What Went Down At: Women's Tour 3

Main Editor/Discussion Chair: ali (GB U24)
Main Contributors:
doug (SYC), deano (Nice Bristols), nads (Hydra), catpope (Chaos, GB U24) k-j (SMOG, GB U24), hazard (Fanseat Commentator),
dp (ShowGame cofounder),
Additional Quotes/Contributions*: Alice Dinsdale-Young (SYC co-captain), Rupal Ghelani (GB U24), Hannah Brew (Brighton)
*
These people did not have access to the chat, but very kindly provided us with quotes. Their words will be given in italics.


Welcome to the post-Women's Tour 3 chat! 

Here are the headlines we'll be discussing:
Nice Bristols come out of nowhere and absolutely dominate
SYC have some closer games than they might like, finish second
Brighton battle out of a pool with two ties and manage to come third despite only having eight players on Saturday and nine on Sunday
GB still struggling somewhat with consistency and chemistry

Hydra beat Brighton on Saturday but still come bottom of the pool, manage to come a solid 5th

Chaos hold seed, top eight continues to elude them


Links
TSG preview 
Schedule & results


ali
Let's begin at the beginning with Nice Bristols. Not even managing to make the top 10 at Tours 1 and 2 due to missing squad members, these ladies really came back with a vengeance and smashed the competition at Tour 3. @deano, I think I speak for everyone when I say, what happened?? 

deano
Yeah we've had a bit of an interesting start to the season with lots of key players missing for various reasons! Some unfortunate planning meant that about 8 of our key players were missing at a hen do for Tour 1 and then a further 5 or so missing Tour 2 for the wedding! On top of that we've got a great little cluster of U24s who have been busy on national duty for the first two tours.
This weekend was the first chance for us to properly test out our full strength squad. We've shifted the focus of our season a little bit to start properly at tour 3 and then build towards Nationals and aim to qualify for Euros.

ali
So should Iceni be worried? ;)

deano
Ha! Always! Its an exciting year for us because we're seeing some of our development players from previous seasons really stepping up and taking on big roles on the pitch. Some of our more established players from previous years are taking a step back and playing less so it's a bit of a shift in personnel but we've got some really exciting players coming through and I think that will give us an advantage when it comes to some of our historical 'grudge matches'!

k-j
Bristol being seeded fairly low to start the Tour meant that their impressive victories caused some upsets in the rankings - and to see each Women's Tour have a different victor means that the scene is constantly changing and every team has to work really hard for a top spot!

ali
Kudos to Bristols for managing such an excellent result the first time you all properly appeared together. Your flow on pitch was incredible and those around breaks were unstoppable. So, speaking of grudge matches... let's move on to SYC. SYC had two shots to topple Bristols but couldn't quite pull it off. @doug, what's the feeling within the team?

hazard
For those curious as to why SYC-Bristols would be a grudge match, Bristols beat SYC in the game-to-go to WUCC last cycle. It was at EUCF 2013 and the game was amazing (from a spectator point of view).

doug
I think it's important to say that a weekend of close, hard fought games is actually exactly what we want when we go to Tour. There's no better way to improve then matching up against teams that will identify and exploit any weaknesses; it forces you to change and overcome the weakness or lose. Therefore what we want to see really, is as many teams as possible vying for the top spots - close, contested games for every single position in the division. The increasingly tight games are a symptom of the evolution of the women's division, which is a slow but very welcome progress.

For SYC, we have done a great job of adapting and overcoming throughout the season and have secured wins over incredibly talented teams by making responding to the challenges they created. We weren't quite able to manage it against Bristol, in both games we were slow to make the necessary changes, which gave them a gap we were unable to close despite strong second halves. They are hard lessons to learn, but this is actually a pretty good point in the season to be able to go away, reflect on what happened and make sure that going into Nats we are stronger for it. Close games (and even losses) are an important part of a team's (and the division as a whole) evolution. So bring them on! It makes it a lot more interesting, that's for sure.

There is a bit of a mixed feeling within SYC coming out of Tour 3 - we have had a great tour season, have been incredibly proud of how we have grown as a team and had some amazing highlights but we definitely know that we have a lot more to give than we showed at the weekend. We have been working hard on defensive pressure which we definitely brought, but then our offensive flow was not as consistent as we would have liked and often wasn't enough to convert. We are feeling very positive though; we have 6 weeks until Nats to train together and work on those connections, and there's nothing like a little friendly rivalry (read: grudge match) to really get people focused!


