The Grapevine – 07/06

This weeks The Grapevine features a lot of home grown works along with some nice additions from the continent and further! 

Chrissy Birtwistle has written a piece for Forbes about “What defines you?”, she talks about what normal people might perceive of Ultimate and it’s players and how being different is a good thing. 

UTalkRaw talk to BULA president Patrick van der Valk in episode 22 

Matthew “Smatt” Hodgson, has written an opinion piece on Ultiworld giving us the key to Ultimate in the olympics.

Summer is here (finally) and what better place to go for you holidays than Croatia where an awesome looking tournament is being set up! See here for more details

ECBU has got it’s spirit director in Belgian Fery Vluff.

Understanding Ultimate have had a busy week but Benji’s last post was on how life just isn’t fair

SkyD start their ECBU 2013 coverage with the hosts Spain. Read up here.

Ultimate Interview talk to Tim Morrill on his high performance workout for Ultimate for a second time.

Finally, you may have noticed we have not run T1 reviews yet. This is due to us wanting to do as much as possible. Hence next week we should be having a division per day! Exciting right? 

Ultiworld – the premier news media site dedicated to the sport of Ultimate

Share, like, tweet, . DP @ tSG.

An early look at Clapham.

Sion “Brummie” Scone was at T1 spectating, tweeting for tSG and tells us what he observed of Clapham in this seasons first outing.

Justin [Foord] got a little upset that Clapham seemed to have attracted some “hatred” from my tweets at the weekend.  So, in the interest of fairness, here’s some more detailed thoughts based on observations at Tour 1 while I wait for my dinner to cook:

1) This is a stacked team.  They haven’t lost many players from last year, and have picked up some speedy deep threats in Enda Naughton and Stephan Rossbauer.  Oh, and Rob Schumacher, the fastest guy in British/German ultimate. I doubt Clapham will get a tight game from any domestic matchup in 2013 (cue outrage from Chevron, Fire et al).  But this team looks like they haven’t rested on their laurels after winning EUCF, as they stormed past everyone in St Albans.

2) They are athletic – and they know it.  And this could be something that actually causes them problems. They were easily capable of out-muscling the opposition (case in point, I saw Clapham huck it to Dom Clark going deep when his defender was still deep of him, the thrower just knew that Dom would over take and score … which he did). It would be easy for Clapham to be blasé about what the other team is doing, and just run right by them as if they weren’t even there; hence my comment about making eight cuts into the same spot.  Clapham could be their own worst enemy in many respects; if no-one else is going to give them a tight game, then they need to critical of themselves if they want to improve.  They are off to Chesapeake in a few months to play the likes of Ironside and GOAT, and the worst thing they could do is get used to out-muscling teams in the UK, then come across a team that is equally or more athletic.  Splitting their lines for Tour is the right decision for them, but maybe they need a really even split to give themselves some preparation of how to play against people who are just too damned fast.

3) They’ve learned a nice poachy set to break down brick/pull play scenarios.  It was really effective.  Even better, they have been working on transitions, which were pretty slick and got numerous turns *during* the transition (particularly in the final), which is a credit to Clapham.  This is no mean feat, and shows a smart defensive team as well as one who can run with any team in the world.  They mean business, and should be in a great position to compete in the USA.
Clapham Bullfrogs: 12 times Nationals champions.
4) It is so hard to be the team that is way out in front.  If any team in the UK needs to do video analysis of their own performances, it is Clapham.  Winning shouldn’t be enough for this team, winning well should be a constant aim.  Aside from a few individual mistakes on Saturday afternoon, Clapham were never really pressured enough to cough the disc up, but it wasn’t obvious whose job it was to make things happen when the offence stalled.  Justin?  Britney?  Cian?  Schuie?  Colin?  The list of “go-to” players is much longer than this, but you can see the potential for problems when you have so many players capable of dominating the pitch all thrown in together.  And bear in mind this lot were just on one of the two teams.  As a result, when it got messy, it got *really* messy, and while they got away with occasional lapses last weekend, those same mistakes made in Chesapeake may well be more costly.  Still, first tournament of the season so there will be plenty of time to iron out these minor blips.

5) Clapham oozes confidence.  They strolled – almost literally – through the final.  They were six goals in before I heard a celebration, and offence just looked so easy for them; they weren’t pressured on the mark at all (or at least, they didn’t look like they were pressured).  I don’t even think I saw them get to full speed this weekend, which is seriously scary when you think about what they might do when they step up a gear (for example, I didn’t see a single layout block).  Considering they were playing with short lines, I suspect this team might peak at exactly the right time.  Did I mention they did all of that missing their GB U23 players?  Ha.  This team has bags of potential, and the road to Worlds looks promising.  In 2010, Clapham had one of the most stacked teams I’ve ever seen assembled from the UK, and fell far short of their target of a berth in semi finals.  Let’s hope that they have learned from the mistakes they made last time, and that they don’t get too confident too soon.

Ironside et al – beware.  The bullfrogs are coming.  My dinner’s on fire.


Comments, tweets etc are all welcome! DP @ tSG.

