Jonny Arthur has looked at the South East region, including the return of a Great Britain Men’s player that will shake up the whole division.
The 2015/16 season of South East University Ultimate saw a major shakeup, with the top four teams all trading wins and losses, and in a rollercoaster season we had champions not called Sussex for the first time in years. UCL produced one of their finest performances in years to take the title before pushing on to 11th at Nationals. Portsmouth also showed massive improvements from previous years, narrowly missing out on the Regional title after a first game loss to UCL before finding an incredible run of form at Nationals to claim a very impressive fourth place.
Charlie Blair gives us the lowdown on the meeting of London Women’s Ultimate Forum a couple weeks ago.
Ten years ago London was host to a mere 24 female Ultimate players. The establishment of the women’s Tour opened the door for growth by providing the opportunity for women not merely to play at a competitive and athletic level against one another, but facilitated both the incentive and necessity for other teams to strive to regularly train at such a level. As such we have witnessed Tour participation swell from only seven teams in 2004 to twenty-one in 2013, four of which represented the capital.
Whilst on the surface this may seem somewhat impressive, a simple comparison with the growth in Open and the fact that only Iceni and SYC attended Nationals highlights the lack of sustainability that London clubs – indeed clubs nationwide – outside of the top tier appear to be suffering from. Thus, despite a steady increase in female participation, our club infrastructure, and thus our development, remains weak.
It is why at the beginning of this month, representatives of London based women’s clubs and those interested and/or affiliated to their development gathered for an open forum to evaluate the current situation. They included: Iceni, SYC, Crown Jewels, Curve, Discie Chicks and a new team, so nascent yet to be named! In addition there was university representation from Kings, UCL and Imperial. It was incredible alone to have a whole cohort of women representing their interests in London, a decade since Alia Ayub and Laura Pearce encouraged women in the UK to talk about what they want from Ultimate for the first time, which led to the inception of the Women’s Tour and the appointment of the first ever UKU Women’s Coordinator.
|Representation from all over the London club and university scene.
Uni Ultimate coverage continues with Joe Spreckley (South-East Uni Coordinator) giving us the overview from his region.
This weekend sees 36 teams head to Dagenham to compete for the 6 spots available for nationals from the south east.
|South East with great depth (36 teams, including 14 first teams and a 4th team) over the smallest area.
Group A puts top seeds Sussex Mohawks 1 up against LSE 1, UCL1 and Portsmouth Sublime 2. Despite losing a number of key players, it’s hard to see any team except Mohawks topping the group for a direct path into the semis and another South East title. UCL (who were a victim of seedings last year) and LSE will battle it out to avoid the crossovers. Sublime 2 will be looking to create some upsets, but should find themselves bottom of the group heading into the crossovers.
In group B Brunel have a great chance to push into the top 8. With Brighton losing their iconic talisman Andy Berry, and captain Miles Tincknell in a cast it may be a struggle for Brighton to hold onto their top 8 seeding. Surrey should be looking to take this group with relative ease, while the emergent Hertfordshire will be eager to pick up some scalps against the more established teams in the group.
Arguably the hardest hit over the summer, top seeds in group C – Portsmouth Sublime – have lost six players from the their first team that made the epic Sunday run from ninth to third last year. However, boosted by the arrival of GB U23 captain Sam Bowen they will be looking to put two disappointing warm up tournament results behind them and book a spot in the semis. A strong looking Kent will provide the biggest clash from the group stages with Sublime, as the two traditionally aggressive teams battle for the third spot in the semi finals.
After the unbelievable feat of getting a second team to division one outdoor nationals, Mohawks 2 hold the top seed in group D. It remains to be seen how the Sussex university team split their squads; with the firsts having a relatively easy route there may be some strong individuals finding themselves in the second team. Imperial College Disc Doctors will fancy their chances in topping this pool, and have an excellent chance of making division one this season.
With nine teams having a realistic chance of making nationals, Mohawks are large favourites for another tournament win. If Imperial have a full strength squad they should be looking to take one of the other two spots in division one, but may have to do it through the triple elimination. Surrey and Sublime will look to take the final spot. With my bias, I will be backing Sublime to take a division 1 spot. Kent and Mohawks 2 will be looking to pick up the remaining two nationals spots to round off the representatives from the South East.
Thanks to Joe and the other Uni Coordinators for the work they put in year round and bringing these pieces to us. Who’s next…? DP @ tSG.