UKU Regionals Preview – Midlands

EMO player Sean Colfer previews an unexpectedly open Midlands region, with the Mixed division at Nationals strongly affecting the tournament in Birmingham. Midlands has 3 bids to Nationals and will be held this Sunday.

Last season the Midlands region featured three teams with A Tour experience in the preceding Tour season. Cambridge led the way in the regular season, finishing seventh overall, trailed by EMO in eleventh and Jest Ridisculous in 17th. However, only two spots at Nationals were available – EMO edged out Cambridge in the final, leaving JR out in the cold.


This season, there are three places available from a Midlands region that is lacking the strength in depth of last year.


EMO have elevated their performance levels in 2013 and earned third overall, behind the ‘big two’ of Clapham and Chevron, at Tour. They have defeated Fire, Brighton (twice, both in sudden death) and Ranelagh, as well as trading to half with Chevron at Tour 2. So far though, the Leicester-based team have been unable to make inroads against the top two over a whole game. They will win the region, and it’s unlikely to be close.


EMO will be without World Games captain Rich Gale who will still be in Cali come the event. However, club president and previous World Games competitor Daniel ‘Colonel’ Furnell should be able to play after a spell on the sidelines this season through injury, as should captain and coach Joe Wynder, fresh from the U23 World Championships Open team in Canada. Christian ‘Bobby’ Zamore and Tom ‘Foxy’ Fox provide the speed on offence, while vice-captains James ‘Whippy’ Bauld and Nathan Trickey will lead a strong, tall and athletic D line.

EMO seen here after taking on CUSB at EUCF last year. 


The next tier of teams features three B Tour mainstays. Jest Ridisculous finished as the 20th, 17th and 12th best team across Tours 1, 2 and 3 this season respectively. Cambridge finished 11th and 14th in the first two Tour events but slumped to 26th in Cardiff while EMO 2 managed two finishes at 20th and one at 21st, showing excellent consistency at the top end of B tour.

These three teams should be reasonably well matched, depending on how EMO decide to stack their rosters. However, complicating the possible outcomes this season is the fact that Nationals will also act as a qualifier for Mixed at xEUCF in Bordeaux. Both JR and Cambridge are believed to have an eye on the Mixed division at Nationals with the aim to compete at a European level, meaning both teams will be without some top players.

JR usually rely heavily on a very effective huck game, led by captain George ‘Rondo’ Hudson, fellow handler Chris Peploe and star receiver Alex ‘Medic’ Charlton. However, they will be without several ‘first choice’ players this Sunday – including Medic – and seem likely to surround Hudson with more inexperienced players with a view to developing their squad for the future.

It’s impossible to say who Cambridge will bring considering their strong recent history and fluctuating results this season, to say nothing of the rumoured focus elsewhere. It’s safe to say that U23 Open handler Dom Dathan will feature and if they decide to bring back players like GB Mixed veteran Nick Wong they will stand a good chance. The likelihood of this, though, appears slim; a big hit to their qualification hopes.

EMO 2 captain Chris ‘Pudding’ Alderson will have to wait to see who is available for his team, but the experience of Ian ‘Scot’ Scotland and playmaking of Phil Brunson have been key to their consistent performances this season. They will justifiably feel very good about their chances of joining EMO 1 in Southampton for the first time having finished ahead of Cambridge at Tour 3 and gotten close to JR in games this season.


The underdog in this region is Birmingham Ultimate. This is their first season as a Tour team and they have taken to the competition admirably. They finished runners-up in C Tour at Tour 1 and they maintained respectable B Tour finishes in Nottingham and Cardiff, at 26th and 24th respectively. They will host the tournament and will look to push for the final qualifying spot, possibly making a Vision-like run at the teams ahead of them. Their only weakness could be their very short lines, with only nine players on the team at Tour 3. Birmingham have a well rounded team, with their key plays coming from captain Ben ‘Mesh’ Kings and lefty handler Marius Hutcheson.


