xEUCF 2013 – Open Division

Bordeaux, European Ultimate, Nationals, Previews, xEUCF
UKU Open Nationals 2013 saw London’s Clapham Ultimate secure their thirteenth consecutive win in a clean sweep. Chevron Action Flash achieved revenge in a repeat of 2012’s semi final against Fire of London, but were unable to dislodge the perennial UK Champions. 


Brighton Ultimate improved by one to gain their highest ever placing of third, and guaranteeing themselves a spot in the upper ‘Elite’ bracket. They will be joined by the Cinderella story of the weekend, Devon ultimate – who have threatened an international breakout before (Nationals 2010 saw them miss out by a minor margin), but are now consolidated as surely the UK’s favourite underdogs as they rise above Fire 1, EMO, and Kapow! to place 4th, after completing a late-game-comeback-sudden-death-victory over none other than Fire, a result foreboded by the epic Tour 2 Matchup.


Fire nevertheless secured the all important qualification, and Kapow! overcame a rollercoaster season to get the crucial win against EMO for the final spot, a result that jars with the two team’s respective tour performances. On to Bordeaux…



In 2006 the top European open teams met in the first EUCF, a yearly event installed to replicate the high level competition of the 4-yearly European Ultimate Club Championships. A clear expression of the need for European teams to test each other in order to compete on the world stage, the two tournaments combine on their overlapping years to create the extended European Ultimate Championship Finals, or xEUCF.

British Open teams have a proud history at these elite meet-ups, with Clapham winning gold and Spirit in the last EUCC (Rostock 2005), and a British team competing in the final every year since 2006 other than 2010, winning in 2007 (EUCF – Clapham), 2009 (xEUCF – Chevron) and most recently 2012 (EUCF – Clapham). Last year’s event also saw an all british final for the first time, and the first European final with both teams from the same country.

British teams will be approaching the event with hopes not only of high finishing placements, but also to make use of the undeniably crucial development opportunity that this high level tournament provides. The large capacity of this year’s ‘extended’ format allows more British teams to share in this high quality tournament, with 6 top club teams being given the chance to test their squads against a deeper field than the domestic Tour and Nationals. 


Clapham
The 1st seeds, undefeated this year in Europe will be looking to complete the elusive back to back repeat that only FAB (winners in 2010, 2011) have so far managed, the second of these victories coming after a gutting and thrilling defeat of Clapham in Brugge.


Chevron
Chevron perform well in Europe, placing 2nd and 3rd in the previous two tournaments, and winning the previous xEUCF in London (2009). After failing to best Clapham so far, the Ron will be looking to reclaim gold on the highest stage.


Brighton
Showing consistent form to rise above the otherwise turbulent nationals mid-table, Brighton will be hoping to do what they haven’t yet and make a serious impression on the European open scene. Mysterious roster additions of US stars Elijah Kerns and Aaron Honn seem could, if they prove true to add a decent punch of firepower to an already impressive and hungry squad.

Devon
Whilst on their maiden voyage, this squad will nevertheless be hungry for victory. Feeding off a fierce competitivity built upon a simple love for playing together, the West Country collective will be relishing the opportunity to diversify their scalp collection.


Fire 1
Other than a finals berth in 2008, Fire have struggled to make an imprint abroad to match their domestic placings. A rocky domestic season will not have helped, but an unpredictability in form may equally work to their favour in Bordeaux.

Kapow
Euros has been their goal all season, and it will not be taken likely by this young and improving team. Led by Dave Pichler and bolstered by returners Will Caldwell, Kapow will be hoping to upset some unwitting European opposition with their uniquely creative playing style.

The championships began this morning – good luck to all British teams attending! JCK @ tSG

Women’s Tour 2013 Review

Cardiff, Iceni, LLL, Nationals, Nice Bristols, PUNT, SYC, Tour 3, Tournament Reports, Women's Tour, xEUCF
With Charlie Blair away on U23 duties the review of the Women’s season falls to me (DP), hope I can do it justice. It was an absolute corker!

A fortnight has passed and the dust has settled on Women’s Tour 3 in Cardiff. With considerably less teams than we started with (15 down from 21) and some great battles at previous Tours, most would have expected Iceni to take this tournament with ease. However things were not quite there for the ‘full fat’ squad with a few key players missing and the Welsh heat taking its toll on many. I have since spoken with some of the Iceni players and they agree that Nice Bristols outplayed the overall champs. I asked Sarah “Saz” Garner, Nice Bristols captain, whether this was the first time that this had occurred and how it felt:
“Yep, this is the first time since the club was formed that we’ve won a Tour, which feels like an incredible achievement. I’m quite tempted to retire my captaincy on this high! I think we’ve all known for a long time that we’re capable of doing it on paper, but we’ve never actually managed to string the right set of results together over one weekend before.”

