WUCC 2014 Women’s Masters Division Preview: R.O.B.O.T

news, Previews, ROBOT, Women's Master, WUCC Previews, WUCC2014
Lauren Bryant previews the only Women’s Masters team going to Lecco from UK: R.O.B.O.T.

ROBOT taking on LLLeeds during this years Tour season. Photo courtesy of Nick Moss.



Squad

Alejandra Ospina

Angela Caulfield
Carolyn Le Cocq
Claerwen Snell
Claire Mitchell
Clare Avenell
Elizabeth Searle
Felicity Perry
Gemma Youlten
Gemma Taylor
Helen Windle
Joelie Chalmer
Julia Murray
Kathrine Montagu-Smith
Kiley Brown
KJ Boardman-Hims
Kristina Cernusakova
Lianne Elsdon
Linda Gilmour
Linz Wilkinson
Magdalena Glanc
Nicole Cozens
Ruth Carelton
Sarah Douglas
Sophie Beavan
Stephanie Bolton

About ROBOT

Really Old Birds On Tour already win points for their name, and are an exciting prospect going into WUCC. Set up last year as the UK’s first women’s masters team, ROBOT bring not only experience to the field but an intimidating level of skills and athleticism.

The core of the team played together in 2013 as ROBOT on the UK circuit and as GB women’s masters at ECBU, where they took silver. The team made semi-finals at the second and third women’s tours in the UK, proving they can match up against the top tier of UK women’s ultimate.

Players to watch

#55 Gemma Taylor – Huge flicks hucks and gritty defence, GT will put her body on the line for the team.
#23 Sophie Beavan – Dominant cutter able to get free at will, quick and smart.
#1 Jools Murray – Big throws and big vision and a complete athlete. All three also captained GB women in 2011/2012.

Predictions

There is no seeding in the women’s masters division, with nine teams playing a round robin before play-offs. ROBOT have the ability to dispatch anyone in the division, knocking out other European teams and further-afield rivals from Colombia and Australia. But they may not be able to better North America’s Godiva (US) or Vintage (Canada), which have a long history of playing together as well as some of the best of elite North American Club players from recent years. A finals berth may be just out of reach, but the team should certainly have their sights on medals.


That’s the Women’s Masters UK team, easy! Take it to the world! 

UKU Tour 3 Review

#ukut3, Cardiff, Chevron, Clapham, EMO, Fire of London, news, Nice Bristols, Open, PUNT, ROBOT, SYC, Tournament Reports, womens
David Pryce, Fiona Kwan, Thomas Cliff and Christopher Bell review Tour 3 with some insight into the rest of the season…

Full standings can be found here for Women’s and here for OpenBut what happened in Cardiff?

Women’s Tour – Fiona Kwan

UKU Women’s Tour Top 8 


1. Punt
2. SYC
3. ROBOT
4. LLLeeds
5. Phoenix London
6. Iceni
7. Relentless
8. Brighton Pretty
After 3 rounds of fierce contest featuring local favourites and some great input from international competition, the 2014 Tour season has come to an end. We’ve seen highs and lows, wins and losses, and our fair share of universe points. But sadly, the bakery is now closed. No more bagels.

This review will itself be a review of the finals for the top 6. There have been some great match-ups this season, as more and more team find themselves in contention to win – 4 different teams featured in the 3 Tour finals, Iceni and Punt being the only teams to appear more than once. 

Iceni’s absence at Tour 3 was to the advantage of other top level teams who came out hard  vying for the Tour 3 trophy, and the UKU title. Here’s how it all went down…


The Final: Bristol vs. Punt
Half time score: Bristol  4 Punt
Full time result: Bristol 16 – 17 Punt

Punt have been the movers and shakers of Tour this year and have had a remarkable season. A strong performance in 2013 raised expectations for the Cambridge/Oxford side, and they didn’t let us down. Consistent finishes in all three Tour events brought them a well deserved victory in the overall tour standings, beating out SYC by 41 points. They’ll also be ranked 2nd at Nationals, a remarkable feat for such a young team.

Coming into Tour 3, there was a still a certain amount of mystery surrounding the Bristol side this year. The result of them splitting their squad at Tour 1, and their notable absence at Tour 2 meant that they weren’t seen together until last weekend. In fact, Punt hadn’t had a chance to play Bristol all season, so this was a new encounter for all players involved. With the Bristol women representing in Lecco in a couple weeks time (and many of the Punt players playing for Cambridge mixed) both teams were well drilled and ready to play. This naturally lead to a high quality contest, and a hard fought victory.