Leamington Lemmings gave EMO a shock a few years ago but they have lost a number of key players and will do well to challenge any of the teams ahead of them. St. Albans are another team that may enter the slightly geographically-expanded regional tournament, but their consistent C Tour/low B Tour position indicates they shouldn’t be a threat either. Flyght Club fall into this bracket as well, after a consistent season at the top end of C Tour, as will similarly placed SharkBear, a Warwick University student team. These teams will likely battle between themselves for a shot at fifth place.


The one-day tournament should see some competitive Ultimate, especially at the level below EMO 1, but whether there is enough strength in the region for the third spot to be justified this season remains to be seen. There is the potential there for some strong teams but the focus on Mixed makes this a very difficult read. The main beneficiaries of the shifted focus should be EMO, who must be considered heavy favourites to have their whole squad in Southampton.


Prediction*:

1. EMO 1
2. EMO 2
3. Birmingham Ultimate
4. Cambridge
5. JR
6. St. Albans
7. SharkBear
8. Flyght Club
9. Leamington

*And, in the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I am a proud EMO squad member. I tried to stay impartial with this preview but it looks like it didn’t work out so well…


What do you think? Comments below! DP @ tSG.

UKU Regionals Preview – Scotland

Ben Heywood of Understanding Ultimate fame and Glasgow Ultimate player tells us how he thinks Scottish regionals will go down. Scotland has 1 bid to Nationals and will be held this Sunday.

A real match?

For the first time ever, Scottish Regionals might just see a contest.

In the past, everyone has always known that Fusion would qualify, and the whole thing has just been a chance to get a few games of Ultimate. Fusion would enter two teams, split evenly so that they’d get at least one reasonable game when they played each other.

Last year, Abstract came very close to an upset against one of the Fusion teams, but no-one had any serious expectations of beating both of them and taking the Nationals spot. This year, it all looks very different.

Glasgow Ultimate have emerged as an A Tour squad, winning promotion from an incredibly competitive B Tour 1 and (just) holding on for the rest of the season despite never quite having the full squad out there. They even gave me my first taste of A tour in 9 years, which shows how short they must have been…

Glasgow at T2 in Nottingham. Photo courtesy of David Sparks.

And Fusion? Well, I don’t think they can complain if I say they’ve had a ‘mare. A little unlucky with the opponents they drew at Tour 1, they just barely avoided relegation to the C tour; and then, doubtless on the back of that result, failed to get a team together for the rest of the season. They’ve had a couple of guys away with U23s, and a lot of old hands have retired or focussed on Mixed with Black Eagles.

But Fusion are back… A team has emerged for regionals, and doubtless they want some revenge. It’ll be a very interesting match up. Fusion has no obvious weaknesses – they’re all young and quick, and they can all throw. But they perhaps lack the experienced general, the one truly top-class player that will bring them together. When they disagree, who has the authority to really take charge?

Whereas Glasgow probably have the top 3 or 4 players in the tournament, better than anything Fusion have on the preliminary roster I’ve seen, and a good crowd of skilled and drilled athletes to back them up – but also a few who wouldn’t have matched Fusion on an athletic level until Phil Webb’s weekly boot camp. It’ll be fun finding out how much that fitness has paid off….

I suspect the game will be decided on the Glasgow leadership’s superior tactical experience – they’ll know how to use which players in which situations, whereas Fusion’s even roster will mean everyone is trying to win the game themselves rather than sometimes defer to a stronger team-mate. I predict Glasgow by 4. But I suspect Fusion may have something to say about that…

Or maybe there’ll be a shock? Sneeeky’s have impressed me this season with some solid results and some very solid performances, though they’ll probably lack firepower against the top 2 teams’ strongest lines. And there’s talk of Black Eagles entering – which frankly means anything at all could happen. Some of their guys are top class – the kind of players who used to see Fusion into the A Tour top 4 – and their best girls (if they bring some?) can compete against anybody. Who knows? Maybe even Abstract will get a team together for the first time this year.


But here’s my prediction (even though I don’t yet know which of these teams will turn up!):
1 Glasgow 1
2 Fusion
3 Black Eagles
4 Sneeeky’s
5 Glasgow 2

Read more of Ben’s work on Understanding Ultimate! DP @ tSG.

