As part of our series previewing EUCF, certified Irishman Aidan Kelly looks into the condition of Ireland’s two representatives in Frankfurt; Rebel in the Mixed division, and PELT in the Open division.
There is a strange feeling of optimism in Irish Ultimate these days. Fresh from some fantastic international results at both WUGC and WJUC, as well as UKU Tour, our small nation feels like they really can take on the world when it comes to our fair sport. However, historically, no matter how successful a year we’ve had, there has always been one event that we couldn’t stamp our mark on, until 2016: Euros.
Sean Colfers previews the Mixed Division at 2016 Nationals
Mixed Nationals is the pinnacle of the season, serving as the qualifier for the European Championships. The difference between this tournament and the simultaneous Open and Women’s events is that the event comes months after the Mixed season finished – Mixed Tour 3 was won by Thundering Herd over three months ago in Cheltenham. That break means that all eight teams contesting Nationals are essentially starting a new season, trying to rebuild cohesion and re-establish connections.
That dynamic is especially true since there have been a number of squad changes across the teams. Some have either gained or lost players to Open and Women’s, whereas some have added Great Britain players absent for the Tour season. The field overall looks the strongest in Nationals history, potentially as part of the ramping up for WUCC qualification next year, with all eight teams finishing in the top ten during the 2016 Mixed Tour season.
Enough preamble; let’s take a look at the teams.
Sean Colfer begins our club season coverage with his preview of the first Mixed Tour of 2016
Mixed Tour 1 is often full of surprises, which is no surprise itself given that it marks the beginning of the season. It’s the first time teams from all over the country gather in one place, the first time any training put in over the winter months bears any fruit and the first time out for new-look squads or, as is often the case, new teams altogether.
As usual, the club off-season has come and gone far too quickly. BritDisc and Facebook groups have started to be covered with trials announcements. It can be hard to keep track of all of them, so if you’re a player who wants an easy to read run-down of high level Ultimate teams, and want to know how to show your interest, then read on.
Today the European Club Championships kick off in Wroclaw Poland. Josh Coxon Kelly, Claire Taylor and David Pryce preview the UK teams looking to bring home some international silverware.
Clapham are chasing their fourth consecutive title in Wroclaw, and further consolidation as the most dominant squad in Europe. The squad has more new players than in recent years, but this didn’t slow down their unbeaten route to the final and a 15th domestic title in Southampton at Nationals. Retaining will be tough work with targets so clearly marked out on their backs, but this team are nevertheless still in the strongest position for gold. Their pool looks the kinder of the two groups starting at ‘elite’ tier, however the Belgian Mooncatchers have capitalised on building momentum at WU23 and EUC to win 15-12 over Bad Skid in the EUCR – C final, and CUSB will be as fiery as ever and mean that pool play may not be a completely straightforward affair.
Sean Colfer reports on Finals day at UKU Nationals
Another domestic season is finished, and nine teams have earned the right to compete at the European Club Championships in Poland in October. The second day at Nationals saw some inclement conditions, some very important games, and some pretty interesting story lines emerge.
Thomas Cliff looks back at Mixed Tour and ahead to UKU Mixed Nationals this weekend.
Having just experienced the most unstable Open and Women’s Tour seasons that I can remember, it could be easy to forget about the mixed season that preceded it.
However, Mixed Tour wasn’t without its share of uncertainty. 2014’s top squad and the combination of former European champions Bear Cavalry having disbanded, and Cambridge mixed, sixth place finisher at WUCC 2014 having had a severe drop off in top talent, really set the stage for the pack of wolves nipping at their heels to have a shot at the top. Further to this, GB Mixed seniors, GB U23, and Ireland Mixed took many fantastic players away from the rankings, leaving things absolutely wide open.
Mixed Nationals this year is likely going to be a tale of teams who stepped into the void left at the top from 2014, as there is a strong correlation between the Tour rankings and the Nationals line up: seven of the eight teams entered at Nationals finished in the top 12 over the course of the season, with the eighth competitors being 2014’s second-place finisher Pingu Jam. Notable absences are Glasgow, who have a real shot at making Euros in the Open division, and Bristol, who are likewise placed in the Women’s draw.