EUCF 2016 – the British teams: Iceni and SYC

EUCF, EUCF2016, Iceni, Previews, SYC, womens

In her first piece for The ShowGame, Geegee Morrison takes a look at the two Women’s teams representing the UK at Euros – SYC and reigning champions Iceni.

Over a month on from UKU Nationals, the excitement is building for this year’s European Ultimate Championship Finals. Two Women’s teams will be representing UK Ultimate in Europe; SYC and Iceni. After a last-minute pool change, the two teams will face off once again this weekend in Frankfurt, alongside the rest of Pool X. After an incredibly exciting season, can Iceni bring home another European title, or will SYC prove difficult to defeat?

UKU Nationals Results

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

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

Qualifying for EUCF 2014 held in Frankfurt are:

OPEN

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

WUCC 2014 Women’s Division Preview: Iceni

Iceni, news, Previews, womens, WUCC Previews, WUCC2014
Lauren Bryant starts off the Women’s Division WUCC Previews with National and European Champions Iceni.

Iceni trying to close the gap at the US Open. Photo courtesy of CMBTcreative.


Squad

Alex Benedict
Alex Meixner
Ange Wilkinson
Becci Haigh
Caroline Nicholls
Fiona Kwan
Fran Scarampi
Issy Burke
Jackie Verrals
Jenna Thompson
Jo Rowbury
Joey Holmes
Kaleigh Maietta
Lauren Bryant
Lily Huang
Liza Bowen
Mallory Meiser
Mara Alperin
Meryl Kusyk
Nici Prien
Rachel Kelly
Rowan Pearson
Sonia Komenda


About Iceni
Iceni are the UK’s most successful women’s team, consistently dominating the domestic scene and medalling on the European circuit, winning the last three national and European championships.

London based, the team practices together twice weekly and has been preparing for WUCC since selection in February. Iceni are looking to build on their success from previous years and challenge the very best in the world.


Captains Ange Wilkinson and Sonia Komenda bring experience, talent and passion to the team. Ange is a long-time Iceni player, with this being her third consecutive year co-captaining the team. Sonia was new to the team last year, a Canadian import, but quickly established herself a big part of the club both on and off pitch. The captains are supported this year by Paul “Voodoo” Waite, a former Clapham and GB Mixed player who has committed his season to coaching Iceni, bringing his tactical expertise and ability to identify strengths and talents to the team management.

Iceni have a lot of strengths as a team, a significant one is the depth of their roster. All 23 players are rounded and have big-game experience and the level of trust across the team is high. With six hard months of preparation, Iceni are looking to utilise their offensive structures, but are confident in playing smart, organic ultimate to bring out the very best in their players. Athletic and skilled, expect a mixture of slick break-side play and a fiery long game.

Players to watch
#2 Nici Prien – Huge receiver with perfect timing, but dangerous under and on defence.
#3 Lily Huang – Smart, tenacious handler with some of the best break-throws, frustrating to guard.
#9 Jackie Verralls – Clever and quick cutter, as effective under as long with great timing and throws.
#13 Ange Wilkinson – Aggressive initiating cuts, powerful hucks and huge pulls.
#15 Sonia Komenda – Deadly with the disc in hand and a smart cutter, but most dangerous on defence.
#22 Jenna Thomson – A handler with consistent, neat break throws, but don’t be shocked when she flies past you for the block or the score.
#32 Fran Scarampi – Does nothing by halves – big cuts, big hucks, big grabs, big presence.

Predictions 
Iceni has a team goal of making the quarter finals. An appearance at US Open in early July imbued them with a lot of confidence that they are capable of keeping up with the big dogs from the US. If they play to their strengths, they could challenge the semi-finalists.

Nice Bristols up next!!

UKU Open and Women’s Tour 3 Preview

#ukut3, Cardiff, Chevron, Clapham, EMO, Fire of London, Iceni, Nice Bristols, PUNT, Ranelagh, ROBOT, SYC, UK Ultimate, Zimmer
David Pryce and Christopher Bell take us through this weekends UKU Tour 3.


