Interview with Matt Elmore and Ben Giles (Captain/Vice-Captain of UMON Winners Bath 1)

Interviewer/Editor: Harry Mason

Bath 1 Men's team enthusiastically celebrate their victory.
Photo by Tommy Pengelly


Let's start with introductions. Who are you guys? 

Matt: I'm Elmo, (Matt Elmore), captain this year and in my 4th year with the team.

Ben: I'm Ben Giles, vice-captain and also in my 4th year

How did it feel to win Nationals? Were you aiming to win, or did it come as a surprise?

Matt: I'm still buzzing from the weekend, we were ecstatic when we scored that final point. Going into the tournament we knew we would be strong and our aims were to medal, once we made it to the final we were only going to be happy with a gold after silver last year.

Ben: I've been walking round with a smile on my face ever since the final finished (despite the fact I had a very unfinished dissertation due the week after the tournament). As a uni we've had some incredible players over the past few years with a large GB representation, so to go further than any of those teams have is huge for this current team.

How did you build from last year's silver medal success then? Did you retain a lot of the same people?

Ben: Last year we lost two GB U24s (Michael Guise and Piers Nicholas) and two fifth years which made up pretty much our whole O-line. The rest of the squad was pretty much the same however with everyone a year more experienced and the pickup of George Pickens and Pieter Keenan (GB u20s) as well as Andrew Buglass (Dutch u20s) meant that the loss off those from last year was not felt as much as it could have been

Matt: Last year the training focus was based around principles to drill into the team how to do the simple things most effectively, this year we built on that by improving on more advanced skills which was much easier to coach with the platform set from the year prior.

Can you elaborate on the training/mentality differences from last year?

Matt: I think one good thing we managed to arrange the week before Nationals was a match against Bristol Open which really shocked us into having to play a more intense and careful game over the course of Nats. On the mentality side I feel that the squad was a really close group that was driven to perform their best for everyone else on the team which comes about after playing together with most of the guys for the best part of four years.

Ben: I think our mentality changed as a result of me falling last year. For years Bath has chumped at the quarter finals of these tournaments and that has been a significant barrier for us. Having overcome that hurdle last year we truly believed we could win the tournament this year

Do you think the Bath 2017 side would have won Nationals this year? Or that the Bath 2018 side would have won last year?

Matt: Ooh good question, it's very hard to say as the uni ultimate scene changes so much every year. I think that the Bath 2018 side would have matched the success of last year, but I think we had better preparation for the tournament this year so don't think that the Bath 2017 side would have necessarily secured the gold this time around.

Ben: I'm not convinced we'd have coped with Ashley Yeo that much better than we did last year though!

What were your favourite games this weekend?

Matt: I really enjoyed the quarter final match against Loughborough, as Ben mentioned above that has been our main stumbling point and they are a very good side so was a little nervous going into that match. Everyone on the team stepped it up for that game and secured a very solid win to get us into the semis. Also, enjoyed the final as it was amazing to see everyone perform out of their skins and win Bath's first ever Outdoor Nationals championship.

Ben: Mine would be the Strathclyde game. We knew going into the tournament they would be our biggest test and the fact they're all so nice meant the atmosphere in the game was great! We got our noses ahead early and despite it probably being our messiest game on offence our D line was phenomenal at applying pressure to the Strath offence and we ground out the victory

Who were some key players (or what were some amazing plays) you'd like to give a shout out to?

Matt: My standout players of the tournament would have to be: Ben Giles, Seb Allen, George Pickens, Fraser Roberts and Oli May (for the outrageous footblock in the final). These guys all put up and brought down some amazing throws and got many turns for the team, could not have had nearly as much success as we've had this year without them.

Ben: Compared to other teams we don't have those star names, we don't have a Canada U24 captain or multiple players who have just gone to worlds or are going to worlds this summer. we have a squad of 15 players who we trust to play any of the points and we felt that was the difference between us and any of squad there this weekend

What sort of club/country connections do you have in your team (beyond the junior players already mentioned)?

Matt: We have 4 Ka-Pow! players - myself, Ben Giles, Kiran Patel and Oli May, David "Mexican Dave" Canepa Talamas who plays for Reading/Mexico, and Seb Allen who plays Chevron and GB U24. The rest of the guys play no club/pick-up for teams over the summer.

Ben: Although Oli and Kiran have only just joined Ka-Pow!, so have yet to play A-Tour

I feel at this point I have to give a mention to Bath 2, who have had a phenomenal year. What is your approach to development as a club?

Ben: I see our roles as captains not just at a first team level but as the development of the club as a whole. Much of our 2s has been made up of 2nd and 3rd years and it wasn't until the last few matches that freshers were involved in squads. We didn't want to rush them in so that they felt out of their depth.

Matt: Yeah, Bath 2 have had a fantastic season qualifying for Div. 3 Nationals and coming 3rd in their league. We built a development squad at the start of the year for players that were on the fringes of the 1st team squad last year and all trained together so that they could play high level ultimate to improve their skills. As the year went on we added more and more people to it who we saw were improving steadily until we had a training squad of nearly 40 players! We also took it upon ourselves to provide individual feedback to the players throughout the season to give them targets to improve their overall game which will hopefully help them going into next season.

Ben: As long as we felt we didn't have to teach the basics to players we wanted to get them involved. Often freshers can get disengaged if they aren't being tested and made to improve so ensuring that wasn't the case was crucial for us

Do you have a coach? How much training do you do with your Women's team (or do you tend to focus on Men's)?

Matt: We have a committee member who is our dedicated coach to run the majority of sessions and to plan them (Liam Wade). As captains we have helped Liam run the sessions for the club and suggested drills to teach specific skills for beginners. The women's team this year was helped in a big way by David Canepa as he coached them once a week to help prepare them for Nationals. All of our open trainings are mixed and the only split we have guys/girls are for the development squad trainings which are only once a week. In that sense I think we focus primarily on development of beginners not necessarily on men's/women's or mixed specifically.

Ben: The men's first/second team squad is simply coached by Elmo and I.

What are your thoughts on the BUCS league?

Ben: I personally like the BUCS league. For us as a first team we often have to travel to teams that we will beat very comfortably and seems like a bit of a pointless journey as our region isn't the most competitive. For the second team I think its great, they get 10 games a year to improve and we can therefore add freshers to this throughout the year when we feel they are ready. It's definitely easier for a club our size, especially when it comes to the second team

Matt: I think the BUCS league is great for our second team as it gives them a lot of match experience against a wide range of teams which helps them develop. For the premier division, it would be nice if there were a couple more teams in the league just so the first team could have more practise. However, it does make it difficult for beginners to play with first and second team players to improve their skills as we are away for a lot of Wednesday training afternoons (which are our main session) so finding a good balance is critical.

Ben: It has impacted our main training sessions on a Wednesday afternoon with often none of the best 30 male players at training which reduces the quality and makes it difficult for the guys not in the first 2 teams. We also find the cost difficult at £50 BUCS fee. For the first team this is fine but to ask freshers to pay when they may not get much of a game is fairly pricey

How do you think Bath 1 will do next year?

Matt: From the squad of 15 at Nationals this year we lose 6 players to graduation and a few of the second team players as well. It will be hard to say exactly how well we will do but I know the aim for the club will be to do the double and retain the trophy for another year.

What advice would you have to anyone taking up a captaincy role at university in the coming year?

Ben: I'm actually going to be captain next year which helps in terms of continuity. Matt, anything I should know?

Matt: My advice to Ben would be keep providing each player with a set goal as it much easier to improve with a target in mind other than just 'get better'. As well as that, keep the positive mindset and the friendly atmosphere that has been apparent this year as I think that was one of the keys to our success this year.

