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!

Midlands University Open Outdoor Regionals Preview

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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. 

Tour 2 Review – A Tour (ft. Alex Cragg)

A Tour, Chevron, Clapham, Devon, EMO, Fire of London, Kapow, Manchester, nottingham, Open Tour, Ranelagh, Tournament Reports, u23, UKUT2
Josh Coxon Kelly tells us the tale of A tour at Nottingham including the inside story from one of the Fire 1 captains Alex Cragg.

Players and teams came to Nottingham expecting stormy weather and were not disappointed. A stiff wind all weekend and rushes of rain ensured that Tour 2 was a test of throwing skill and team strategy where patience and discipline would pay dividends. Such conditions are also ripe for upset – particularly on pitches with clear up/down wind orientation – and in this category the A tour didn’t disappoint.


Pool A saw Clapham and GB u23 looking to hold onto the top two seeds in a straight to semis schedule. The meeting of these two teams was closer than at Tour 1, but despite an early lead due to an excellent start by GB, clapham showed their consistency and improved steadily throughout the game to come out victorious once again. Neither Ranelagh or KaPow managed to break into the top 2 of the pool, and a 10-9 loss in their match-up to Ranelagh saw the bottom two in the pool switch seeds.

Michael Speer (GB U23) bids on Matt Dathan (KaPow) in the pool stages. Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey.

In Pool B a reduced Chevron squad make light work of opposition including an opening grudge match against Fire (in recent seasons a frequent matchup, this was the first time the squads had met since Fire’s victory in the 2012 Nationals semi-final). Chevron came out strong and didn’t let up, winning 15-6 in a game that was to be ominous of Fire’s weekend to come. EMO held seed in a dramatic win against a stuttering Fire squad, confirming their place in the top 4 for a second tour running, a win that could turn out to have serious implications in terms of tour rankings for WUCC 2014…

Chevron stayed clinical despite the wind and repeated their tour 1 quarter final victory over the u23s on Sunday, this time for a place in the final to play Clapham. However Chevron’s high retention performances would not continue into the last game of the weekend. Clapham brought a smart game that capitalised early and played through the Chevron zone in both directions. Down early, Chevron were unable to recover and didn’t manage to adapt their more conservative playing style to the worsening conditions as well as their London rivals, who emerged comfortable winners.


Fire veteran Lewis Glover does just enough to beat David Ray (Leeds).
Photo Courtesy of Graham Bailey.

Movement from the second 8 was to create arguably the most dramatic storylines of this tour however, as a Devon squad bolstered by returning players (including Chevron D-line star Ben Hall) completed a dramatic victory over Fire 1 on Sunday morning in the crossover for top 8. Players arriving early at the food and physio tents were treated to a sudden death comeback victory for Devon featuring a completed world’s greatest and the most emphatic of celebrations as Fire’s weekend took a further turn for the worse.


Manchester converted their qualification, avoiding the relegation fate shared by BAF, Cambridge and Glasgow. The highest climber from the second 8 was Fire 2, who after beating KaPow found themselves in the top 8, eventually finishing one place above their first team. 
Fire 1 have long been a firm top 4 team, and have been no stranger to finals at Tour, Nationals and even European championships in the last 5 years. Dropping out of the top 8 is the first significant movement of one the top 3 teams of recent A-tour history – tSG spoke to captain Alex Cragg to gain some insight into the weekend’s events…


Quite a few of the results at tour 2 were obviously disappointing for you and your team. What do you think happened to cause the upsets?
We’d had a slightly lower finish than we’d hoped for at Tour 1, even given the international teams, but we knew we had the ability to play at the top; taking a strong Bad Skid to sudden death proved that.
Unfortunately, that confidence backfired and we presumed our games were foregone conclusions. We failed to take the Chevron game as enough of a sign that wasn’t going to be the case. People wanted to beat us more than we wanted to beat them; our heads weren’t in the right place and we lacked focus causing too many individual errors, which crippled any tactical adjustments.
Another problem was that we tried to play Ultimate… Some people might scoff at that, but we undervalued territory in those conditions. We know how to play through a zone, but it was only half way through the Devon game, 6 points down, that we started to play to our real strengths.
What actions did you take to turn around the team’s mentality after these losses?
We made sure that our pre-game preparation consisted of much more throwing, getting people’s self belief back. We needed to salvage something from the weekend, and putting the prospect of losing all our games into context helped bring back some desire to win.
We’d probably placed too much focus on the bigger picture of World’s qualification, so we brought things back to focus on one game at a time.


