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. 

Midlands Uni Open Indoor Regionals

Cambridge, Fling, Haze, Indoors, Jesters, Midlands, Oxford, UBU, University, Warwick

Our last few posts had a gaelic feel but we return to England for coverage of the upcoming Uni season with a post from the University and Midlands Co-Ordinator Chris Bamford looking into his region’s competition.

With 32 teams descending on 3 different venues across St. Albans for MUOIR here’s a preview of the teams likely to be fighting it out for the 7 nationals spots.


As a result of the strong performances of Midlands teams at last year’s national events (where they were only outperformed by the Scottish teams) the Midlands has 4 spots at Division 2 this year, allowing one more team from a perennially strong region to go and show the rest of the country what they have got.

UKU official Uni Midland region.

Last season James ‘Whippy’ Bauld led University of Birmingham Ultimate (UBU) to top three finishes indoors and outdoors, despite the loss of key players including Whippy, Marius Hutcheson and Carl Bullingham they remain the team to beat with multiple stars still there.  including probably the most feared name in the region after his season tearing discs out of the sky for EMO. The men likely to be taking charge of the disc on offence are Lloyd Cheeseman and Ben “Borat” Burak; UBU’s high tempo game is likely to be far too much for most teams this weekend.


Having finally cracked Division 1 nationals last year second seeds Leicester University (Jesters) will be looking to repeat that feat. However they’ll have to do it without maverick playmakers George Hudson and Robert ‘Crackerlegs’ White who have now graduated, however despite their loss I expect the same bombastic offence from Jesters. The man they’ll be looking at to make the plays is Alex ‘Medic’ Charlton. Having played for a team on the receiving end of an incredible performance from him last year (for the University of Nottingham (Fling) in the game to go to Div 1) I can personally attest to his ability to single handed win matches.


The only other team that anyone predicted to win this weekend was Cambridge. The usual air of mystery surrounds this team going into regionals, with rumours flying around of multiple US imports (Justin Norden and Ben Funk) joining them this year. Combine this with Dom “DD” Dathan and George “Seamus” Anegg along with numerous very experienced players they could well cruise through the weekend and sweep all before them. However by their own admission their weakness lies in that this is indoors, which most of them will be re-learning to play at regionals.


Warwick are traditionally a powerhouse of University Ultimate and despite a perceived weak team last year they continued to put in strong performances under the leadership of Robbie Tink. With Robbie, Captain Sam Hawkins and many others remaining at the club along with the return of Moritz “Fritz” Reithmayr, Warwick Bears will be confident of a return to Div 1. They seem likely to utilise the depth of their squad this year and try to run teams into the ground. A third place seeding indicates they are not to be taken lightly.


Onto Loughborough Haze. Since indoors last season they have suffered the loss of devastating duo Ian “Teddy” Hannah and Kevin Burnard. Despite this loss they retain players who have multiple years experience, and the name Chris. With Chris ‘Jaff’ Martin, Chris ‘Pudding’ Alderson, Chris ‘Melon’ Peploe and odd one out George Grant all used to handling the onus will be on Captain Andrew ‘Pumba’ Sellers to repeatedly get free for them.


Oxford will be extremely keen to ensure that a repeat of last year where they missed out on nationals both indoors and outdoors doesn’t occur. Captain Dan Aronov and Mike West (a key player who was injured for last season) will be big players for OW, along with Harry ‘Puppy’ Mason. This is a team that prides itself on its athletic ability and they will back themselves to win any one-on-one situation they can open up.


Lincoln enter regionals seeded 8th and have not featured on anyone’s predictions for the second year running. Whilst they just missed out last year they put in multiple tight performances and I expect more of the same from them this year. Personally I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make nationals.


Another team keen to improve on last year’s results will be UEA’s AYE-AYE. After a poor year  they’ll have to work their way up from the third pot of seeds. Whilst they may struggle to match UBU they will fancy their chances of taking 2nd rostering players from a range of playing backgrounds (Jen trialist Luke Frett and Tom Wildman who spent a year at university in the states, and an another unnamed American import). The undoubted star however is Howard Storey who played GBU23’s and features on many people’s ‘one to-watch’ list.


One team who could spring a surprise is Staffordshire, who are newly formed but highly rated. any team including Andy Lewis shouldn’t be discounted, but with little known about them they are a huge unknown quantity.


Saved till last is my old team Fling. From last year’s indoors team the team has only lost myself and James Lavender. Eight players were retained who all trained with EMO leading to high hopes for this year. The confidence has been somewhat dented somewhat with injuries, particularly Adrian ‘Cas’ Delport whoa Achilles problem. However captain Ben Poole has a furious desire to improve on last year’s results and he will try to take it all upon himself to do so. Handlers Robert ‘Cody’ Coddington and Tom Tongue will both look to make it easy for Ben Poole whilst Nathan Trickey’s endzone cuts (usually with his man eating dust behind him) are now a familiar sight to most of the region. Liam Reddy is likely to offer a calm approach to offence and try to rack up the layouts on defence.


The captains of all these teams were asked for their predictions and here’s an average of what came back:
1st – UBU
2nd – Cambridge
3rd – Fling
4th – Jesters
5th – Warwick
6th – Haze
7th – Oxford


It’s set to be cracking. See you there.

