Mixed Tour 3 Preview:

Can Bear Cav remain undefeated through the Mixed Tour?

Smatt: I see no reason why they can’t. Cambridge and Brighton finished 2nd and 3rd behind them at Mixed Tour 2, and they beat them twice over the weekend. Cambridge will once again provide the toughest matchup. They should find moving the disc easier without the Nottingham wind to slow down their possession based 3-4 underneath cutting strategy. However they also found it tough to contain the Bear Cav hucking game at MT1 without wind and MT2 with the wind.

Matt: Yes of course they can, but that would be boring. So I’m going to predict Cambridge to beat Bears in a pulsating final, which will tear onlookers from the grasp of their mobiles as they check last-day Premier League scores. The fields of Cheltenham will be scattered with shrapnel of nails as the nerve-racking final moments of the football season and Mixed Tour come to an end simultaneously.

Who will make the biggest climb at MT3?

Smatt: If Bristol Mixed get back all their top players, I think they can regain most if not all of the 8 places they dropped at MT2. Despite the impressive work Cambridge 2 have done so far (improving 13 places over the two tours) I don’t see them breaking the top 12.
Therefore I think the highest climbers will be Bristol Mixed breaking back into the top 8, or Birmingham breaking into the top 16, though, after two tours there shouldn’t as much movement as team rankings should have pretty much sorted themselves out by now.

Matt: Beast Mode – they’re massively under-seeded, smashed everyone at MT1
but didn’t play MT2 so got shafted again. Expect them to be making the seeders look silly by the end of the weekend.

Who will finish in the top 8/4?

Smatt: Top 4: Bear Cav, Black Eagles, Brighton, Cambridge
Top 8: Bear Cav, Black Eagles, Brighton, Cambridge, Herd, RGS, Meeples, Bristol

Matt: I’m going to be bold and predict all three World’s teams will finish in the top four (and yes, that includes RGS, who slipped out of the top eight at Tour 2. They’ll come together in Cheltenham and will start to gel as a team and what I saw of the Ka-pow players at Tom’s Tourney, they look set to impress in Chelters.

Best game of pool play?

Smatt: My games to watch in the top 4 pools are:
Brighton Breezy v Black Eagles – this could be an exciting game full of big throws and athletic plays from both teams. Herd 1 v Meeples – A rematch of the heated quarter final from MT2 that brought Meeples their first top 4 finish ever and dashed the Herd’s chance at a second finals appearance of 2014. Dyn-O-Mixed v Pingu Jam – PJ are on the rise and should be full of confidence after an undefeated MT2 and will face a similarly constructed team in Dyn-O-Mixed. RGS v Bristol – RGS have to be winning this group to gain some momentum into their top 8 crossover, and ultimately towards the rest of their preparations for Worlds, but if Bristol have their strongest set of players then they are a potential top 4 team.

Matt: Looking down the list, the only one that stuck out to me was Bears v Eagles because it got me wondering: who would actually win in a battle between those two creatures?

Upset predictions?

Smatt: Whilst the smart money is on a Bear Cav v Cambridge final again, a Cambridge v Brighton Breezy has potential for a big upset. Another game with upset potential is the Dyn-O-Mixed crossover up into the top 12. In any cross up matchup they should feel they have a decent shot, even more so if they get Peeps or Scarecrew.

Matt: My upset prediction will be RGS to be playing in the 3/4 bracket come Sunday afternoon. I expect Dyn-O-Mixed to finish the mixed season strong and grab a top 8 finish. Rumours are circling that the mighty James Hobley will be making a shock comeback and make his debut this weekend – a remarkable turnaround after being told he should never throw a Frisbee in anger ever again after his antics at Glastonbury last autumn. Bristol Mixed will be back up challenging for a top place too after an under-strength team in Nottingham.

Which team will do the best karaoke after the Eurovision party?

Smatt: Hard to narrow it down with so many teams going, but I’m going to have to go for Scarecrew as they practice singing before every game.

