The Grapevine – 10/05

The Grapevine covers almost every UK blog and a mention to our European partners Get Horizontal! 

Mark Earley interviews the Shiok Ultimate player Nick See on Ultimate Interviews.

Our European friends Get Horizontal review the Belgian mixed tournament G-SPOT, where Cambridge came out Spirit winners! Also go read a preview of Tom’s Tourney where some UK teams will party and play over in Brugges as of yesterday.

Barry O’Kane talks to Lauren Bryant and David Pryce on his unedited UTalkRaw Episode 18 about GB Beach Mixed, part of the GB squad series.

An amazing slo mo video of a recent MLU game shows us how Ultimate should be filmed.

Glastonbury has opened its registration for the weekend of 7/8th September, go register here. 

A great piece on why children should be their own referees in sports and in particular play Ultimate.

Donate towards the GB World Games cause, it’s not a cheap trip to Columbia!

Benji Heywood talks about cutting and in particularly getting separation on a new post in the Understanding Ultimate blog.

Finally, go see who we are and what we are all about!

The UKU works alongside Matalan and Steve Redgrave to get school children into Ultimate. Photo Courtesy of Carl Fox.

A quick request: anyone want to write more on the Women’s division?! We are in need of such a writer, please contact us! Also remember to share, like and tweet :). 

The Alumni Cup – where do we go from here?

Sean Colfer of Phat ed’s and EMO fame brings us his views on The Alumni Cup and its future.

After last year’s relatively successful debut in Manchester, the Alumni Cup returned to run alongside the UKU University Open National Championships in Nottingham. Leeds mounted an impressive defence of their title but in the end ceded the crown to Bangor, who used a large squad and strong team chemistry to overcome some of Leeds’ more impressive individual players. So, with a second year of this event in the books, what does the future hold for the Alumni Cup?

The key issue with the Alumni Cup concept is what people want from the event. Is this intended to be a competitive tournament to truly find the best alumni team in the UK? Is it an event to keep graduates who have no interest in intense club competition engaged with Ultimate? Is it an attempt to forge links between alumni and current students? Is it an excuse for a reunion, a glorified catch-up and drinking opportunity?

Last season there were 16 teams in the competition – this year that shrunk to 12. This season also lacked some of the depth that was evident in Manchester, with previous finalists Cambridge and semi-finalists Manchester and Loughborough all missing from the field in Nottingham. The field still contained some quality: Bangor’s squad of recent graduates were well drilled and were clearly the best team present, Leeds brought players covering an impressive time span and maintained their competitiveness well and teams such as Bath, UCL, Liverpool and Sussex contained stand out players giving good accounts of themselves over the course of the weekend. Despite that, it was evident that there had been a steep drop off from the first year of the tournament to the second in terms of overall quality of teams.

Lancaster vs UCL, Alumni Cup 2013. Courtesy of Blockstack Photography.

What were the reasons for this drop off? For one, pressure has been put on the calendar this year by the presence of GB teams and the importance of the coming season, with WUCC 2014 qualification depending on Tour positions. Players on the under-23 squads will have had three tournaments and one weekend session in April had they competed in Nottingham and so may have chosen to take a much needed rest while teams such as Fire had training weekends which took their players away from alumni teams who sorely missed their abilities.

Another, more worrying, possibility is that the tournament was perceived as a novelty event last season: the first event to crown the champion of all alumni teams, effectively the champion of all university teams prior to that point. It brought together the best players from a wide range of eras for several universities and led to a tournament of impressive quality. This year that novelty diminished slightly, possibly keeping away those who are no longer regular players or those who decided that the weekend would be better spent resting their bodies for the season to come.

Speaking from personal experience, the way my team-mates and I approached the Cup has not changed. We assembled a team of whoever we could think of that wanted to play and was free that weekend – no mean feat, believe me – and took the approach that as long as everyone played and everyone had fun results didn’t matter a great deal. Phat Eds very much took the reunion view of the tournament, which not surprisingly led to underwhelming results – 8ththis season bettered the 16th placed finish of 2012 but two wins in two years is hardly a stellar record – but I have certainly enjoyed both years and I’ve been proud of the effort put in by all of my former university team-mates and those other Phat Eds who have taken part. 