I have to say, credit where credit is due: Bristol came out firing. It's pretty incredible to see them essentially start their season (with a full squad) at Tour 3 and being able to come out with that classic Bristol confidence and consistency. It's a squad with a real depth of talent which is why it's such a pleasure and a challenge to match up against, and we will certainly be looking forward to seeing them again at Nationals as those are the games we enjoy the most.

For the official SYC party line, here's a quote from Alice Dinsdale-Young, one of our captains: "The standard of women's teams keeps improving year on year which makes the tour season unpredictable and exciting. There are close games across the board - as shown by our tight, yet spirited, semi-final against Brighton this weekend. I'm terms of SYC and our progression, we are happy and proud of how our team had dealt with tour. It has enabled our team to gel together but also shown areas in need of improvement. We are looking forward to the run up to Nationals. It's a chance of our team to recuperate from the tour season, work on our game and above all have fun together.”


ali
Your offensive plays were incredibly slick at Tours 1 and 2. Was something different at Tour 3 or was it just one of those weekends?

doug
Honestly I'm not really certain. It's probably a combination of factors but it felt like we didn't come in as confident as we have done previously and perhaps gave the defense a little too much control of our offense. I think as a team that has improved so much in such a short space of time, it's sometimes hard to keep the mental game at pace with the physical one. There is an enormous amount of talent with the SYC squad, from the big throwers right through to the defensive workhorses, but that doesn't always translate into perfect play which I think is pretty normal. The changes that need to occur for that to happen are completely within our control as a team and I'm sure it's something that we will be talking about in the coming weeks as we are out throwing, training, running sprints, socialising and generally building our connections. I think a good SYC social will sort all of this out, personally.


SYC's Sarah-Jane 'SJ' Rogers strives for a block on Nice Bristols player Georgie Davin
Picture from Claire Baker, taken for The ShowGame


ali
Alright, moving on. Just outside the top 4 was Hydra. Hydra suffered a little on the Saturday, though they managed to beat Brighton in their last game, due to somewhat weird results they ended up bottom of the pool. @nads, what made the difference?

nads
Hydra have had a great season, moving from 7th to 5th and narrowly missing out on the top 4. Plus our seconds finished highest out of any second team. We keep having strong Sundays but weak Saturdays, which was apparent in our sudden death losses to GBU24s and LLLeeds. Our captains changed how we warmed up (shift in mindset) on Saturday afternoon which helped us beat Brighton and I think that could have a big impact next season. We really gelled as a team this weekend and were sad there was no opportunity to cross up into the top 4 as we think we could have challenged the teams up there, especially as our wins were fairly comfortable on Sunday. Expect big things from Hydra next season.

ali
Certainly a team to watch out for! Is Hydra definitely not going to Nationals?

nads
A lot of the girls are committed to mixed teams, so sadly I don't think Hydra will be going to Nats this year.

ali
That is a shame, especially with such depth in your second team. Hopefully next year eh?
I think the same applies to Chaos actually, which despite making a great debut this year aren't entering Nationals either. @catpope, what was it like to play for a brand new team at tour?

catpope
Yes, unfortunately a lot of the Chaos girls are committed to mixed for Nationals this year. I wasn't with Chaos at Tour 3 but I played Tour 2 with them and the connections we made (considering how new a team it is) were great to see. The team came together quite late in the season so we've focused a lot on plays and continuation at training, which I think has shown throughout the tour season, despite not quite being able to stay in the top 8.

hazard
How did you find it having a coach at club level? I have to admit I'm kind of jealous of SYC getting to keep James Burbidge to themselves full time, and I know you guys had Conor 'Hogi' Hogan and Daniel ‘Danté’ Tunnicliffe too.

doug
Everyone loves the Burbz. Having James is awesome. He really loves the sport and his passion is a pretty important contributor to our team - he's a calm voice on the line setting plays and really good at following up a rousing speech from one of our Captains with 'I was about to say that.’ Plus the man really loves this sport - he is constantly sending interesting links to articles or youtube clips on things we might be able to use or take inspiration from; he sends us individual feedback along with the captains and generally is quite good at telling it like it is in a way that doesn't make us want to punch him.