Any final thoughts?

Matt: Just a quick shout out to the guys leaving us this year who have brought so much to the club over the time they've been here - Ed Kiddle, Jonathan Poffley, Fraser Roberts, David Canepa, Sebastian Bzk and Luke von Sicard!

What Went Down At: Mixed Tour 2 2018

Chair/Editor: hazard (Reading A)
Main Contributors: Axel (Glasgow), Dylan Spiers (SMOKE), Megan Brass (Glasgow), gyanhan (Birmingham), nads (Reading 1)
Additional Contributions*: Ben Bruin (Mighty Hucks), Black Eagles captains,  Dom Knight (SMOG 2), Deep Space captains, Amelia Kenneth/Lawrence Hill (Reading A), Andy Moss (Thundering Herd), Slender/Jessie Davidson/Daniel Lovesey (LLLeeds), Alex Walsh (LED), Giulia (Purple Cobras), Andy T (MIST)
*We had a lot of one-off contributions for this chat! Any quotes from people who didn't have access to the chat will be put in italics for clarity.

Headlines
Mighty Hucks go one better than Tour 1, claim the title
Black Eagles return to dominance by splitting their squads again
Glasgow rock up to tour, win one game, deservedly call the weekend a success.
SMOG show strength in numbers across all of tour
Glasgow 2 and SMOG 2 shake up the lower brackets
Reading continues its development push
Birmingham crack the top 8
Thundering Herd and Cambridge continue their successful tour seasons.

Links
MT2 North Schedule
MT2 South Schedule
tSG North preview
tSG South preview

Selected finishing positions
MT2 North
1. Mighty Hucks
2. Black Eagles 1
3. Black Eagles A
4. Glasgow
5. SMOKE
6. MIST
7. Birmingham
8. Reading 1
---
9. Reading A
10. Cambridge
11. Thundering Herd 1
12. SMOG 2
13. Glasgow 2
14. LLLeeds
15. Deep Space
16. Sneeekeys 1
---
17. Cosmic Manatees

MT2 South
1. Purple Cobras
2. St Albans
3. Curve
4. Shakedown
---
5. Brixton


hazard
Hello and welcome to your guide to What Went Down At: Mixed Tour 2. We'll be focusing on Mixed Tour North (as the one which featured the majority of teams), although we have a recap from the winners of Mixed Tour South at the end (as well as some Mixed Tour 3 predictions, for those that just want to scroll).

By sad coincidence, no one active in our chat played against Mighty Hucks. So we'll start off with a small interview I did with captain Ben Bruin, before moving on to the other teams.

hazard
So, what finally clicked for you guys between a tour final at MT1 and victory at MT2?

Ben Bruin
I think the main improvements from MT1 were having the desire and belief that we could win our first ever tour after reaching the final previously. Our defence has always been great and it's what we pride ourselves on, but for the majority of MT1 and throughout MT2 our offence has really started to come together.

hazard
Who were your key players this weekend?

Ben Bruin
We had Ben Burak debut for us at MT1 and his presence along with returning Rollo really helped control the offence and then with Joe Wynder making his come back it really gave us another another dimension to our play. I think what really needs highlighting from our performance at MT2 is the grit, determination and desire from our women who pretty much had to iron woman the weekend and still managed to put in a top performance at the end of Sunday. We have struggled a bit on numbers this season due to other teams 'borrowing' our women for WUCC, and it is likely to be a similar story at MT3, but that hasn't stopped us so far.

hazard
What are the goals and ambitions for Mighty Hucks the rest of this season?

Ben Bruin
Mighty Hucks has always just been a group of mates getting together to play some fris and will no doubt continue to be that. We will take the same approach for MT3 as we have for the other two, which is just giving every game everything we've got and if we burn out by the end, so be it, we'll go as far as we can.... hopefully that results in another semi/final. As for Regionals/Nationals, who knows. It will be something we discuss at a later date


Mighty Hucks pose with a deservedly earned trophy. Photo by Kat Cheng

Axel
I didn't get to play against the Hucks, which is a shame cos it's always a great game. Judging by the score in the final, either they were incredible, or maybe Glasgow managed to tire Eagles out horrifically ;)

hazard
I was a little sad not to get to play them either. I got two match-ups against them at MT1 though, so it seems fair they got a break from methis time. Bruin also highlighted their semi-final and final against Black Eagles as his favourites of the weekend, saying "Both games were hard thought, thoroughly enjoyable and filled with plenty of big plays and great D whilst maintaining great spirit. Hopefully plenty more games like that will follow at MT3.".

So, let's move onto Black Eagles! They shrugged off their critics (and 'bad' 5th place finish) from Mixed Tour 1 by finishing second and third with split squads. Opening it up to anyone who saw them and wants to comment - how did they look? Was it a return to the same dominant force we saw last year?

Dylan Spiers
The only time I saw them really was playing against Black Eagles A for SMOKE, we had a fairly sloppy game against them but they were on top form; playing the loud, confident, assured ultimate that we have come to expect from them. They finished as comfortable winners over an otherwise very tight pool (pool A).

hazard
Also speaking from experience of playing against Eagles A - they looked strong, but it was clear they had actually picked up a few non-WUCC women, and so were not quite as strong as I've seen them previously. Still very strong though, it should be said. And you should never read a huge amount into the first game of a tournament, like ours was.

Eagles 1 looked fairly good as well. I'm saw them play against Herd. The game was evenly matched for the first few points, but Herd didn't seem to be able to cope with the Bleagles zone at all.

Megan Brass
We (Glasgow) played against both Eagles teams, and they looked strong despite the non-WUCC pick ups. Their zone was good - our O-line struggled against it in our first game as well. Our semi and 3v4 were more evenly matched against them but I think both the Eagles teams managed to keep cooler heads when it started nearing the end of the games.

hazard
That semi clearly made an impact on the Bleagles captains too, who gave me this quote about their weekend:
Both teams had similar weekends, unbeaten Saturdays followed by tougher Sundays. We worked well on the processes this weekend and improved on the things we've worked on at training. Our victory over GUX in the semi final was huge! 9-12 down to win 13-12 shows the grit we want to have in games

They also prefaced their quote with "We did tell you we'd be better this tour ;)", which I enjoyed.


Dylan Spiers
It was clear at Tour 1 that Bleagles were far from full strength, goes to show the difference having a northern tour makes...

Megan Brass
Our semi-final against Black Eagles was also definitely our favourite game of the weekend, despite losing on universe in the end. Really intense and hard-fought.

hazard
Megan Brass, what made that final so hard/intense? A desire to be top Scottish team? Or just two great teams enjoying matching up with each other?

Megan Brass
It's not necessarily a desire to be the top Scottish team, obviously they are national champions so we still have a long way to go to be able to match that. But there is always some local rivalry when we play them, we know the team well and we know they will push us to play our best if we want to be able to compete with them. In the semi we wanted to prove that we deserved to be in that bracket alongside the top teams in the country. Its always great for our squad to push ourselves against teams like Bleagles, and it always end ends up super intense.

Axel
Both Eagles teams were pretty strong. I feel that we have a good rivalry and it was good to renew it. But these games, particularly the semi final, were very enjoyable. They are very experienced at that stage of the tournament and I think we let the situation get to us. However we emphasised in a T/O before Universe Point that we were here to learn and whatever happened in that point couldn't detract from the improvements we had already made from Game 1. I also think playing with a shorter squad during a tour weekend is a bit easier than with a larger squad but it also is a testament to Eagles' ridiculous depth to finish where they did.

hazard
So, do you reckon that Glasgow will be able to beat Bleagles at MT3?