So what does the future hold for the Alumni Cup? It’s difficult to predict trends after two seasons, but next year will go a long way towards determining what it is that this event will be. If the tournament expands back to 16 teams and some of the talent that was not present in the second iteration of the tournament returns, it could make for an exciting, competitive and deep tournament which would be more like the alumni version of the university tournament it runs alongside (the fact that some current students have never known a Nationals without the Alumni Cup might mean that more current students stick around and help arrest that problem). However, if the tournament sees no further expansion or quality re-enforcement it could become a simple excuse to meet old friends and support your old university in their quest for BUCS glory.

In last year’s issue of Ultimatum, Rich Hims suggested that when the tournament becomes suitably established it might be worthwhile to find an opportunity for the alumni champions and the university champions to determine a ‘champion of champions’. Hopefully the slight downturn this year can be arrested come 2014 and the Alumni Cup can become suitably established for such a consideration in the coming years. As a concept it’s well worthy of a place in the Ultimate calendar – the hope now must be that the concept tangibly realises the clear potential it has in the near future. 

Keep on reading, sharing, liking and tweeting!

Fog Lane Cup Preview

Josh Coxon Kelly brings us a preview for this weekends first A tour warm up.

This weekend many of the top open teams in the UK will be heading to Chippenham to compete at the second ever Fog Lane Cup. Hosted by Chevron Action Flash, and named in honour of their perennial training ground in Didsbury, the tournament is once again hoping to provide a high level tournament for UK club teams to flex their muscles at before the long tour season.

Notable absentees from A tour regulars Clapham and Brighton could be put down in part to the attendance of Cobra Kai to Tom’s Tourney in Brugge, but nonetheless the tournament brings together plenty of heavyweight competition, including (once again) two Fire squads, a fanatically hyped new Kapow! roster, as well as the GB u23 open squad looking to take scalps in the first tournament of their campaign for gold in Toronto this summer.

Last season’s Inaugural cup wasn’t without drama, with Fire 2 surprising many teams including the hosts. Will this year see the avenging of this loss, or with so many refreshed squads a similar upset? Or will a young and hungry GB squad dominate?

The u23s have a gruelling schedule with 3 games followed by an evening showgame against a ‘Barbarian team’ built from players of the other teams in attendance. Whilst a fair share of sledging is inevitable between friends, this exhibition match will be undeniably important for the young internationals: not only in forging their team chemistry, but also as a chance to start their journey with a win in front of a crowd – an act that they will very much hope to turn into a habit.

Enjoyed reading that? Want to contribute? Drop us a line at with possible ideas. Don’t forget to like, share and tweet also!

The Grapevine – 03/05

This week’s The Grapevine covers a lot,  from coaching blogs to ESPN’s coverage of Ultimate in the US.

With true comic book style KaPoW are releasing player profiles on their Facebook, Twitter and website. Look out for more as they are released!

The GB Mixed Beach team are also giving us an insight into their players, go like and see! 

News of ESPN3’s coverage of the US College Tour and Triple Crown Tour has been released for some time now but an introduction video can be found here!

GB World Games win another Mixed Tour, read a piece from a Herd players perspective.

Read part 1 of Benji Heywood’s blog post on Practice to Rehearsal and don’t fear find part 2 here.

PushPass step up a gear with replays and multiple angles, check out a highlight from the Uni Nationals Open Final. For full footage go to the Pushpass website and buy full games or tournament subscriptions in HD! Also go read and comment on their ‘Drama’ section where a new post on UKU Spirit Sanctions went up this week. 

US College Nationals is looming and so their yearly Callahan Award is being decided, check out Dylan Freechild’s (Oregon, Rhino and Nexgen) bid video plus the other awesome nominees in both Open and Women divisions here.

The UKU opens up entry for the premier Open event of 2013: Open Tour 1 – London’s Calling!

UTalkRaw Episode 17 where Barry O’Kane talks to the GB u23 Women, listen here.

Remember to comment, share, like, tweet and contribute! 

Mixed Tour 2 Review: A mixed bag.

A review of the second Mixed Tour event held in Manchester. 

Last weekend saw 52 teams from all around the UK converge on Manchester for Mixed Tour 2. The seedings for this Tour were, on the whole, more accurate as they were based on the finishing positions for Mixed Tour 1 but some teams still felt they had a lot to prove and wanted a shot at the top spot currently held by the World Games squad.
With the WG squad being selected we lost one team from the tour, as well as the Irish u23’s. This paved the way for a couple of teams on the waiting list and bumped a few teams up a seed or two.
DED vs Herd 1: Matthew Hodgson grabs over his team mate whilst pressured by Luke T. Courtesy of BlockStack.