UKU Regionals Preview – South West

James Bunting from Devon gives us a quick preview to a rather one sided SW region, but who will go to Nationals, Devon 1, 2 or 3? SW has 2 bids to Nationals and will be held this Saturday.

With the south west continually proving to be one of the least populated regions, it will still come as a surprise to know that this year it will only be contested by 3 Devon teams.

The absence of Cardiff Storm, who have qualified for Nationals the last few years, and a lack of a Bristol showing, means it will be more of a glorified training session for the boys in green. It is unlikely that Devon 2 will cause any Fire-esque upsets in the club, especially not given Devon 1’s strong showing at Tours 2 and 3 and increasing confidence against the bigger teams, so the odds are very much on for it to finish Devon 1, Devon 2, Devon 3 respectively.


What the lack of competition will cause, however, is some brain scratching for the seedings at Nationals. Last year Devon 1 went in seeded towards the bottom and after scalping a strong DED team on Sunday morning went on to finish in 8th position, way above the regional champions Cardiff. Accurately predicting which Devon team will show up in Southampton is typically very difficult, but Devon 1 have found some form this year that they’ve lacked previously and this will put them as one of the most dangerous of banana-skin teams come August bank holiday. That said, without a rival team at regionals it remains to be seen how seriously their contention is taken by the scheduling team for Nationals. (NB: SW1 is 8th and SW2 is 12th out of 16)

The dominant force in the SW.

SW regionals is already pre-written, from here it’s about watching and waiting to see if a team as good looking, athletic, and determined as Devon 1 have been this year can do some damage come Nationals and take that coveted Euros spot they set as their prize during the off season.

Prediction:
1. Devon 1
2. Devon 2
3. Devon 3

One region down, sadly not so hotly contested as others, more to come! DP @ tSG.

ECBU 2013 Preview

David Pryce, Josh Coxon Kelly and Lauren Bryant bring the ECBU preview as seen on SkyD Magazine a couple weeks ago. With only 1 day to go get behind our GB squads and follow them at www.live.ecbu2013.org

Number of active players: – approx 3000, (106 at ECBU).
Notable beach tournaments: Sunburn, Copa del Soul, C.U.B.E, Frostbite, Quicksands, West Coast Fours, Sandcastle.
Past participation in beach championships: WCBU 2004, WCBU 2007, WCBU 2011.
Division participation at ECBU 2013: Open, Women, Mixed, Open Masters, Mixed Masters, Womens Masters, Grand Masters.


Overall most players in the UK learn and continue to play on grass.
In the beginning like so many countries the sport developed in the early 1980’s at university sports fields across the country. Teams like Warwick Bears, Sussex Mohawks and many more sprung up across the UK eventually forming clubs through friends and finally gaining momentum into the clubs we see today.
With the concentration of students and eventual alumni in the capital, London has become a hub for UK ultimate boasting many top flight teams in all divisions with Clapham and Fire in open, Iceni and SYC in womens and not forgetting Royal Goaltimate Society and Thundering Herd in the mixed.
In recent years through the hard work of many in Brighton Ultimate on the south coast has also seen the beginning of a similar hub joined with local universities and feeding directly into the club scene. However, what of the beach? The UK’s sandy beaches may not be the best in Europe or at times good for ultimate but us hardy Brits don’t let that stop us and get our beach fix a couple times a year here and taking many a team to Paganello. For some years beach ultimate has been seen as more of a fun version of the serious grass sport. In the past this is how teams and players who represented GB may have seen it too. GB Open took a huge step last summer on the grass in Japan, namely getting to a Worlds final and gaining a silver medal. Will we see this success on the beach? Possibly with the amazing gold for the Mixed masters at WCBU 2011, the tide may have turned. Regardless of the past Great Britain will be represented by 7 very strong squads in Calafell this summer, here is what the teams look like and what we think they could do.