Welcome home to Clapham Ultimate and Iceni Ultimate, well played out there! This weekends schedule is here: http://bit.ly/TWR1As


A Tour
The final instalment of this years domestic UK club season is tomorrow! With two events already completed it is still mathematically possible for anyone near the top to take the Tour title. Clapham will be combining both lines into the Clapham D team seeding and EMO will be hoping for the London team to lose their almost inevitable semi final. With only a handful of points between them a big enough gap between these two teams on Sunday evening could be the chance for EMO to take the top spot from Clapham D. However, I don’t think Clapham will be lying down too easily. After learning some tough lessons at the US Open they will only be hungry to return to the UK and stamp their authority on their home turf. 

Hayden Slaughter makes a huge grab over Clapham D at Tour 2. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.


In the pool stages Brighton get a chance to take that champion scalp early once again, with an opening pool play fixture against Clapham. Can they reverse the result after losing in universe point at Tour 2? EMO and Fire of London face off for the first time in this year’s regular season, can the London team take down the Worlds bound Midlands boys? Londoners Flump however have a tough introduction to this years A tour taking on the young and athletic Devon, flamboyant KaPow! and cohesive Rebel. In the D pool I would expect Manchester to come out on top, but new comers NEO took B tour with relative ease and DED have been strong throughout this season so far so it’s far from a foregone conclusion. Chevron will meet old friends and foes alike in the pool as they face Zimmer, Brighton and Clapham in their pool and will be looking to better a final game loss to EMO at Tour 2.

Can anyone take down a combined Clapham close to their season’s peak? Tour 3 sees both the tournament and overall tour title up for grabs so expect fierce competition as the best teams in Britain prepare for Lecco. 


Women’s
Iceni have chosen to pass on this weekends event to train together and get some rest after the US Open, leaving the Women’s tour title open for a number of teams to possibly take. Punt are only 60 points behind Iceni, SYC trail the current champions by 73 and even if Nice Bristols win this even they will not have enough to take first (or possibly second). This year presents a rare chance for a new team to claim the tour title after recent Iceni dominance, but it won’t come easily…

Punt made their first final last tour and showed that whilst they couldn’t take down Iceni they definitely deserved that second place. Now it leaves them to prove that they can take on Nice Bristols who return from the Boston Invite to continue their Worlds preparation. 

Iceni Captain Sonia Komenda makes a bid on Punt player Hannah Body. Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey.


SYC and ROBOT will not let any of this happen lightly. Both teams have had a very strong season and have also had some great battles against each other. Do not be surprised to see some great performances from these women as they push to for their first domestic finals of the year. 

Further down the pack, newcomers Phoenix London and second year team Relentless will be hoping they can firm up their positions in the top 8 with the likes of Leeds, Blink and Swift.

Saturday games to watch: 
Nice Bristols vs SYC (Pitch 3 at 10:40)
Punt vs ROBOT (Pitch 1 at 17:20) 

B Tour

Having finished 2nd last time out, LeedsLeedsLeeds will be hoping to finish in the top 16 this Sunday. In their group are Reading 1 (who they beat comfortably in St Albans), Brighton Echo and Vision. They have yet to face Brighton Echo this season, but they will be expecting to win every game in this group – including regional rivals Vision, who they beat at Northern Winter League on a surprisingly sunny Sunday in Manchester back in February. The Yorkshire lads may very well fancy their chances to get back into A Tour, if looking at the group they would cross with, which isn’t the strongest.

The other group in the top half of B Tour sees JR1, Sneeekys, Fire 2 and Cardiff Storm fight it out for a chance to get back into A Tour – a tough group that’s even tougher to call. JR have been there or there about for a long time now, as far as the A/B Tour line goes. Sneeekys have had an extremely impressive season, having played an entire Tour lower last year, and I’m sure would love to cap a successful season with a spot in the top 16. Fire 2 spent last year in A Tour, though there are some out there that don’t feel Fire 2 have the desire or the pedigree to get back to that level just right now. Finally, there’s Storm, who finished 13th at Tour 2 will have the home advantage of sleeping in their own beds at Tour 3 – which along with only having to do a fraction of the travelling, cannot be underestimated.

The lower half of B Tour is an eclectic mix of teams, some of which have been hovering around those seeds all season, but the majority have played in C Tour at some point this year. Each team will either want to prove that they are definitely a B Tour team (The Brown) or be looking to stake a claim in the middle tier of Open Tour by proving themselves this year (Camden). Expect plenty of close, scrappy games in these pools as each team tries to clamber up the ranks, whilst avoiding the drop back into C Tour.  Rest assured that any team that does find itself facing a crossover at the bottom of the Tour will fight extremely hard to ensure that they stay within the top 32.

