UKU University Open Nationals Division 2 Preview

Division 2, news, Open, Previews, UKU Nationals
Chris Bamford takes us through the competition heading to Division 2 Open Nationals this weekend in Manchester

Looking at the Division 2 nationals entrants, two teams immediately stand out as potential winners – the two teams who contested last years final – Nottingham and Limerick. Nottingham came out victorious on that occasion but Limerick won Irish nationals this year and believe they are bringing an improved squad including several U23’s from Toronto last summer, so are feeling bullish about their chances.

When it comes to Nottingham I must admit some bias to my old university, but they come in having missed out on that elusive Division 1 spot once again and without their own U23 playe, EMO captain Robert Coddington. Captain Ben ‘Paddling’ Poole, has deep throws and huge bids which make him the star of this team. To retain their title as Division 2 champions Nathan Trickey will have to continue to rack up the scores, whilst handlers David ‘Athlete’ Lang and Paul Armstrong will be required to maintain the strong form they showed at regionals.

Andy Peck of Southampton with a possession saving snag at Western Regionals 2014.

The team I would have put next in line for a finals berth is Exeter, however they have dropped out of the tournament, which only helps other contenders such as Newcastle, Oxford and Strathclyde. Newcastle finished 4th in their region but have an experienced squad that will feel fully capable of beating anyone they come up against. They may also be hoping for some wet and windy conditions to allow them to pull out their favoured zone defence which has often caused issues for other teams in previous years.


Despite coming 5th at Midlands regionals, Oxford impressed with their athletic man D putting pressure on and getting lots of turns out of multiple teams who made division 1. If captain Dan Aronov can help them convert these turns into breaks they will threaten deep into the tournament. Strathclyde also finished 5th, but given the ultra competitive standard of the Scottish region other teams should beware. With many players involved in high level training with club side Glasgow Ultimate they should have no problem dealing with tough games from the off at nationals.

Recent regional finalists for the past few years Southampton suffered a disastrous regionals by their high standards, not even managing a place in the game-to-go. A 6th place finish in the country last year shows they shouldn’t be written off, particularly with GBU23 in Mike Speer running the show with captain William Caldwell. LSE, with their striking kit will be looking to prove the strength of the South East region after Sussex’s domination. Not long ago a Division 1 competitor, LSE remained quiet going into regionals but put in a strong show to claim a place in the game-to-go, only just losing out to an experienced Imperial side.

Surrey are another team who will be disappointed with their regional performance, coming in 5th at regionals this year, missing out on Division 1 which they earned the year before. Their recent history suggests they should be able to compete but a lot will depend on playmaker Jon Francombe and his ability to open up the break side of the pitch for the Surrey offence. Bournemouth will be delighted to have taken the final Div 2 spot in the west to qualify for Nationals for only the 2nd time ever. A great opportunity for lots of their players to gain experience at a national level tournament, it seems likely a push for a top 8 spot may be beyond them this year.

The other two Scottish teams at this event are St Andrews and Aberdeen. Everyone knows Coach Benji Heywood is the man with a plan for St Andrews. The question for them is if they have pushed on from last year where some windy condition damaged their push for their push for final at Division 2. Teams may be well advised to test them with some zone defence again. Aberdeen seem to have fallen behind the other Scottish universities this year but hung on to claim the final Nationals spot. They still have the remnants of the team which finished 12th in the country last year and an intimidating sideline will see them attempting to break the top 8 and develop for a return to Division 1 next year.

Bangor are reportedly coming into the weekend ‘literally aiming not to finish bottom’. I expect a zone look from them on D and a series of big deep then under cuts on offence. Liverpool placed 13th last year and 12th Indoors (both Div 2), so will be looking to improve on this form in Manchester. Kent made outdoor nationals by claiming the last spot from the South East, meaning they are likely to come into the event starting as bottom seeds, so the only way is up. From experience I can testify to their mean zone defence indoors and it will be interesting to see if they can translate this successfully at a national outdoors event.

Lastly: the two Midlands teams. Loughborough finished second to last at the 2013 Division 2 Nationals under captain Chris ‘Don’t call me Melon’ Peploe, who returns this year. They’ll be keen to improve on their previous finish. Handlers Peploe and Chris ‘Pudding’ Alderson and Chris ‘ Jaff’ Martin are some of the players who have been involved with JR so I’m expecting wild swings from hot to cold for the Loughborough offence. Captain Andrew ‘Pumba’ Sellers will hope by the end of the weekend that Loughborough are the team described as ‘the ones who were a lot stronger than their seed’. UEA sneak into Nationals thanks to drop outs from other teams. They were confident going into the season with star players in Howard Storey (U23 Mixed) and Luke Frett (Jen). Captain Arron Reed will be hoping that they can help show that the Midlands still has both the strength and the depth it is known for.