Repeat Mixed Success for Jabba the Huck

Mark Earley’s column ‘An Irish Eye’ continues with a look into Jabba the Hucks win at Irish Mixed Championships.

A few weeks ago Irish Ultimate held it’s annual Mixed Championships (as previewed in this article). The tournament took place in Maynooth, a town in Kildare, not far from the country’s capital. Hosted by the U-23 Mixed Team in an effort to raise some much needed funds for the trip to Toronto, the tournament ran very smoothly and perhaps more importantly was blessed with great weather.

Jabba the Huck’s 3 teams at the recent All-Ireland Mixed Championships
Going into the tournament it looked like only 4 teams would be vying for the semi-finals spots but a number of things changed this. Firstly, a few late dropouts for Binge?, a consistently strong Mixed team with a long history of success in domestic mixed events, forced them to add to their roster after the IFDA Roster Deadline. This made them ineligible and prevented them from finishing higher than 5th (which they duly did). Secondly was the underperformance of a Rebel team missing a host of it’s first team players. Shipping big defeats on day one and against teams they would usually beat, the weekend didn’t play out quite as they would have hoped. Finally, the emergence of Pelt, who, buoyed by a pick up or two and the power of their U-23 Open stars finished an impressive 3rd.

The real story however is that of Jabba the Huck. Jabba are a closely knit, well-drilled and welcoming club who for years have failed to match success in Mixed with the high numbers they consistently have at training. Last year they finally got the monkey off their back and this year they consolidated their reputation with an eventually facile victory in the final. Lead by coach and captain Ian French and with excellent strength and depth across their first team roster, the Jabba team are just that – a team. They work hard for each other, have simple and effective systems and they practice constantly.
Fiona Mernagh lets a flick fly during the final.
Over the past two years or so their attitude has appeared to shift from a team that parties hard and plays hard too to a team that can manage both, and more notably, know when to attempt both. A strong recruitment policy, based on an open arms approach, has allowed the club grow hugely. In turn, places on the first team are now something to fight for as the depth of talent increases. It is the ability to call on a much stronger team over the past two seasons that has seen them dominate the Mixed division.

Having cruised through the pools stages and their semi-final (against Jabba 2 no less!), the would-be champions started somewhat shakily against a fired up Mixed Veg side, looking for revenge following last year’s universe point loss. Slowly though Jabba grew into the game, using their fast offence and big receivers to convert their offence. As the game went on the Veg team started making more and more mistakes, a lot of them seemingly unforced but capitalized on repeatedly. Suddenly a traded game became a landslide victory with Jabba scoring 7 points in a row to win the game 11-5. It was a well deserved win by a team who earned it through grit, belief and team work.

Full game footage of the All Ireland Mixed Final.

Unfortunately for Jabba the Huck Ireland doesn’t have a spot in the WUCC Mixed Division at the moment. With at least 3 Open teams and 3 Women’s team likely to want to play in Italy it’s unlikely that one will become available soon, not to mention the fact that the division itself is likely over-subscribed already. It’s a shame because it would be interesting to see how the team would do against the best of European and world Ultimate. Trips to the UK have seen them compete well, but without a full Tour under their belt this year and following a low seeding it’s hard to tell how they match up against the top teams. Perhaps next year, when there is no U-23 team demanding most of their players’ focus we will see a full Jabba take on Tour. In the mean time they will split into Open and Women’s teams looking to win a unique treble…

Photos courtesy of Mary Dempsey & Alan Breathnach

Video courtesy of Richard Buggy

Mark will bring us the Irish Eyes viewpoint of T1 alongside our very own A/B/C/W tour reviews in our T1 review week: one review a day! Like, share and contribute! DP @ tSG.

The Grapevine – 31/05

This weeks Grapevine mostly concentrates on the upcoming London’s Calling with a bit of extra news thrown in for you!

Benji (Understanding Ultimate) tells us of a really cool (geeky too; but we love it) research project looking at how we throw. If you want to get involved read here…. 

Pittsburgh beat Central Florida to claim a back to back USA College Championship title, whilst Oregon take down Carleton for the Women’s top spot. 

London’s Calling is this weekend with teams from Europe mainland coming also, we are very excited here. We have our Open and Women’s previews, whilst… 

The Secret Frizzer gives us their insights into the upcoming weekend, and…

PushPass also release some footage of last years Nationals along with opinions on games to watch at T1!

More exciting news: we at tSG have partnered up with Get Horizontal – Europe’s premier Ultimate magazine – and have started this off with a post on how we do mixed!

As ever Barry O’Kanes podcast UTalkRaw has a great episode talking to the Australian Ultimate filming company ultiTV, go listen here.

The American media site Ultiworld tells us the top contender for U23 in the Open division, watch our guys this weekend in the U23 showgame vs Ireland. You might even see tSG at the show game. 

The TD’s of xEUCF have just brought online the website, where they will score report, offer news and more!

Super exciting news: The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided on Friday the 31st of May 2013 to grant the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) provisional IOC recognition during their meeting in St Petersburg (Russia). From WFDF we got this and notably this. 

Love Get Horizontal? Love The Show Game? Well we have partnered up now, awesome right?!