Benefitting from low player turnover from last year in addition to a full season playing together, Bristol came out strong in the first half, and despite strong defensive pressure from Punt, the Worlds-bound side took half decisively at 9-4. 

Moving into the second half, Punt stepped up their defence, resulting in a number of turnovers near Bristol’s endzone which they were able to capitalise on. In a comeback worthy of the final, Punt brought it back to 11-11. From here, both teams fought hard, but Punt made it evident that they came to win. With the combination of Punt’s defensive strength and the wind playing a role in generating turnovers for both sides, Bristol’s offence began to lose steam. Ultimately, Punt was able to overcome their opposition and beat favourites Bristol in sudden death taking the Tour 3 and overall Tour title. 

Despite the upset, Bristol still finished the season in 10th place, with an average of 230 points per event. They go into Nationals ranked 3rd. 

A new addition to the squad this year, Punt’s Hannah Boddy was awarded MVP, and took the lovely glass UKU trophy home with her. Congratulations!


A clip of the winning point from the final, thanks to Matthew Hodgson.

3 vs. 4: SYC vs. ROBOT
Half time score: SYC 7 – ROBOT
Full time result: SYC 15  10 ROBOT

SYC and ROBOT seem to have played each other a lot this season, with Tour 3 being no exception. After losing to Punt and Bristol respectively in the semis, both were looking to give a strong showing in the 3 vs. 4. Both teams played some excellent D in this game, forcing the offense to put up some shaky throws. 

From the beginning SYC came out strong, piling the defensive pressure and generating turns from the seasoned ROBOT side. While ROBOT’s O was solid with all the right decisions being made with no unforced throwaways, SYC’s defense eventually overwhelmed them. Going into the second half, the London women already had a clear advantage. ROBOT however also brought their strong defensive game, using clever poaches to mark out the younger SYC squad. This strategy worked well for them, stopping the quick and athletic style of SYC, slowing the pace to a more manageable speed, and forcing them to use their break throws.

In spite of ROBOT’s best efforts however, SYC had a convincing victory coming second in final standings; ROBOT finishing right behind them in third.

5 vs. 6: Phoenix London vs. Rebel
It’s great to see that Tour is still attracting international teams this far into the season. Rebel proved a real force to be reckoned with in Cardiff, meeting the high standard of Irish ultimate set by Little Miss Sunshine at Tour 2. They proved to be an extremely athletic team, and their short squad of 10 showed no signs of fatigue in their final against Phoenix.

After a sudden death cross-down and overall disappointing finish at Tour 1, Phoenix have been working hard to climb back up the rankings from 13th. As the season has progressed, this new London team has gelled more, and worked hard to get themselves seeded in the top 8 for the next two tours.

In this match-up, Rebel came out strong, going up 4-1. They used their poaches and zone D to throw off their London competitors, forcing turns even when Phoenix was able to break through the cup. They also proved very effective on offense, with great handler play and quick up the line movement which proved devastating to Phoenix’s D. After a well used timeout call, Phoenix were able to adjust their strategy, and come back stronger against the Irish side. They began to shut down the handler movement by putting a poach in the open lane, and reigning in their offense to be more clinical. But despite their best efforts, the damage was already done and Rebel had a comfortable victory in the end. 

A well spirited game which saw both teams finish above seed; Rebel from 8th to 5th, and 
Phoenix from 7th to 6th.

Great job to all who participated – there were some fantastic games over the weekend. Thanks for coming, and see you at Nationals!


UKU Open Tour Top 8 

1. Clapham O
2. EMO
3. Chevron Action Flash
4. Fire of London
5. Zimmer 
6. Brighton Gritty
7. Ranelagh 1
8. Manchester

A Tour – David Pryce

With Clapham consolidating back into one team after a flurry of injuries and the repercussions of the US Open, the full squad were out to prove they still could dominate at home. Overall this was what we were shown, with no real trouble in their pool and a lacklustre performance from Fire of London 1 in the semi final setting Clapham against Chevron in the final. Chevron clearly wanted this game and started off the game with a lead and some were hopeful that they could hold onto this. However, Clapham changed gear and got back into it in the second half, taking the game and the Tour title once again. Not to take anything from Chevron, Rob Schumacher (Clapham #99) tweeted:

A sign of mutual respect as the top two British teams turn on from familiar opponents to face and hopefully overcome bigger challenges; the rest of the world better watch out for Chevron as well as Clapham.