Tom Pierce with a layout score for Guildford at Tour 2. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.


C Tour

A more open schedule means that the next instalment of C Tour should see some more movement in the rankings, as teams battle it out in this last chance to improve their seedings this season. 

Further incentive to top the pool is provided by the chance of a crossover into B Tour on Sunday morning. Will any teams be able to make the final push to finish in the top 32? The story that unfolds over the weekend will be fascinating – that much is for sure.

Number 1 seeds, Guildford, may feel this is their time, after sudden-death losses to current B Tour teams in the knock-out stages of the previous two tours stalling their attempts at promotion. They will expect to dominate in their group and continue that form into the Sunday. Rhubarb (3rd seed) will similarly be aiming high after an impressive showing throughout the season so far. Perhaps Pingu Jam can find some extra motivation to convert their obvious talent on the pitch to a rise in the seedings akin to that which they enjoyed at Mixed Tour.

Below the teams topping the pools, there is much room for upset with another six or seven teams definitely capable of going toe-to-toe with the big guns. CUlt 2 will be hoping to go one better after a great performance in Nottingham. Likewise, teams such as Lemmings and Black Sheep have bolstered their ranks as they push to challenge those currently at the top.

It will be very much a case of which teams show up this weekend as to who will be able to provide those shock results – but don’t expect everything to go to seed! There is an incredible amount of potential for some huge changes in the C Tour landscape this weekend, with pride and a place in B Tour as the prize.

UKU Tour 2 Review

Brighton, Chevron, Clapham, Fire of London, Iceni, LMS, news, nottingham, Previews, PUNT, ROBOT, UKUT2, US Open

David Pryce, Edward Parker, Christopher Bell and Fiona Kwan bring the UKU Tour 2 review from all four divisions.

Full results and spirit here.

A Tour: Clapham O take the title after some tight pool games for both lines.

Clapham D vs Chevron Action Flash but unable to play a whole game against the champions. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.


As mentioned above, although Clapham came in as obvious favourites to take another Tour title, Fire of London and Brighton City did not get the memo. Both teams took Clapham’s O and D lines, respectively, to sudden death but after that shock CU did not look back. It was again an O vs D final with O making it one all for this season. Sadly, on the way to victory the O line lost a player to a broken arm; we wish JJ all the best, get well soon! Clapham are currently making their way to Minnesota for this weekend’s US Open (watch their pool game on NGN) where they are hoping to take a few scalps after a promising Chesapeake tournament last year.

The other two WUCC teams from the open division came to head in the last game of the weekend, the 3v4. Chevron had been strong all weekend and, until this point, had only struggled against Clapham. However, they stumbled here with EMO taking the 17-15 win, leaving Chevron with 4th place.

Outside of the top four, Fire of London started off well but couldn’t make a mark on Chevron in their pool and the started the following day very slowly against Manchester. Eventually they fought back into the game and took the win by two, and from there took fifth with relative ease. Cambridge have been the rising stars of this season so far, managing to rise all the way into the top eight, while Zimmer topped the next eight ahead of some stalwart A tour teams.

Next Tour we will replace Birmingham, Glasgow and Leeds with promoted teams NEO and Flump, while the spot of the incredible of GB U20 will have to be filled, as sadly they will not be able to attend Tour 3 – good luck in Lecco boys!

What was your story from Nottingham? Did you forget to pack sun cream? What are you looking forward to in Cardiff? Comments welcome below!


B tour: NEO come out on top in Nottingham

If you are in the mood for intense sporting action in tropical conditions, it turns out that you needn’t travel as far as Brazil. In fact, tucked away between Derby and Newark-on-Trent there is a veritable haven of green fields, sunny skies and fragrant scents (provided you don’t stand too near the portaloos).

Last weekend, 16 teams showed up in Nottingham to play in B tour. Some players packed sun cream, some players didn’t. By the end of the weekend you could tell them apart. Here’s some other stuff that happened…

The run-away winners of the weekend were North East Open (aka NEO). With their blend of tiki-taka handler movements and an explosive long game, they were a team that didn’t give up the disc easily. After sweeping away their opponents throughout the tournament, including a 15–8 win against Flump in the final, NEO will be looking to continue their march up the rankings in A Tour next month.

