UKU Women’s Nationals 2013

Charlie Blair previews Women’s Nationals 2013.

With British clubs having been awarded four spots at xEUCF in the women’s division this yearit is a great shame that there isn’t an improvement upon the number of teams that competed at Nationals 2012. A further disappointment is that only four teams who consistently finished in the top half of the women’s tour this year have chosen to attend.

The most obvious absence is that of PUNT. Having had such an impressive season, completely un-phased by the more established opposition or indeed by the loss of leadership in Lily Huang and Lucy Barnes, they steadily climbed the rankings at tour, eventually finishing 3rd in Cardiff. Naturally, one would hope they would be hungry for a final come Nationals. However, the majority of this team, a team who had laid down the foundations to be real contenders in Europe this year, are instead representing in the mixed division.

PUNT then appear to encapsulate the wider grievance felt by some that the women’s division has been neglected, if not damaged,
by the simultaneous staging of Mixed Nationals. Indeed, forcing players to make the choice early as many of the women on PUNT clearly did is what the growth of the mixed division needs. However, was this early commitment motivated more by securing the opportunity of playing at xEUCF rather than a simple preference for the mixed game? The ShowGame would be eager to hear contributions to this debate, not wanting to rely on my speculation alone!

Nevertheless, the fact remains that Iceni, Bristol, LLL and SYC are likely to walk away with xEUCF spots pretty much uncontested. Not to discredit Dragon Knights or Curve, but with the former finishing Tour 15th and the latter not even fielding a team at any of the events, they have not demonstrated European ambitions.  So what exactly are we competing for at Nationals? Rest assured, none of these teams will allow what should be the most competitive event on the calendar be relegated to a somewhat farcical formality.

Pride at this stage of the season is priceless of course, but the real prize this weekend is the coveted WUCC qualification that victory at Nationals securesIceni have a lot to prove having been categorically dethroned by Bristol at Tour 3, who defeated the Londoners by a large margin. With a huge roster, it is clear Bristol are heading to Southampton intent on monopolising on this momentum. With all their u23 players now all playing together on the first team, they could prove to have some dangerous connections upon return from Toronto. Iceni, still missing captain Bex Forth, needs to continue drawing upon their depth in order to reassert their dominance. The last meeting between the two teams left a significant amount of fire in the belly of both, rendering a Bristol vs Iceni final as the most likely outcome.
Priscille Lesne get high over Iceni defenders in last years final but will this year be a repeat? Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.

Yet, in no way does such a prediction serve to write off SYC or LLL from the top two. Both are bolstered by returning World Games players, Jenna Thomson and Sophie Edmonson, respectively. For SYC, Thomson’s return is indeed a welcome one, with captain Amie Channon recently moving abroad. Hopefully, SYC will be able to regain their usual confidence that seemed to lack somewhat at Tour 3. Again, returning u23 links should be exploited, particularly since both Carla Link and Ruby Rennison owned GB’s stats table. Equally, an extremely talented youth is at the core of LLL’s success this year. With Edmonson’s direction, they will punish any team that dares to underestimate them. However, their inexperience relative to the player base of the other three may get the better of them under pressure.

With a round robin format, there is absolutely no margin for error and no second chance to gain a place in the final. Every game should be treated like a final. No matter who looks good on paper, you need to show up to every game at Nationals.

Heads in ladies…

… and it has begun! Look out for Mixed and Open Previews. Please comment below on the blog or FB. We want to hear your opinion on the Nationals debate! We will be trialling the Ultiapps score reporter, you can also follow all the action on the official mobile Nationals stats page. DP @ tSG. 

One thought on “UKU Women’s Nationals 2013”

  1. In an attempt to answer the Punt question:

    – many of the Punt's players have been training hard for mixed all year with a view to good performances at Nationals, Europeans and beyond.
    – with Punt players in all the top 3 mixed teams we get some high quality ultimate on teams that value their women players and give us the opportunity to showcase and improve our ultimate skills whilst having a great time- so the choice wasn't simply a calculation of how to most easily secure a spot at euros but really just a decision on which we preferred, given the options in both divisions available to us (mixed).
    – Punt has been steadily getting better over the past two years and everybody involved is extremely proud of the improvement of all the individual players on the team. However at this point we still see ourselves as largely a developmental team that isn't yet ready to take on the European stage…we need to feel more confident at home first!
    – Lastly my feeling is that the only solution to improving the quality of both the women and the mixed division is to develop more women players to play at a high level. They then can go and set up their own teams and provide more coaching opportunities for less experienced women across the country who want to develop their games and improve- something Punt and many other teams have been working hard to achieve but which does take time… mixed, open and women divisions are run alongside each other at worlds and euros so it has to be the same way for the qualifier- if not nationals then another qualifier weekend tournament would need to be added. We have three women's tours which are attended by more teams every year and have been increasingly competitive just in the past 3-4 years. This is great news for the women's game and it's probably better to focus on that than the slightly disappointing number of teams at Nationals the past 2 years.

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