I’m expecting the Semi finalists to be Limerick, Nottingham, Newcastle and Southampton. With strong squads, each will feel they could have competed with teams at Div 1 and will be looking to prove so with victory in Manchester this weekend. All four have the quality to go the whole way, and the eventual winner will probably be decided by the team who simply keeps their focus best throughout the weekend.

All is to play for in Manchester – Good luck again to all teams from The Showgame, and stay tuned for the Women’s Division Preview! 

University Regionals 2014 Results.

Division 1, Division 2, UKU Nationals, UKU Regionals, University
Congratulations to all the teams who qualified for University Nationals 2014 from University Open Outdoor Regionals. Here are the top 6 from each region:

West
Div 1
1. Bristol
2. Bath
3. Cardiff
Div 2
4. Exeter
5. Southampton
6. Bournemouth

South East
Div 1
1. Sussex 1
2. Sussex 2
3. Imperial College
Div 2
4. LSE
5. Surrey
6. Kent

Midlands
Div 1
1. Warwick
2. Cambridge
3. Birmingham
Div 2
4. Nottingham
5. Oxford
6. Loughborough

North
Div 1
1. Durham
2. Manchester
3. York
Div 2
4. Newcastle
5. Liverpool
6. Bangor

Scotland

Div 1

1. Dundee
2. Heriot Watt
3. Edinburgh
4. Glasgow
Div 2
5. Strathclyde
6. St. Andrews
7. Aberdeen
Into possible seeds for Nationals:

Division 1 (suggested by Ashley Yeo)
1. Dundee
2. Warwick
3. Durham 4. Sussex 15. Bristol6. Heriot Watt7. Manchester8. Cambridge9. Birmingham10. Bath11. Edinburgh12. York13. Sussex 214. Cardiff15. Imperial16. Glasgow


Division 2
1. Nottingham
2. I1
3. LSE
4. Strathclyde
5. St. Andrews
6. Oxford
7. Exeter
8. Aberdeen
9. Newcastle
10. Surrey
11. Southampton
12. Bournemouth
13. Liverpool
14. Bangor
15. Loughborough
16. Kent

University Nationals Review: A Gaelic Affair.

BUCS, Division 1, Division 2, Open, Tournament Reports, UCC, University

David Pryce reviews an exciting weekend at University Open Nationals in Nottingham.

Last week I previewed this event and made a tentative attempt at predicting the outcomes.   Yet again the University teams gave us some great action but most of all some surprising results. The full version of these can be found here.


Division 1 was very hotly contested from the start where my predicted pool of ‘death’ befitted this title with a three way tie. Early on Sussex beat Edinburgh then Sussex would get beaten by Manchester who would lose to Edinburgh. Manchester (finishing 4th) came out on top, giving Sussex and Edinburgh the crossovers. They managed to power through to quarters where sadly Sussex could not pass Cork and would have to be content with 5th. 

In the other pools Sheffield battled their way into top 8 but couldn’t quite hold onto their momentum for Sunday finishing 8th. Three teams of pool D managed to get into top 8 places and Birmingham eventually beat Manchester to take 3rd. 

The final was between Edinburgh and Cork, this turned out to be a one sided affair where Cork only conceded a handful of points. This was not for Edinburgh trying with some great plays on both ends of the field. However, everyone will agree that the boys from Munster were out and out the best team there this weekend and congratulations to them, taking the UK University Nationals title.

Edinburgh vs Cork in the final. Courtesy of Andy Moss 2013

Division 2 was, as predicted, full of surprises:

  • All three Scottish teams finished in the top 8
  • Limerick (the other Irish team to attend) were very strong and got themselves to the final
  • Only one SE team (Imperial, finishing 3rd) made it into top 8.
The final was in fact between Nottingham and Limerick. Both teams had looked strong throughout Saturday. To get themselves there they had to battle somewhat harder against the likes of Warwick and Imperial but deserved their finalist positions. The game itself was still going on well after any other game had ended with one of the last points lasting a good 20 minutes. Calls were made, disputed and discussed with eventual resolution the score was held at 6-6. Then Nottingham powered through to score two on the trot and take the title. 

The Alumni Cup was also running alongside and after a day and a half of play Bangor and defending champions Leeds were in the final. Leeds could not quite hold onto that title and Bangor are now the best Alumni team in the country. Did you play university ultimate and want to challenge them? Well make sure to enter next year!

