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.

Something Different…

David Pichler takes on break throws with his first (hopefully of many) skills based posts.

Callahan season has been and gone and once again we were blessed with an array of ridiculous personal highlight videos for the candidates, which show off both their skills and the amount of free time they and their friends have.  I think most of you have seen eventual winner Dylan Freechild strutting his superb stuff and demonstrating what made him a worthy winner (the blood thirsty give and goes, remarkable field awareness, technique perfect backhands, the shirt spike).
Oregon’s Nex Gen star however, didn’t produce my favourite video, nor was it the 8 minutes of skying and Ds from ‘TDG’ or Jay Clark’s video edited by 2012 winner Nick Lance.  That honour was reserved for a player not from the Skyd 5 candidates but for Brice Dixon of Arizona Sunburn.  What?  Seriously?  First impression from everyone I’ve watched this video with is ‘this guy’s a bit heavy for a Frisbee player’.  Indeed, Brice’s video is special for 2 reasons:
1)      Not only does the viewer soon forget the candidate doesn’t have your standard ultimate physique as he launches his sumo torso around the field like a svelt ninja; and
2)      Invariably people’s lasting impression, the one that counts, is 3 words: High Release Flick.
OK, some of you are thinking ‘shut your mouth Pitchler, you can’t compare this guy to Freechild.  He’s good, but not Freechild good.’  You may even point out that Dylan unleashes the HRF in his own video, so why make the fuss?  Well, Sunburn #3’s use of this throw, and general throwing ability, makes a point that I think is often missed about throwing – it opens up areas of the field that the defence thought were closed.  Look again at the shot placement; breaking the mark, getting the disc to up line cuts, putting the disc in the endzone, dropping the disc into space away from the defenders.


Again, there’s a refutable argument here: fine, but he could easily just throw a regular throw in these situations and achieve the same results. ‘Why not throw a low release flick, or break around with his backhand?’ And to that I say a flat out no.  I’m ready to throw a childish tantrum here, stamping my feet, hands over my ears screaming ‘la la la la la’ so I don’t have to listen to this.  Because not only does Dixon hit the right parts of the field with this throw, but it’s very uniqueness, the fact that it is a high release flick, means the regular throws become easier and more effective as the embarrassed defender becomes worried about the show pony pass.
The most important part of breaking the mark is just getting the disc out there any way you can because, like the team that only cuts to the open side, you’ll become too predictable to be effective if you only have one look.
Players on my team will know how comically irate I can become if we miss an opportunity to throw against the force.  Primarily because the thrower has so many ways to do so: around, IO, scoober, hammer, high release, low release, pivot forward through the mark, pivot back away from the mark, throw early with touch, throw later with force, roll curve around, the ‘IOOI’.  Breaking the mark, and throwing in general, is a creative business.  Any captain or coach worth their salt is going to encourage everyone to break a mark, even if it’s just to reset the disc.  But at the repeated insistence of the guy in charge, mark breaking can lose its inherent joy: tossing a Frisbee past someone who is trying to stop you.

Justin Foord lets rip. Photo Courtesy of James Threadgill.

Am I advocating people go out and practice all the novelty throws they can think of?  No, that would be a waste of time.  But I do advise players to practice any throw that does have a practical use on the field: scoobers, lefties, hammers, high releases, no looks.  Not only do these throws make life tricky for the mark, but their flight path often makes them unexpected and difficult to read for person marking the receiver. The first time you throw one at training, don’t give up if a team mate drops it from surprise; persevere and soon your team will know exactly what’s coming, and will even cut for it.

In 2009 I can remember Brummie going on about how useful the lefty scoober was to anybody who would listen.  Especially useful, apparently, when playing mini.  I thought he was talking nonsense until he threw one over my shoulder for a score.  It didn’t fly particularly smoothly but it connected none the less.  So I backed off next time he got the disc but couldn’t put any pressure on his flick.  Now I was stuck; back off and give him the easy throw, or get tight and he’ll throw another lefty.  What can I do?  As an O player, if this is going through your mark’s mind, they’re toast.  And that is all you can ask for.

Like what you read? Invented a new way to the break side recently? Like, share and comment, and look out for more skills based content from Pichler soon… JCK @tSG

The Grapevine – 21/06

This weeks The Grapevine has a bit of Tour 2 with a smattering of news from the continent and a big chunk of ECBU!

Barry O’Kane brings us a great episode of UTalkRaw chatting to Liam Kelly on the Matalan Sporting promise and community clubs.

Benji discusses the age-old one hand vs two hand catch debate on UnderstandingUltimate.

As you all know this weekend is Tour 2, all the information you could need is here. Read our preview or for a different perspective, along with our T1 reviews, and make sure to tweet with the hashtag #ukut2.

At Tour 2 the U23 Mixed team are loaning themselves out (not many left, so get on it) to give massages/get water/carry flags. They have also set up the amazing opportunity to pit yourself against their speed gun to see who is the fastest thrower on the tour! For more details check out their FB page or message them.

World Games is only a couple weeks away! Richard “Gash” Harris has made a small trick shot video, go check it out and follow the WG team on Twitter/FB where player profiles are also being released! Sneak a peak at some of the competition on Ultiworld.