Matt: Dyn-o-mixed, hands-down. I had the pleasure of sharing a room (not a

bed) with Maddox last week and if he can sing in real life as well ashe sings in his sleep, they’ll blow their competition away. And then they also have James Hobbley, who plays the violin in the orchestra every Sunday, so he’ll have an advantage over most at MT3. So the real
question is: who’ll come second? And for that, I have no idea.

Can Meeples stay in the top 4?

Smatt: Based on the players they have, they definitely can, but I don’t think they will. I think their likely quarter finals matchup will be either Black Eagles or Brighton Breezy, and I don’t see Meeples coming out on top in either game, though they would both be fantastic quarter final matchups.

Matt: I don’t know why people are surprised at the rise of Meeples and their top 4 finish in Nottingham. Maybe they’re just very good at playing in god-awful weather and with a heat wave predicted in Cheltenham, they’ll have to adopt an alternative style of play. But they have some star players returning to the team this weekend and I fully expect them to be challenging for top four. I expect Bristol mixed to challenge for top four too as they won’t struggle for top players wanting to make the short journey up the M5.

UKU University Women’s Outdoor Nationals Preview

Elly White introduces the competition for University Women’s Outdoor Nationals

This weekend sees the biggest ever University Women’s Outdoor Nationals with over 30 teams heading to Manchester.

One of the front runners this year, and a team that was mentioned by nearly every team in the questionnaire is Birmingham. The ladies have had a very successful season, getting silver at UWIN and gold at UMON, and are coming into UWON with a very talented squad that could secure themselves another gold. From what I’ve heard, the entire team are star players in their own right, but there are a few that have been specifically mentioned. GB U23 players Grace and Kim Owens’ connection will be difficult to stop, as will rising star and GB U20 player Jess Cowley. There is also a boost from Tilly Salter who has spent a year playing with Saucy Nancy, the college team from Iowa who came 3rd at USA College Championships last year. All of this adds up to a pretty formidable team that I predict to make the semis at least.

Sussex Mohawks will be looking to win UWON for the 4th year in a row, an incredible feat and something definitely within their grasp. They will be very used to playing together after sending a team to the Irish outdoor tournament The Siege of Limerick. Players to look out for are Megan Hurst throwing to Starzy Riordan-Eva and also vice-captain Rachel Clark. For the second year in a row they are fielding a second team, which shows the depth that their women’s club has. Like Birmingham, I will be very surprised if Mohawks don’t make the top four.

Leeds are another team that will expect to do really well. They have train often as a team, and 6 of them are part of the LLLeeds squad this season. Captain Claire Taylor’s strong and versatile throws will be brought down by Ruth Lowe, Alice Beeching and Rachel Finch, all up and coming LLL superstars. Leeds have entered a second team this year, something Claire says was helped by prioritising women’s trainings and games over mixed when recruiting women.

University of Leeds Women regroup in the huddle.

Durham is another University that has benefitted from LLL selections this year, and this will be evident in Sarah Clear’s and Mark Clark’s throws as well as Fi Rae’s receiving. They also benefit from the retention of Rebecca Devine, who went to Euros with DED last summer; a formidable lefty handler with pin-point hucks. Durham are another team to enter a second team this year, again suggesting good squad depth as well as a head start on development for next year’s team.

Bangor are the third Northern team to feature club players from Leeds, and after impressive indoor results will be looking to build on their 10th place finish from last year. Ava Grossman, Harriet Brown and Louise Ryan all have throws to watch out for. The North was a strong region at UWIN, coming in 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th and I expect this strength to continue outdoors. Manchester have many of their girls training regularly with the new Manchester Women’s Ultimate club team and Sheffield have the top handling combination of Kat Cheng (LLL) and Charis Lestrange.