Open  

Beach veteran Jaimie Cross leads the British Open squad who are hoping to improve on their 2011 WCBU showing where the British open squad placed 11th overall, and 8th out of the European teams. Without the draw of the international grass open and mixed squads, this year’s ECBU team is not short of top club talent. David Stobbs, Magnus Wilson and Kai Yokoo Laurence joining Cross to make up the Clapham contingent, however the bulk of the squad is made up of players from Fire of London, with no less than 8 players forming the core of the squad this year. Cross, David Ford, Elliott More, Chris Whittle and Richard Roberts further benefit from their experience together in WCBU. However the team will undoubtedly have its sights set higher than GB beach open’s last outing. This year’s team entered Paganello in preparation coming 7th overall, and by doing so are showing themselves to be a serious outfit with high aims for the tournament. Compared to the sands of perhaps Spain and Italy, Britain has classically lacked a prominent beach scene. This squad will look for on-pitch connections from both club and country as they try to upturn this and take on the thriving European beach scene.

GB Open (Jurassic 5) at Paganello 2013. Photo courtesy of Get Horizontal.

Womens

The GB women’s beach squad will be looking to capitalise on the success of their campaign in Italy two years ago that saw them take a bronze medal in WCBU2011. Despite beating eventual winners the US during the pool stages, GB lost in sudden death to Canada in the semi and denied a spot in the final, but convincingly won the 3-4 playoff over Germany to take the last podium spot.
The team heading to Calafell this year sees many returners from the previous squad. Captain Bex Forth, who has won Paganello more times than most people would believe possible, has a core of players that includes World Games squad members (Becci Haigh, Ellie Hand) European championship-winning Iceni (Lily Huang, Ange Wilkinson, Liza Bowen and Rachel Kelly) and Brighton women (Megan Hurst, Alize “Bob” Clough and Chrissy Birtwistle). But there are no passengers on this team, with 17 excellent women boasting a combination of speed, skills and smarts.
Bex’s unrivalled knowledge and experience of the beach game will be apparent from the get-go: expect this squad to be well-drilled, efficient and intelligent, and to return to the UK as champions.
GB Womens training in Bournemouth. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Hand.

Mixed

As seen over the past few years at EUC in Slovenia and WUGC in Japan Mixed Ultimate in the UK is thriving on grass and the same can be said on the beach. At WCBU 2011 the Mixed squad, mostly made up of Warwick Bears and Brighton players, came in at 5th only just behind other European teams Germany and Portugal.
This years team is a very different one, with an on paper cut performed before trials in February the decisions were already tough for player manager Jon “Kos” Brooks and captains Adriano Scarampi and Lauren Bryant. However a squad was selected, after a snowy beach trial, of 17 players; 9 men and 8 women. The men consisted of a small unit of last years Tooting Tigers in James Jagger, Fred Shone, James Threadgill and David Pryce whom Scarampi knew he could mold into the systems the team wanted. Alongside these few stand other great players behind the disc (Luke Tobiasiewicz), downfield cutting (Emmanuel Bennett) and creating D’s like the best (Jonathan Clark). Over on the ladies side all but one of the 8 are Iceni players and altogether create a formidable force that could be a good womens team let alone the mixed side they have become. With the height and defensive awareness of Francesca Scarampi, Lauren Bowman and Stephanie Lees no endzone is easy to get into and handlers akin to Mara Alperin and Catherine Vaughan will strike fear into every team. In the middle of the pitch the speed of Catherine Gale, Ania Zbirohowska-Koscia all led by Bryant will force many a lady to have no space and no options.
This team have competed together once this year already taking 9th (came out bad from a three way tie) at Paganello only losing two pool games to Team Belgium and JetSet in sudden death; their first competitive game. In the process beating France, Belgium (placement game) and previous finalists Corocotta. They will also attend the UK beach tournament Sunburn in June (ED: which they won beating open teams on the way) to finally hone their team tactics and get those all important plays straight. If this team can keep their heads on straight and play their own game expect to see them in quarters. From there who knows what could happen.
GB Mixed (Gold Blend) at Paganello 2013. Photo courtesy of Get Horizontal.