In a windy 3v4 game EMO took the win over Fire of London who end the season back in the top 4. The only team of this 4 not attending worlds, Fire now look straight to Nationals where they will want to take advantage of Clapham, Chevron and EMO having to double peak this season. 

Zimmer finished the season with a very strong performance holding off Rebel and keeping their 5th seed. This all bodes well for their upcoming campaign in Lecco. Rounding off the top 8 at Tour 3 we see the now regulars Manchester and new guard NEO. This meteoric rise through the ranks has surprised some but they have made a statement at Tour that cannot be ignored by competition going into Regionals and Nationals. 

Just outside of the top 8 we see Brighton who have experienced a slight fall, but I fully expect them to come out hard to recoup this at Nationals. The lower brackets of the a tour have seen many teams across the season, with old and new faces in CUlt, Reading, Birmingham and LLLeeds making those last few coveted A tour spots a true battleground.

Chevron Action Flash huddle up for the UKU Tour 3 final. Photo courtesy of Serena de Nahlik.

B Tour – Thomas Cliff

Welcome to crossover country.
In my humble opinion, Sunday morning in B tour is one of the most intriguing spectacles in the tour season, simply because of the sheer amount of movement that is not only possible, but probable, due to 3 sets of crossovers with chances to be promoted or relegated mid tournament.  The top 8 of B tour was unrecognisable from the start to the end of the tournament, with only 2 teams retaining a spot therein.
As always, Saturday is just a scrap for the best possible seed going into the vital Sunday morning games. The only team to rock the boat at the top of the pile were Fire 2, upsetting JR at the third time of asking this season to top their pool.
The crossovers for A tour threw up two upsets, firstly Reading taking a game from Devon and Flump being rudely shunted back down to the B tour by Leeds. As a side note Flump somehow managed to score 8 points in every single game this weekend. One for the statisticians. In the other big games the flair heavy JR pushed DED all the way but they couldn’t quite seal the deal, and Fire 2 had their hot streak ended comfortably by Birmingham’s quick-movement based play. Highlight heavy Devon went on to top B tour with a 17th place finish.
Lower down the bracket, worlds-bound BAF looked imperious, taking out all comers on their way to a crossover against an athletic Sneekys squad. BAF went on to win this, and finished their weekend as high as was possible at 21st; no mean feat from a lowly 31st position start. BAF weren’t the only lower seed to win their crossover in the middle bracket. In fact, everyone did, which ruins the fun a bit.
At the bottom of the bracket all of the newcomers, The Brown, ABH, and Camden struggled to adjust on Saturday. However all 3 managed to hold on to their B tour spots (leaving my foot securely in my mouth). St Albans however weren’t so lucky, falling to a Guildford squad who seem to have left it quite late in the season to let their presence be known.
The season is far from over with regionals an important proving ground for B tour teams looking to make the top flight for nationals. Birmingham showed this and were able to use Nationals qualification to take a step up with their team last year. With regional results just in, it will be interesting to see if any of this year’s B tour teams can make a dent in the top 16 at Southampton.
  
Stu Greer bids for Fire of London 2. Photo courtesy of Serena de Nahlik.


C Tour – Christopher Bell

Guildford went unbeaten in Cardiff as they proved to all that they belonged in B Tour all season long. Passing through their group relatively untroubled, they came up against St Albans in their crossover, before beating ABH  comfortably. In fact, they didn’t concede more than 5 points in a game until they gave up 9 against Tour 2’s C Tour champions; The Brown.

Guilford were the only team to manage the jump from C Tour to B. Rhubarb and Pingu Jam held seed on Saturday to face B Tour teams, while Black Sheep jumped seven seeds by beating Devon 2 and CUlt 2 to top their group. Black Sheep squared up against Camden 1 on Sunday morning, but after a strong first 30 seconds, lost the half 8-1 and were only able to trade in the second half. Rhubarb beat Black Sheep and Pingu Jam beat St Albans, setting up Rhubarb to win the C Tour and St Albans to finish third.