Despite tripping up in the final, Flump certainly had plenty of positives to take from the weekend. Donning their eye-catching new kit that was variously described as “special” and “f***ing awful” (I actually quite like it, but then again, I was wearing it), Flump had certainly upped the tempo of their game following a weekend at Windmill Windup. After coming out on top of a feisty group decider against JR (fouls, violations, hat throwing… you name it, this game had it), Flump continued their run of good form on Sunday to secure the second promotion spot.

But arguably the biggest success story of the weekend belonged to GB U20s. Apparently the U20s hadn’t received the memo that it might considered impertinent to outcompete players many years their senior. GB showed great composure to top their group (including two games that went to universe point), and having lost narrowly to Flump in the semis, went on to secure their top three spot in style with a 15–10 win over JR. Let’s hope that they can keep up the momentum heading into the upcoming World Championships.
Elsewhere in proceedings, it was a good weekend for teams that had secured promotion from C Tour at London Calling: Sneeekys, Vision and Curve all consolidated their B Tour credentials, finishing in 6th, 11th and 12th, respectively. Meanwhile, JR and Fire 2 will be disappointed to have let their spots in A Tour slip. This is certainly something they will look to rectify in Cardiff. There were undoubtedly other highlights. Tell us about them in the comments!
Bristol Open vs Flump eventual A tour promotional team! Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.


C Tour: Brown dominate in sunny Nottingham.


The Brown proved they belong in B Tour with comfortable victories against all they encountered this weekend. With the inclusion in the squad of some Durham University players finally freed from the shackles of the library, their extra squad depth carried them through the tournament with consummate ease. They will be joined there by ABH who finished second, and Camden whose squad bolstered by some big names from the Thundering Herd squad of Open Tour 1. Along with Camden, St Albans managed to break into the top eight from an original seed of 17th to finish fourth – an impressive feat!
Questions were raised once again at the decision to include two peer pools at the top of C tour. With the crossovers into the top eight being won by just two points (except in the St Albans game, who won comfortably as they knocked The Saints from the top eight), why should those teams just outside the top eight be denied the opportunity to match up against the best of their division?

Take into account that one team that started in the top eight brought just one sub to Nottingham, and as a result, lost all but one game; and another team forfeited their final two games as they only had nine players and couldn’t face two more matches with such limited numbers, and you would be forgiven for thinking that perhaps teams that brought full squads to the tournament should be allowed to compete for those positions. Those teams winning all but one match and still dropping several seeds must feel frustrated that they are being punished by the schedule, with such limited chance for progression in what should be a Tour division aimed at development of Ultimate in the UK.

Special mentions should go to CUlt 2, whose smooth, flowing offence and tight D allowed them to top their group and beat Lemmings in their final game to finish 11th; Sharkbear did well to enter two teams – they ended up finishing only four seeds apart; and the GB u17s, who got some great tournament experience and a chance to try their offence against a variety of defensive regimes. They showed that athleticism and a well drilled offence can often be enough to beat more experienced teams. Best of luck on the international stage, boys!


Women’s: Expectations and surprises!

Punt make the final against Iceni for first time! Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey.


What we didn’t expect:
Beautiful weather, and the promise of indoor toilets!
I know it’s been said, and it’s getting a bit cliché, but Nottingham is famed for having turbulent weather – wind, rain, hail and everything in between. Anyone who was present at last year’s event knows what Nottingham is capable of. However, in spite of their misgivings, most players will begrudgingly acknowledge that rough weather can present extremely useful conditions to practice playing zone O and D, throwing and serve as an exercise in self-control when it comes to those more heart-pounding and cold sweat inducing throws (a special shout-out to Caitlin from LLLeeds here).

The hot, still weather meant match ups where athleticism played a huge factor in team success. More experienced teams were able to take advantage of the opportunity to throw some sharp breaks, accurate hucks and show off some slick handler movement. Punt and SYC have been particularly good at utilising their break throws and exploiting the around game, taking advantage of the opportunity to be creative.