The info graphic below shows how teams moved from their initial seed to finishing place.
Fun fact – Five teams retained their initial seed: WG (1), DED (6), Bear Cav 2 (29), Brixton (46) and Flyght 2 (48).

Notables jumps:
  • Team Shark +13
  • Flyght +12
  • JR 1 +11
  • Devon +9
  • Magic Toast/Some Team 1 +8

…and falls:
  • Curve -11
  • Golden Ants/Lemmings -7
  • Peeps/Halcyon -6
This was Team Shark’s first appearance of the season and they were probably slightly under seeded but a great jump up into top of the bottom half. Great work from Flyght, JR, Devon and Some Team to truly beat the system. Magic Toast (having picked up some of the WG trial players) got themselves back where they belong in the top 4.

The final, between World Games and Royal Goaltimate Society, started off a rather one sided affair with WG taking the first half convincingly. However, RGS were not going to sit back and let them win easily. A second half comeback brought them within a couple of points, but the athleticism and experience on the WG squad told in the end and they finally pulled away to take the title 15-8.  
Guess the WG player? Courtesy of Rien de Keyser.
My final note is one on the sadder side of our sport: injuries. In rather innocuous circumstances, a Scarecrew player suffered a dislocated knee and broken ankle that not only ended her game but the entire game. Josh and I would like to wish Eley Haslam a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing her on the field when the time is right.

To everyone else, please stay safe and do your fitness!! See you at Mixed Tour 3 in a couple of weeks in Cheltenham.

The ups and downs of Mixed Tour 2 (comparison of initial seed to final position).

Want to contribute please email us at Or simply like what you see? Comment, like, tweet any feedback is welcome! 

Lessons from Japan

GB Open and World Games coach Sion “Brummie” Scone tells us what he and the Open squad learnt at the World Ultimate and Guts Championships last summer. 

Brummie: This is an article that I originally wrote for Ultimatum (the UK Ultimate annual magazine) in the days immediately after my return from Japan last summer; however, I managed to forget to click “send” on the email, so it has been sitting in my drafts the whole time.  Oops.

As expected, Worlds showed a wide variety of new offensive and defensive strategies.  Here is a collection of thoughts centred around GB Open’s performance, but also looking at all the games I saw in all divisions – particularly the impressive Japanese women’s team – and a group of lessons that we can take home as things to work on over the next four years.

1.    Throw, throw, throw

Our throwing ability is short of the top teams; particularly USA and Japan who had strong throwers across their entire team. They also were comfortable with a wide variety of throws;  bladey throws and inside-outs over short distances being two main ones that other nations use well for handler resets and zone breaking.  The Japanese women were probably the best throwers across their entire team, and they won handily.

Lesson: Throwing skills are massively overlooked in the UK in favour of athletic ability. We need to continue to challenge our throwers to improve; why not use games and drills which force your players to use new throws? Don’t worry about turns – there will be plenty! – but the long term improvements will be huge.  GB Open used a modified version of Lou Burruss’ Kung Fu Throwing routine for a year before WUGC, and I highly recommend using it (or the Wiggins alternative) as a starting point.

Throw, Throw, Throw! Wessex vs ManUp, 2012 season. Courtesy of Kat Smith.

2.    “Safety First” makes you dangerous

We need to have better resets; Japan Open in particular had very strong resets that led to continuation and constantly kept us on the back foot, while the USA were confident at recycling the disc under pressure.  Both teams were great at turning a reset into an attacking position.

Lesson: Our resets need to be more than just “get the stall back to zero”, and should instead come with brutally effective continuation. Consider continuation as being part of your reset; failure to hit continuation is failure to reset properly.


3.    Legal, active marks

Most European teams play with static marks that are too close and foul often. Good throwers will abuse these with ‘contact’ calls or calling ‘foul’ during the throw.

Lesson: be mobile and legal on the mark for the most effective defence; sometimes being in the cutting lane, outside 3m of the thrower, is the most effective thing you can do to prevent flow, and is certainly better than fouling.

4.    Improve your offence by coming up with new defences

Your team needs to be adaptable if they are going to be effective.  Man-zone hybrid defence is going to become more and more prevalent in the future; when teams know precisely when and where they should be poaching and how to switch effectively, these defences are tough to beat (Sweden, Japan women). It is important to note that these zones were mostly effective because of good work ethic away from the disc; early repositioning and timely switching helping to stifle flow, rather than apply pressure on the disc, then quickly repositioning as the disc is swung.
GB Open’s zone offence generally failed to keep the disc moving against zones (Sweden / Japan), even once the cup had been bypassed, and this comes back to the issues with handler resets (as mentioned above). Only by swinging the disc with fast throws, and constantly taking small gains with handlers, is it possible to take these zones apart (see USA / Canada / Japan Open teams).  Short range overheads, and short leading throws, are also areas we need to improve on. 