The rest of the division saw a lot of movement – a special mention must go to Curve 2, who started 20th (bottom seed) and went on to win the bottom set of 8 – finishing 13th.  Hampshire managed to improve on their initial seed of 11th to finish 5th, enjoying an unbeaten Sunday along with Curve 2 and Guildford. Many teams finished roughly where they started, with Hammertime, Lemmings, Pier Pressure, Reading 2 and Camden 2 all finishing within one seed of their starting position.

Just as impressive as that of Curve 2 was the performance of Devon 3 – they managed to climb from second-bottom to third in their group, finishing the tournament in an impressive 12th, also an 8 place increase. In fact, they only finished 4 places lower than their second team. This result points to a great foundation for the club, and a real platform for growth in the off season, as we look ahead to next year.


UltiClips review UKU Tour 3 with some great clips from the weekend!

The Tour season comes to a close but there is plenty more to play for! Stay tuned for WUCC 2014 previews and more!

UKU Open and Women’s Tour 3 Preview

#ukut3, Cardiff, Chevron, Clapham, EMO, Fire of London, Iceni, Nice Bristols, PUNT, Ranelagh, ROBOT, SYC, UK Ultimate, Zimmer
David Pryce and Christopher Bell take us through this weekends UKU Tour 3.


Welcome home to Clapham Ultimate and Iceni Ultimate, well played out there! This weekends schedule is here: http://bit.ly/TWR1As


A Tour
The final instalment of this years domestic UK club season is tomorrow! With two events already completed it is still mathematically possible for anyone near the top to take the Tour title. Clapham will be combining both lines into the Clapham D team seeding and EMO will be hoping for the London team to lose their almost inevitable semi final. With only a handful of points between them a big enough gap between these two teams on Sunday evening could be the chance for EMO to take the top spot from Clapham D. However, I don’t think Clapham will be lying down too easily. After learning some tough lessons at the US Open they will only be hungry to return to the UK and stamp their authority on their home turf. 

Hayden Slaughter makes a huge grab over Clapham D at Tour 2. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.


In the pool stages Brighton get a chance to take that champion scalp early once again, with an opening pool play fixture against Clapham. Can they reverse the result after losing in universe point at Tour 2? EMO and Fire of London face off for the first time in this year’s regular season, can the London team take down the Worlds bound Midlands boys? Londoners Flump however have a tough introduction to this years A tour taking on the young and athletic Devon, flamboyant KaPow! and cohesive Rebel. In the D pool I would expect Manchester to come out on top, but new comers NEO took B tour with relative ease and DED have been strong throughout this season so far so it’s far from a foregone conclusion. Chevron will meet old friends and foes alike in the pool as they face Zimmer, Brighton and Clapham in their pool and will be looking to better a final game loss to EMO at Tour 2.

Can anyone take down a combined Clapham close to their season’s peak? Tour 3 sees both the tournament and overall tour title up for grabs so expect fierce competition as the best teams in Britain prepare for Lecco. 


Women’s
Iceni have chosen to pass on this weekends event to train together and get some rest after the US Open, leaving the Women’s tour title open for a number of teams to possibly take. Punt are only 60 points behind Iceni, SYC trail the current champions by 73 and even if Nice Bristols win this even they will not have enough to take first (or possibly second). This year presents a rare chance for a new team to claim the tour title after recent Iceni dominance, but it won’t come easily…

Punt made their first final last tour and showed that whilst they couldn’t take down Iceni they definitely deserved that second place. Now it leaves them to prove that they can take on Nice Bristols who return from the Boston Invite to continue their Worlds preparation. 

Iceni Captain Sonia Komenda makes a bid on Punt player Hannah Body. Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey.


SYC and ROBOT will not let any of this happen lightly. Both teams have had a very strong season and have also had some great battles against each other. Do not be surprised to see some great performances from these women as they push to for their first domestic finals of the year. 

Further down the pack, newcomers Phoenix London and second year team Relentless will be hoping they can firm up their positions in the top 8 with the likes of Leeds, Blink and Swift.