Masters

The GB Masters team brings together a considerable amount of beach pedigree, with many of the team having played in (and in some occasions won) Paganello finals.  After bracing the less than mediterranean conditions at a snowy Poole trial last November, a squad has been picked that offers plenty in relevant experience, as well as a wealth of past club connections. Dave Bixler has come over from the recent open squad to a position of captaincy amongst the masters. Rob McGowan and Simon Weeks will have invaluable competition experience after they took a Worlds gold with the Mixed Masters in 2011. Brothers Sion and Elias Thaysen bring an added dimension of danger to the team in the form of a fraternal connection that has alone frustrated many teams in the past. With the addition of formidable experience as well as past successes at a european club level from players such as Captain Dave Grayson, Dave Barnard and Stu Mitchell, (all of whom won gold at xEUCF 2009 with Chevron), the masters must be approaching ECBU with aims of nothing short of Gold. As they did last year in preparation for Japan, the masters will be playing the open squad at their upcoming training weekend – last year age prevailed over beauty as the masters famously came out on top of the grudge match, and with such a strong squad they will surely be looking to repeat this upset on their way to Callafel.



Mixed Masters

At WCBU 2011 Great Britain came out as champions in the Mixed Masters division being one of the only European teams to ever beat a North American team. The team going to Calafell this year looks to take this strength even further. They may have lost Si Weeks, Rob McGowan (the stars) as well as the experienced Wayne Davey and Jack Goolden to Open or retirement. However they have filled their spots with youngsters Al Harding and Jon Aaron who have the disc skills and defensive awareness to play an important role. True masters of the game Jason DeCicco, Mike Palmer and Steve Balls will hold the O line together once again. On the women’s side Maria Cahill brings great experience and handling skills to the team, complimented by the likes of Worlds veterans Rougier, Snell, Thomas and Byrne this team will be a force to be reckoned with.
By the time ECBU starts, they will have had 5/6 try-outs/training sessions, and two preparation tournaments: they played at the Monte Gordo Invitational as two separate teams, coming 3rd and 5th. They will also be at Sunburn playing alongside the Mixed team just before Calafell.
Going in as number one seed will be a great boost for this team and with minimal loss from Worlds you can’t see much going wrong. The rest of Europe will really have to play it’s sand socks off to beat this lot.
GB Mixed Masters at Copa Del Soul 2013. Photo courtesy of Kristina Cernusakova.

Grand Masters

Captained and anchored by ex-Chevron palyers Steven Kennedy (who captained the squad in 2011) and Simon Barlow, this year’s GB Grand Masters have seen a considerable increase in applicants compared to past years, and with this increase in competitivity at trials they are confident that they have been able to pick a team of competitors able to help them secure gold. Building on the foundations of past GB beach teams with notable additions of Wayne Davey and Jack Goolden (both of whom featured on the successful GB Mixed Masters squad at WCBU 2011), as well as ex-Chevron and GB Open captain Harry Golby, this team boasts that their top 5 could take on of the other squads’ best lines. 2011 saw a disappointing campaign for the Grand Masters (they placed 5th of 5, winning only 1 of 9 games), but this comes from a division that admittedly has one of the smallest player pools to draw from in the country. However, thanks to a continuing expansion of the UK scene, this year sees a team with much higher ambitions who hope to use ECBU 2013 as a stepping stone to 2015 where they have their eyes on bigger, and specifically North American game.
GB Grand Masters at Copa Del Soul 2013. Photo Courtesy of Andrew Moss.

Women’s Masters

A new division to the beach championships, the women’s masters competition only has four teams – GB, France, Germany and the casual European Islands. But despite its small size, going ahead with the division will lay the groundwork for a bright future of women’s masters events, much like the small women’s masters division last year in Japan at WUGC 2012.
Eight of the twelve players on the GB women’s masters squad played together in Japan, including captain Felicity Perry and vice captain Linz Wilkinson. They are joined by former GB women’s captain and all-round UK ultimate legend Gemma Taylor. The squad is composed of a core of LLLeeds women that know each other well, as well as additions from the rosters of Bristol and SYC.
Further to this, nine members of the GB women’s masters team will be playing UK women’s tour together this year as R.O.B.O.T: Really Old Birds On Tour, a women’s masters team. The team is targeting the top 8 bracket and with two tour events to play ahead of ECBU, this will afford them plenty of opportunities to gel together. The team will also be playing at UK beach tournament Copa del Sol in preparation.
In such a small and new division, results are difficult to predict. The team played Paganello earlier this year in the women’s division and finished 9/10, but it is not easy to draw conclusions from this. With many members of the team playing at top level, it would not be hard to see this team making the women’s masters final – and having a great time doing it.