Scotland are a consistently strong region across divisions, and Dundee and Edinburgh were both mentioned in a lot of preview questionnaires as the ones to look out for. Dundee have had a very successful season so far, winning UWIN and coming second at UMON, and look like they could continue this streak at UWON. On the Edinburgh team, Abbie Dutton’s cutting as well as the handling of Carissa Tong and Gale Hunter will be formidable for any opponents looking to take down Ro Sham Bo.

Nottingham had a huge team last year and retained a lot of these players, leading to an experienced team this year, including Kirsten Wells of Manchester Women’s Ultimate. A combination of the successful season they have already had and the return of their captain Trina Lam will no doubt see Nottingham challenge hard and achieve a high finishing position.

Also boasting a large roster are the London combination team of UCL, Imperial and Kings. The unfortunate timings of their exams have meant none of the individual Universities could field enough for a team. This is obviously a shame for all three, especially UCL, who had such a strong presence at SEUWIR. People are unsure what to expect from this combination team, which reportedly will feature Iceni and SYC club players as well as some new players from the different Universities. It will be interesting to see how this all comes together in one team, nobody really knows what to expect as none of UCL, Imperial or Kings are regular faces at UWON, but their top players definitely have the experience to make this a successful team.

As well as fighting it out for the top spots, this weekend will be a great chance for second teams and beginners to experience playing competitive outdoors. Three second teams are entered this year (Sussex, Leeds and Durham) which is such a positive things for women’s University Ultimate and will provide all these girls with great exposure to the sport and experience of a more competitive environment. Combine this with the high standards we will see from all the tops teams and it looks like it’s shaping to be a fantastic weekend.

Here are my predictions for the top 5:

1. Sussex

2. Birmingham

3. Leeds

4. Edinburgh

5. Durham

Once again, Good luck from The ShowGame to all players competing at University Nationals this weekend!

UKU University Open Nationals Division 2 Preview

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! 

Mixed Tour 2 Review

Matthew “Smatt” Hodgson gives us his perspective of Mixed Tour 2.

From start to finish the wind the typical Nottingham wind meant every point at Mixed Tour 2 was hard fought against the elements as well as the opponents, with very few games making it to the hard cap even amongst the teams at the top of the standings

Dominating Bagel news was Flux, who left it until their 3rdgame to get on the scoreboard before taking a dominating win of their own; 10-3 against Sheffield Steal 2. ABH B also took a 9-0 win over Bournemouth Heat, but once the pool stage was over the rankings worked themselves out with all teams getting points on the board.

ABH vs Pier Pressure at Mixed Tour 2. Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey.

The three teams finishing on the podium were Bear Cavalry, Cambridge and Brighton who all started in Pool A. Bear Cavalry and Cambridge proved themselves as the top two teams on tour this year with the Bears winning against everyone in the group once, and then repeating their wins against Brighton Breezy in the Semi Final and then putting on another show in the final against Cambridge in which Cult would not score an upwind goal and would only put in 1 point after the half. The final finished 13-6 and the Bears ground out their win with tireless effort on defence and the ability to generate yardage against the wind with powerful hucks hitting well timed deep cuts in stride. The first point was Bear Cavalry starting on offence and it was scored in less than 5 passes in the same upwind conditions that consistently howled throughout the weekend.

In pool B on the other side of the top 8, we saw teams falling down the rankings. Second seed Thundering Herd 1 started strong again, winning their group for the second tour in a row before their quarter final against Meeple, who had been energised by some big pickups. Meeple were able to dispatch BAF to enter the top 8 for the first time this season before making plenty of big plays and letting everyone know about them during their quarter final in which they deflated the Herd and broke the Top 4 for the first time. BAM ended up doing really well in the group, taking down RGS and Bristol to secure top 8 before losing out the rest of the way to teams on the ascendancy; Brighton Breezy in the quarter (who climbed from 5th to 3rd), Black Eagles in the 5 v 8 (who climbed from 9th to 5th) and Peeps in the 7 v 8 (who climbed from 13th to 7th). Each of the teams beating BAM down the stretch are interesting propositions for MT3. Brighton Breezy, as mentioned earlier, battled out of a tough Pool A before securing a 3rd place finish with a very similar squad to the one they had at Tour 1, whilst Black Eagles and Peeps both added only one or two big playmakers and took down some big names in the crossovers to secure spots in the Top 8 (Bristol and RGS respectively). These teams should definitely feel good about their chances at the third and final event in Cheltenham.