Axel
MT3 will be interesting. As a team Glasgow need to see how we can progress away from the tournament scene. Skill-wise I think we are close, but the experience on Eagles is amazing. Their self-belief to almost know they will win helps them. For us, I think there is that idea of winning the first one is hard, but when you've done it once it'll get easier. A substantial part of our team will not have beaten an Eagles outfit. But it could be coming, who knows when.

hazard
How come Glasgow didn't enter MT1? You guys manage three teams here, two of which were competing right at the top.

Axel
Going to Cardiff is a super long journey and costs quite a bit. So I think it was sacrificed as a tour because we are going to Windmill which has been deemed by higher powers to be a better warm up for us, will probably end up costing the same and definitely involve less travel time.

Megan Brass
Glasgow 2 had a lot of familiar faces from previous tours, as well as some younger talent. We are using the run up to WUCC to develop a lot of the newer players in the club (I definitely fall into this bracket myself), so we have a large training squad who will benefit from our preparations. I think their 13th place finish shows how successful this could be for the club in the long run, there's definitely a lot of players showing promise and its exciting to think how far they could go as the season progresses.

Axel
GlasLegions were a bunch from Glasgow Ultimate not associated (currently) with the WUCC team and it's developmental aims, bar a few more experienced (but young) players gaining experience in leading a team. However they were a great group of those young players who went along to have fun and push themselves at the same time. For a lot of them it was their first tour and they were likely scoping out the club scene a bit, maybe seeing if the travel etc is worth it ;)

Also, has anyone mentioned the Scottish return to dominance?
1st - Team of friends (4-1)
2nd - Scotland (4-1)
3rd - Scotland (4-1)
4th - Scotland (1-4)
Those records speak for themselves you know.

hazard
Did you consider a split squads approach to tour between Glasgow 1 and 2? Or was it always going to be first and second team?

Axel
To be honest, I'm not entirely sure. See I was away and out of any decisions. However I think that the Captains are keen to get the WUCC squad gelling as we have some new additions to the team and with the late bid, we started our prep a bit later. But it seems to be popular on the mixed scene at the moment eh. So at least we aren't normies.

Dylan Spiers
We played Glasgow first game of the weekend and it was a really tight game with lots of breaks for both teams. We thought their women in particular looked stronger than in previous seasons, even without Katie Flight.

hazard
Onto SMOG now! Their top teams were split into two - SMOKE and MIST. And they certainly didn't have a weak performance: with SMOKE missing out on top 4 through a three way tie, and MIST making top 8 the hard way after a low initial seeding. Dylan, what happened this weekend with you guys?

Dylan Spiers
MIST had a relatively easy Saturday, rounded off with a surprisingly tough game against Glasgow 2. Partly due to Glasgow being good and partly because we were slow off the mark and maybe didn't give them the respect they deserved. We did well to clutch it out when we needed to and could have easily lost it.

SMOKE had a tougher Saturday with the full worlds pool that was always going to be close. In our games against Glasgow and Reading game the losing team scored the final point of the game as a result of the hard cap, this was a bit of a shame as we all want to see those close games being played out all the way.

hazard
Some would call that one the group of death. Reading A, Black Eagles 1, Glasgow and SMOKE all in one pool (Black Eagles A, Mighty Hucks, Cambridge and Thundering Herd were the other top pool).

Dylan Spiers
Both of those teams had convincing Sundays which was a good confidence boost on home turf and our only unavenged loss was to Black Eagles in pool play (MIST beat Reading A). We are looking forward to playing as a full squad possibly at tour 3...

The big highlight of the weekend for SMOG overall was SMOG 2's huge win over Deep Space. With both worlds teams free to watch and sideline the atmosphere was excellent and the game did not disappoint. SMOG 2's energy and hot match defence got them out to an early lead and even though Deep Space had a resurgence, SMOG 2 showed great character to keep it clean on offence and see out the game. This was incredible to see from a pretty youthful team with the majority of the team still at university. On Sunday it was a big shame that SMOKE had to play SMOG 2 and end their unbeaten season. Even though SMOG 2 lost their games on Sunday they were all still very close with some very well established clubs, losing 12-10 to Cambridge and Thundering Herd.


While SMOG caused a lot of upsets this weekend, it seems like this was the biggest upset of all.
Photo from the SMOG Facebook page

SMOG 2 captain Dom Knight summarised their impressive weekend:
We came into the weekends with high hopes of potentially being able to upset the top seed in our pool and make short work of the rest, which was capable only due to the sheer effort put in every point by every player. It helped a lot that we had a massive sideline cheering for us every step of the way as well!

We knew we had a lot to prove after beating a great team like Deep Space without people thinking it could of been a one-off and we came into Sunday trying to replicate our intensity from the previous day, we lost 2 very close games against Cambridge & Herd that we were slow to turn up to and were always chasing to a degree, but we managed to keep the score lines close by the end. Unfortunately we were just came out a little flat to start in each game.


hazard
SMOG 2 had three whole unbeaten days at tour. A really impressive feat no matter where you start.

Axel
I'd have loved to see a Glasgow 2 - SMOG 2 game at the end of the weekend. Glasgow 2 took an early loss to Brighton as they were still getting to know how to play with each other, which I think excluded them from the 5-12 bracket. At the end of the weekend I'm sure that game would have gone very differently.

Dylan Spiers
Agreed, both were very youthful teams with lots of energy and a willingness to strike deep. It would have been a great match up. I watched Glasgow 2 take on Deep Space and again it was their hot match defence and aggressive offence that seemed to take the more experienced team off guard.

hazard
This seems like an ideal time to post my quote from the Deep Space captains:
While we've had some positive periods over the first two mixed tours, we've struggled so far to bring it all together for full games. We're going to continue building with more training and competition as we go through the season. We're confident we'll be able to continue to grow and show more consistency later on in the season.

Let's move onto Birmingham now, particularly since it was a SMOG team that gave them their only loss of the weekend. 

gyanhan
Brum had a decent Saturday, started with a strong win against Herd 2, then faced Guildford in a very, very close game then ended with a draw, and then also another strong win against Flyght Club which meant we topped our pool. We were worried about point difference, but Herd 2 managed to beat Guildford anyway so we were safely at the top. We had the 5v12 game (imo possibly the hardest cross up) on Sunday and we were running low on ladies but also well aware that Herd was going to use that to their advantage (they had 8, we had 5). But we came into the game looking to win it, and we capitalised quickly on their mistakes and put on some solid defence and won 12-4 (similar scoreline to when we beat Herd 2 13-3).

From what I know this is our first time cracking the top 8 so we were all really happy, and we also knew going in to Sunday the only way was up from 12th seed (due to scheduling). We had another close fought game with MIST, where we nearly let the game get away from us but managed to scrape back some breaks and give ourselves a chance to win. Despite it being our only loss for the weekend, we were happy with the performance in that game. We capped off the weekend with a win against Reading 1 that was reasonably comfortable, though from what I heard 2 of their players left before the game because it looked like it was going to rain and they had to keep their young child sheltered. So that might have ended up differently!