Another big GB tournament begins next Thursday in Calafell, Spain. ECBU2013 will see the maximum 7 GB Beach squads pit themselves against Europe’s finest, catch our exciting preview written for SkyD magazine and follow all the action at live.ecbu2013.org

In preparation for ECBU, four GB teams went to Sunburn last weekend. GB Mixed won the tournament and GB Mixed Masters won spirit! Watch out Europe!

Our partners Get Horizontal are celebrating 3000 likes on their FB by having a beach party at ECBU – if you are there join the fun! Also have a read of their Windmill Windup coverage for some great photos and write ups.



So much going on, and we will cover as much as we can! Still looking for a spectator at T2 for tweeting, apply within! Laters, 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.

World Games Preview: USA

James Burbidge takes a look at Team USA in the second installment of his World Games series.

Team USA

The Lineup


Georgia Bosscher
Cara Crouch
Sarah Griffith
Cree Howard
Octavia Payne
Alex Snyder

Ryan Farrell
Ashlin Joye
Beau Kittredge
Mike Natenberg
George Stubbs
Mac Taylor
Dylan Tunnell
Team USA.
About the team

Selectors seem to have opted for wise heads rather than youthful legs here, particularly on the men’s side of the game where only Stubbs is of the NexGeneration. He is team Captain, following a year’s experience in that role at club team Ironside, as well as 3 years in the role at Harvard, during which time he won the Callahan award as the best player in College. He is extremely athletic, has big throws and cool head. Captaining alongside George is Alex Snyder, who captained Fury back in 2008 and was selected by Ultiworld as MVP of their latest Club Championship final. She has plenty of experience at the highest level of the game and knows what it takes to win – two big assets for the team.

Cara Crouch goes up over GB at World Games 2009. Photo courtesy Scobel Wiggins

Whilst neither George nor Alex played on the 2009 team, USA will be bringing 3 returners to Cali: Cara Crouch, Dylan Tunnell and Beau Kittredge. Cara Crouch is an experienced handler with big throws and a Callahan award (2005) under her belt. She plays for Showdown and so will be facing up against teammate GB’s Bex Forth. Dylan Tunnell is one of the most respected players in the US, a stalwart for club team Chain Lightning (Club Champions 2009) and picked by Club Jr to be part of a US All-Star team flown out to Japan’s Dream Cup. You can read an interview with him after the 2009 World Games here. And finally, not much needs to be said about Beau, surely? He’s one of the most dominantathletesinthe game– and that’s not even his game anymore. These days Beau is so feared for his deep ability that people back him by ridiculous amounts – so has evolved into a reset and distribution player, coming under far more than he goes deep. It’s unlikely that anyone else in the world is going to front him so this seems like a plausible position for him to play again. That said, I’m sure we’ll see a few goals and posterisations by the end of the tournament.


Georgia Bosscher lays out for the D
Rounding out the female half of the team are Georgia Bosscher a redoubtable defender (see picture), her former Fury teammate Cree Howard (a 5’8 deep cutter), Seattle Riot’s speedy Sarah Griffith and DC Scandal’s Octavia Payne.

On the male side there are a pair of club captains; captain of reigning National Champions Doublewide – Mike Natenberg and captain of Johnny Bravo Ryan Farrell. Filling out the last spots are Revolver teammates Ashlin Joye (defensivehandler mostly) and Mac Taylor(does everything).

Coach and expected playing style

USA is lead by Coach Alex Ghesquire and Assistand Coach Matty Tsang. Those names alone put them into the top 3 teams at World Games. Alex Ghesquire has coached the club team Revolver to 2 National Championships and 2 World Championships. He will bring established relationships with Beau, Ashlin and Mac from that team. Matty Tsang has arguably an even more formidable pedigree – he has coached Women’s team Fury to 7 National Championships (adding to the two they had won before his arrival) and 2 World Championships. He brings relationships with Alex, Cree and Georgia to the team.

With a limited amount of training time, and some of the best players in the world, it would be surprising if this team worked on anything too tactically complex – expect them instead to focus on their fundamentals and run simple, disciplined offense. Defensively, again I’d expect them to use their legs rather than zone, but they’ll be sure to have some junky sets designed to disrupt pull-plays and change the rhythm of the game.

Expected finishing place

Some of the best players in the world, coached by some of the best coaches in the sport. Every single one of these players has experience of the toughest competition and knows what it takes to win. A team of the highest calibre.

1st

[edit: A documentary is being made about Team USA’s journey to Cali. You can now see the trailer for ‘Bidding for Gold‘]

Sounds like team GB have their work cut out! Like what you read? Remember to share and comment. Keep an eye out for OWT2 Preview coming later this week – JCK @ tSG.

The Grapevine – 14/06

The Grapevine this week covers ECBU, U23’s and much more…

To start us off Benji asks Who Should You Listen To on Understanding Ultimate.

SkyD magazine announced their coverage of the upcoming European Championships for Beach Ultimate and the organisers have also created a live page ready for results, pics to follow from home.

