Midlands University Open Outdoor Regionals Preview

Birmingham, Cambridge, Leicester, Loughborough, Norwich, nottingham, Oxford, Previews, UKU Regionals, University, Warwick
Chris Alderson runs down the Midlands region ahead of this weekend University regionals in Cambridge.

With the University Indoor season drawing to a close, all teams in the Midlands Region are once again drawn to Cambridge to compete for 6 Nationals places (3 in each Division). Here’s a preview of what we’re likely to see.


We can’t start this anywhere other than looking at the Division 1 Indoor National Champs and our hosts, Cambridge (Strange Blue). On the lips of everyone in the region is ‘these Americans’ or to use their actual names, Justin Norden and Ben Funk. Funk is an import from Stanford and Norden a 2011 USA College Nationals Champ with Carleton. Expect the combination of Norden’s clinical handling and Dom Dathan breaking forces like twigs to form an offence to be reckoned with. Captain George Anegg will be looking to take a large and athletic squad to give those handlers plenty of options.
University of Nottingham at Div 2 Nationals last year. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.
The next logical team to review would be the Division 2 Indoor National Champs, Warwick Bears. Bears Skipper Sam ‘261’ Hawkins appears to have gathered a good squad depth. Their second team was the highest placed second team at Indoor Regionals, and they have a good retention of players from last year in the name of Robbie ‘Cracking’ Tink and Frigate as steady handlers, plus Andy Hillman organising the defence. Expect that ‘Midlands weave’ and a classic Bears aggressive zone in their arsenal. With this in mind, Warwick will be looking to be that outside bet to break into the top two (of Cambridge and Birmingham) in the region.


That other team in that ‘top two’ (along with Cambridge) and going into the weekend with a firm belief they can win is the University of Birmingham (uBu). Another Bronze medal at Indoors this year, their third on the bounce, shows uBu haven’t taken the foot off the pedal and will be hoping to do one better than last year and win the region on the road to Nationals. Rollo Sax Dixon and Ben ‘Borat’ Burak the notable names most teams will be eyeing as game changers getting blocks, but with other standouts like Lloyd ‘Incredible CheeseWing Frisbee Throw’ Cheesman and Tom Hodgett, there is no end to the talent they have you’re going to have to try and stop. A solid team, summed up perfectly by Harry Mason: “Dang they strong.”

Onto EMO… I mean Fling (University of Nottingham). I say EMO, as looking at Fling’s key players you start to spot the trend; with no less than 8 Fling players on the EMO roster (a reduction from 12 last year). EMO Captain Robert ‘Cody’ Coddington will be there, in a team lacking handler resource, throwing deep options to the towering Captain Ben Poole, and on defence you’ll see Nathan Trickey and Adrian ‘Cass’ Delport getting layout blocks for fun. Although they were disappointed last year not getting Division, they responded by winning Division 2 Outdoor Nationals and they will be looking match their indoor achievement and qualify Division 1 this year.

After a disappointing year in 2013, losing to Fling in some style in the game to go for Division 2, Oxford University (OW!) are looking for revenge. They’re hoping to do this through their defence, with Dan ‘Monster’ Cerigo and Michael ‘Face’ West who are going to be huge in the air combining with Harry ‘Puppy’ Mason who’ll be chasing down the opposition so as to not allow them an inch of space. Captain Dan Aronov will no doubt be trying to get their offence consistent as well. Hugo ‘Huggie’ Grimmett in his 7th year with OW! will help this, but with very inconsistent performances over the past few tournaments, who knows what their outcomes will be against opponents of different levels.

Leicester University (Jesters) come into the tournament after qualifying for Division 1 last year but with limited success this year so far. You can’t talk about Jesters without immediately talking about Alex ‘Medic’ Charlton, a player of huge talent (I don’t really have to explain anything other than saying his name…). Some may think he has carried Jesters this year but with rumours of his University Ultimate career over to concentrate on university workload, the responsibility comes down to Edd Carmichael and Julian Neo to bring this relatively young and inexperienced team through the big games.