When asked what was different SG mentioned Iceni missing their World Games players at this tournament, and Fran (Scarampi), a huge player for them, is still recovering from a dislocated shoulder” however she stressed that they were also missing Ali (Smith) and Brigid (Harty) – both GB players in Japan last year”. This doesn’t mean to say that Iceni or Nice Bristol are both solely made up of superstars but as SG correctly pointed out “a lot of the play can go through the well known faces, and that can leave a bit of uncertainty when they’re not around. I personally felt that Iceni didn’t quite have the confidence in themselves that they usually do, and I think we capitalised on that by coming out firing in the early part of the game both times we played them.”

Charlie Blair about to get horiztonal in the final. Photo courtesy of Louise Smith.
A key to Nice Bristols success and the growth of women’s Ultimate in the UK is the development of younger players and getting them to play in big semis and finals [which] is something Bristol have been keen on for a long time, and I think that women’s clubs up and down the country are now seeing the benefit of doing this too.”

Massive congratulations to Nice Bristol on their T3 victory, looking further down the results we see Punt displacing both LeedsLeedsLeeds and SYC to take third, finishing off a great rising season. With the exception of ROBOT (who fell from 4th to 9th) and the rising Nice Bristol 2 team (who grabbed the last top 8 spot) the remaining positions were as expected. A special mention to a Rebel player who in the first game had to be taken off the field by paramedics, we wish you a speedy recovery back in Ireland! 


So that’s Tour over and done below we can see the full results using the official UKU points

The regular season movement in the 2013 Women’s Tour.


















Full official results can also be found here.
The T3 final did little for the overall standings with Iceni still coming out top, Savage do appear rather low down but that would be due to only attending the first two events. On average they would move up a couple slots. 

It is promising to see more and more Women’s teams springing up and 3 clubs able to put out regular second teams and still keep the skill level high. I continued to ask SG if this require anything different in training:
“I think we’ve had the skills there for a while. Making the Nationals Final last year, and performing well at our first EUCF (6th and Spirit) did a lot for our individual and team confidence about playing at a high level, and whilst we continue to bring new players into the mix, there are a good core of us that have been playing together for several seasons now and have a good understanding of each other. In the past couple of seasons we’ve upped the intensity of our training sessions throughout the year, so that stepping up a gear at Tour doesn’t come as a complete shock, and I think that has gradually allowed us to start winning those games that previously we didn’t quite have the belief or experience to do.”

Sarah continued by saying that
“… it’s really important to remember that we play together for fun, and no matter what the scoreline and whoever the opposition, we try and have a bit of banter with everyone on the sideline to keep things lighthearted and keep ourselves relaxed, which is when we play our best. My captains speeches usually try to reflect this, and usually turn into me digging myself out of a hole I’ve just created. Highlight of this weekend being ‘look after yourselves ladies, and stay wet’. I meant hydrated…”

Now what? Well there is no regionals for the Women’s division, yet, but Nationals is only a month away now. I asked Sarah what will Nice Bristols be doing for preparation

“We certainly won’t be looking to change anything major tactically this late in the season, it will be more about building on and tweaking what we have achieved so far. Within the team there is a great sense of trust that everyone will do what they need to to prepare for Nationals individually, and when we come together for training that is only part of that preparation. There is a lot of individual responsibility on players to know what they need to do and when – whether that is at training, on holiday, or during a Tour final – and everyone responds really well to that and puts in the hard yards outside of club training.” 


As ever the positions at Nationals will decide who goes to Euros and this year. With it being xEUCF the UK gets 4 Women’s spots, plus the added pressure of the winner of Nationals getting a WUCC 2014 spot I pressed SG for a prediction for the Euros slots:

“I’d say this year it’s very difficult to call. I think Iceni would still be favourites going into the tournament, given their history, but as for who else is capable of making a final and Euros – Leeds, SYC, Punt, Seven Sisters and, naturally, Nice Bristols, will all be in the mix. It’s going to be a fantastic tournament, probably the closest in years, and I’m sure there will be lots of sudden death spectaculars and more than a few upsets!”

Punt rise high over Leeds but what team will they bring to Southampton? Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.

My final question looked back at the epic change in weather that we had from Tour 2’s rain, wind and cold to Tour 3’s heatwave, so I asked what Nice Bristol eat or drink to recover from these extremes,

“Vanilla ice cream in a waffle cone with a flake and lots of raspberry sauce. I discovered that this weekend. My teammates were also drinking Pimm’s from Nalgenes on the drive home. It was hot tea after Tour 2 though.”