These two teams played a close semi-final, a rematch from T1, but this time, Punt finished ahead, securing them a place in the final.  I only managed to catch the last couple of points of this game, but based on the final, I can say that they are a very strong team, who draw from all their players’ strengths. They play fast Ultimate, with strong O and D, using all of their players. Looking at their seeding and finishing place, compared to last year, this team has come a long way.

Kinga (The King) from SYC said, “T2 was important for us to find that team chemistry and allowed us to gel a lot more. We’ll keep working on our offense to match the quality of our D so we can be strong on both sides of the disc. The loss against Punt possibly made us even more determined I’d say.” We can hope for another great match up at T3, so place your bets now on who will win next.

Movement in and out of the top eight
Blink had a great weekend, coming from outside the top eight to finish sixth.  Strong handlers and experienced players helped this team climb up from 10th seed, and knock LLL and Phoenix down the rungs. Hopefully, this result is a sign of more good things to come from them, and another strong performance at T3.

Looking ahead to T3, LLL is looking to make it back into the top four. As pointed out by captain Caitlin, the pool of talent in the women’s division has really expanded to about six teams who always give consistently strong performances (Iceni, Bristol, SYC, Punt, ROBOT and LLL). A top four finish would be a huge confidence booster for this young squad in the run up to Nationals.
What we expected:
The UK and Irish teams headed to Lecco all look in good shape
LMS: This weekend Irish team Little Miss Sunshine sent a strong message to UK teams, winning their games handilyon Saturday 15-5, 15-1 and 15-4.  Despite winning all their games on Sunday as well, this Worlds bound team were only able to finish 5th.  It’s a shame they didn’t get a chance to play the likes of Iceni, or Robot in preparation for Lecco, or even teams like SYC and Punt. It would be great to see them at T3, starting with a higher seeding, and see what they can do. I’d bet they’d see a top four finish and be serious contenders for an appearance in the final. A fast and athletic team, they dominated their match ups against teams outside the top eight, and undoubtedly would have given top teams hard fought games, and closer scorelines.

Robot: This team of veterans definitely used their experience to their advantage, pulling out some great throws, and using poaches to effectively shut down pull plays, and stop those dangerous fast breaks and first passes. It will be great to see them again at T3 and Nationals, with experience playing together at T2 showing the young folk how it’s done.

Iceni: Iceni finished in Nottingham on top, with their best challenges coming from Punt and ROBOT on Sunday. With 14 members of the team headed to Twin Cities, Minneapolis for the US Open next week, T2 has given Iceni preparation for the opposition they will face there, as well as good mental practice for playing a tournament. Now for the shameless plug – NGN and ESPN will be broadcasting the Iceni vs. Riot game from the US Open. So, if you have time on the 4th of July, and fancy a break from celebrating US independence, be sure to tune in and watch at17:15 GMT.

It’s great to have more and more women competing at a higher level, and Tour 2 showed how successful women’s ultimate in the UK is becoming. Best of luck to those playing in Cardiff!

Make sure to follow Iceni and Clapham as they take on the US, Canadian and Colombian club teams at the US Open! Go get them! 



Open and Women’s Tour 2 Preview

Black Sheep, Chevron, Clapham, Fire of London, Iceni, news, nottingham, Open Tour, Previews, PUNT, Women's Tour

Introducing the second major club tournament of the season…

As the summer presses on we come to the second UK Tour of 2014, this time moving up to the notorious Nottingham venue at Grove Farm. Well known in the UK Ultimate community for mostly meteorological reasons, Si Hill provided a defence:

“I’m really pleased we are heading back to Grove Farm. The geographical spread of venues we use for UKU Tour events is quite good at the moment, and Nottingham’s location is key to that.  It is undeniably prone to being windy due to the local geography.  But I prefer to look at the positives: it can help us to improve our disc skills, pushes teams to expand their zone-based systems, and adds some extra uncertainty into the results as upwind/downwind games in particular can turn on smaller margins.  Certainly the GB teams playing Worlds 2012 in Japan benefitted from the extra practice when some crucial games were played in extremely strong winds just like we had enjoyed 3 weeks earlier in Nottingham.”


With much talk of closing the gap centring on the need for stronger skills as a nation of players, it is hard to argue against this positive aspect of playing at a ‘harder’ venue, even if (as Si also pointed out) the forecast is set for uncharacteristically calm scenes this weekend (…fingers crossed eh?!).