Another team that kept cropping up in the Region’s predictions is University of East Anglia (Aye-Aye). GB U23 Mixed player Howard “HOWWWAAAARRDDDDD” Storey looks to be the star in a team of relatively unknown players. Aye-Aye have shown promise in previous tournaments this year and perhaps Regionals is where it all comes together for them. Captain Arron Reed will be hoping for Jen squad player Luke Frett to step up also, especially with injuries to some key squad players to contend with.

Now we draw to my team, Loughborough University (Haze). After being written off for last year’s Regionals, Haze went on to lose narrowly in the game-to-go for Division 1; living up to the old adage: ‘Haze always find a way.’ Skipper Andrew ‘Pumba’ Sellers draws from a large young squad showing a lot of promise, hoping to be coupled perfectly with handling experience in Chris ‘Melon’ Peploe. Ben ‘Jar Jar’ Pocock and Matty ‘Matty’ Hart will be looking to motivate the young defence in accumulating blocks, and not letting offences flow.

Lincoln will be hanging around that top 8 area this season with notable player Jack Gray, anyone not treating the likes of these teams with respect may be punished.

Taken from predictions around the region, here’s an average of what people think the outcome will be:
1st – Strange Blue
2nd – uBu
3rd – Bears
4th – Fling
5th – Haze
6th – OW!
7th – Jesters
8th – Aye-Aye

Whatever happens, the strength in the Midlands and with the amount of silverware teams have around the region, it promises to be a tasty affair. See you all there.

And that’s it for English regionals, next weekend will be the final UK regional: Scotland.

Midlands Uni Women Indoor Regionals

Birmingham, Cambridge, Loughborough, Midlands, nottingham, Oxford, UEA, University, Warwick, womens

Harry Mason wrote this preview for the Midlands Women’s Regionals on theStudentReview, he has kindly let us share it here too! 

Welcome to the Midlands. It’s a relatively nice place. Home to some good architecture. Some nice pubs. Friendly people to visit. Oh, and home to one of the most competitive regions in Ultimate, no matter what level/division you happen to find yourself playing in. And, if you’re like me, that makes it one of the best places in the world.

This weekend is women’s indoor regionals, and this proves to be no exception to the midlands rule. With 4 places up for grabs (that’s right, they get an extra spot because it’s *that* tough), the competition is certainly going to be intense. 12 teams are fighting it out in all (including 2 second teams), so here’s how they predicted themselves ending up:
1st Birmingham
2nd Nottingham
3rd Loughborough
4th Warwick

