lagging behind. Look out for them as one team in Manchester.

Ireland U23 were probably a little under seeded but still came out strong. In a similar manner to their slightly older beach counterparts played a very good mixed game to secure some invaluable playing time together.


GB U23 had a great Saturday but struggled a little on Sunday with team dynamics holding them back at times. Some true moments of great ultimate were mixed in with a few too many turns and mis communications. These guys and gals will definitely be back next tour and will hopefully use the great training they are having to step it up ready for Worlds this summer.
 
Remember to LIKE, SHARETWEET and CONTRIBUTE.
Final positions and how they have moved.