Unexpected losses are undeniably difficult to take, but they can give an opportunity to learn about your team – what lessons did you take from tour 2?
The main thing I think we learnt is that we probably haven’t been exploiting our individual strengths enough, instead focussing on a team ethos that has seen some people’s roles mutate.
Every single player was hugely disappointed with the weeked, and I think everyone’s taking a bit more personal responsibility since then. We all know we can do better. We’ll be a very different team at Tour 3 and Nationals.
The second team’s squad has been strong at all showings this year and performed very well to qualify for the top 8 in Nottingham – will this see much change in players between the teams for Tour 3?
Fire 2 have been brilliant this year. A lot of people wrote them off after last year, but they’ve proven that to have been a blip in a very strong history for a second team. They’re definitely on track for their season goal of taking one of the 6 Euro’s spots.
One of our ideas for the year was to allow each team to have its own identity, which has included playing and drilling in those teams at training sessions. This builds up the relationships players need to do well.
However, there has been a small amount of movement, with 2 players coming up from Fire 2. We’ve also moved a couple of Fire 1 players into the seconds to give them more experience playing against top 4 competition (with Fire 1 being locked out).
Outside of players will there be any significant shift in Fire’s approach to Tour 3 and the rest of the season?
Absolutely. After quite a few roster changes from last year, it’s taken some time for everyone to find their role and for us to play in the best way to exploit our strengths. I think our experience at Tour 2 has brought us together more, and our passion and desire to win has only grown. We’ve also restructured how we call lines, which has lead to much better performances in training.
What are your team goals for Nationals and Europeans?
Barring a huge upset at Tour 3, we’ve now missed out on our first shot at World’s qualification. There’s enough time before Nationals to put everything we’ve learnt about ourselves into practice, and, like last year, our target is to make the final of Nationals and win. After that we’ll have to see about Europeans. We’ve learnt to not look too far in the future!

Fire of London.

There is all to play for in the final tour of the season. Fire 1 will be looking to turn their season around in the lead up to Nationals. Clapham will be missing stars with the absence of World Games squad players, and Chevron, U23 and EMO will be looking to capitalise on this to hand them their first loss of the season. Ranelagh found the form they were looking for in Nottingham rising to 5th, but with the recent events at Tour 2 all A tour teams will be fighting hard for that giant killing that will send them up the rankings.

A Tour movers. Courtesy of Wayne Retter.


All ready for a heatwave in Cardiff? Don’t forget your suncream and hats! Like, share, contribute and tweet! DP @ tSG.

Tour 2 Review – C Tour

C Tour, Kent Ultimate, nottingham, Open, Tournament Reports, UKUT2
Bradley Andrews brings us the Kent Ultimate perspective on T2 and the C Tour.

After the excitement of Tour 1, the second C tour of the season at Tour 2 in Nottingham presented an opportunity to be victorious against old and new rivals alike. Teams had to step up their game just to hold their seeding, let alone potentially move up the rankings and even make B tour: every team brought intensity and determination, making C tour as competitive as ever.
All players, both experienced and new to the game, from C tour up to A tour, were finding the weather conditions difficult to play in. There was a strong wind on the first day as well as torrential rain (and some hail). It meant that most set plays that teams had practiced became difficult to run, as discs were harder to grip and muddy fields made cutting much more difficult. This was Ultimate at its most gruelling.
The future of UK ultimate battling in C tour – Devon 3 vs GB U17s. Photo Courtesy of Andrew Moss.

Conditions limited the play, especially on ‘up wind, down wind’ pitches. Everyone was using similar plays, using the wind to send a huck to a deep cut and taking advantage of the space underneath when defending teams sent extra men to prevent the deep shot. This ‘huck and d’ strategy was common practice for many teams as scoring an upwind point was extremely difficult in the conditions. There was a lot of zone defence on show, using the wind to limit opponents and force them to complete a lot of passes.

 Due to conditions Tour 2 was a real test of throwing and catching ability, as well as how well teams co-operated and worked together to score points and keep their zone defence working effectively. While Saints, Ireland U20 and Flyght Club 1 all progressed to B tour, all of the teams in C tour played competitive Ultimate to a good level, showing the increase in the quality of Ultimate in recent times. Sneeekys and Curve also finished high in C tour, capitalising on the weaknesses of other teams and playing hard defence as well as well co-ordinated offense. 
Lemmings player going for the high grab in Nottingham. Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey.

All teams in C tour played with their hearts on their sleeves, enduring the miserable weather and playing conditions. Brighton Pier Pressure, for example, started the weekend with only eight players and were down to six players by midday Sunday but never gave in to the fatigue and weather, showing their determination to win no matter what. During the game they played against Kent Ultimate they lost yet another player to injury but showed their class and continued to play when many teams in their position would be all too happy to throw in the towel. 
On Sunday the time cap was changed from an hour and a half to an hour, meaning that the point cap was also changed, with teams taking the half at seven points rather than eight. The shorter format changed the games dramatically as many teams were finishing matches and reaching tie breaks before the half. Shorter games also made an upwind score a larger asset as teams would have less time to take back the upwind point than on the first day.

C Tour movers. Courtesy of Wayne Retter.

Though the weather was almost unbearable and everyone was soaked the weekend ended in good spirits. The atmosphere of the Ultimate community could not be dampened by the rain, with friends and rivals coming together to create an unforgettable weekend.

Almost there and only 3 days until #ukut3!! First things first; comment, like and share. DP @ tSG.

Tour 2 Review – B Tour

B Tour, Flump, nottingham, Open Tour, Reading Ultimate, The Brown, Tournament Reports, u23, UKUT2
Matthew Parker from the ever rising Flump gives us his review of B tour at UKU OWT2.