Let’s hope that Nationals and xEUCF is ice cream weather not hot tea.

Looking forward to the return of Charlie Blair? Do keep supporting the World Games squad with the #gbwg2013 hashtag and following them online however you can! DP @ tSG.

Mixed Tour review and what next?

Mixed Ultimate, Nationals, Tournament Reports, WUCC2014, xEUCF

David Pryce gives us his final review of Mixed Tour 2013 and looks forward to Nationals and further.
Mixed tour has ended and with it we have seen some great battles, World Games dominating as expected, over 50 different teams attended and who will go to xEUCF and Worlds?

The results are in and so overall tour standings can be calculated (unofficial algorithm used, for official UKU results await update), the info graphic below shows how teams have moved over the season. To read find the team of interest on the left (ordered by MT1 seedings) and then follow their line.
All mixed up? Apologies, find your team and follow their progress.
Looking at how teams have done over the course of the tour: RGS, Cambridge and Black Eagles clearly having great seasons with Bears falling from their top spot. Ten from the top 16 beat their initial seeding but the worst drop was Peeps who fell 9 positions (Golden Ants also fell 7 positions and out of this bracket).
Further down there was a lot of big movers namely:
  • Mustard +19
  • Flyght Club +18
  • Steal +14
  • BAM! +12 [apologies for missing this one out!]
  • Reading +12
  • Some Team +10
  • JR +10

    Overall a great season and hopefully a lot of good preparation for our National teams going to World Games and u23 World Championships this summer.
    Matthew Hodgson gets horizontal for Thundering Herd 1 vs DED. Photo Courtesy of Graham Bailey.
    What does this seasons results mean for the upcoming national and international competitions. With teams like RGS, Magic Toast, Bristol, Black Eagles and DED; I imagine that most players will be choosing Open or Womens over Mixed. Hence leaving UKU Nationals 2013 to be played out by Cambridge, Bears, Brighton and company. From the teams that do play Nationals there are 3 slotsfor xEUCF 2013 in Bordeaux. At a wild guess I would say Cambridge, Bears and Herd would take those with Brighton Open/Womens vying for an Open spot. Another spot for Euros will be decided dependent on teams entered so we may see a 4th team go, wait and see.
    That would be this season over, BUT this season also gives the qualification for World Ultimate Club Championships 2014 in Italy. Again the UK has 3 slotsand is 4th on the waiting list for another. As set out by the UKU mixed qualification for Worlds is through a combination of:
    1. The winner of UKU Nationals 2013 in each division wins a spot at WUCC 2014
    2. The highest placed UK team at XEUCF in each division (excluding winner of Nationals) also wins a spot at WUCC 2014
    3. Any remaining spots are allocated based on the UKU Tour rankings 2013
    N.B. that if the winner of UKU Nationals is the highest placed team at xEUCF, the next ranked team at xEUCF will be awarded the 2nd WUCC bid.
    There are many combinations of what could happen here, mostly dependent on which teams go to which tournaments. Although if RGS don’t go to Nationals or Euros they would be guaranteed the third spot if they decided to go to Worlds. Tentative prediction: Cambridge, Bears for definite, the last spot is too hard to call.
    Who will get to go to Worlds?

    Well that is it, Mixed Tour is done for 2013 watch out for Nationals in August. Next weekend gives us the start of the Open and Women’s season with some European teams coming to London’s Calling in St Albans!

    Open and Women’s Tour previews should be up next week so keep an eye out for those and more! Thanks for reading, remember to like and share.

    University Women’s Outdoor Nationals

    Nationals, nottingham, Outdoors, Previews, ultimate, University, Womens
    Thank to Sarah Harrison for sending us this  brief preview for University Women’s Outdoor Nationals taking place this weekend in Nottingham alongside the Open and Alumni divisions. 

     
    This weekend sees the return of the Women’s Outdoor Nationals, where ladies from all over the country will be battling it out for the coveted gold medal. An astonishing 27 teams will be heading down to Nottingham, the biggest women’s university tournament the UK has ever seen. In this preview, I will look at who I consider the major threats for the women’s national title, and predict (hopefully accurately) who will be top dog at Grove Farm.
     
