Rory Curran sizes up the competition at this weekend’s tournament which doubles as University Scottish National Indoor Championships and University Regional Qualifiers
Following Scotland’s impressive showing across all four University Nationals last year, they have now been awarded a fourth Division 1 spot, maintaining three for Division 2. Last year’s British national champions Dundee University look to start the tournament as favourites. Despite losing Graeme McDowell and Jocelyn Trottet, Dundee have been a club growing for many years now under Graeme’s watchful eye and he has left them in a very strong state. The team placed seventh at Outdoors, losing their quarter final match to eventual finalists Edinburgh.
|The Scottish region, if you weren’t sure. Image courtesy of UKU.
Glasgow Ultimate had a very successful club season, and this high level ultimate appears to have filtered into the two Glasgow based teams – Strathclyde and Glasgow University. My predictions see these two teams taking the next two spots and pushing Dundee the hardest, and possibly causing an upset.
Strathclyde see the return of GB U23 mixed player Jonny Ferry joining captain Matt Scott who, between them, will run the show. By no means is that where the team ends with numerous other players having improved massively playing Tour with their clubs over the summer, notably Asif Arshad – a recent Glasgow Ultimate MIP candidate starting his Strathclyde Career. A well-knit team, and comfortable on the disc; if these guys keep their heads they will be right up there on Sunday afternoon. Strathclyde could be the dark horses of the tournament.
Glasgow remains a very similar outfit to last year. Ex-Flatballer Rory Curran has been using his Div 1 experience to strengthen the team, with the assistance of the vastly experienced Webb brothers, for the past two seasons. A very versatile team, Farflung possess both an aerial threat and multiple players able to play in multiple positions. Rory is considered the playmaker, with Joe Crisp expected to bring down anything thrown near him. Iso has been Glasgow’s go-to play and with those two we don’t expect to see anything new. Expect this tall team to put up a lot of discs, and if they bring most of them down they too could be real contenders. Any weaknesses? They do love to party!
Edinburgh has been a keystone in Scotland’s top three ever since 2007, and it is unthinkable that they wouldn’t remain so. Ro Sham Bo can always rely on a healthy import of “Muricans” to bolster their team and as such are expected by most to place highly. However, with the loss of James Glover and Michael Noblett, do they have a leader to teach them how to play indoors in time for this years early regionals? Rumors circulated at Tune-up suggested they had picked up a top American O line handler so, if true Ro Sham Bo could well maintain their long Division 1 history. A team keeping their cards close to their chest, not many will know exactly what to expect.
Heriot Watt have been building year on year since their birth as a team about 4 years back. This year sees them really fancy their chances as the majority of the team has now been playing together for that time. John Stainsbury is their key player and provides the most experience; but a strong team now also backs him up. Ex-fusion captain and GB player John Leach has been coaching them for two years, and this was evident in their performance at the Glasgow one day warm up tournament. Not many teams rate Heriot Watt higher than sixth but personally I think you underestimate them at your peril. Their relative lack of experience may see them fall just short of Division 1 but I expect these guys to cause a few upsets and at least qualify for Division 2.
St. Andrews. Benji Heywood is the key man at flatball; he provides structured training and very structured teams. St. Andrews always produces a very reliable offence. They have lost their two key players to graduation, but following a week long preseason and dedicated first team training this team is already looking competitive. They are on a two year plan but victory last weekend at Edinburgh beginners has spirits high, with Captain Miles as their new key player. If Flatball nurse their injuries through the tournament and avoid their newly characteristic Sunday dip in form they will make Division 2.
Stirling were looking weak following the disintegration of their team that did so well at Division 1 last year. However, with a cheeky masters degree for Matt Tomlinson all of a sudden these guys (and one gal) are throwing their hat into the ring. Division 1 is probably out of their reach but they think differently. Division 2 would be a good result for them considering how they looked in June. I think they will sneak seventh place in a close match against Aberdeen.
Aberdeen has a lot of height and home advantage this weekend. Daryll will be leading the show, although the loss of GB U23 player Doug Olley will likely be evident. Aberdeen had enough numbers to take them to outdoor nationals last year and some of these remain, it might just be enough to sneak them into one of the last two division 2 spots. Hosting the party could be their downfall nursing hangovers on Sunday, but if they get their mojo up who knows what upsets they could cause.
Predictions see everyone placing Dundee as favourites. Beyond that there is a lot of debate. The general consensus is that Glasgow and Edinburgh will complete the top three (excluding teams backing themselves). The fourth and final Div 1 spot will be very hotly contested and who its goes to depends on who you ask and what knowledge they have. No one puts themselves outside the top 7 and most put St. Andrews at the front of the chasing pack.
My bold predications are as follows (in order): –
Qualifying for Div 1
Dundee, Glasgow, Strathclyde, Heriot Watt
Qualifying for Div 2
St. Andrews, Edinburgh, Stirling
Leaving Aberdeen missing out but probably winning the party.
Keep an eye out for more University Indoor Regional Previews coming soon… JCK @tSG