By Matt Dathan
Bear Cavalry completed a clean sweep of mixed tours as the mixed season came to a close in a windswept Cheltenham.
The Bears joined Manchester City and Conchita Wurst to make it a weekend of favourites prevailing over inferior opposition. The comparisons end there, unfortunately, as facial hair was sparse among the Bears girls, as well as among the ‘men’ and they weren’t reliant on a host of foreign stars either.
Not only have they now won all three of this season’s mixed tours, they have also remained unbeaten throughout and have never been seriously threatened.
Cambridge put up a good fight in the final however, scoring four points in a row in the second half, but the damage had already been done.
Bears took an early lead, punching in an upwind offence point right at the beginning and following it up with a downwind break to take a 2-0 head start. It was quite literally an uphill battle from then onwards for Cambridge, who were unable to use their punting skills in the high winds and did well to finish off with just a five point deficit at 17-12.
|Adam Crouch takes off for the grab. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss
The two finalists showed how training throughout the winter and spring pays off as wind blew many teams off course. The throwing and familiarity among the top two put them a step ahead of the rest. Both won comfortably in the semi-finals – Bears battering Herd 15-7 and Cambridge smashing Black Eagles 14-7. But in the final, the harsh conditions prevented Cambridge from exploiting their intellectual advantage to out-fox the Bears.
For most, the rolling hills of Cheltenham signify the end of the mixed season as boys and girls go their separate ways for the remainder of the season, but for three teams the mixed season has only just started. And the wind of Mixed Tour 3 will be a distant memory when the Bears, Cambridge and RGS run out on the banks of Lake Como at the World Club Championships in the summer.
Each of them are playing in foreign tournaments before World’s, which will undoubtedly prepare them better than the blustering winds of the UK spring.
RGS again struggled to click, although they improved on their last showing by finishing ninth, beating Shiny Happy Meeple in a tight 12-10 final game. Players have understandingly blamed their lack of familiarity with each other, but with just one training planned before World’s, they will have to make sure they make the most of their time together at Windmill in Amsterdam and Golden Kegg in Dublin.
And perhaps in foreign lands, without the baying home crowds, with the sun on their backs and the taste of Italian wine on their palates, they will start to feel more at ease.
Their preparation behind the scenes cannot be doubted – they have been in long discussions about the design of their kit and come August, they’ll be sure to look the part in their pretty pink shorts. Fred Shone, returning from a stint in Romania, believes their lack of kit has played a part in their under performance so far, telling The ShowGame to watch out for him and his team-mates once their pink, white and grey kit is finally ready.
On Saturday night, as everyone waited impatiently for the 59thEurovision to begin, Meeples took on Cambridge in the show game. But crowds were left largely disappointed as Cambridge crushed the fourth seeds 12-4, with the most entertaining moment of the game coming from an incident on the side lines.
Acutely aware of the lack of drama on the pitch, Dom Dathan selflessly sacrificed his dignity to provide onlookers with the spectacle of him stumbling slowly backwards over a stack of kit bags, uniting both teams and the crowd in stitches of laughter as he fell backwards in slow motion.
After their impressive top four finish in Nottingham, Meeples struggled with the wind at the weekend and finished in 10thplace, which was still an improvement from where they started the season.
In yet another battle between beasts, Black Eagles snared Thundering Herd in the 3/4 play-off. Apart from their record against fellow animal-themed teams, Herd have had a good season compared to last year, again showing the merits of training every week as a team. Had they shown similar form last year, they might be looking forward to a week in Lake Como rather than a summer of winter leagues on Tooting Bec Common. Bristol stormed back to form after a disappointing Tour 2 as they blew away Brighton Breezy to finish fifth and Pingu had an equally impressive tournament as they rose from 15th seeds to finish eighth. Peeps and Scarecrew made space for them in the top eight by falling to 11thand 12th respectively.
|Movers for MT3 thanks to Wayne Retter.
Among the big movers of the weekend – as predicted in the preview – were Beast Mode, who leapt from 32nd seeds to 23rd and Shakedown, who finished the weekend 21st – nine places above their original seed. Five teams finished the weekend in their original seeding position: Bears, Cambridge, Black Sheep (40th), GU 2 (42nd) and Sheffield Steal 2, who started and finished the weekend rock bottom (46th).
Other notable highlights from the weekend included James Hobley’s much-awaited debut this season as he wooed the crowds by playing in his classic cricket jumper and gilet look and the Polish porn star Eurovision team, who excited horny onlookers at the party, only to be disappointed by a “bearded tit in a ball dress,” as one reveller told The ShowGame.
Top marks must go to Guildford’s Lilia Helgadottir, who travelled all the way from her native Iceland to represent her beloved country at the party, but she was pipped to the post by Andrew Moss and Hayden Reynolds from St Albans, who repeated their 2014 debut of Angels to take the karaoke honours.