Open


With the filtering out of international competition, this weekend will act as the season’s first true comparison between domestic teams, many of whom did not meet in London. The Clapham machine sees benefit in continuing its split team entrance, and will be looking to repeat their lossless weekend up until the final. EMO find themselves in their highest ever seeding after a strong start to the year as predicted. Whether or not this team can justify their placement above Chevron who comfortably bettered them at major tour events last year is yet to be seen. In a straight to semis format, old friends Chevron and Fire 1 will both be battling for an upset victory against Clapham O, or failing this a place in the knockout stages which could well be decided by their 15:40 meeting on Saturday.

Can anyone stall Clapham on their road to Lecco? Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.

The one slight change in the schedule is that both semi-finals and the final will take place in the format of WUCC games. Speaking on this Si Hill explains:

The semis will be full WFDF length (like WUCC) this weekend because we have enough pitch space/time to do this for those teams. Some of those teams and players will be playing at WUCC and it seems reasonable to take that opportunity in the circumstances.  In particular a 10-minute half-time can feel quite different to our usual 2-minute turn-around.”


Acclimatisation for this year’s major tournament is clearly a focus, but it would be wrong to suggest that the top brackets are the only ones to provide a source of excitement. The second eight of the A tour has arguably flattened out somewhat, with almost all teams having recently enjoyed top 8 seedings in their recent history. The battle from teams such as Ka-Pow! and Devon to rejoin the top pools (and the all-too-valuable elite competition such seedings provide) will be hard pushed by newer outfits such as Glasgow, who at ninth will be poised to restore the recent lack of a Scottish presence in the top flight of UK ultimate.


The 16-32 B tour bracket continues to heat up as it is increasingly compressed between the top 16 and the ever-growing C tour (now at 28 teams). After emphatically topping the C tour in St. Albans, Curve (with a boost from ex GB open players Niall Wilkinson and Rob Anderson) have been awarded a high seed and will be hungry to make a mark in their first game match-up against Fire 2, who consistently competed in the A tour last year (famously leap-frogging their first team at last year’s event). Perennial club teams will also have to overcome the GB and Irish Under 20 Open squads, who are attending tour in preparation of their world championships, also to be played in Lecco this summer. These young teams will make up for any lack of experience with buckets of athleticism, and will gladly welcome still conditions to show off their runners. With the lure of international silverware these teams will be playing with nothing to lose at this stage, and could cause upsets for any team in the bracket.


Our C Tour report comes from Christopher Bell (Black Sheep Co-Captain/coach).


With the seedings having hopefully sorted themselves out somewhat, and the inclusion of some strong teams replacing those promoted, C tour is lining up to be an exciting affair this weekend.

With two power pools at the top, it’s going to be difficult for any team 9th and below to break into the top 8, and even harder to make any further headway. There are, however, some teams that will be trying to do just that. Black Sheep may see this tournament as an opportunity to atone for last year’s failure to beat seed at Nottingham, where they started 9th but were unable to top their group due to the inclusion of the under-seeded Irish u20s. Expect Lemmings and a strengthened Camden side to mount serious challenges too. 

Keep an eye too on the GB u17s, they will come into this tournament with nothing to lose and a lot to prove. Always an athletic team, well drilled and with a great mentality – expect them to fight for every point as they aim to climb their way up the seedings.

The game to watch on Saturday is most definitely the battle of the North East: The Brown (1) v The Saints (3). The Brown have a point to prove after being relegated from B Tour last time round, and The Saints, victors in Nottingham this time last year but absent from London’s Calling, will want to prove that they can do it again. Expect a high intensity game, with both teams working very hard to shut down their opposition, whom they know well.

Each of Sunday’s games in the top 8 are going to be gruelling affairs, with close match-ups across the board. It’s tough to call how it’s going to pan out, but here’s my prediction for the semi-final teams: The Saints, Pingu Jam, ABH and Guildford.


