Tour 3 Open preview – while the cats are away

Open, Previews, Tour 3

Sean Colfer is in Cincinnati with the cream of the UK crop, but the Tour season continues regardless. This looks like the most wide-open Tour in years, so how might it go?

Tour 3 is going to be an odd situation for UK Ultimate. The best teams are all away in Cincinnati (we’ve been previewing it, maybe you’ve seen) and it leaves the field very open. No Clapham, Chevron and Devon means three of the top four teams from Tour 2 aren’t there, the Irish teams are both over in the USA, and then SMOG and Reading – who have been playing in the top 10 of Tour all season as Open teams – are both across the pond too. All told, it means that this is probably the best chance several teams will ever have of winning a Tour event.

Ka-Pow! come in as top seeds, a reward from their trip to become sacrificial lambs for Clapham’s unerring march to the Tour 2 title. They have a gigantic squad of very solid players with a few stand outs – they’ll be tough to beat because of sheer numbers but also because they have some players that can make things happen against anyone. They’ve beaten most of the teams in the UK already this year and will be feeling confident that they can repeat the feat from a few years ago and win Tour 3. They will be missing some people though, particularly Marius Hutcheson who is with Black Sheep, a Kiwi Mixed team, at WUCC.

Marius Hutcheson – playing for Ka-Pow! at Tour 1 here – won’t be at Tour 3. Photo by Andy Moss.

EMO are second seed. They split their squads at Tour 2 and may well do the same again this Tour, but it would be very interesting to see how they fare against Ka-Pow! with a full team. They are chock full of excellent athletes and if they can all get on the same page they’ll be tough to stop. They used a new line system at Tour 1 and could well go back to that. Ben Poole gives them a lot of room for error because he’s an outstanding athlete and all-around player, but their defensive line will be the difference maker. If they can get turns and breaks then they’ll be the favourite in my eyes.

Fire are granted a third seed they’ll be familiar with, a good spot to build on what has been a tough year. They’ll be missing a couple of players through either injury or picking up with other teams at WUCC, but the squad they have is still going to be pretty tough to beat at this tournament.

Bristol are the other top seed and have had a solid season, but Brighton could be a tough nut to crack for them. They were given a very tough pool at Tour 1 and are a good side – although they, too, are missing several players to WUCC since James Wotherspoon and Tom Mannings are both with Mooncatchers. EMO 2 and Reading 2 join them in their pool, and will be difficult to predict. I think they’ll be battling for third, though.

Birmingham have a lot of good players but have a relatively small number of handlers. Still, their level of overall athleticism will allow them to at least hang with the teams up at the top of the draw. They will play Cloud City (who feature a lot of Herd players so will be familiar with Brum) and Brighton Gritty Legends (who have played Cloud three times this year already) in what could be an exciting pool.

Ka-Pow! will face Flump, who have had a decent season so far despite their relegation at Tour 1, LLLeeds and Camden. Leeds were promoted at Flump’s expense in Nottingham and Camden have been around A Tour all season, so this group could be a really interesting one to watch. Flump and Leeds should both have too much for Camden, but the match between them will be fascinating.

Manchester, SMOG and BAF join EMO in a group with lots of capital letters. Manchester have been pretty good all season and so will fancy themselves to finish in the top two – particularly since SMOG will be missing many of their top players. It’ll be interesting to see how SMOG do against BAF, but I think that’ll be for third and fourth in the pool.

B Tour features some decent teams at the top – Vision, Gravity and Purple Cobras have all been pretty good all year, and Glasgow 2 will feature some good Glasgow players not at WUCC. Tribe and Rebel come over from Ireland so it’ll be interesting to see how they do (Dublin Gravity as well, although they’re in C Tour so are either dramatically underseeded or not quite the force they are in Mixed) and EDI return after some time away – though they’ll be losing some players to Black Eagles.

Outside of that, it’s tough to find many storylines to look for. LED have been pretty good in Mixed but are seeded quite low, and Fluid have been one of the stronger C Tour teams so far. Cambridge will be intriguing since it’s tough to know who they have, but generally I see C Tour sticking to seed.

So, who’s going to win this most open of Open tours? That is the big question. Here’s how I see the top 10 shaking out, but to be honest there’s about five teams who could win. It’ll be fun to see how the tournament ends up without Clapham there to ruin everyone’s fun by winning.

1. EMO
2. Ka-Pow!
3. Fire
4. Brighton
5. Manchester
6. Bristol
7. Flump
8. Birmingham
9. Leeds
10. Cloud City

Women’s Tour 2013 Review

Cardiff, Iceni, LLL, Nationals, Nice Bristols, PUNT, SYC, Tour 3, Tournament Reports, Women's Tour, xEUCF
With Charlie Blair away on U23 duties the review of the Women’s season falls to me (DP), hope I can do it justice. It was an absolute corker!

