Sean Colfer starts off our WUCC previews with the team taking the third Open Division seeding: East Midlands Open.
|Dave Povey gets high over Chevron at Tour 2. Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey.|
Rob Coddington (C)
Rollo Sax Dixon
About the Team
The EMO squad heading to Lecco features many of the players who have played a huge part in establishing the club in their top three spot in the UK this season. After last season’s breakthrough at Tour, followed by a disappointing Nationals, the aim for everyone involved with the club was to make sure that the hard-earned spot at WUCC wasn’t wasted. The offensive system has been tweaked to favour the personnel on the roster, and the defensive line has benefitted from the addition of more handling options alongside the existing height and athleticism. The results so far have been excellent, with EMO finishing as the second best UK club team in both Tours 1 and 2 (behind Clapham’s O and D lines), and an overall second place finish in the Tour rankings.
In terms of specific personnel, the team will be captained by GB under-23 mixed player Rob Coddington, who will play on an offensive line featuring former GB World Games players Dan ‘Colonel’ Furnell and Rich Gale, as well as veteran handlers and athletic cutters like James Bauld (also GB under-23 mixed). The loss of ex-GB player and World Games coach Sion ‘Brummie’ Scone to an ankle injury at Tour 1 will hurt, but there looks to be sufficient depth in the squad to absorb the hit.
The defensive line is a mixed bag of speed, size and skill with enough options to match up against a wide variety of offenses. Once they get the blocks they want, there are a variety of stand-out deep threats and also enough players comfortable with keeping the offence moving that the handling duties will be spread across the line. The defence has been a real strength so far this season, shutting down Chevron in the third place game at Tour 2 and at times dominating every non-Clapham team in the UK so far.
Coaching and Playing Style
Second year coach Joe Wynder has emphasised skills as well as the pre-requisite athletic ability for EMO this season. The result is that every member of the squad is capable of breaking forces confidently and completing accurate lead passes to deep cutters. When the EMO offence is flowing as it can, the team is able to play both a short game, swinging the disc across the field and initiating handler movements, and a long game, making huge gains in a hurry.
Defensively, the team will be largely looking to use their athletic ability to grind out turns with hard man defence, but is capable of mixing in some zones and poach-based looks to keep offences honest. The defensive line is often more keen to play vertically and their speed and ability to complete deep throws makes it a sound strategy a lot of the time. The team has been training together often, with weekly trainings as well as monthly weekend sessions forming the main part of the training plan. Fitness plans and throwing programmes have also been an important part of the build up to WUCC, led primarily by fitness coach and D-line captain Nathan Trickey.
Expected Finishing Place
It is of course tough to predict how this young team will fare as there is really no way of knowing how strong the rest of the field is until play begins in Lecco. The American, Canadian and Japanese teams will be formidable and there will be plenty of strength present in teams coming from outside of the top nations . Despite some doubts about how much the team deserved the spot after the disappointing seventh place finish at Nationals, they have certainly proved they belong at the top of the Tour this season.
The squad is certainly capable of making power pools if things click early and the offence is able to play their game. A top 20 finish would represent an excellent return given the relative inexperience of the squad at international level but the team could well be capable of more than that if they hit form and a bit of luck.
Best of luck from tSG to the Midlands boys! Keep an eye out for more team previews…