Other big movers this weekend were ABH A and Pingu Jam. ABH A started slow, beating Deep Drillin’ and Brighton Early by only 2 points each in their group, before beating Brighton Pier Pressure to set up a semi against Pingu Jam. PJ’s offence at times seemed to be exclusively huck and hope/play defence based, but they managed to ride this strategy to a win over ABH A and ultimately an undefeated weekend and a climb from 19th to 13th. ABH A would finish the tour with another win, making it 5 from 6 and a climb from 23rd to 15th.

There was also a battle for second team supremacy in Nottingham. This has been a spot usually held by Thundering Herd 2, but at MT2 it was Brighton Pier Pressure (who I don’t think are technically a second team) who came out on top finishing 17th, followed up by Cambridge 2 in 18thand Herd 2 in 19th who managed to hold off th
e challenge of Jabba the Huck (making their 2014 Mixed tour debut) in the 19 v 20.

Across the entire standings, the average number of places a team moved was 4.5 showing just how difficult seeding a 51 team tournament can be, even with one tournament’s results already in the books.

Cambridge only lost to the Bears all weekend and in their other games they were able to handle their business fairly easily, with their closest win finishing with a 9-6 score line against 3rd place finishers Brighton Breezy in the pool stage. Brighton fought hard all weekend and were able to deal with the conditions better than most, in typical Brighton fashion, by sending up and consequently bringing down big hucks into and with the wind.

RGS had another tough weekend. Having only seen short parts of a limited sample of their games at the 2 tours so far, it’s difficult to say why they haven’t been challenging the top spots so far, and if I were to guess, I’d put it down to unfamiliarity with their teammates. Whilst they still have plenty of time before Worlds (4 months, MT3 and Golden Keg), they will be have been hoping the cohesion would have come quicker than this. Another problem appears to be giving up breaks to easily, with their offence not seeming able to get the disc back after a turn (based on my viewing a limited sample of points at MT1/2).

There was also plenty of movement in the lower brackets: The Saints rose 7 places culminating in a final game victory take down of Shakedown (who dropped 9 places), Glasgow “2” and Flux both dropping 11 places each and Black Sheep 2 earning a a win to take them up from 51st to 50th

Nice write up and hopefully more Smatt vs Matt next time round!

UKU MT2 Preview:

Can anyone topple Bear Cavalry?

Smatt: Whilst I have a bit of personal bias from playing for Bear Cavalry, Mixed Tour 1 was fairly straightforward for us. Our closest game in terms of the score was the semi final against Cambridge Black. I fully expect Cambridge to once again be our toughest opposition, especially as they are combining their teams. They had two strong teams at MT1 and had some good results. Black lost to Black Eagles in pool play and Bear Cavalry in the semi but would finish in 3rd place, and White only lost to Cambridge Black in the quarter, going undefeated on Sunday to finish in 5th. Of all the teams in attendance, I think Cambridge have the best shot to steal a result from the Bears.

Matt: Yes. Cambridge will unite to create a stronger team and as we saw in the semi, if half their team can take 11 off Bears then their whole team definitely stand a chance of winning.  If Bristol Mixed weren’t losing a lot of their Nice Bristols girls then they’d be a threat but I don’t think they’ll be able to compete this weekend. Thundering Herd will have confidence after their surprising final appearance but Bears have probably sussed out their main threats. RGS are still a new team and didn’t have a full training session last weekend so I can’t see them taking down Bears just yet.

Will RGS climb back into the top 4?