Saturday games to watch: 
Nice Bristols vs SYC (Pitch 3 at 10:40)
Punt vs ROBOT (Pitch 1 at 17:20) 

B Tour

Having finished 2nd last time out, LeedsLeedsLeeds will be hoping to finish in the top 16 this Sunday. In their group are Reading 1 (who they beat comfortably in St Albans), Brighton Echo and Vision. They have yet to face Brighton Echo this season, but they will be expecting to win every game in this group – including regional rivals Vision, who they beat at Northern Winter League on a surprisingly sunny Sunday in Manchester back in February. The Yorkshire lads may very well fancy their chances to get back into A Tour, if looking at the group they would cross with, which isn’t the strongest.

The other group in the top half of B Tour sees JR1, Sneeekys, Fire 2 and Cardiff Storm fight it out for a chance to get back into A Tour – a tough group that’s even tougher to call. JR have been there or there about for a long time now, as far as the A/B Tour line goes. Sneeekys have had an extremely impressive season, having played an entire Tour lower last year, and I’m sure would love to cap a successful season with a spot in the top 16. Fire 2 spent last year in A Tour, though there are some out there that don’t feel Fire 2 have the desire or the pedigree to get back to that level just right now. Finally, there’s Storm, who finished 13th at Tour 2 will have the home advantage of sleeping in their own beds at Tour 3 – which along with only having to do a fraction of the travelling, cannot be underestimated.

The lower half of B Tour is an eclectic mix of teams, some of which have been hovering around those seeds all season, but the majority have played in C Tour at some point this year. Each team will either want to prove that they are definitely a B Tour team (The Brown) or be looking to stake a claim in the middle tier of Open Tour by proving themselves this year (Camden). Expect plenty of close, scrappy games in these pools as each team tries to clamber up the ranks, whilst avoiding the drop back into C Tour.  Rest assured that any team that does find itself facing a crossover at the bottom of the Tour will fight extremely hard to ensure that they stay within the top 32.

Tom Pierce with a layout score for Guildford at Tour 2. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.


C Tour

A more open schedule means that the next instalment of C Tour should see some more movement in the rankings, as teams battle it out in this last chance to improve their seedings this season. 

Further incentive to top the pool is provided by the chance of a crossover into B Tour on Sunday morning. Will any teams be able to make the final push to finish in the top 32? The story that unfolds over the weekend will be fascinating – that much is for sure.

Number 1 seeds, Guildford, may feel this is their time, after sudden-death losses to current B Tour teams in the knock-out stages of the previous two tours stalling their attempts at promotion. They will expect to dominate in their group and continue that form into the Sunday. Rhubarb (3rd seed) will similarly be aiming high after an impressive showing throughout the season so far. Perhaps Pingu Jam can find some extra motivation to convert their obvious talent on the pitch to a rise in the seedings akin to that which they enjoyed at Mixed Tour.

Below the teams topping the pools, there is much room for upset with another six or seven teams definitely capable of going toe-to-toe with the big guns. CUlt 2 will be hoping to go one better after a great performance in Nottingham. Likewise, teams such as Lemmings and Black Sheep have bolstered their ranks as they push to challenge those currently at the top.

It will be very much a case of which teams show up this weekend as to who will be able to provide those shock results – but don’t expect everything to go to seed! There is an incredible amount of potential for some huge changes in the C Tour landscape this weekend, with pride and a place in B Tour as the prize.

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! 



London Calling – Women’s Preview

#ukut1, Iceni, Leeds, news, Nice Bristols, Previews, ROBOT, SYC, Women's Tour, YAKA
Charlie Blair introduces the teams who will be starting up the Women’s club season this weekend…

Can you believe it? Here beckons the start of June. The summer has arrived! The season is about to begin! And boy, what a difference a year makes!  London Calling 2014 delivers yet again with another great turn out in the women’s Tour with 24 teams signed up and raring to go. Most exciting however, is that this year promises more depth than ever as preparation for World clubs has strengthened the level of competition ready to descend on St Albans this weekend. Whilst some have complained that Tour maintains a sense of predictability ten years in, the battle amongst the top 8 and the top 12 is finally feeling like a more competitive affair.

There really is no telling just how much the seedings will be turned over in any of these brackets. It would be safe to assume that the three teams contending at world clubs will be found at the summit of Tour. However, in terms of who will take the title, it does seem somewhat likely that Iceni will rule the roost once again.