Lesson: learn to throw the disc hard and play fast if you want to beat any non-man defence; continuation is just as important with zone O as with resets. All teams also need to be able to effectively switch and poach if we want our clubs to understand and be able to combat these types of defence.  I would encourage all teams to think about creating a new defence, and *stick with it*; they take time to work, maybe two years or more.

5.    Gritty defence starts with knowing your role

As a defender, know what you’re taking away, i.e. “Know where your kitchen is”, and what you can allow. (GB Open called the area just in front of the disc on the open side “the kitchen” and being beaten into this space was a big no-no.)  Most defenders are purely reactive, seen chasing their man around the field, rather than proactively adopting a body position that will prevent the bad guy getting into your kitchen and flirting with your mum!  So, regardless of where you are and where the person you’re guarding is, make sure you know your relative position with respect to your “kitchen”, and never allow them to slip through and steal your dinner.
Lesson: To play great defence requires great focus, and that focus only comes through training under pressure, but, more importantly, every member of the team needs to be a great athlete. You have to be in great shape to be a contender; this is no great surprise. We should be proud that “British defence” is strong enough to get the disc off any team in the world.  We need to focus on improving our D team’s ability to score more consistently under pressure to take advantage of these hard-won turns, particularly against teams like Sweden, Canada and Colombia that try to change the pace of the game to take you out of your comfort zone.

6.    Play fast and small

The faster you play, the harder you are to stop. Being able to work at high speeds, and in tight spaces, are the key factors that will be vital in years to come. “Old skool” offences which isolate a single player in a large proportion of the pitch were not hugely effective at Worlds. Likewise, failing to swing the disc quickly (fast throws) plays into the hands of poach sets.

Lesson: offences need to be adaptable enough to take advantage of momentary advantages which will be presented by poach sets, but everyone needs to be on the same page to prevent costly mis-communication turns. Learn to throw fast passes to stationary players to minimise hang time and reduce the effectiveness of poaching. In short, offences need to be comfortable playing in the small space in front of them, rather than needing large areas of clear space to advance the disc.

7.    Take the most damaging option, but keep the risk as low as possible

GB Open broke the mark more consistently than all the teams we played other than USA, and we had success because of it. Japan’s approach was more along the lines of “avoid the mark, but get it to the undefended side anyway”, which was brutally effective and tough to stop.

Lesson: be confident breaking marks, but you don’t necessarily need to break the mark in order to get the disc where you want it, which is generally in the hands of a receiver cutting towards the break side of the field. As long as their defender has no bid on the disc, it is a great option. If you don’t need to risk breaking the mark to achieve that, that’s perfect. One way to achieve this is to isolate a cutter on the open side and have them cut to the break side; the resulting pattern will be an open side throw for the thrower, but will still be away from the receiver’s defender. Win-win.

GB Open take Silver at WUGC 2012 in Japan. Courtesy of

Liked what you read here? We hope to hear more from Brummie in the future. Do support him and the World Games team in any way possible. Don’t forget to share, like and tweet this piece and our blog too!

A long road to Europe

Mark Earley tells us about Irish open teams and the challenges they face on the road to European Ultimate Championship Series.

Last Friday night saw the final game of a three team round robin take place in Dublin, Ireland. The Open teams involved were playing for a spot at EUCR-S in Bern this August with the long-term goal of securing a spot at xEUCF in Bordeaux. In effect they were qualifying for a qualifying tournament.

There are lots of reasons for this. Firstly, Ireland’s performance at previous European club competition is practically non-existent. Rarely has an Open team come from Ireland to compete at EUCC or xEUCF. Ally this to the fact that the national Open team has not improved on 2007’s 6thplace finish and it looks like the Open division teams merit little more than one spot at a qualifying tournament. Furthermore, Ireland has moved region. Irish teams used to be a part of the EUCR-W region, which uses the final standings of UK Nationals as qualification. However, the Irish Flying Disc Association decided that it would be in the clubs’ collective best interests to look to qualify elsewhere. At the time this was a wise move with teams rarely finishing higher than the 12-16 bracket at A Tour. Whats more, it was thought that the variety of European competition would stand to Ireland’s best players, not to mention the chance to play Ultimate in a warmer climate! As a result, Ireland’s clubs now play in the South region along with Italy, France and Switzerland.

