Georgina Morrison previews Division 2 at this weekends Mixed Indoors Nationals.
Another year, another Nationals. For every avid mixed player this is the pinnacle of the indoor university season, and quite rightly so! Last month’s Regionals came with some glorious victories and devastating upsets across the nation; Division 2 teams will fight back hard for gold. Warwick were crowned champions last year, who have this year qualified for Div 1. In fact six out of the 16 Div 2 teams from last year have qualified higher this year, giving room for some fresher faces in the national competition.
After some last minute drop-outs from both divisions, Sussex (Mohawks) have clambered their way up to a Div 1 promotion, and good on them as well! They had a very tough Regionals, despite comfortably topping their pool on Saturday. Losing out to champions Oxford on universe point put them in a nail-biting 2v3 game to go against Chichester – again a heart-breaking loss on universe point. Mohawks will definitely prove their worth away from Div 2.
A draft schedule has also suggested Southampton and Nottingham Trent may join the other 14 teams up in Wolverhampton this weekend, so again congratulations are due to these teams on the qualification. Both have had little experience on the national stage in recent years, with Southampton last qualifying in the 2014-15 season, but regardless this will undoubtedly be fantastic exposure of the sport to their respective universities.
Here is the Show Game’s review of Regionals from all of our university contributors: http://showgame.co.uk/2016/11/uxir-2016-review.html
An ever-changing game
The nature of university ultimate is defined by its fluidity. Teams come and go through championships year to year and 2016 is no exception. Nearly half of the teams in Div 2 had qualified for Div 1 in 2015 – that is a massive gain for this division. Nottingham were UMON 2016 national champions but qualify for indoors by the skin of their teeth. A big loss of Ben Poole (EMO and GB U23 Open) could have been a pivotal contributor to their sudden drop. They will certainly still cause some considerable damage, after only losing by one in many of their regional match ups and their women finishing an impressive 6th at NUWIR. Never underestimate this team.
Bangor is another team to slip through the Div 1 gaps, placing ninth in the country last season but barely clinching a spot against Birmingham 2. Their men’s team qualify for Nationals with the help of main handler Dom Knight and the women have a fresh cycle, after GB Women’s Rachel Turton graduated this summer, just missing out on a Div 1 qualification spot. This team will have to work hard but will undoubtedly show the nation what Welsh ultimate has to offer.
A Southern champion?
The more northern regions representing their universities always seem to have a great result across both divisions when it comes to mixed. Warwick (Bears) took the title last season and York had it the season before that. While the south tragically falls at the last hurdle, despite scoring some impressive results along the way.
Teams like Hertfordshire (Hornets) and Surrey make a not so surprising return to UXIN, and FXU (Falmouth & Exeter Students Union) blast their way onto the scene qualifying for the first time ever. That being said, southern pressure is bubbling at the surface and they are ready to really dominate.
Portsmouth (Sublime) are one of the teams that trailed away from the top division this year for mixed, and a lot of that stands in the loss of their women. With Ilona Livarski and SYC’s Sarah Jeffery folding away their purple jerseys, they left the mixed team with a lot to make up for. Sublime’s gameplay does hold strongly in their lads, having roots in GB and several A Tour teams such as team captain Josh Awcock (Devon), Ross Nugent (Fire of London) and Joe Carr (GB U20 Open). In spite of their strengths, could this lie as their downfall or will they take home a medal?
The East & London region has a distinct lack of London teams qualifying for this division this year. Also, the surprising drop of Cambridge (Strange Blue) rocked predictions. Strange Blue have seen their previous captain Rolo Turnell-Ritson move over to Imperial (Disc Doctors), which could slip their reign in UEA’s (Aye-Aye) favour. But that’s not to say this region was weak. Hertfordshire Hornets make a fantastic return featuring Catherine Gale (GB U17 women’s coach) to draw in more experience on an already well-drilled team.
Bearing such a mix of teams for UXIN it is refreshing, and suggests that there may be some new challenges to contend with. Warwick 2 is the only second team at Nationals this year, impressing with some intense games in the West Midlands & Wales regionals, including a 4v5 showdown against Birmingham 2 where they stole the win after being 0-5 down. This team showcases some experienced players including Cathy Hensman and Ellen Daly, and could really dominate over some of the first teams here.
Durham were heavy favourites to win regionals in the North but took a knock in the 1v4 against a very strong Manchester squad leaving them in fourth place. This team is very talented boasting players such as Dylan Spiers (SMOG), ex-Birmingham William Collier, and Jasmin Strickland (Swift). Hopefully with a little more grit in their play, Durham can take over once again.
- Warwick 2
Featured photo by Claire Baker