Women’s

Iceni are demonstrating a vice-like grip on the number one spot, and show no signs of faltering with another tournament win at the recent Windmill. Fiona Kwan gives an insight into the humble approach that is surely helping to sustain the team’s dominance:

“Even though Iceni finished London Calling as top dogs, we took away a couple of key things we needed to improve and adjust to come back stronger for the rest of the season. After T1, we knew we had to find discipline in our endzone, set a harder mark, and ramp up our sideline. Basics. After focusing on these elements of our game, we took our adjustments to a very sunny Windmill Windup in Amsterdam last weekend (Happy 10th birthday Herbie!). 

Playing such tough oppositions as U de Cologne, Woodchicas and ZUF at Windmill has been great preparation for what we can expect from European teams competing at Worlds. These teams brought out the best, and worst in us, and although we won the tournament, we have come back with things to improve. Set up quickly on O, no open unders, and an even bigger sideline. Basics again.”

Having yet to face Swift, Phoenix or SYC, Iceni may find some more challenges in some fresh competition this weekend, but will still expect to win. With Nice Bristols notably absent from this weekend as they travel to test their mettle against some of the World’s best at the Boston Invite, the final route is opened up more than ever. Roslyn Cameron of SYC gives a summary of her team’s approach:

“This year there is serious competition in the top half of women’s tour and I’d say below the top spot no one can really feel that their spot is safe. We face Iceni in pool play on Saturday – they are a formidable team, fresh off the back of a convincing win in Amsterdam and with WUCC firmly in their sights. Any chance to play such an accomplished team is an amazing opportunity and not one that we will shy away from. For us tour isn’t simply about winning games but about competing and using every opportunity to play the best ultimate we can. What better way is there than against the best in Europe?”

Punt have a chance at making the final, who else could make it in Nottingham? Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.

Punt are being touted as another team pushing hard for a final spot, with consistent strong showings built up over the course of the last few seasons. However, SYC will be competing hard to beat them to it:


“Should the results allow, a rematch against Punt will definitely be a game to watch. Over the last few seasons we have had some great match-ups and Tour 1 this year was no exception, with SYC edging a sudden death victory first thing on Saturday morning. They play a unique offence and have a lot of depth in their team, which brings a real challenge when playing them.”

Further down the table teams are eager to push up. Hayley Nicklin from Relentless discusses the draw of those top two groups:


“This season, Relentless aimed to grow and develop into a team that can compete in the top eight after an up and down debut season last year. London’s Calling was the first test of all of the work the squad put in as a whole over the off-season.

There is every chance we could climb into the top 10 at Tour 2; the 5-12 bracket looks like it could contain some upsets.  I can’t see anyone taking the top spot from Iceni, especially with Bristol not in Nottingham, and then it’s a tough call between Punt and SYC for second place. I think it’s time for Punt make to their first appearance in a Tour final given their improvement over the past few years so my money is on them to finally get there.”


It seems many can’t see anything other than a clean sweep at the top for the London powerhouses in both divisions, but there will be plenty of players travelling this weekend with their eyes on the prize of a giant killing across the team list. The high winds and rain generally favour upsets, but with the dry and calm forecast it is looking as though anyone matching up against a favourite this weekend is going to have no choice but to beat them one-on-one, at full speed. 

Good luck to all teams competing this weekend from tSG!

London Calling – Women’s Preview

#ukut1, Iceni, Leeds, news, Nice Bristols, Previews, ROBOT, SYC, Women's Tour, YAKA
Charlie Blair introduces the teams who will be starting up the Women’s club season this weekend…

Can you believe it? Here beckons the start of June. The summer has arrived! The season is about to begin! And boy, what a difference a year makes!  London Calling 2014 delivers yet again with another great turn out in the women’s Tour with 24 teams signed up and raring to go. Most exciting however, is that this year promises more depth than ever as preparation for World clubs has strengthened the level of competition ready to descend on St Albans this weekend. Whilst some have complained that Tour maintains a sense of predictability ten years in, the battle amongst the top 8 and the top 12 is finally feeling like a more competitive affair.

There really is no telling just how much the seedings will be turned over in any of these brackets. It would be safe to assume that the three teams contending at world clubs will be found at the summit of Tour. However, in terms of who will take the title, it does seem somewhat likely that Iceni will rule the roost once again.