Follow every squad on twitter

All the feeds (if hashtagged properly) will appear on the live page. #ECBU2013 #GBR #OPN #WMN #MIX #MAS #GRM #WMM #MXM

Let’s go GB!! DP @ tSG.

Open and Women’s Tour – T2 Preview

Josh Coxon Kelly brings us the OWT2 preview for the upcoming tour event in Nottingham.

The Grove Farm fields in Nottingham are all set to host the second major tournament of the UK open and women’s season, with players flocking from across the country to take part in the huge 80-team tournament that is OWT2.

With the European visitors returned to the mainland the schedule returns to its more familiar domestic team list, although perhaps in a slightly shuffled lineup to past seasons…

Iceni have kept their stronghold at the top of the women’s game in the UK – early looks at Bristol and SYC show teams that have come back stronger than last year with experienced veterans complemented well by young talent benefitting from their involvement in the U23 process. R.O.B.O.T impressed in London but theirs and Yaka’s absences leave a space in the top 4 for Punt, who will be looking to defend their position against a rebranded Brighton – Seven Sisters and a rebuilding Leeds.

Last year’s Open top 4 of Clapham, Chevron Fire and Brighton has been invaded by the GBU23 force and excitingly also by EMO – arguably justifying Joe Wynder’s heated and public defence of his team following The Secret Frizzer’s Tour 1 preview (which prompted this interview). With the EMO captain returning to club duties for this Tour, EMO are looking to hold onto their place amongst the UK elite, but will face stiff competition from Fire, Brighton and Kapow and Ranelagh – all teams who will not wrongly be fighting for a top 2 pool placing and in the straight-to semi’s format. Victory from Clapham will also win them the Tour – needless to say there are enough targets on their back. Could a pool play rematch against GBU23 (10:40 Pitch 15) see an early upset?

Ireland U23 showed in the Tour 1 show game that they have the fight and the skills to run with A tour teams, matching the GB squad for the majority of the first half. They will need to use this lesson in consistency to grow at Tour 2 if they want to come out on top of the dogfight that is this year’s B tour – but this will be no mean feat with teams such as Tooting, Reading and Jest Ridisculous in hot pursuit, as well as strong C tour promotions in Flump and Birmingham, who have leapt to 8th and 10th seed respectively.

The fight for B tour qualification will be equally tense as Curve, Saints, St. Albans and Trigger Happy look to recover from gutting quarter final losses in London (Trigger Happy falling short by a single point in a sudden-death thriller). The 28 strong C-Tour looks as competitive as it’s ever been, and such depth running right through the tournament can be nothing but good news as the increased competition for qualification only continues to make it tighter at the top.

Excited? So are we!! Use the #ukut2 hashtag for results and news over the weekend. Come talk to us if you have any feedback and see you in Nottingham! DP @ tSG.

London’s Calling Preview (Open)

Josh Coxon Kelly previews London’s Calling (T1) and the upcoming Tour season.

The opening tournament of the 2013 UKU Tour series once again sees ultimate teams from across the country come down to London to kick off the season in style. Hosted at the excellent UCL sports ground near St. Albans, London’s Calling brings together the Nation’s (and some of the continent’s) finest Open and Women’s division competition in the largest single event in the European ultimate calendar.


Like previous years, the aim has been to create a tournament that unites not only the entire UK open division (hosting A, B, and C tours), but also tempts over the cream of the mainland Europe club scene. With qualification for WUCC determined first and foremost by Nationals and xEUCF results, the British ‘tour’ this year arguably takes another step back in terms of importance for the top club teams, and this can be seen in the entrance of a number of teams that will not be featuring in Nationals this year.