Irish Ultimate Frisbee (IFDA)

Over the past few years it has become apparent that Irish teams can, and do, hold their own when competing against the top clubs in the UK. While no team has managed a win against the ‘big two’ of Clapham and Chevron, teams like Ranelagh, Paddy Murphy, Dublin Ultimate and Rebel Ultimate have picked off wins against most of the chasing pack at some point or another. With the strength of Irish university Ultimate proving itself (most recently courtesy of the ever-impressive UCC Ultimate) it will be interesting to see if this will translate up to club form this summer, which has brought people to wonder if the IFDA’s decision to change region was the correct one.

The UK has 6 places available to Open teams where the South region has but 4. Furthermore, the style of Ultimate played in the UK is one that Irish teams are both accustomed to playing against and to playing themselves. With UK Tour set to be as competitive as we have seen in a long time it’s hard to tell how Ranelagh and Rebel will fare. With Clapham sending two teams, Chevron building on European silver medals, and a host of teams impressing pre-season including Ka-Pow who have recruited strongly, Fire, always there or thereabouts and last year’s surprise package DED, there will be an intriguing power struggle in the top 8.

So how does that compare to the South? Well, the top Swiss teams are among the strongest in Europe with FAB and Freespeed consistently dangerous. Crazy Dogs are another excellent outfit, whose Juniors program is producing very tangible results and it would be hard to overlook Solebang, another Swiss powerhouse. Italian teams are traditionally temperamental and it’s hard to tell how they will perform but in CUSB Bologna and Cota Rica they have two teams full of athletic ability and skill. Finally, the French. French Ultimate has flattered to deceive for a while now, but as seen in 2011 when the Open team picked off some huge scalps, the produce of their successful Juniors teams is beginning to make it’s presence felt at Open level. Tchac are an example of this and Friselis, reigning French champions are another side with obvious pedigree. Ultimate Vibration might not be the force they once were but along with Iznogood, have ample experience to run with any strong team. All of these teams are competing for 4 spots in Bern.

Ranelagh FC

Which brings us back to Dublin last Friday. Going into the game there was little to separate the two teams involved. Rebel Ultimate have dominated Irish Ultimate for a few years now, winning most domestic tournaments in all divisions. Their Open team lost the finals of both the Indoor and the Outdoor All-Ireland Championships last year (one to Broc and one to Ranelagh) but would argue that they didn’t play their best, especially in the outdoor final. Ranelagh are their main rival and the Cork team currently has a 4-1 record against them, the most recent win coming in February’s Indoors final, albeit against a weakened Ranelagh squad. With the focus this season thus far on university Ultimate, both teams have only played one competitive game, against Pelt Ultimate from Limerick, which they both won with ease, so the stage was set for a good battle.

Despite the cold and windy conditions approximately 50 fans turned up to watch the game in Dublin and they were treated to a great battle. The game started in sunshine with a gentle crosswind (that by the end of the game was a strong, cold wind) and with Ranelagh on offence. Rebel came out fired up and broke to score the first point. The game settled a little and both offences took control, with the teams trading after Rebel’s early break. Ranelagh got a break back and after a few more scores took half 9-7. The second half proved a slightly more cagey affair with both teams able to go on runs both due to big Ds and some unforced turns. First was Ranelagh who courtesy of some huge plays from young guns Rob Holland and Robbie Brennan jumped out to a 4 point lead to go 12-8 up. The strong wind was having more of an effect and Rebel decided to introduce their zone. It was an inspired decision and some huge Ds from John Doc and Mark Fanning got them to within 1 score. At 12-11, in a game to 14 it was all to play for and Rebel had their tails up. Ranelagh were able to close the door though and despite more big bids from the Cork team Ranelagh veteran Dominck Smyth broke the force for the match winner to another young player Cillian Flynn. 14-11 to the Dublin team.

So, this August Ranelagh will travel south to Bern where they will face very stiff competition for the chance to represent Ireland at European clubs top table. With three UK Tour competitions to come it will be a battle-hardened team by the time August comes around and not one to be taken lightly. 

Watch out for Ranelagh at Open Tour 1 at the end of May in London.  Have something to say? Comment below or email Remember to like, share, tweet and contribute!