In preparation for Worlds, Iceni have had a marked overhaul under the leadership of Sonia Komenda and Ange Wilkinson, in recognition of the serious demands required in order to challenge top teams in Italy. They go into Tour 1 extremely well prepared, with months of bi-weekly trainings and professional fitness instruction under the guidance of former Clapham player Paul ‘Voodoo’ Waite who has committed his season to them. Nevertheless, in having not attended the inaugural NFL (Not Fog Lane) a couple of weeks ago, Tour will be their first demonstration of their hard work. With the introduction of a new  ‘north American’ style structure and the complete scrap of vertical stack from their offensive repertoire, will it all come together in time or will others be able to take advantage of their somewhat inexperienced tactics?
Joey Holmes getting off her feet for a D at UKU Club Nationals 2013. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.


Bristol have shown the same dedication and intensity to their training over the past few months, ( in fact Bristol’s impressive team effort in preparation for Worlds has even seen them wangle some TV and radio appearance along the way!) but they have already signalled that teething problems remain. Whilst Bristol take their loss to SYC in the final of NFL in their stride, it may be that they don’t place as highly as expected whilst they continue to find their momentum. However, their decision to split their worlds squad for Tour in favour of using the tournament as further opportunity to harness close connections and rapport amongst players suggests their aim goes beyond taking domestic victory.

It is without doubt that the welcome international cohort we enjoy at London Calling will also have their eyes on victory. This year two teams will be making the trip over: E6 from Sweden, and YAKA from France. In such an important club year, it is a shame that so few Europeans have managed to be enticed. Little is known of the current state of this Swedish team who did not make an appearance in Bordeaux last year. Needless to say, they have always sported a team of extremely hard working and gritty players, with an experienced core leading the way. They will surely be looking for upsets. YAKA should equally expect to fair well on UK soil, having finished above Bristol, SYC and LLL at xEUCF 2013 . Even though they missed out on qualifying for worlds, they will be carrying confidence from taking the title at the recent ‘Siege of Limerick’. However, the loss of their famous talisman since then, Aline ‘Rasta’ Mondiot, who has hopped across the Channel to train and play with SYC this season could prove to be huge.

Indeed, this reshuffle of players as a result of selection and qualification of World Clubs has both seemingly strengthened established clubs and stimulated new ones, particularly in the south. Iceni’s much stricter selection process released a wealth of talented women to bolster clubs such as SYC and Crown Jewels as well as initiate the formation of Phoenix and Free Agents. All will be pushing for the best result possible in the top half of the Tour. Of the two new clubs, we know that despite their newness, Phoenix (formed of ex- Iceni  / Herd players) are serious about competing having exploited the wisdom of local beardy guru, Jaime Cross. Free Agents on the other hand are a motley crew of ex Iceni/SYC who haven’t committed to any trainings this year. Whilst they will be looking to cause trouble, the ‘name tags’ of this team, which include reigning Paga queen Bex Forth shouldn’t assume victory over those that have been working hard all season.

In the face of this new competition, others expecting a top table finish will surely be the legends of ROBOT, the Scottish contingent, Swift, and the big movers and shakers of last season, Punt, who all rounded off last season comfortably in the top 10. Looking further north LLL will also be keen to cement their strength after a phenomenal success at developing an incredibly talented core of young players. They appear to have become a real beacon for attracting committed players in the north, with some team members even commuting from as far a field as Scotland. They mean business!

Nevertheless, those teams who are looking to kick off the season with a more modest seeding, who train less frequently, are still capable of surprises. Whilst the battle for the mid table already looks rather crowded this year, there is welcome room for new outfits Manchester and Devon to ruffle some feathers. Both these teams have been established and managed under the guidance of former GB players who have invested in their local area. Up in Manchester, Julia ‘Jools’ Murray and Claerwen Snell have been providing lots of structure to trainings with guest coaches and fitness expertise on hand. So whilst they may lack experience, expect a well-drilled, well informed, skilled team who know their fundamentals. 

Despite my prediction that a full powered Iceni – desperate to play all together for the first time – are going to storm London Calling, I no longer see a divide between the top 4 and the rest as in previous years. There is everything to play for in the top bracket whether it’s the 3v4 or the 9v10, and woe betide any team that goes to Tour 1 resigning themselves to formality this weekend. Things are looking truly exciting in Women’s ultimate after the 2013 shake-up, and now it really is a case of if you don’t take it, someone else will!

Excitement is building steadily for the season opener in less than 24 hours. Our final preview of international teams is on the way!