After staking their claim to a legitimate assault on the very top of the UK’s club scene at Fog Lane, GBU23 will be looking to continue to grow as an outfit, and will hope to shock any teams along the way who underestimate them. Seeding a team such as this is always going to be contested, and the 7th place given to GB has reportedly seen complaints equally for it being too low and too high a placement. A pool-play match up against first seed Clapham will be their chance to make a statement. The Irish team are likewise attending in preparation for bigger things in Toronto this July. Past junior teams have been unable to reach the levels of their rival GB squads, but a continued Irish presence both at tours and particularly at University level suggests that this U23 team may be looking to change that. The two teams meet in a showgame at 7pm on Saturday evening, which will provide the perfect stage for comparison.

Recently placing 5th at the European Championships, the youth-focused Heilbronn team Bad Skid boast club as well as international pedigree. Armed with stars such as Florian Bohler and Holger Beuttenmuller who bring valuable experience from junior, through U23 and onto senior international levels, Bad Skid’s young squad bring passion and athleticism as well as what has to be one of the all-time best team songbooks (listen out!) . This year sees the fifth consecutive entrance of Germany’s top players in the UK competition, and after Inside Rakete winning last year, the team will be looking for nothing less than to retain the London Calling title for 2013.

The attendance of not one but two Italian teams sends the message that this nation, whilst perhaps not traditionally seen as a contender, are serious about changing this. Headed by the always-controversial one man trumour machine Davide Morri, CUSB have recently won the Italian championship over Cotarica and will now be building with the view to make the most of their spot on the world stage when WUCC comes to Italy in 2014. Cotarica have the lowest seed of the European teams, but as a club with plenty of top level EUCF heritage they will be looking to improve considerably on the 12th place allotted to them. 

Richard “Gash” Harris, gets a high flying D in last years show game. Photos courtesy of Graham Bailey.

Brighton’s entrance of no less than four teams (as well as two in the womens tour) show the fruits of one of the country’s strongest grassroots Ultimate scenes. Undoubtedly also boosted by the success and growth of University teams Sussex Mohawks, as well as the newly formed Brighton Panthers, the Brighton talent pool is as deep as it has ever been, and the teams will be looking to impress at all levels of the competition.


Devon’s entry of 3 teams likewise is credit to a hardworking geo-setup. Long standing work with local Universities Plymouth and Exeter, as well as the continuing pipeline of players from the Air Badgers of St.Peter’s school, Exeter, sees a consistently plentiful as well as youthful player base attending the tours. The first team has seen top players move on to other teams, notably Chevron in the past, and this year defensive powerhouse Ben Powlay takes the path already trodden by Josh Kyme, Richard Coward and Sam Bowen. However this is unlikely to worry a team that takes so much pride and trust in their young talent, and Devon will undoubtedly look to show the benefits of a tight knit team chemistry by taking some unsuspecting scalps.

The A/B tour boundary is always a contentious one, and placement either side of it at such an early stage of the season can have a substantial effect on a team’s season. Rebel, Fire 2, Bear Cavalry and BAF will be happy to have been placed the higher side of the divide, but the result is arguably the most exciting B tour for a while. Manchester, Ireland U23, Jest Ridisculous, Fusion, The Brown North, Zimmer, Leeds and Cardiff all make up a top 8 of teams who could very legitimately argue for an A tour seeding. Speaking on the subject Si Hill explains: 

‘Divisions can be a problem for us, but they also provide interest. It feels like the depth has increased further, and competition will be tougher than last year. It’s difficult to decide whether to put teams up or down. There’s no perfect solution in our structure, so teams will just have to prove us wrong.’ 


With so many teams in contention for only 3 coveted promotion spots, expect a host of gritty battles deep into Sunday as teams try to prove just that.

London’s Calling, who is going to answer? 

The consistently high level of play needed to win the Ben Rainbow Trophy is always going to make the Tour title a goal for the country’s top teams. However, tour is no longer simply about hosting a 3 stage competition to find the best team in the country. Teams across Britain and Europe have our sights set on a higher goal of being able to consistently compete against the orth american clubs that currently dominate the world stage. This is no mean feat, but for any teams who vie for a title at the European championships, it is the next logical step. For us to get closer to our goals, we need the continuing increase of competition at every level of the tour, and by bringing all of these teams together in a competitive context, London’s Calling embodies this spirit more than any other tournament. Bring on the 9am hooter!