More from the Uni Ultimate committee to come! DP @ tSG.

UKU Regionals Preview – Midlands

Birmingham, EMO, Midlands, Open Tour, Previews, UKU Regionals

EMO player Sean Colfer previews an unexpectedly open Midlands region, with the Mixed division at Nationals strongly affecting the tournament in Birmingham. Midlands has 3 bids to Nationals and will be held this Sunday.

Last season the Midlands region featured three teams with A Tour experience in the preceding Tour season. Cambridge led the way in the regular season, finishing seventh overall, trailed by EMO in eleventh and Jest Ridisculous in 17th. However, only two spots at Nationals were available – EMO edged out Cambridge in the final, leaving JR out in the cold.


This season, there are three places available from a Midlands region that is lacking the strength in depth of last year.


EMO have elevated their performance levels in 2013 and earned third overall, behind the ‘big two’ of Clapham and Chevron, at Tour. They have defeated Fire, Brighton (twice, both in sudden death) and Ranelagh, as well as trading to half with Chevron at Tour 2. So far though, the Leicester-based team have been unable to make inroads against the top two over a whole game. They will win the region, and it’s unlikely to be close.


EMO will be without World Games captain Rich Gale who will still be in Cali come the event. However, club president and previous World Games competitor Daniel ‘Colonel’ Furnell should be able to play after a spell on the sidelines this season through injury, as should captain and coach Joe Wynder, fresh from the U23 World Championships Open team in Canada. Christian ‘Bobby’ Zamore and Tom ‘Foxy’ Fox provide the speed on offence, while vice-captains James ‘Whippy’ Bauld and Nathan Trickey will lead a strong, tall and athletic D line.

EMO seen here after taking on CUSB at EUCF last year. 


The next tier of teams features three B Tour mainstays. Jest Ridisculous finished as the 20th, 17th and 12th best team across Tours 1, 2 and 3 this season respectively. Cambridge finished 11th and 14th in the first two Tour events but slumped to 26th in Cardiff while EMO 2 managed two finishes at 20th and one at 21st, showing excellent consistency at the top end of B tour.

These three teams should be reasonably well matched, depending on how EMO decide to stack their rosters. However, complicating the possible outcomes this season is the fact that Nationals will also act as a qualifier for Mixed at xEUCF in Bordeaux. Both JR and Cambridge are believed to have an eye on the Mixed division at Nationals with the aim to compete at a European level, meaning both teams will be without some top players.

JR usually rely heavily on a very effective huck game, led by captain George ‘Rondo’ Hudson, fellow handler Chris Peploe and star receiver Alex ‘Medic’ Charlton. However, they will be without several ‘first choice’ players this Sunday – including Medic – and seem likely to surround Hudson with more inexperienced players with a view to developing their squad for the future.

It’s impossible to say who Cambridge will bring considering their strong recent history and fluctuating results this season, to say nothing of the rumoured focus elsewhere. It’s safe to say that U23 Open handler Dom Dathan will feature and if they decide to bring back players like GB Mixed veteran Nick Wong they will stand a good chance. The likelihood of this, though, appears slim; a big hit to their qualification hopes.

EMO 2 captain Chris ‘Pudding’ Alderson will have to wait to see who is available for his team, but the experience of Ian ‘Scot’ Scotland and playmaking of Phil Brunson have been key to their consistent performances this season. They will justifiably feel very good about their chances of joining EMO 1 in Southampton for the first time having finished ahead of Cambridge at Tour 3 and gotten close to JR in games this season.


The underdog in this region is Birmingham Ultimate. This is their first season as a Tour team and they have taken to the competition admirably. They finished runners-up in C Tour at Tour 1 and they maintained respectable B Tour finishes in Nottingham and Cardiff, at 26th and 24th respectively. They will host the tournament and will look to push for the final qualifying spot, possibly making a Vision-like run at the teams ahead of them. Their only weakness could be their very short lines, with only nine players on the team at Tour 3. Birmingham have a well rounded team, with their key plays coming from captain Ben ‘Mesh’ Kings and lefty handler Marius Hutcheson.


Leamington Lemmings gave EMO a shock a few years ago but they have lost a number of key players and will do well to challenge any of the teams ahead of them. St. Albans are another team that may enter the slightly geographically-expanded regional tournament, but their consistent C Tour/low B Tour position indicates they shouldn’t be a threat either. Flyght Club fall into this bracket as well, after a consistent season at the top end of C Tour, as will similarly placed SharkBear, a Warwick University student team. These teams will likely battle between themselves for a shot at fifth place.


The one-day tournament should see some competitive Ultimate, especially at the level below EMO 1, but whether there is enough strength in the region for the third spot to be justified this season remains to be seen. There is the potential there for some strong teams but the focus on Mixed makes this a very difficult read. The main beneficiaries of the shifted focus should be EMO, who must be considered heavy favourites to have their whole squad in Southampton.


Prediction*:

1. EMO 1
2. EMO 2
3. Birmingham Ultimate
4. Cambridge
5. JR
6. St. Albans
7. SharkBear
8. Flyght Club
9. Leamington

*And, in the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I am a proud EMO squad member. I tried to stay impartial with this preview but it looks like it didn’t work out so well…


What do you think? Comments below! DP @ tSG.