With two Irish teams doing well, including Limerick who actually came 4th at their ‘regional’, one question was heard all around the tournament: should the Irish region get another slot? Well this would mean one less slot for another region or a bigger tournament. We shall have to wait and see what the UKU does. I for one saw the strength of both these teams and was very impressed, the work done by the IFDA to bring through juniors and create the ultimate hotbeds around Cork and Dublin has clearly paid off. 

Regardless, Irish university ultimate have thrown down a gauntlet this year – will the mainland teams be able to step up to the challenge?

Limerick and Cork bring a top class game to Nottingham. Courtesy of Andy Moss 2013

Women’s and Alumni will be covered by the end of the week. Any suggestions for pieces? Got some cool photos? Submit them to showgameblog@gmail.com. Also follow us on Twitter and FB.

University Open Outdoor Nationals

BUCS, Division 1, Division 2, nottingham, Open, Outdoors, Previews, University

David Pryce brings us his brief preview of University Open Outdoor Nationals being held this weekend in Nottingham.

This weekend 32 open teams will travel from their respective corners of the country to University Nationals. Regionals was (for most) a month ago, the snow has cleared and we have even had some sun. I will now attempt to give a brief preview of the upcoming weekend and, after 7 years of failing, attempt to make some predictions about both divisions. 


The schedule and pools are out and in Div 1 we have:


  • Pool A: Sussex, Manchester, Edinburgh, Leicester – some would say the pool of death with current champs and a lot of strength in all four clubs. I would say Sussex and Edinburgh to edge it and take the top two spots. 
  • Pool B: Cork, Cardiff, Surrey, Aberdeen – A very similar pool to last year for Cork, Aberdeen and Cardiff. These three are at a similar strength to a year ago and so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a three way tie here.
  • Pool C: Bath,  Cambridge, Sussex 2, Sheffield – All props to Sussex 2 for making it this far but I cannot see them getting higher than third in the pool here. With Alex Brooks pushing Bath all the way and Elliott Moore and Dom Dathan doing the same for Cambridge few would bet against one of those two topping the pool. 
  • Pool D: Dundee, Southampton, Birmingham, Durham – Of the four pools I would say this is the most open but if asked to go for it, I would put Dundee and Southampton as the top two but very closely contested by Birmingham.


This would make the top 8 look something like: Sussex, Edinburgh, Bath, Cambridge, Dundee, Southampton and two of Cork, Aberdeen or Cardifff. With a couple crossovers, quarters and semis to play before the final and the Nottingham venue known for it’s windy temperament you might favour the Brighton and Scottish teams but as is the way with our sport it’s about who peaks at the right time. I predict a Sussex versus Edinburgh final. 


From a very open Div 2 we have:


  • Pool E: ExeterLeeds, Strathclyde, Portsmouth – A real tough pool to call here with a lot of strength across the board. Exeter still hold the edge at top for me and one of Leeds or Strathclyde. Too hard to call between the two but 12:10 on pitch 17 will decide for me.
  • Pool F: LoughboroughLiverpoolSt AndrewsPlymouth – Another hard one however the Loughborough and St Andrews teams have very strong training programs and so I would put my money on them.
  • Pool G: Bristol, Newcastle, NottinghamImperial – I am slightly biased here so for integrity will avoid talking about Imperial directly however I wouldn’t write us off in this pool. Another three way tie between Bristol, Nottingham and Imperial? 
  • Pool H: Warwick, Glasgow, LimerickLSE – An Irish team are always a tasty addition to Nationals but I think the strength of Glasgow and Warwick will power through to the top 8.



This make the top 8: Exeter, Loughborough, St Andrews, Glasgow, Warwick and three of Leeds, Strathclyde, Bristol, Nottingham or Imperial. As you can see and know div 2 is much more open than div 1. There are definitely more teams able to sneak into the top 8 and to the point where these predictions are pointless. Expect some upsets and unexpected finalists here.

All in all, look forward to big plays at both ends of the field, old postgrads getting angry and even, fresh faced first years skying and laying out for everything. Not forgetting the Alumni Cup in it’s second year, anyone can win it BUT can Leeds defend their inaugural title? Can’t wait, see you there UK!



Push Pass Productions will be filming predominantly on pitches 11 and 12 so look out next week for releases of finals etc, like them on Facebook to stay informed!
Blockstack.tv will also be covering the event with team photos and gameplay photos too: contact Andy Moss for more details.

Twitterazzi have already started commenting with the hashtag #ukuuon and follow all the teams’ tweets for results. David will be at the tournament with Imperial so if you have any ideas or questions go ask him and don’t forget to like and follow us too!!