Too excited now?! Well with less than 24 hours till game time, you don’t have long. Both JCK and I will be at St Albans, please come talk to us. We are open to suggestions and looking for possible contributors :). tSG.

London’s Calling Preview (Women’s).

Charlie Blair, the UK’s international poster girl, gives us her preview for the Women’s division at London’s Calling (WT1). 

London’s Calling is by far my favourite event on the calendar. The event where all teams come both determined after month’s of pre season fitness, training and bonding, and charged by the anticipation of the first tour event, to make their mark and set the tone for the season ahead. So much so that it has become a worthy lure of international competition. Last year’s event itself didn’t disappoint for upsets, with the reigning champions Iceni being relegated to sixth position. London rivals SYC, being the sole representative of the English contingent, against the German national team in the final. This year, the stage is set for more teams to challenge the very top spots.

It appears that the broad selection of players up and down the country that were picked to represent GB last year has really benefitted investment in women’s clubs. As a result it is by no means a two horse race to the final any longer. With Nice Bristols, SYC and the newly rebranded Brighton outfit, Seven Sisters, having all come runners up at each of the tour finals, it thus goes without saying that all will be looking to better their 2012 performance.

Will an influx of fresh blood into SYC from those representing the u23 squad make the difference this year? SYC have clearly shown themselves to be formidable opponents but struggled to maintain consistency last year. Their strong start at London Calling ended up never bettered, or even matched at subsequent events. However, was this simply a result of their infancy as a club? They have never lacked quality, with a roster full of international experience. And so with another year under their belt, are things set to change?

Will Brighton’s famously incessant flair continue to baffle teams who prefer a more disciplined and regimented style of play? They are a team that thrive off the harsh conditions that the south coast hurls at them. Underestimate them at your own peril! Headed this year by Kent superstar, Kate Ford, rest assured, this is a team whose spirits will be near impossible for the most formidable of opponents to crush, and for whom the hammer is always ON.

Will Nice Bristols be able to maintain the momentum of last season having been the only other English team to join Iceni at EUCF 2012? Still with a handful of experienced, international players at the helm, they appear to continue building on solid foundations. They boast big turnouts at training have made getting on their first team fiercer than ever. In contrast LeedLeedsLeeds (LLLs), have lost many key personnel, including one of their most invested and influential players, Gemma Taylor. Consequently, the focus at LLLs is very much on their up and coming talent this year. With nothing to lose, will these fresh faces cause some surprises?

Equally, how will the first appearance of ROBOT fare? A team where much of LLL’s departed experience has ended up. Essentially an all-star masters team, ROBOT boasts the return of former captains of Leeds and Iceni, Sally Fraser and Whitney Kakos, who were last seen together on pitch competing against each other in the xEUCF 2009 final. The disappearance of Bears and ISO at London Calling this year, also begs the question of how these players have redistributed among other teams/clubs. In the case of the southerners at least, the demise of ISO has given rise to two new teams, Discie Chicks and Something Different.

Finally, last year’s tour champions, Iceni will be determined to defend their home turf, in their quest to retain both domestic and European domination. Like last year, they have picked a very big squad to keep the level of competition and play, within the club as high as possible. And with four GB World Games player’s setting the standard, the bar is indeed high. Will this dynamic again led to Iceni Savage (their iron man spin off) upstaging Iceni ‘full fat’ at London Calling as they did last year? Unfortunately, the former will not have the chance to repeat their impressive victory over the German national team, with Parisian based YAKA being the only international team to attend this weekend. Yet, having been freshly crowned champions of France for the sixth time in a row just last weekend, will they continue to ride high on success over the Channel and be the source of the biggest upsets?

Just as last year, I am continually excited by the development and level of increasing investment in women’s clubs. As such, this year, I genuinely believe the competition to be wide open. None of the teams working hard for those top spots deserve to be underestimated. However, as an Iceni warrior myself, named after the tribe that so happened to famously dominate the St Albans area two thousand years ago, I’ll be attending London Calling with every belief in my team coming out on top!

UKU Open/Women’s Tour 1: London’s Calling! 
So who are you backing? Comment, like, share and more! Use the #ukut1 hashtag over the weekend and keep an eye on here for scores. Watch out for our Open preview, soon…