Make sure to follow all the GB Beach squads going into ECBU on twitter, this helpful hashtag page will assist you. Also if you’re going to Sunburn this weekend you get a chance of playing 4 of the squads (Mixed, Women’s, Grand Masters and Mixed Masters) plus seeing a show game with the two mixed teams!

Now for some shameless plugging: we got a mention on SkyD magazine with the Irish piece from Mark and on …


UTalkRaw who interviewed John Maddox and Hannah Brew from the GB U23 Mixed squad, keep updated on their FB page. Also listen to episode 23 here, particularly the last few seconds. 

Finally, with T2 coming up fast relive T1 through our Twitter and this week’s review coverage.
GB Ultimate 2013.

Keep informed on fb, twitter and RSS feeds on the right! DP @ tSG. 

London’s Calling Review – Women’s

Charlie Blair finishes off a busy week of London’s Calling reviews with the Women’s division.

London rivals lead the pack at London’s Calling

As expected, London’s Calling did not disappoint, with considerable disruption to the initial seedings at both ends of the women’s tour. The first event of the season saw the two London teams dominate their home turf with Iceni being the only team in the top 10 to retain their original position at the summit of Women’s tour. On the other hand, their local rivals, SYC, celebrated the greatest ascension of all; jumping up the table five seeds above the 7th place they began the weekend with.

Iceni’s quest to the final left a path of destruction in their wake, conceding no more than 8 points in any one match during the whole weekend. Clearly they were determined to assure the women’s tour that their performance at last year’s London’s Calling was a marked anomaly. As their score lines suggested, Iceni were merciless from the off, with every intention to bury each game come the half. This strategy proved to be a success, albeit after an initial wobble during their first pool game against PUNT on the Saturday morning.

Camille Peetroons toeing the line. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.

PUNT impressively pulled Iceni apart. And it would seem that this confidence only continued to fortify over the course of the weekend, with them having made a fantastic four seed leap by the close on Sunday. With figureheads Magali Matsumiya and Niamh Delany consistently looking to exploit the breakside they achieved some ambitious and fast pace play that allowed them to trade to the half against the reigning champions. From which point, the depth of Iceni’s squad pushed the pedal to the floor to comfortably see out the game in the end.


From then Iceni, didn’t look back, convincingly seeing off the rest of their pool. This included a somewhat unexpected demolition of YAKA who only managed to take 2 points off the Londoners. The French seemed to have been particularly deflated having lost in sudden death to newcomers ROBOT in the morning. A defeat that ended up seeing ROBOT take the remaining semi final spot that the third seeds had been coveting.

Women’s movers. Courtesy of Wayne Retter.
Nice Bristols looked set to retain their position at top of the other pool, having convincingly thrashed Iceni Savage, Swift and Leeds, and conceding only 13 points from all three games. However, their final game of Saturday turned out to be the ‘one to watch’ of the weekend. SYC romped to victory, having taken the game to sudden death with an incredible comeback from 11-5 down. A gritty performance, with some game changing defence from key players like Romanie Hannah and new addition, GBu23 Women’s captain, Ruby Rennison. As a consequence, SYC avoided Iceni in the semis, leaving Nice Bristols to face the top seeds the following morning. Unfortunately, they faced possibly one of the best defensive team performances of the weekend. Iceni were hungry and ‘heads up’ for turnovers, and dominated the Bristol offence from the get go. However, having had such tight game to the eventual runners up, it would be no surprise to see Nice Bristols in the final at Tour 2…

It was a disappointing weekend for Iceni Savage, LLL, and Seven Sisters, all of whom who were usurped by PUNT, and fell out of the top six. The latter two seemed to have suffered from a considerable shake up in both their rosters, and will hope for some tighter games come Tour 2 now that they have ironed out some initial ‘teething problems’ at London’s Calling. In the case of Seven Sisters, if last year’s performance is anything to go by, a mediocre London Calling finish does not mean they should be written off in Nottingham. Savage were unfortunate to have lost out in the pool stages to two games which ended in sudden death and potentially could have otherwise had a very different weekend. Unsurprisingly, it appears the lack of subs took its toll after this disappointment in their subsequent games.

Newcomer Vanessa Lowe debuting for Iceni Savage. Photo Courtesy of Louise Smith.
Aside from Iceni’s unswerving domination at the top, within the top 8 there really is everything to play for. Will Tour 2 be more of the same, or will we see another big shake up as the season progresses and teams respond to the successes/failures of their debuts? Is there anyone who can knock Iceni off the top spot? It’s safe to say that no one came close on this occasion. Despite SYC successfully earning their place in the final, inconsistency still plagues them. It was not exclusively Bristol whom they only just edged a victory over during the pool stages having also had to take the game to sudden death to defeat Iceni Savage. Equally, they had some spectacular points in the final which really did champion the level of talent on their team, but there remains something about their play that is preventing them from making the step up from not simply challenging their opponents, but dominating them.

So with the speculation and anticipation of London’s Calling over, we now eagerly await the reply…

Bring it!!!

Indeed! With only a week away till T2 I certainly can’t wait! Like, share, contribute and comment. DP @ tSG.