Excited? We certainly are, the season is in full flow and we have so much coming up. Stay tuned on fb, twitter and more. Remember #ukut1 for this weekends action. 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.

World Games Preview: Great Britain

James Burbidge, brings us the first in his World Games series: Great Britain.


This series will take an informal look at the teams playing at the World Games in Cali, Colombia from the 28th to the 30th of July 2013.
The teams, in (probable) seeding order are:
– Canada
– Japan
– Australia
– Great Britain
– Colombia (host nation)
Teams qualified based on their performance across several divisions at the last WUGC (Japan, 2012) with the exception of the host nation who gets a spot more or less regardless.*
World Games in Cali – an IOC event

The tournament is a round-robin followed by the last day of finals (1v2, 3v4). Teams are limited to just 13 players (to keep costs down for the organisers) with one reserve of each sex (who can’t play once the tournament has started). Obviously playing intense games in heat with a very limited amount of substitutes makes for a tough tournament, but it also makes for some exciting Ultimate.

There were two tiebreaks to decide those seedings (Canada/USA, GB/Australia), which shows the increasing level of parity at this sort of tournament. There’s not one team (with the exception, perhaps of Colombia) on that list who won’t be justifiably disappointed not to make finals.
You can watch some matches from the last Games here.
It is unknown yet whether anyone will be live-streaming or filming matches this year.

Team GB

The Lineup
Issi Burke
Sophie Edmondson
Bex Forth
Beccie Haigh
Jenna Thompson
Jackie Verralls
Tom Abrams (Mum)
Justin Foord
Rich Gale
Ollie Gordon
Rich Harris (Gash)
Matt Parslow
Dave Tyler
Team GB.


About the team
Whittled down from a training squad of 30, this is a young team nevertheless filled with well-known faces for those familiar with UK Ultimate. A squad of only 13 players means that the selected team has moved away from defined ‘handler/cutter’ and ‘offense/defense’ roles – on this team everyone can do everything. 

The plan from the outset was to train ‘like a club team’ with regular practices in London. That being the case, it’s no surprise to see a strong core of Clapham and Iceni players at the heart of this team.  Justin and Gash are known quantities: big in the air, big throws with the disc in hand; and whilst he might not have quite as much international exposure (neither the US Club Nationals experience of Justin nor a part of the Paganello winning UTI team like Gash), Mum has been a constant on GB and Clapham’s D-lines for a few years now – big pulls and bigger D’s are at the heart of his game (this was an early indicator).

Iceni too contribute 3 players to the team. Team Manager and Iceni Captain Bex Forth has a wealth of international experience with GB and Iceni, as well as US club experience with Showdown (where she won Ultiworld’s MVP). Club teammates Jackie and Becci bring pace and engines to the cutting lanes; neither are the tallest of players but that has never stopped them from dominating their match-ups in the past.

Jenna Thompson (GB Women’s captain at WUGC 2012) is the only returner on the team; her experience at this tournament will surely be of benefit to the team. The 2 remaining women’s spots are rounded out by Sophie Edmonson and Izzy Burke. Izzy has played for the last few years on Open team Devon (top 16 in the UK), seeking higher intensity ultimate; that should stand her in good stead for the pace that top Open players bring to Mixed.

Expect consistency, a cool head and a surprising turn of speed from Rich Gale who should be an anchor on offense. Ex-NexGen-er Ollie Gordon has been a staple of the O-line for GB and Chevy (here’s why) but this highlight reel shows his capabilities on the other side of the disc too. Matt Parslow brings some more inventive throws to the offense, as well as passion on defense. The final spot on the roster is filled out by Mixed superstar Dave Tyler who has a UK University title (Warwick), a UK Open title (Clapham) and 3 UK Mixed titles (Bear Cavalry) under his belt.

Coach and expected playing style
Coach Sion Scone (Brummie) played on the World Games team in 2009, and coached GB to their highest ever finish (2nd) at Worlds in 2012. Under his tutelage the team has developed a high paced and organic-looking offense – unafraid to take on the mark and put their players into one-on-one match-ups. This aggressive style might be risky, but could pay off big. A conservative style might win against the lower seeded teams, but GB will need to take the game to favourites USA and Canada if they want to cause an upset.
Expected finishing place
A tough one to call. I’d like to think we’ve got to the stage where the top 13 players in the UK can match-up against the top 13 from anywhere in the world. I think if everything clicks and goes their way, GB can win it all. That said, the pragmatic side of me thinks the consistency of top level competition players get in North America gives them the edge in games like this.
– 3rd

N.B. Down on the Open team’s finish at WUGC, but significantly up on the Women’s and Mixed division results (7th and 5th respectively), this predicts GB beating their seed by 2 places.

Support our World Games squad make it to Cali. Watch them play in a ShowGame this weekend too!


Team GB are looking for some support to help get staff and players over to the tournament. If you can help them out with a few pounds, you should –
Official Website

*As long as they had a team in the Mixed division or teams in the Open and Women’s division at WUGC 2012.

Let’s go GB! Watch out for a different country next time. Like, share and more. London’s Calling Open preview coming up tomorrow on 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…