Overall I think Brum had a great weekend, when we were up in games we didn't let up the pressure and continued to churn out the points, and when we were down (e.g. in the Guildford game we were actually down 4-0 and 7-4 before we went up 8-7 and final score 8-8, as well as in the MIST game, we were down by 3 at some point before tying it up at 8s) we didn't just hang our heads and give up but kept trying to get back into it. It's been two tours with them for me so far and in general we're a pretty positive and gritty team, and I'm excited to see if this places us in the top 8 pools for MT3.

hazard
My first thought is it's nice to see Guildford (the original GU) still scrapping it out with the top teams.

gyanhan
My impression of Guildford is that they are a team with huge potential and solid players, but may play a bit to the level of the other team as seen by their close games with Brum and Deep Space, but lost to Herd 2. We've played them at both tours so far and both have been cracking games

Axel
Two years ago we (Glasgow) actually played Guildford for the acronym GU and for the colour green. We won, so Harry, we are the original GU.

hazard
Any more talk on the game vs Reading 1? Beating a Worlds team doesn't feel like something we should brush over.

gyanhan
For the Reading game, they are a solid team but I think relied a bit much on the more experienced players, so we capitalised on the other match ups we thought we would win and managed to come up with Ds and smooth offensive flow. One of their players that stood out for me was Maks Tobiasiewicz who had an incredible game defensively, had some sick Ds. I think our deep shots connected more than theirs did, which led to some quick scores for us

nads
Birmingham were very slick, they got some great run through Ds and had a very nice long game against us (Reading 1) which worked very well in their favour. We had an incredible weekend, breaking into the top 8. The aim of the tour season is development and we want the opportunities to showcase the talent that the whole club has not just the worlds squad. I think by the time we got to our last game we had had a few injuries and our heads had dropped, this allowed Birmingham to get a few points on the board before we really showed up to the game. Credit to them for running hard right to the end.

hazard
So, that's how Reading 1's weekend ended. How did the rest of your matches go?

nads
I don't think that our weekend could have gone much better! We had a range of experience on our squad from GB players to first tournaments. It took a game to gel which led to a very close game against cosmic manatees. From that point on we went from strength to strength working on our fundamentals and confidence as team. The highlight being beating Cambridge in the 7 v 10 to move into the top 8. We knew that the next two games would be our toughest of the weekend, but this didn't stop us from putting points on the board against the SMOG or Birmingham team.

hazard
Do you reckon you could have beaten Birmingham or SMOG on another day?

nads
That's a tough question, they had incredible depth across their squads. Maybe without a few of the injuries and tired legs we could have pushed the score line a little close. I was very happy with the result even without the win. Depth and height in SMOGs case. We'll have to see what happens at MT3

hazard
Alright, an even tougher question. Reckon you could have beaten Reading A? (We never got to have both Reading teams to play each other at tour)

nads
We did technically beat you ;). I think we were very relieved not having to play the other Reading squad. I think they probably would have had the edge

hazard
So, onto that Reading A side. Initially top seed, we came out bottom of a three-way tie after having a shocking time with our offence against Glasgow. We lost a close game against a good MIST side in what had to be the most thrilling of the crossovers, and then got a bit bitter about that and saw off Herd and Cambridge by decent margins to take 9th. Here's what the Reading A captains had to say.

Ameila Kenneth: Overall a great weekend, we knew it was going to be a tough fun pool on Saturday and were a little disappointed to come out at the bottom of a three way tie but thoroughly enjoyed the games and the difference in play from all opponents. I think every individual progressed this weekend and by tour three the connections will be there to do even better as a team. We adapted well to  the different oppositions offensive and defensive looks and generally kept a good mental game and heads up attitude. Kept fighting until the very end and our commitment to each other shone through in the last two games of the weekend. Definitely a weekend of growth.

Lawrence Hill: Agree with what Amelia said completely. Very proud of how the team grew over the course of the weekend!


Reading had a good weekend, but found themselves one step behind SMOG.
Photo by Tristan Millington for the ShowGame

hazard
From a personal view, I was very happy with all our players. The development players (from first tour to GB) fit in seamlessly. Tour newbie Katherine Goodwin was destroying people deep in a zone, and Ruth Cawdron was my personal MVP of the weekend. She got a phenominal high grab followed by a point-saving layout D in our first Bleagles game.

hazard
So, lets finish with quick discussions on other teams, before ending with predictions. Thundering Herd?

Andy Moss
Herd moved a few players between teams for this weekend to get a better idea of who might eventually make the Regionals squad. Although losing fairly convincingly to Black Eagles and Mighty Hucks in the pool stages, we beat Cambridge to climb to 5th seed at the end of Saturday. However, Sunday morning saw a loss to a strong Birmingham team which put us down in 12th. Though it started close and we managed to get some turnovers on D, we failed to convert those into scores. Mistakes crept in on our offence and they ended up running away with it. After that we faced a Reading team feeling hard done by their loss from a three-way tie, and ended playing (and beating) SMOG 2 in the 11v12. We arguably deserved 10th since Cambridge got to play SMOG 2 in their semi to then face Reading in the 9v10, but that's the way the schedule goes! Tour 3 will seem some more movement between the teams.

hazard
It's nice to see them fighting at the top, but I have to say they looked weaker than at Tour 1. Still a strong side, but either they play better in windy Cardiff conditions (Durham was remarkably calm), or they were missing a couple players to help them make that final killer pass.

hazard
LLLeeds have been slowly climbing up the ranks (finishing 18th at MT1 and 14th at MT2), so ShowGame writer Sam "Slender" Higginbotham got these quotes from the captains.

Jessie Davidson: I'm really proud of the growth we've seen from tour one, our connections have really developed and our fresh talent has grown in confidence. Our team has got a very strong positive attitude, with everyone on the team working hard to maintain that by calling out people if they start to get down on themselves or each other, which is exactly what I want from a mixed team.

Dan "Dingle" Lovesey: Very pleasing weekend overall to climb seed. Good to see how quickly everyone's gelled as a mixed team putting together some very good performances against strong teams like Brighton Breezy and Sneeekeys whilst also allowing some of the less experienced players to learn and improve as players.

Slender
Personally it was a really good weekend, team is happy we've held seed at MT1 and beat it at MT2, especially as it's the first team we've sent to mixed in quite some time. There's a lot of variation in experience through the squad but we managed to use everyone really well which I led to us beating a few teams which on paper we should probably lose to.

hazard
Moving a bit further down, Becky Greenwood got these quotes from LED captain Alex Walsh:
We went into the weekend with the aim of climbing seed and our pool was relatively easy. We topped our pool beating SMOG 3 and Cambridge 2 quite comfortably before losing to YCU in the last game of Saturday. It was our first real test, and I think it shocked us a bit but we thought until the end. Sunday morning we played PAF who we knew didn’t have a great Saturday and we went on to win the game 15-4 to climb from 28th seed to 21st. Our semi saw us play The Brown 1 who were a gelled team and backed each other up with all discs. They took the lead and maintained it throughout the game despite us going on a 4 point D roll in soft cap. Last game on Sunday was a rematch against YCU and a small number took its toll on us as we went behind again and didn’t have the legs to get back into it. Again we put up a fight towards the end but we left ourselves too much to do. I'd say The Brown 1 was the most enjoyable game

hazard
Finally, ShowGame alum. Giulia Newbery sent this report over from Mixed Tour South, and her victorious Purple Cobras team.

giulia
We went into the weekend with every expectation of having fun. We suffered very late drop outs and the weather caused havoc to the schedule which meant that until late Friday afternoon we weren't sure if we'd even have three ladies on the line at 9.30!

Despite that, we pulled together on the Saturday morning, coming through with a win and after that, the tone was set for the rest of the weekend, winning our next couple of games comfortably.

We had a slightly shaky start on Sunday against Curve, being 4-1 down in the very early stages however once we scored, we managed to play the Ultimate we wanted and kept putting those scores in.  The final against St. Albans saw us work hard till the very end, really trying to shut down their handler play through our zone.  It was a very enjoyable end to the day with great Spirit either side.