Smatt: With one tour under their belt, RGS have had some time to gel and work on connections. They will also have the 2014 debut of Richard ‘Macca’ Macleod to bolster their defence and generate some blocks and their Canadian Duo (Colin and Sam Green) to bring more firepower. I think they have the potential to climb into the top 4, but will face an uphill struggle to get there, winning their group will give them the best chance. 

Matt: Yes. But mainly because rival teams are missing key players. Speaking to some of the team after tour one I think they went into games too relaxed and more or less expecting to win but struggled with nerves when they ended up in close battles. So Cardiff will have been a healthy shock to the system for the team. Come world’s, after 5 tournaments together, they should be a match for Bears.

Will Nottingham actually have good weather for once?

Smatt: Weather forecasts look alright, definitely not “Nottingham bad”, but I’m not sure I trust Nottingham…

Matt: No, that’s why I’m not going.

Top 8 predictions?
Smatt: In alphabetical order; Bears, Black Eagles, Brighton Breezy, Bristol Mixed, Cambridge, RGS, Scarecrew, Thundering Herd. I’d guess top 4 would be Bears, Cambridge, Herd, RGS with the others being in the 5-8.

Matt: Bears, Cambridge, Brighton, RGS, Herd, Black Eagles, Dyn-O-Mixed, Bristol Mixed. 

Best game of Pool Play?

Smatt: Game 1 of Saturday looks to feature the some great matchups with Bear Cavalry vs Brighton and the rematch of the MT1 pool play decider between RGS and the Herd. However, the 1:30 slot features the one to watch in pool play: Bear Cavalry vs Cambridge (with the Herd vs Bristol MT1 semi final rematch also happening in this slot)!
Further down the rankings, Jabba the Huck vs Shiny Happy Meeple should prove interesting a tight, highly contested, match-up in the race for a crossover into the top 8. Reading vs Merseyside will be trying to do the same but in the top half of the 13-20 bracket.

Matt: RGS vs Cambridge.  

Upset predictions?

Smatt: I see RGS knocking out Bristol and the Herd to take their group and set themselves up with a more preferable quarter to make the top 4. Going on 2013 results this doesn’t look like an upset, but going on MT1 results I think it’s justified.

Matt: RGS to beat Herd, Brighton to reach semis, Dyn-O-Mixed to get top 8.

Who wins? You decide. 

The Grapevine – 07/03

The Grapevine.

As many of you will know Carleton Ultimate (CUT) the US College team lost three players in a tragic road incident last week. Josh and I would like to personally send our regards to the CUT community and families. 

There have been heartfelt testimonials from the UKU, Lou BurussElliot Trotter and many many more. 

Turning to other news, Nice Bristols were on the BBC’s The One Show! Skip to around 33 mins to catch them and some quality Push Pass footage.

Speaking of Push Pass. UKU Regionals footage is being uploaded now go grab a subscription or just the games you want from your region of choice!

WCBU 2015 has been announced for Dubai!! Go watch a great little video preview.

The Grapevine – 03/01

Happy New Year from everyone at the Grapevine, 2014 is going to be massive and here’s just the start! 

Tomorrow SYC host the first London Women’s Session in 2014, get down to Clapham South for that!

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Also Iceni are hosting London Women’s Winter League the following weekend, so much Ultimate for you ladies!

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Nice Bristols have been working hard in their local area including Steph Walker who got a mention in her local paper raising money to get to WUCC.

Enjoy some great photos including the UK contribution from Tom “Mum” Abrams of Clapham Ultimate, on Ultiworld.

Plus our own addition twinned with Get Horizontal, below.

Another ultimate blog has gone live, but this time it comes from one of the biggest writers of 2013; Beaufort Kittredge. We expect big things here! 

Next week will see the official release of our new section, keep your eyes peeled for the announcement. We are excited, it’s like Christmas all over again! 

Like, share, comment and contribute!
DP @ tSG.