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.