After the fantastic weather of London’s Calling, it was more than any self-respecting UK Ultimate player could ask for two tour weekends of good weather, and we were not disappointed. Winds hitting up to 20mph on Saturday, and even more on the Sunday, changed the dynamic of the ultimate, but still producing fantastic games all across B-tour.
Owing to the events of the previous tour, teams were now seeded in closer groups, limiting each teams’ ability to rise and fall. The introduction of newly promoted C-tour team, Flump, into the top 8 and an opportunity to qualify into A-tour, sent rustlings of frustration through many seasoned B-tour teams. Furthermore, as a result of teams dropping out of A-tour and B-tour, ABH, Vision, and Bristol Open, who finished in the bottom 3 at London’s Calling, had another opportunity to hold their place in B-tour. Norwich’s Mustard, although being pipped to the final promotion place last tour, were given an opportunity to join Birmingham and Devon 2 in B-tour. 
Murray from Ireland U23 takes is forced by Reynolds from Brighton Echo. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.

So the stage was set in a blustery Nottingham, with newly promoted teams attempting to cement themselves in B-tour, with many teams fighting to do the same and hopefully aim for the coveted A-tour spots being battled out by pools E and F. Saturday morning saw pools E and F play their first two games. Newly promoted Flump and Reading enjoyed their first games of the day with teams trading down-wind for the first few points of the game while they attempted to find their feet. Even though Flump saw the early break, Reading fought back and took the game 11-9. Simultaneously The Brown played the newly demoted Tooting Tigers on the crosswind pitches -The Brown put in a fantastic performance to dispatch the top seed 11-6. The subsequent games saw Tooting Tigers lose in a tight game with Reading 9-11, and Flump pip The Brown in an excellent game which saw fantastic plays by each side, including layouts, hammers, huge grabs, and ending with a single upwind break collected by Flump. 

The final games of Pool E saw an incredible game between Reading and The Brown, which traded upwind almost the entire game, with Reading drawing a small advantage midway, but The Brown pulling back in fantastic style in sudden death to take the game. The game between Tooting Tigers and Flump, saw the London rivals battle out a gritty match with more stoppages than an American Football game. Calls lasting a couple of minutes a piece as players discussed the events of the pitch – sometimes in raised tones – put a damper on the eventual Flump win. With so much at stake in each game at this stage in a tour, it is a testament to both teams’ spirit that in the huddle afterwards, a calm discussion took place between the captains to address some of the issues that had occurred. Each team looked to consider what had been said, and take those considerations into their coming games. Overall, this left Pool E in a confusing state, with The Brown, for the second tour in a row, losing out in a three way tie for the top two positions to Reading followed by Flump, who had proved their worth at the top of B-tour. 


Meanwhile, in Pool F, Ireland U23 were showing their colours, beating each team by at least 5 points. Jest Ridisculous 1 came second in the group, after losing to Ireland U23, but beating Emo 2 by a break, and only beating Brighton Echo in sudden death. The afternoon pools G and H saw newly promoted Devon 2 put out great performances against Mustard – winning by two points – as well as a massive win over ABH.  However, Burro Electro, bemused at not being given the opportunity to fight for promotion, put in a great first day with a series of wins in their group. Newly promoted Birmingham saw an enjoyable first day in B tour, with wins over Bristol and Vision, however losing to GB U20s who confidently dispatched Bristol but lost to Vision (whom they beat by one in the final placement game). 

Sunday saw an increase in the wind and rain as only Nottingham can provide. The first games of the day entertained crossovers in the middle eight, with EMO 2, Burro Electrico, Brighton Echo, and The Brown all cementing their place in the top half of B tour. The semi-finals saw Ireland U23 and Jest Ridisculous 1 play Flump and Reading respectively. In a hard-fought game, Ireland emerged as the deserved winners over Flump, managing to resist a heroic comeback in the cap. Despite being down at the half, Jest Ridisculous also pushed through in an exciting win against Reading, securing themselves a place in the final and a shot at A-tour, leaving old flames Reading and Flump to battle it out for the final qualification slot. 

B tour movers. Courtesy of Wayne Retter.

The captain of Portland Rhino said in a recent Nationals campaign “The hardest thing to do in a tournament is beat the same team twice” [ED: see Chasing Sarasota], and Flump put a claim to that, as they immediately took a break and made Reading work for every downwind point. However, after working exceptionally hard into the wind, Reading managed to take down a dubious looking end-zone hammer and felt the turn of the tide. From there they pushed on to take the half, and finally the game in an A-tour worthy performance over Flump, who were prevented at being the first ever team to be promoted in consecutive tours. 

Ireland U23 finished off their fantastic tour with another win over Jest Ridisculous, and were crowned worthy winners of B-tour. we wish them all the best for their travels across the pond for World U23s next month. Elsewhere, Tooting Tigers were able to pick up their first win of the season against Vision, only to subsequently lose to Devon 2 who have really enjoyed securing their place as a B-tour team this tour. The Brown and Burro Electro, in a fantastic match now look set to attempt a bid at A-tour for next season, while Birmingham have hopefully sealed a place at next tour. 
More to come! Remember to like, share and comment. DP @ tSG.