    It is notoriously hard to predict Women’s Ultimate, especially at University level. Even after four years of University Ultimate, I still find it incredibly canada goose Chilliwack Bomber difficult to predict which teams will perform well and make it to the final. Every year, teams go through several transition phases. Some teams have to cope with losing the majority of their experienced players, whereas others are forever building a strong squad. However, the influence of good coaching as well as picking up GB Juniors can have a huge effect on the Women’s game.  Some teams may be strong on paper, but get them outside in 20mph winds and it’s a completely different story. Here are some things you should be looking out for canada goose Citadel Parka this weekend.
     
    Combined teams
     
    Never underestimate the power of a combo team. Although some may have never trained together before, the combination of a decent team and some strong additional players could prove lethal. Here are the teams that will be merging this weekend:
     
    Aberdeen/Stirling
    Bristol/Cardiff
    Dundee/Glasgow
    Heriot-Watt/St Andrews
    Oxford/Oxford Brookes
    Portsmouth/Southampton
    Sheffield/Sheffield Hallam
     
    All teams have promise to do well. Having said that, some teams will have been able to train together, which could be the tipping point in their success. With the Oxford/Brookes and Sheffield/Hallam teams coming from the same cities, their potentially existing team bonding may be able overthrow some of the stronger teams. However, it is hard to ignore Dundee’s dominance over the past year. The women’s squad were incredibly strong indoors and will be looking to continue their reign outdoors with the additional strength of Glasgow. Look out for them, as well as Portsmouth/Southampton. Southampton reached the final last year and they will still be fighting for the top spot, while Portsmouth performed well at Div I Mixed Indoors and will add some strong players to that squad.
     
     
    The Midlands
    With the likes of Birmingham, Nottingham, and Warwick – not forgetting teams like Oxford, Loughborough and Cambridge -the Midlands is seen as a notoriously strong region. All of these girls are good friends and play each other on a regular basis. After incredibly strong finishes at Mixed and Women’s Indoor Nationals, the Midlands teams will be tough to beat. My prediction: Nottingham and Birmingham will be the most successful.
     
    Sussex


    Never leave out this team. With players like Megan Hurst, Kim Isaac and Lucy Wiggins; Sussex have huge potential to defend their title. The work done by Felix and Megan in training will surely be seen on the field. In my opinion no defence is safe here, but can they make it three years on the trot against a rejuvenated Edinburgh?
     
    Edinburgh
    Over the last 12 months, Edinburgh have been in the top 8 in every division, winning Mixed Outdoor Nationals a few weeks ago as well as finishing in the top 4 at Women’s Indoor Nationals. Edinburgh have slowly been building a super team, which looks to be incredibly strong outdoors. After playing against them and watching them a few weeks ago, I think that they have the depth and the skills to win the tournament. Only a well drilled, experienced team will be able to stop them.
     
    Having said that, there are plenty of experienced players who will be representing their University this weekend. Beware of the lower seeded teams: they will have small experienced cores that will be looking to improve their seeding and develop their team for future years
     
    My prediction? It’s going to be close at the top. There’s going to be tears and tantrums. There’s also going to be some brilliant Ultimate this weekend. I will be writing a review after the tournament, but for now, here is my top 4.
     
    1. Edinburgh.
    2. Sussex.
    3. Birmingham.
    4. Nottingham.
     
    Good luck to everyone this weekend. See you there.
     
    If you want an in depth analysis go check out Harry Mason’s preview http://bit.ly/ZtsG4I. Make sure to follow the action on twitter with the #ukuon hashtag. Whilst you’re there follow us at www.twitter.com/TheShowGame and like us on fb www.facebook.com/TheShowGame.

    UCC Ultimate – from Cork to Nottingham, via Maynooth

    BUCS, Division 1, Irish Ultimate, Nationals, Open, Outdoors, Previews, Trinity, UCC, ultimate, University

    Mark Earley brings us the story of University College Cork’s year so far in their journey to Nottingham. Cork will be attending UK University Nationals next week with aims to avenge a painful finals loss at the hands of the Sussex Mohawks last year. 

    In Ireland the tournament that decides which university teams are the national champions is called Intervarsities and it takes place relatively late in the calendar year (April). Given the size of Irish Ultimate the Mixed and Women’s Intervarsities are smaller affairs with the Open division tournament canada goose Canada Goose mænd being the centerpiece of the university season. That said, the Cork outfit, UCC Ultimate currently hold both the Women’s and Mixed events and were looking to win their third title of the season last weekend. There is no qualification process for Open Intervarsities and all colleges are encouraged to bring as many players and teams as they can muster. Since the first Intervarsities took place the number of teams in attendance has ebbed and flowed, peaking at 16 in 2009, a number almost equalled this year.