All our games were won by clinically driven offence and intense defence. Even with the wind and rain, every play we made was patiently assessed.  Strong handlers and star cutters meant that throws and grabs were super consistent and I feel gave us an edge over other teams. We have tonnes of dynamism throughout our squad and every tournament we go to, each individual brings their best to the table. I strongly believe that the success of our team is down to a shared mentality - play awesome, have fun.


Predictions


hazard
So, we're going to see the WUCC teams going with full squads at MT3. I'm going to open by saying I think Reading will come out on top. We already won one tour with at least seven non-WUCC players, decided that wasn't enough and upped it to ten for tour 2. When we come together as our full squad, I think we'll be lethal. Bleagles showed that one "bad" tour doesn't mean anything - I'd back them next.

Weirdly, though  we beat SMOKE and lost to Glasgow, I'd say SMOG were the better team (controversial, but our connections were *so* bad in Glasgow I don't personally read much from that result. Not that Glasgow weren't good, just that we really weren't good). So SMOG 3rd, Glasgow 4th.

Mighty Hucks obviously next, I'm not brave enough to have them above full WUCC squads again, possibly to my detriment. Then Herd, Birmingham, SMOG 2. And Cambridge in 9th. Oh, and a jacked up Reading 2 with all our development players in 10.

1. Reading
2. Bleagles
3. SMOG
4. Glasgow
5. Mighty Hucks
6. Thundering Herd 1
7. Birmingham
8. SMOG 2
9. Cambridge
10. Reading 2

Saying that, I forgot Flat Perth/JR when writing that list since they weren't at MT2. So they'll probably be in the mix too.

gyanhan
1. Bleagles
2. SMOG
3. Hucks
4. Reading
5. Glasgow
6. Brum
7. Herd
8. Flat Perth
9. SMOG2
10. Cambridge
... Might be completely baseless predictions :p

Andy T
Prediction wise I would go with the following:
1. Bleagles (They have won it before and have the pedigree)
2. SMOG  (we are actually going to have squads of more than 13 players and the connections should be established a bit more)
3. Reading (I think whilst adding second team players to both squads has long run benefits it always seems to impact the team and Tour even when you go all out (like last year at MT3 where you lost groups games and ended up in either Third or Fourth I believe)
4. Mighty Hucks (They have been top notch so far this season but will struggle a bit more now that the three teams above have gone all in)
5. Glasgow (Only played one Tour so far and Cheltenham is a long way to go - they will have a tough group like everyone else and having only played one Tour will take longer to adapt in my view)
6. Brum (They have the same players year in year out and so far this season have really looked the business)
7. SMOG 2 (Doubt this lot at your peril as many teams have already seen - many of  them had never played together even at Tour 2 so I'm backing them hard!)
8: JR (A quality side but will underestimate SMOG 2 at the last moment :p)
9. Cambridge (Depends on personnel whether they can get higher)
10. Deep Space (Yes they have had two tough tours and tough losses but I find it hard ot believe that they won't now be super driven to bounce back - if the schedule allows)
Flat Perth are struggling a bit for numbers from what I know so I have no ability to predict for them
I'm probably entirely wrong but this is my gut feeling on it

nads
1. Reading
2. Bleagles
3/4. SMOG/Hucks (depending on who Bruin wrangles in)
5. Flat Perth
6. Glasgow
7. Birmingham
8. Cambridge
9. Herd
10. Reading 2

Axel
1) Bleagles
2) SMOG
3) Glasgow
4) Hucks
5-10) the south
Though depending on who turns up, Hucks and Glasgow could be switched.

Megan Brass
1. Bleagles
2. SMOG
3. Hucks
4. Glasgow
5. Reading

There you have it readers! If you have any feedback, predictions of your own, general quotes or thoughts, you're always welcome to comment (or send them along to us before we do our chats).

What Went Down At: Mixed Tour 1 2018

Main Chair/Editor: hazard (Reading A)
Additional Editing/Contributor: ali (Cambridge 1)
Contributors: geegee (Reading 1), callum.spiers (SMOKE), Dom Norton (Deep Space), Alice Hanton (JR), gyanhan (Birmingham), hogi (Thundering Herd)
Additional Contributions*: Black Eagles Captains, Tiger (Guildford President), George Hudson (JR), Sean Meaney (Brixton)
*These people could not see the chat, but were kind enough to give us quotes

tSG preview


Headlines
Mighty Hucks finally don’t finish 5th - they destroy their quarter and semi, but fall short to Reading A in the final
Black Eagles fall from their perch atop Tour after being beaten in a semi-final
Cambridge, Birmingham and Thundering Herd both had their best Tours in a long time
Deep Space, JR, and Reading 1 probably the most notable absences from the top 8
SMOG and Reading both split into two development squads - and it seems to pay off

Top 17 Final Placement
1. Reading A
2. Mighty Hucks
3. SMOKE
4. Flat Perth
5. Black Eagles
6. Cambridge 1
7. Thundering Herd 1
8. MIST
9. TBC
10. Reading Ultimate 1
11. JR
12. Deep Space
13. Birmingham
14. Guildford
15. EX
16. Manchester Mixed
17. SMOG 2 


hazard
Welcome to the first post-Tour chat of the season! And we start with a great one. Only a week after snow called off UXON early, we were blessed with some great weather and some fantastic Ultimate down in Cardiff. Starting at the top, we found two teams who started in the same pool - Mighty Hucks and Reading A.


I want to begin with Mighty Hucks. After a decent Tour season last year which saw them consistently finish 5th, it was great to see them crack the top four in emphatic fashion, claiming second place with dominant quarter-final  and semi-final wins (15-4 vs MIST and 11-5 vs SMOKE respectively). Did we see any differences between this year and last year?


geegee
There has definitely been a shift. Hucks pride themselves on aggressive defence to help them win games but have often fallen short when it comes to offence. Captain Ben Bruin has identified this and really pushed for better cohesion within the squad despite varying the players year to year, and definitely living up to the Mighty Hucks name with incredible long shots! Speaking to some of the squad, they said they gelled well against zones to move the disc towards the endzone, and brought their own zones into play, breaking down anything they could. They are very proud and happy to have progressed this much for Tour this year.


callum.spiers
Mighty Hucks look strong this Tour season, especially with the addition of Ben Burak amongst others. If they bring that much talent to every Tour, it'll be hard to keep them out of the semifinals.


hazard
My personal view is that they seemed to be using the depth of their squad much better this year. Sure, Rollo Sax Dixon was still a dominant long threat - but we actually had to keep an eye on their whole squad this time, as everyone was a potential target. A bit of a change from previous years, where a stall count of nine meant you knew where the disc was going.
Also, picking up Sarah Harrison and David Sparks for a weekend wasn’t going to hurt them. Sarah in particular was strong at the back. Do you know if they’ll be changing the line-up a lot for the next couple Tours, or is it going to be a fairly consistent squad?


geegee
The squad should be fairly consistent as far as I’m aware. They also lose Ben Burak for Tour 3, but they will have some extra pick-ups along the way!


Dom Norton
I would definitely echo what Geegee said, Hucks brought the same great defence from last season but seemed to have much more cohesion on offence. While the deep shots were very effective, it was patient shortfield play that extended their possession.
We (Deep Space) knew they'd be looking deep and we were happy with how we were able to take those options away early in the point but found it difficult to also challenge the shorter throws. They played a great game against us - it was one of those games where we felt we were close in play but they just pulled away in terms of actually scoring points.


