Elly White introduces the competition for University Women’s Outdoor Nationals
This weekend sees the biggest ever University Women’s Outdoor Nationals with over 30 teams heading to Manchester.
One of the front runners this year, and a team that was mentioned by nearly every team in the questionnaire is Birmingham. The ladies have had a very successful season, getting silver at UWIN and gold at UMON, and are coming into UWON with a very talented squad that could secure themselves another gold. From what I’ve heard, the entire team are star players in their own right, but there are a few that have been specifically mentioned. GB U23 players Grace and Kim Owens’ connection will be difficult to stop, as will rising star and GB U20 player Jess Cowley. There is also a boost from Tilly Salter who has spent a year playing with Saucy Nancy, the college team from Iowa who came 3rd at USA College Championships last year. All of this adds up to a pretty formidable team that I predict to make the semis at least.
Sussex Mohawks will be looking to win UWON for the 4th year in a row, an incredible feat and something definitely within their grasp. They will be very used to playing together after sending a team to the Irish outdoor tournament The Siege of Limerick. Players to look out for are Megan Hurst throwing to Starzy Riordan-Eva and also vice-captain Rachel Clark. For the second year in a row they are fielding a second team, which shows the depth that their women’s club has. Like Birmingham, I will be very surprised if Mohawks don’t make the top four.
Leeds are another team that will expect to do really well. They have train often as a team, and 6 of them are part of the LLLeeds squad this season. Captain Claire Taylor’s strong and versatile throws will be brought down by Ruth Lowe, Alice Beeching and Rachel Finch, all up and coming LLL superstars. Leeds have entered a second team this year, something Claire says was helped by prioritising women’s trainings and games over mixed when recruiting women.
|University of Leeds Women regroup in the huddle.|
Durham is another University that has benefitted from LLL selections this year, and this will be evident in Sarah Clear’s and Mark Clark’s throws as well as Fi Rae’s receiving. They also benefit from the retention of Rebecca Devine, who went to Euros with DED last summer; a formidable lefty handler with pin-point hucks. Durham are another team to enter a second team this year, again suggesting good squad depth as well as a head start on development for next year’s team.
Bangor are the third Northern team to feature club players from Leeds, and after impressive indoor results will be looking to build on their 10th place finish from last year. Ava Grossman, Harriet Brown and Louise Ryan all have throws to watch out for. The North was a strong region at UWIN, coming in 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th and I expect this strength to continue outdoors. Manchester have many of their girls training regularly with the new Manchester Women’s Ultimate club team and Sheffield have the top handling combination of Kat Cheng (LLL) and Charis Lestrange.
Scotland are a consistently strong region across divisions, and Dundee and Edinburgh were both mentioned in a lot of preview questionnaires as the ones to look out for. Dundee have had a very successful season so far, winning UWIN and coming second at UMON, and look like they could continue this streak at UWON. On the Edinburgh team, Abbie Dutton’s cutting as well as the handling of Carissa Tong and Gale Hunter will be formidable for any opponents looking to take down Ro Sham Bo.
Nottingham had a huge team last year and retained a lot of these players, leading to an experienced team this year, including Kirsten Wells of Manchester Women’s Ultimate. A combination of the successful season they have already had and the return of their captain Trina Lam will no doubt see Nottingham challenge hard and achieve a high finishing position.
Also boasting a large roster are the London combination team of UCL, Imperial and Kings. The unfortunate timings of their exams have meant none of the individual Universities could field enough for a team. This is obviously a shame for all three, especially UCL, who had such a strong presence at SEUWIR. People are unsure what to expect from this combination team, which reportedly will feature Iceni and SYC club players as well as some new players from the different Universities. It will be interesting to see how this all comes together in one team, nobody really knows what to expect as none of UCL, Imperial or Kings are regular faces at UWON, but their top players definitely have the experience to make this a successful team.
As well as fighting it out for the top spots, this weekend will be a great chance for second teams and beginners to experience playing competitive outdoors. Three second teams are entered this year (Sussex, Leeds and Durham) which is such a positive things for women’s University Ultimate and will provide all these girls with great exposure to the sport and experience of a more competitive environment. Combine this with the high standards we will see from all the tops teams and it looks like it’s shaping to be a fantastic weekend.
Here are my predictions for the top 5:
Once again, Good luck from The ShowGame to all players competing at University Nationals this weekend!