In preparation for Worlds, Iceni have had a marked overhaul under the leadership of Sonia Komenda and Ange Wilkinson, in recognition of the serious demands required in order to challenge top teams in Italy. They go into Tour 1 extremely well prepared, with months of bi-weekly trainings and professional fitness instruction under the guidance of former Clapham player Paul ‘Voodoo’ Waite who has committed his season to them. Nevertheless, in having not attended the inaugural NFL (Not Fog Lane) a couple of weeks ago, Tour will be their first demonstration of their hard work. With the introduction of a new  ‘north American’ style structure and the complete scrap of vertical stack from their offensive repertoire, will it all come together in time or will others be able to take advantage of their somewhat inexperienced tactics?
Joey Holmes getting off her feet for a D at UKU Club Nationals 2013. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.


Bristol have shown the same dedication and intensity to their training over the past few months, ( in fact Bristol’s impressive team effort in preparation for Worlds has even seen them wangle some TV and radio appearance along the way!) but they have already signalled that teething problems remain. Whilst Bristol take their loss to SYC in the final of NFL in their stride, it may be that they don’t place as highly as expected whilst they continue to find their momentum. However, their decision to split their worlds squad for Tour in favour of using the tournament as further opportunity to harness close connections and rapport amongst players suggests their aim goes beyond taking domestic victory.

It is without doubt that the welcome international cohort we enjoy at London Calling will also have their eyes on victory. This year two teams will be making the trip over: E6 from Sweden, and YAKA from France. In such an important club year, it is a shame that so few Europeans have managed to be enticed. Little is known of the current state of this Swedish team who did not make an appearance in Bordeaux last year. Needless to say, they have always sported a team of extremely hard working and gritty players, with an experienced core leading the way. They will surely be looking for upsets. YAKA should equally expect to fair well on UK soil, having finished above Bristol, SYC and LLL at xEUCF 2013 . Even though they missed out on qualifying for worlds, they will be carrying confidence from taking the title at the recent ‘Siege of Limerick’. However, the loss of their famous talisman since then, Aline ‘Rasta’ Mondiot, who has hopped across the Channel to train and play with SYC this season could prove to be huge.

Indeed, this reshuffle of players as a result of selection and qualification of World Clubs has both seemingly strengthened established clubs and stimulated new ones, particularly in the south. Iceni’s much stricter selection process released a wealth of talented women to bolster clubs such as SYC and Crown Jewels as well as initiate the formation of Phoenix and Free Agents. All will be pushing for the best result possible in the top half of the Tour. Of the two new clubs, we know that despite their newness, Phoenix (formed of ex- Iceni  / Herd players) are serious about competing having exploited the wisdom of local beardy guru, Jaime Cross. Free Agents on the other hand are a motley crew of ex Iceni/SYC who haven’t committed to any trainings this year. Whilst they will be looking to cause trouble, the ‘name tags’ of this team, which include reigning Paga queen Bex Forth shouldn’t assume victory over those that have been working hard all season.

In the face of this new competition, others expecting a top table finish will surely be the legends of ROBOT, the Scottish contingent, Swift, and the big movers and shakers of last season, Punt, who all rounded off last season comfortably in the top 10. Looking further north LLL will also be keen to cement their strength after a phenomenal success at developing an incredibly talented core of young players. They appear to have become a real beacon for attracting committed players in the north, with some team members even commuting from as far a field as Scotland. They mean business!

Nevertheless, those teams who are looking to kick off the season with a more modest seeding, who train less frequently, are still capable of surprises. Whilst the battle for the mid table already looks rather crowded this year, there is welcome room for new outfits Manchester and Devon to ruffle some feathers. Both these teams have been established and managed under the guidance of former GB players who have invested in their local area. Up in Manchester, Julia ‘Jools’ Murray and Claerwen Snell have been providing lots of structure to trainings with guest coaches and fitness expertise on hand. So whilst they may lack experience, expect a well-drilled, well informed, skilled team who know their fundamentals. 

Despite my prediction that a full powered Iceni – desperate to play all together for the first time – are going to storm London Calling, I no longer see a divide between the top 4 and the rest as in previous years. There is everything to play for in the top bracket whether it’s the 3v4 or the 9v10, and woe betide any team that goes to Tour 1 resigning themselves to formality this weekend. Things are looking truly exciting in Women’s ultimate after the 2013 shake-up, and now it really is a case of if you don’t take it, someone else will!

Excitement is building steadily for the season opener in less than 24 hours. Our final preview of international teams is on the way!