Ben Burak was a welcome addition to Hucks this weekend
Photo by Sam Mouat for the ShowGame
hazard
Sweet. Let’s move onto Reading A (we’ll talk about Reading overall later in chat). Claiming a Tour 1 title, and Reading’s second ever Tour victory - the first being at the notoriously windy Cardiff 2015 Tour. Reading split into two squads, and the ‘A’ team may have looked a bit different to Reading teams of the past. I was playing on this team, so I’m going to open up for any comments before I add my thoughts, to prevent myself from monologuing, except to add that the teams were supposed to be balanced between A and 1 (although I definitely claim any team with Ania Godbold should receive a minimum ranking of 5th).


Alice Hanton
I only saw a bit of their game against Flat Perth, but the team looked very strong. As for Reading, I was surprised to see both teams seeded fairly low to start with, but Reading A smashed it.


Dom Norton
Reading are obviously a great club and have been for a few years now. Last season, however, we sometimes felt we were beaten by individuals doing great things, rather than the whole team playing well top to bottom. The thing that most impressed me about Reading A was that they played a pretty complete game without any of their top players (I won't bore you all by naming names) doing anything outrageous. Particularly with development players in their ranks, I was impressed how well they used their whole squad.


hazard
Reading A had a bit of a fun Tournament overall. Mighty Hucks took us to sudden death first game, and the Deep Space pushed us hard in the pool. Enough so that we were shattered by our final game, when Guildford beat us (and, tiredness aside, deservedly so, they played some lovely Ultimate and deserved the win).


This followed tough games against Herd and Flat Perth, before victory against Hucks in the final,when I think their small squad size had finally hit them hard. But Reading A was a quick, athletic team. We had some strong handlers (Sam Gunbie is known to many), and some really good receivers (like Rachel Naden). Also, fair play to those development players who came and played their hearts out for the squad. Emily Peach played only her second ever Tour, and so has a 50% rate of winning Tour! I think everyone on the team handled, and everyone was a cutter at some point. We learnt loads, and I was so impressed at how strong we played, particularly with injuries to Ben Withers and Andy Mitchell (arguably two of our strongest male players) early on.


Rachel Naden is a good option to have on the end of your discs.
Photo by Sam Mouat for the ShowGame


Alice Hanton
It's great that Reading included development players on the squad. In the run up to WUCC I imagine it's tempting to isolate the Worlds squad, but good to see the focus on long term development, of which they'll reap the rewards in future years (and Worlds cycles!).


Also, Guildford pushed us (JR) pretty hard too, they were looking good


hazard
As an extra point for Guildford, their president Tiger gave me this quote:
Guildford Ultimate have made some changes this season, bringing in new coaches, some new strategy and some new additions to their squad (though the core is made up of players from recent years). The aim is to build a Mixed-focused club with the eventual aim of consistently competing right at the top of the Mixed division. Cardiff gave us a great chance to test this out against proper opposition and we learnt a lot from it. We have shown that we can go blow for blow with the big boys/girls, beating eventual winners Reading A by a couple of points in a great contest during pool play. However, the weekend’s losses are a sign that we still have a good way to go yet in terms of consistency.


hazard
Moving on to what I think is the next biggest story of Tour - Black Eagles didn’t win! After being so, so dominant last year, it says a lot that a 5th place finish can be considered a disappointment. I would love to hear anyone’s thoughts on this.


geegee
Looking at last year, Black Eagles had two teams with a lot of incredibly strong players across Scotland, and they won everything because they were just unstoppable. They’ve narrowed down their WUCC squad concentrating that power to one squad, but this weekend they were not at full strength and that was evident. They were certainly missing a few players over the weekend, which seemed to weaken them (Cardiff is a long way to travel for a Scottish team so that is just understandable really). I don’t think this is going to knock them at all.


callum.spiers
It looks like Black Eagles are focusing on their processes, trying things out and getting used to playing in a big squad. I don't think they'll be overly concerned with their finishing place.


hazard
I think the fact Bleagles won’t be fazed much seems fair. The Black Eagles captains were refreshingly blunt, saying: Not much to say just personal errors cost us. We were below par, will come back stronger next Tour.


Dom Norton
Can't really comment on Black Eagles' play this weekend but I think the result (and others this weekend) is a testament to how much strength and depth there is now in Mixed Tour. Even strong clubs like Black Eagles are going to struggle to win when they're missing top players.


hazard
I would definitely agree with that. Sometimes Tour 1 contains some really lopsided games, due to the schedule being much more open (top 20 sorted into 4 pools, as opposed to top 8 into 2). This time we had one lopsided game all Tour, and that was against a team (Black Sheep) who admitted they’d suffered a big roster loss.


Dom Norton
The short games contribute to that as well, once you go down by a few breaks there's no time to recover. It forces you to play more aggressively when down, which isn't normally the case outdoors.


hazard
I’m actually going to continue this theme before going back to talk about this Tour’s winners, and talk about three teams which were noticeably absent from the top 8 - Reading 1, Deep Space, and JR. All top 8 last year and established Mixed teams. So, what happened?


Alice Hanton
Without the prospect of Worlds qualification that drove us last season, JR are taking a bit of a rest year. We still had a strong squad, but didn't put ourselves under too much pressure. In the pool we had wins against EX and Cosmic Manatees which felt reasonably comfortable. Our first loss was to Thundering Herd, who we last saw at 2017 Regionals in a very hotly contested game that JR won. This weekend some of the team will be frustrated to have lost to them, but Herd played very well and I was impressed to see how high up they finished. I look forward to seeing how they do in the rest of the season. We lost to MIST in sudden death, but were very pleased with our performance in that game, and to have done so well against a Worlds team! On Sunday we only lost to TBC who were a very strong squad; I was surprised to see them in the 9-12 bracket. It's worth noting that in our final two games we were left with only four women (two others had to fly back to Norway!) which was a challenge, but we're all proud of how they (/we!) played despite that! On a different day our losses in the pool may have gone the other way, but overall the team's happy with our performance. Sadly we aren't entering MT2, but will be back for MT3!


Dom Norton
Probably my favourite game Deep Space have played yet was against JR (even though I wasn't actually playing). You could see they were super chilled and it translated into smooth play. When we've played JR previously we've been able to go on big D rolls when they got frustrated, but that wasn't the case this weekend.


hazard
I’ve also received this message from one George Hudson, which he asked me to add to the chat:
The stand out positive of MT1 for us (JR) was seeing players like Alice Hanton and Harry Miles take on bigger roles within the team with massive success. Alice Hanton receiving undisputed MVP.


JR may be taking a rest year, but they'll still be up there with the top dogs.
Photo by Ed Hanton for the ShowGame


Dom Norton
Similar to last season, Deep Space are treating Mixed Tour as our 'pre-season' and we are therefore focusing on processes rather than results. While winning is obviously fun, we made the decision before the weekend started to stick to the things we wanted to practice and not make lots of in-game adjustments, as we would at Regionals/Nationals. We have lots of competitive players in our club, who are used to winning a lot, so we were hugely proud of how much everyone bought into those team goals and stayed fantastically positive despite less than desirable game results. A lot of our mistakes, particularly those that gave away shortfield turnovers, resulted from players trying to play within the systems and make good decisions, and that's great to see at this stage in the season. We're confident we can build from this foundation and compete at the highest level as the season goes on.


Alice Hanton
We (JR) enjoyed playing Deep Space again (after matching up a few times last season) to end the Tournament. Shoutout to their excellent Spirit!!


geegee
Echoing Alice’s point, we loved playing against Deep Space. It was a super fun game for the whole team and we’re looking forward to seeing them again throughout the season!


hazard
It was actually my first time getting to play against Deep Space. I’ve seen them around a fair bit (enough to have figured out that all their chants are space-themed), but it was enjoyable to actually get a chance to share a pitch with them. I still claim their roster is one of the strongest in Tour.