5th Cambridge
6th Oxford
7th UEA
Firstly, Birmingham (UBU) were certainly favourites for this weekend. And it’s really not hard to see why everyone was so scared of them. Captain Helen Roberts commands a formidable team, with the ever fantastic GB U23 stars Kim and Grace Owen only just starting this year, and formidable former Iowa player Rachel Bradley being hot on other teams watch lists. These gals are going to be clinical, fast and very, very dangerous. And, arguably  fully deserving of being top of predictions. Someone make sure they don’t come away with it two years in a row, please?
Echoing a sudden death loss of last year, Nottingham (Fling) again find themselves narrowly behind UBU. But when you consider that they’ve suffered relatively few losses, and that they’ve picked up some rather nice international players (and noted GB U23 mixed player Helen ‘Welen’ Wanstall) and some rather athletics freshers, this is a team that Captain Trina Lam is certain to be very proud of after this weekend.
Now, onto Loughborough (Haze). Captain Cat Baron is back after a year out training with Cambridge (or possibly on an internship). And with the freshers to finish 2nd at NWBin (Nottingham Women’s Beginner’s indoors), added to an already impressive roster including Xing Guo (who’s wicked throws and great D I’ve witnessed first hand at Mixed Tour), Charlotte ‘Bubbles’ Kennedy (taking after Cat in loving her overheads) and of course the Loughborough standard  of producing very fast athletic people (Lucy and Anna Kadja being highlighted, even by Haze standards here). Basically, watch out. Haze are about.
So, Warwick Bears were predicted to be taking the final spot. However, coach Moritz ‘Fritz’ Reithmayr may have more of a challenge on his hands than most realise. With Welen backstabbing Bears to go play for Fling, and last year’s captain Ronja Wöstheinrich having left as well (helping Bear Cavalry qualify for the world championships in the process), a lot of teams may suddenly find themselves fancying their chances. Don’t be so hasty. With Zhiling Chan there to provide quick speed and lethal throws, and the lovely but loud Maddie McDonald there to catch anything thrown at her. Add a couple more experienced players like Pei Hwa for some good old reliability, and Warwick just might find themselves at nationals.
Not without a fight, however. If experience is a good thing, then Cambridge (Strange Blue) boast over 17 years collectively in the team. Although a lot of that can be distilled into the co-captains of all round superstar Fran Kundel and the charming Aimée Hall, added to the fearsome force of ex-captain Megan Davies-Wykes equals tough luck for any team hoping for an easy ride. Also, thanks to Cambridge’s (nearly) unique college leagues, even beginners to Uni level are not to be taken lightly, with Helen Hambling and the sky-dominant Hannah Sanderson among those hoping to give Cambridge a shot at the big time.
Although, like always, Oxford (WOW!) are keen to get in Cambridge’s way. With fearsome Punt player and Captain Emma ‘Crumps’ Jacobsen hoping to overcome Oxford’s late term start with clinical athleticism and fearsome speed (and has wasted no time teaching her players how to do the same). Vice Serena ‘Lucky’ De Nahlik has come off an intense summer of tours and nationals (and co-captaining OW! 2 to 12 in the region) willing to match any player in the country for speed and enthusiasm. And with some unfairly talented beginners in Joyce Kwok and Leila Denniston testing the waters you can be sure WOW! is going to be strong, fast and loud. Ok, the loud bit is mainly because of Emma, but the point stands.
Finally on the rankings, the ever wonderful UEA (Birds-Aye). By the way, for those wondering, that adjective is backed up conclusively by numerous spirit rankings. However, Birds-Aye aren’t just out to be nice. With Steph Tomkins stepping up to join Louise Fitzpatrick as captain, together they are looking to term that home advantage (and probably sideline) into some strong victories. With Margot Nickels having a ‘beautiful, Beyoncé-like force’, and having found in the bad-ass Ele Overvoorde someone who actually like to play chase on a zone, there’s no telling what else might be in store for any (presumably) brave opponents that they’ll face.
Personally, I found it slightly surprising that Leicester (Jesters) didn’t show up anywhere in the predictions. After all, with Leicester coming 2nd in mixed outdoors and JR qualifying for mixed club nationals its clear that this is a uni that knows how to train it’s women (albeit not very many of them apparently). However, with few returners and with superstar Jody Martin sadly missing this weekend, there’s no doubt that Captain Emily Marshall has a job building up a team to match last year. On the other hand if York Alumni fail you, you can count on Lancaster Alumni in the form of the brilliant Helena Jones. Together, her and Emily are sure to be out to have some fun in traditional Jester style, and maybe cause an upset or 2 along the way
Next up are Brookes Ladies (BLUF), captained by returning player (and onsie lover) Daisy Sander. The loss of club captain Kirsty Bunning is sure to hit them hard, but with talented returner Michelle Tham providing some stability and then some talented freshers (including Sian Simpson, who, after sneaking a preview at the team, can confirm is one to watch) picking up the slack, it might mean they may not be quite as easy to pass as other teams would hope.
Finally, proudly representing their University for the first time are Lincoln (Lincoln). Still discovering themselves and their style (and having a number of them doing so the second weekend in a row after playing as Lincoln 2 at open regionals last weekend), expect to see (moderately) experienced players like the usefully tall Captain Sophie McKenna and consistently excellent cutter Amy Oxbridge, along with fresher D machine Beth Joy Platt and the safe but high up hands of Maddy Ogden. This is definitely going to be a team to watch in years to come. So you might as well start now.
So, basically, it’s going to be a fun weekend. No weekend in the midlands is complete without upsets, huge bids, great spirit and naturally sudden death finishes. With rumours of big things planned for nationals and 4 places at the biggest University level women’s indoor tournament in all of Great Britain up for grabs, it’s clear that this weekend is not going to be one to miss.
Best but equal wishes and luck to all teams this weekend. Let’s go put on a show.

Cheers Harry and thank you again to the UU committee! DP  @ tSG.