    Open Intervarsities took place last weekend in Maynooth, a town just outside Dublin in wet and very windy conditions. Fifteen teams took part with a pick up canada goose Chateau Parka team helping to round out the schedule. Going into the tournament it was hard to look past one of three teams as potential winners – UCC from Cork who had won the tournament 3 years in a row, and the two strongest Dublin-based college teams, UCD and Trinity. Three other teams, DCU – the college team from where WJUC took place last August – UL, from Limerick and NUI Maynooth, the home team, were expected to battle it out for the remaining semi-final spot.

    UCC Ultimate Logo

    After an upset free Saturday, it was Maynooth who caused the big shock of the tournament by winning their quarter-final on universe point against DCU. This was quite a break through for the team and their first time making it through to the semi-finals. (Later in the day they would add the Spirit Award to their top 4 finish). Cork, Trinity and UCD all joined them, as expected. The pick of the semis was a battle between long-term rivals UCD and Trinity. Both teams had looked strong up until meeting and went in to the game confident but it ended up being a match that will be remembered for the upwind downwind conditions as opposed to for the Ultimate. At first, neither side managed to do much more than play for territory but it was Trinity who imposed themselves getting a brace of upwind goals to build a 4 point lead that they kept until half. UCD fought back in the second half but the gap was too much and Trinity progressed.

    Elsewhere UCC took care of a young and determined NUI Maynooth with little fuss, advancing into the final, making it a rematch of the previous year. UCC captain John ‘Doc’ Doherty put their performance against what he called ‘the tournament surprise package’ down to their considerable advantage in terms of experience. ‘A lot of us playing so well in this game was down to the fact that we were much more experienced than Maynooth in the windy conditions, and they had a lot of up-and-coming players who probably hadn’t played that much in such conditions before’.

    Trinity’s Hugo Fitzpatrick with a big bid in the final

    The final took place on a slightly more sheltered field and Cork came out on D to start. They turned Trinity in the first point and after a dropped pull in the second were very soon 2-0 up. This became 3-0 after more tight defence and the Corkonian team were in a position they are familiar with – bossing the pace of a game having taken an early lead. Trinity captain Finnian Flood explained that having gone three points up early ‘UCC played with a lot of hunger and composure. Suffocating our O with their strong defense and hitting the open man on their offence whether it was an under cut or a deep strike’. This was echoed by his counterpart Doherty who was pleased with their performance; ‘The offence was patient, the D was tight. We played like we knew we could in the first half to get the lead. I think in the second half we could have been a little more patient, because the wind picked up a lot, and we tried to force it a bit’. Trinity came back into the game with Sam Mehigan, Brian Boyle and Sean O’Mahony helping to add a measure of respectability to the scoreline but realistically it was all over as a competitive game by half-time. Standout performances came from a number of Cork players including veteran Donal Murray and captain John Doherty, It’s worth noting that UCC had lost twice to Trinity earlier in the season so to win the final 13-6 to win their 4th title in as many years will have given them great pleasure.

    Trinity’s David Ferguson throws around the mark of UCC captain John Doherty 

    Given how late the Intervarsities tournament takes place, qualification for UK Uni Outdoor Open Nationals takes place via a University League held in February. UCC will be representing Ireland in Nottingham next week and are looking forward to it. We spoke to their captain Doherty about the trip and he had the following to say: ‘It is always hard to tell what we will come up against in the UK. I saw some of the defending champions Sussex at Siege of Limerick, and they looked even stronger than last year. So we have them as the team to beat standard-wise in order to be good enough to win it. We are missing a good few big players from last years team – last year’s captain Donal O’Donohoe, Mark Fanning and the star player all weekend Kevin Rice, but we have five new first year students this year who we think are capable of stepping up when needed’.

    Last year the boys from Cork finished runners up after an excellent string of results but couldn’t beat a Mohawks side who were (and arguably still are) in a rich vein of form. That said, Doherty and his team are going over with only one thing in mind: ‘My team mates would be amazed if I said we have any other plan than to go over to Nottingham to win the tournament. It’s been our goal all season to win our own Irish IVs, and to then go to the UK and win UK Nationals’. This comment could be construed by some as arrogant but it would be slight on the Cork mentality to brush it off like that. Focus, determination, hard work and tactical intelligence are the mark of this team. As Flood, the Trinity captain, commented ‘They (UCC) are a very experienced, hungry team with a lot of athleticism and confidence and should do very well in Nottingham. Teams will have to play smart to beat them, but one thing is for sure – at UK Nats they won’t give up anything easy’. 

    We wish them the best of luck on their trip, as no doubt do the many Irish players they are representing.

    Photos courtesy of Sarah Cummins & Mark Earley.