Alice Hanton
Agreed, Deep Space's roster is super strong!! They'll only improve as the season goes on.


geegee
For Reading 1, we were intended as an even split team with Reading A, and had some incredible games. Took half against Black Eagles only losing 10-8, won our next three games in pool play. Flat Perth causing an upset against Black Eagles meant that we had to beat FP by 2 points to remain in the top 8. We only beat them by one so it was a hollow victory, and we dropped to the lower bracket. A lot of connections grew and developed, boding well for the next Reading teams going up to Durham in a few weeks.


hazard
@geegee, any comments on only managing 10th? I was surprised to see TBC victorious in the 9-16 bracket, they seemed a bit of a mishmash of players to me.


geegee
TBC was our last game of the weekend, and one that was immediately after an intense and draining matchup against Deep Space. We put so much energy and focus in to the previous match, that we had less than we wanted to give to a much more focussed TBC opposition.


hazard
Ok. Let’s move on to one of the big success stories of the weekend - SMOG. Two teams in top 8 (SMOKE and MIST), and SMOG 2 were undefeated, climbing from 24th to 17th. @callum.spiers, fairly happy with how the weekend went?


callum.spiers
SMOG teams were blighted by last minute dropouts - two players got hurt in a car crash the previous week, we had some injuries, some family reasons; you name it, it happened to our players. This meant we had some last minute shuffling of our teams, promoting some second team players onto the split Worlds teams, shuffling across split Worlds teams and finding some last minute Mixeds for the second team.


SMOG 2 went undefeated all weekend, winning plate (17th)! A lot of potential on that team, predominantly from northern universities, definitely one to watch.


Like Deep Space, the SWOG (SMOG Worlds) teams are focusing on our processes rather than results. We're trying out some new things this year, with some new people and it's going well!
Both of our teams grew a lot over the weekend but were both ultimately hurt by our aforementioned lack of legs. Mixed Tour 2 will see some new teams (possibly even a SMOG 3...) and those new combinations are an exciting prospect!


As I've already said, process not podium - we aren't too fussed about where we finish, it's about how we get there.


hazard
Did you originally plan to have any non-Worlds players on the top two squads? And will you keep having some non-SWOG players in the top teams for MT2 (car crashes aside)?


callum.spiers
Last year, we enforced rotation between the 1st and 2nd team, guaranteeing at least one player would move up and down each Tour. This year, we don't have that rule as we're preparing for Worlds. We did plan to have a couple of people on the first teams. At MT2, I wouldn't expect to see as many 2nds on the SWOG teams (we had 3 on MIST and 2 on SMOKE).


hazard
Interesting. As a comparison, Reading had at least seven non-Reading WUCC players (Andy Hillman is going with Clapham) in our squads. Will be interesting to see the results of the two approaches.


SMOG were on the Hunt for victory (within the overall scheme of development and progress) this weekend.
Photo by Alice Hanton for the ShowGame


This seems like a natural point to turn to the ShowGame preview article, which had a particular focus on how clubs have changed the Mixed scene in the UK over the past four years.  Do we think the days of the strong pick-up team dominating Tour are over? And how do we think this has changed the way a new player might see the Mixed scene?


Dom Norton
I think it depends hugely whether you're talking about 'Tour' or 'Mixed in the UK'.


hazard
Feel free to elaborate, with whichever way would suit your point. Four years ago, I played Mixed with DED - and we weren’t much more than a pick up team (we had to go round names at every Tour). Yet we finished third at Nationals, and high at most Tours - with RGS (another pick-up team) being the top team at Tour. As such, I didn’t see a distinction.


Alice Hanton
I do feel there were fewer calls from teams for pick-up women this year, although that is purely anecdotal. From a uni/new player perspective, Mixed Tour can be a good introduction to club frisbee, and it hasn't normally been difficult to find a low-level team for new players (especially women). So if there is a shift away from pick-ups, then new players may find it harder to break into the club scene. However if it means that clubs are focusing on developing their own players that will stick with them, rather than pick ups who move on after a season, it’s probably better for development in the long term. The club focus represents Mixed being taken as seriously as Open and Women's, which is ultimately a good thing.


Dom Norton
I think that pick-up teams will always have some success at Tour if the Mixed Tours continue to be so early in the season. With Nationals in August, most Mixed teams aren't going to do selections and start training until Feb/March which means you're inevitably going to have a lack of cohesion by Mixed Tour 1 in particular. By contrast, pickup teams tend to be made up of a few different sets of players who have played together a lot and will therefore already have those connections. Also, teams who are less trying to stick to specific systems will likely be more high-risk,high-reward Ultimate, which pays off early in the season when other teams haven’t yet built connections.


hazard
Dom/anyone, do you see any potential solution to that? (e.g. Interleaving Mixed with Open/Women's Tours, switching which Tours are first, etc.)


gyanhan
Interweaving them sounds like a nice idea, can't think of any reasons against that right now.


Dom Norton
I think it depends what you want to achieve. If we want to achieve better Mixed clubs who do better on the world stage, then I'd suggest aligning the Mixed Tours with Women's/Open. If we want pure participation then it’s probably better as it is right now, but not as participation continues to grow. In the long term I think it'd be better all round to have Mixed aligned with the other Tours because it shortens the season and would allow for the development of spring league etc. locally where top players play with local teams and support development (not dissimilar to the U.S.).


geegee
To be honest, pick-up teams doesn’t feel like something that needs a solution. It can cause upsets, like Flat Perth has done, but it provides players from Open and Womens teams an opportunity to play some high quality Mixed, and allows for Mixed teams to become exposed to different opposition. Playing SMOG, Deep Space, or Black Eagles over and over again can often become predictable and easy (saying that very loosely, not saying they’re easy teams), so pick-up teams gives another level of competition like we would see at WUCC.


ali
Flat Perth did pretty well and they're basically a pick-up team. Will be interested to see whether they enter Tours 2 & 3 though.


Alice Hanton
How much of Flat Perth were in the U24 Mixed team?


ali
Honestly I don't think any of Flat Perth were on the Mixed team?


geegee
There were only two U24 Mixed (Bea Perks and Vix Willby).


Alice Hanton
Oh my bad, thought it was derived from that team.


ali
None of the guys were.


geegee
It was intended as an U24 Mixed “reunion” team - just a bit of fun; that fell through when we all had other teams to commit to.


hazard
Ok, let’s round off by focusing on two long-term club teams that returned to strength this weekend - Cambridge and Thundering Herd. Four years ago, Cambridge sent four teams to Tour, but struggled to recover after their Worlds cycle. Herd have been consistently sending two teams to every Tour, but took until Regionals to click last year (missing out on Nationals by the narrowest of margins). @ali, care to take us through Cambridge’s weekend?


ali
CUlt is obviously a long way from its glory days of beating Bear Cav and making quarters at WUCC in 2014, but we certainly showed that people shouldn't underestimate us. We did have a bit of a nightmare on Saturday with a three-way tie, a misreported score, and a 1 point difference squeaking us into the top 8. We had a great game against TBC and then a crushing 2 point loss to SMOKE that we felt could have gone either way. We hadn't really recovered by the time we came to play Brum and I think our lack of energy gave them the edge over us.