A fortnight has passed and the dust has settled on Women’s Tour 3 in Cardiff. With considerably less teams than we started with (15 down from 21) and some great battles at previous Tours, most would have expected Iceni to take this tournament with ease. However things were not quite there for the ‘full fat’ squad with a few key players missing and the Welsh heat taking its toll on many. I have since spoken with some of the Iceni players and they agree that Nice Bristols outplayed the overall champs. I asked Sarah “Saz” Garner, Nice Bristols captain, whether this was the first time that this had occurred and how it felt:
“Yep, this is the first time since the club was formed that we’ve won a Tour, which feels like an incredible achievement. I’m quite tempted to retire my captaincy on this high! I think we’ve all known for a long time that we’re capable of doing it on paper, but we’ve never actually managed to string the right set of results together over one weekend before.”

When asked what was different SG mentioned Iceni missing their World Games players at this tournament, and Fran (Scarampi), a huge player for them, is still recovering from a dislocated shoulder” however she stressed that they were also missing Ali (Smith) and Brigid (Harty) – both GB players in Japan last year”. This doesn’t mean to say that Iceni or Nice Bristol are both solely made up of superstars but as SG correctly pointed out “a lot of the play can go through the well known faces, and that can leave a bit of uncertainty when they’re not around. I personally felt that Iceni didn’t quite have the confidence in themselves that they usually do, and I think we capitalised on that by coming out firing in the early part of the game both times we played them.”

Charlie Blair about to get horiztonal in the final. Photo courtesy of Louise Smith.
A key to Nice Bristols success and the growth of women’s Ultimate in the UK is the development of younger players and getting them to play in big semis and finals [which] is something Bristol have been keen on for a long time, and I think that women’s clubs up and down the country are now seeing the benefit of doing this too.”

Massive congratulations to Nice Bristol on their T3 victory, looking further down the results we see Punt displacing both LeedsLeedsLeeds and SYC to take third, finishing off a great rising season. With the exception of ROBOT (who fell from 4th to 9th) and the rising Nice Bristol 2 team (who grabbed the last top 8 spot) the remaining positions were as expected. A special mention to a Rebel player who in the first game had to be taken off the field by paramedics, we wish you a speedy recovery back in Ireland! 


So that’s Tour over and done below we can see the full results using the official UKU points

The regular season movement in the 2013 Women’s Tour.


















Full official results can also be found here.
The T3 final did little for the overall standings with Iceni still coming out top, Savage do appear rather low down but that would be due to only attending the first two events. On average they would move up a couple slots. 

It is promising to see more and more Women’s teams springing up and 3 clubs able to put out regular second teams and still keep the skill level high. I continued to ask SG if this require anything different in training:
“I think we’ve had the skills there for a while. Making the Nationals Final last year, and performing well at our first EUCF (6th and Spirit) did a lot for our individual and team confidence about playing at a high level, and whilst we continue to bring new players into the mix, there are a good core of us that have been playing together for several seasons now and have a good understanding of each other. In the past couple of seasons we’ve upped the intensity of our training sessions throughout the year, so that stepping up a gear at Tour doesn’t come as a complete shock, and I think that has gradually allowed us to start winning those games that previously we didn’t quite have the belief or experience to do.”

Sarah continued by saying that
“… it’s really important to remember that we play together for fun, and no matter what the scoreline and whoever the opposition, we try and have a bit of banter with everyone on the sideline to keep things lighthearted and keep ourselves relaxed, which is when we play our best. My captains speeches usually try to reflect this, and usually turn into me digging myself out of a hole I’ve just created. Highlight of this weekend being ‘look after yourselves ladies, and stay wet’. I meant hydrated…”

Now what? Well there is no regionals for the Women’s division, yet, but Nationals is only a month away now. I asked Sarah what will Nice Bristols be doing for preparation

“We certainly won’t be looking to change anything major tactically this late in the season, it will be more about building on and tweaking what we have achieved so far. Within the team there is a great sense of trust that everyone will do what they need to to prepare for Nationals individually, and when we come together for training that is only part of that preparation. There is a lot of individual responsibility on players to know what they need to do and when – whether that is at training, on holiday, or during a Tour final – and everyone responds really well to that and puts in the hard yards outside of club training.” 


As ever the positions at Nationals will decide who goes to Euros and this year. With it being xEUCF the UK gets 4 Women’s spots, plus the added pressure of the winner of Nationals getting a WUCC 2014 spot I pressed SG for a prediction for the Euros slots:

“I’d say this year it’s very difficult to call. I think Iceni would still be favourites going into the tournament, given their history, but as for who else is capable of making a final and Euros – Leeds, SYC, Punt, Seven Sisters and, naturally, Nice Bristols, will all be in the mix. It’s going to be a fantastic tournament, probably the closest in years, and I’m sure there will be lots of sudden death spectaculars and more than a few upsets!”

Punt rise high over Leeds but what team will they bring to Southampton? Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.

My final question looked back at the epic change in weather that we had from Tour 2’s rain, wind and cold to Tour 3’s heatwave, so I asked what Nice Bristol eat or drink to recover from these extremes,

“Vanilla ice cream in a waffle cone with a flake and lots of raspberry sauce. I discovered that this weekend. My teammates were also drinking Pimm’s from Nalgenes on the drive home. It was hot tea after Tour 2 though.”

Let’s hope that Nationals and xEUCF is ice cream weather not hot tea.

Looking forward to the return of Charlie Blair? Do keep supporting the World Games squad with the #gbwg2013 hashtag and following them online however you can! DP @ tSG.