Sunday was similar, we had an incredibly hard fought game against Flat Perth that we just couldn't quite clinch a win in. Close game against Herd and then got somewhat 'boshed' (as Tom White would put it) by Black Eagles' deep game. Great result for our first Tour considering we hadn't trained together much :)


hazard
Do you think there’s anything particularly behind Cambridge’s big rise this year? And do you think you can make top 8 again (or even top 4) at MT2?


ali
I don't particularly know how the squad looked last year, but having the two power couples (out of five on the squad) of Tom White/Tessa Bertozzi on the upwind and Samantha Fisk/Christian Turvill on the downwind certainly gives firepower to a team. Benefit of another year of experience for the uni players as well. Maybe it's the couples chemistry, who knows ;)


Cambridge rose back up the rankings again this year.
Photo by Alice Hanton for the ShowGame

hazard
Ok, let's move onto Herd. I will say it was definitely a tough game for us, I think a couple missed Herd connections on hucks may have swung the game in our favour, the margins were so narrow.


hogi
The 2018 Thundering Herd squad is a very different one to last year. Of the 50ish players on our squad this year, 22 or so are new or returning players after a few years away from the game. We’ve fairly revamped all of our tactics and our playing style is significantly different to last year, which means that everyone started from the same place in January; this has so far been of great benefit to us because it meant our new players weren’t at a disadvantage when trying to gel with the old cows. Prior to Tour, we had weekly trainings, one training weekend away, and had only played 2 games in our Tour teams against Deep Space and Guildford, in what we’ve affectionately called the Clapham Cup (we even had a trophy - £4 from Tiger, bargain). With a relatively small squad for that day of games, we gelled a little but really our main gelling happened in our first day at Tour.


Both teams started very slow as we got used to playing together and had to claw back from early deficits to make our opening games competitive. TH1 ended the weekend in 7th place, with 2 point losses to MIST, Cambridge and Reading A (eventual winners), but the highlights were our 7 point revenge win vs MIST in the 7-8 game, and beating JR on Day 1 who previously have been the thorn in our paw (or hoof as it were).


TH2 went 6-0 down in their first game before taking half 8-7. They would eventually lose that game, meaning they were arguably stuck in a bracket they were better than. Their next very competitive game came at the end of the weekend vs Bristol, which they lost, finishing 26th overall. Bristol had suffered from the bad end of a 3-way tie and arguably could have punched above that bracket too.


Both Herd teams definitely learnt a lot from MT1 and that was our main goal for the weekend so it was a successful first (and a half) outing of 2018. I thought I’d mention the Spirit that each of our (TH1’s) opponents played with this weekend. You can see from our three 2 point losses (and our comeback, universe point win vs Exeter) that we had some really close games. It’s awesome to see how competitive the games are this early in the season, and there were very few contentious moments all weekend. The level of respect and communication was brilliant; I’d go out on a limb to say that I’ve rarely seen so many retracted or uncontested calls in a weekend after the initial discussion would lend itself to a contest.


callum.spiers
Thundering Herd look they want to trouble the top 8 again. They had some teething issues, but the leadership looks focused and determined to get back to winning ways.


gyanhan
From what I know of Herd they have a large team, 10 women made the first team, not sure if all 10 went for Tour 1 but having plenty of fresh legs certainly would've helped.


Alice Hanton
I agree with Callum that Herd appear to be very focused this season.


hazard
Alright. Final mention is to Birmingham. They come out the rough way of a three-way tie between them, Cambridge and TBC, and lost a close quarter, but showed enough grit to finish Sunday. I want to hear about how they did.


gyanhan
Birmingham had a decent weekend and came out worst in a three-way tie in the pool, beating Cambridge 1 in an exciting and very close game, but losing to TBC who had a style of play we found tricky to stop; they had the more clinical game. We gave SMOKE a good first game of the weekend (13-8 doesn’t reflect how close the game really felt), we were trading till sixes before they took half and rattled off a couple more breaks. We had a tough cross on Sunday against Reading 1, who had also come off worst in their three-way tie. We lost 13-10 but it was a cracking game, each team traded sets of upwind/downwind breaks, and we were in the lead several times and could possibly even have won the game. Despite the loss we were happy with how well we had played against a team going to Worlds. We then proceeded to win the next two games against EX and Guildford to finish the tournament 13th. All in all a decent finish for a team that hadn’t really trained much or played together before at all, in fact three of us were new to the team, but we managed to gel together quickly over the weekend and played some good quality frisbee. I thoroughly enjoyed playing with them :)


hazard
Ok. Ending with predictions for Tour 2. Who will make up the top four? Any teams further down we see rising up the ranks even more?


gyanhan
I would back Mighty Hucks to do similarly well, especially if there's not much change in roster. They had five women over the weekend, that's insane! Props to their women for working hard over both days!


gyanhan
Glasgow will be the ones to watch, they didn't go to Cardiff but will be possible top 8 challengers in Durham, from what I remember of last Mixed Tour season...


Dom Norton
No real comment on predictions for MT2. You can guarantee two things: it's going to be competitive and it's going to be North.


geegee
Guildford probably won’t have so many players going up to Durham, so I’m unsure how they will do. But I was super impressed with their performance at Tour 1, they’ve grown so much as a squad under new coaching, but have held onto the same core group of friends playing together.
Glasgow will definitely bring their all, especially after missing out on Tour 1.


Alice Hanton
From what I've heard, Hucks may have some different women in Durham (but retaining one or two from MT1).


hazard
From this weekend, SMOKE looked to be the stronger SMOG team, so I’d back them to be in the top 4. You’d have to back a Reading and Bleagles side to join them, as well as Glasgow (who don’t look to be splitting, unlike the other WUCC teams).


Rounding out the top 4, the other Bleagles and Reading team (boring, I know). Then Thundering Herd, and Cambridge. JR and TBC both dropped out, which evens it up a bit. Deep Space will likely end up fighting against the more restrictive MT2 pool structure, so I think the tough schedule would see them more likely to miss out (deja vu, Deep Space?). I definitely think whichever cross they end up in will be the one to watch though.


Alice Hanton
Yeah I'd back at least one Reading and Black Eagles team each to be in the top 4.


hogi
Glasgow to make some waves for sure. Thundering Herd will be down a few people from MT1 but that arguably makes us more dangerous if people underestimate our depth. Reading, Bleagles and SMOG to write the headlines though I'd say. Cambridge are without Big Tom White so will slip.


hazard
I want to end by highlighting a few of the success stories lower down Tour. GreyBH is a team of Mixed Masters players (age 30+ women and 33+ men) who will be representing the UK this Summer, so it was good to see them rise a monumental 15 seeds this weekend (35th->20th).


There's recently been a little bit of chat about a potential "six nations" style Tournament in the UK Ultimate Sofa Sideline group, with some of the focus on development for Wales and Northern Ireland. With that in mind, it was nice to see two Welsh teams representing home turf this weekend, especially the climb made by South Wales Storm 1 (42nd->34th).

Purple Cobras followed their fairly strong showing at Club Mixed Outdoor Regionals last year and reaffirmed their commitment to good-quality Mixed, rising from 29th->19th. A top favourite for winning Mixed Tour 2 South.


Finally, I want to turn my attention to (I believe) the final club that, alongside Reading and SMOG, entered every Tour in every division last year. Brixton have been continually developing behind the scenes, and keep striving to improve. Captain Sean Meaney sent me this: Brixton Ultimate had a very strong MT1, winning 5/7 games, climbing six seeds. Coming off the back of a good indoor season, Brixton have now got a really strong and committed core of both men and women, which should bode well for the rest of 2018, Mixed, Open and Women's Tours! #lovebrixton


Interview with Matt Elmore and Ben Giles (Captain/Vice-Captain of UMON Winners Bath 1)

Interviewer/Editor: Harry Mason Bath 1 Men's team enthusiastically celebrate their victory. Photo by Tommy Pengelly Let'...