catpope
Having coaching from Hogi (Clapham, Herd) and Danté (Fire, Herd) has been great. They've also been super committed to the admin side of things (our sick kit, for example). They're the main reason that Chaos came together so quickly and ready in time for Tour 1, and they plan to keep it up next year and build on this season. Also, the focused coaching has seen a lot of personal development from the players. There's a range of skills/experience on the team, so I think the team has potential for next season through more personal development as well.

doug
The Chaos kit is pretty slick. Kudos.

catpope
At Tour 3, I think Chaos was disappointed to not give Hydra a better game in their top 8 crossover. They've been pretty unlucky this whole season, getting into the top 8 at Tour 1, then being pushed out with the addition of Rebel and two GBU24 teams. They have stayed in the top 10, and it's just unfortunate the massive difference that comes from being seeded 9th/10th vs. 8th. As a team I think we would've benefited from getting to play more teams in the top 8, which would've happened if we'd got to start any of the tours in 8th. One of the captains, Claire Desbottes, made the point that it's been quite difficult transitioning from relatively easy pool games to the tough Sunday match-ups. Having said that, they had a great game against SMOG at Tour 3 to take 9th place. And I think finishing 9th in their first season is pretty impressive. They'll definitely be aiming to be a mainstay in the top 8 next season, the team's got a lot of potential.

hazard
Who do you reckon they’ll push out?

catpope
Interesting question, they've beaten Leeds and Reading earlier in the season and I think they could have a good crack at Swift. I didn't catch the game, but apparently Reading really deserved their win against Chaos at the end of Saturday. But I think all three of those teams are within Chaos's reach.

nads
Reading have put a lot of development into players this season, and if they all stick around I think Reading will keep building in strength. Leeds depends on whether the core crew of experience want to keep playing. Agree with Cat that Chaos can challenge top 8, especially with their height advantage too.

hazard

A small extra point about Reading. They’ll be focused mainly on mixed, which takes out a big core of the Women’s squad we saw at Tour 3. However, with split squads, they were consistently managing good results in the other Tours. The fact they’re the only squad entering all three divisions at Regionals (or Nationals for Women) shows the depth they have, and how committed they are to development. A lot of good players are going to come out of this side, because of how they treat players.


Ruth Cawdron from Reading gets tall to bring down a high disc against SMOG
Picture from Claire Baker, taken for The ShowGame

ali
Moving on, this season also saw the GB u24 women compete at the top end of Women's Tour. Rupal Ghelani had this to say:
"The women's side of GB has been fantastic. The Development Programme has brought together pods of players from across the country to create a force of females showcasing the best of the what is to come in the future. The best part so far has been how committed everyone has been to developing together as a team for/with each other. Everyone has one goal in mind, and the off-pitch effort has so far shown through in some outstanding tour results. As a unit we are strong and determined and regardless of how we do at Worlds, the Development Programme has created a new breed of women to take new skills and mindsets back to uni and club Frisbee. Massive shoutout to the coaches who have been patient and dedicated through the whole process, not just the women's coaches but the men's and mixed coaches as well, for exposing us to all different styles of play and instilling confidence in us against every type of match up. It's been an honour so far and I'm super excited to see how females on both the mixed and women's teams do in Perth and hopefully play with each of the women in the Development Programme again in the future."
Anything to add, @catpope? Or anyone else?

k-j

The GB U24 team, though still finishing fourth, had some unfortunate losses to Bristol and Brighton, and I think a lot of the team were disappointed that those games weren't closer - in both cases, GB went down at the beginning and then traded from half. We had some good flow and built connections (helped by splitting the lines so there were kind of two teams of ~11 players) but unforced errors (#Wimbledon) and drops took their toll, and we struggled to get the disc back on D. Having said that, the Bristol captains said that the GB D was the strongest they'd come up against, so we were happy!

doug
It's a cliché to say but it’s a pretty exciting time for Women's Ultimate I think. The number of new teams that are being entered into tour, the level of development that we are seeing at all levels... it's all really encouraging. I think pretty much every seed is up for grabs depending on who has a good day/bad day. Obviously Regionals being cancelled is a bit of a counter to that, but the trend seems to be positive overall. Particularly with this huge squad of U24ers being trained up. Although, obviously Regionals being cancelled due to so few teams entering is counter to that...

catpope
Completely agree with Rupal, the Development Programme has been great to get so many women some top quality coaching. Tour 3 was another success, (highlight being an incredible comeback against LLLeeds) I think the team can be pretty proud of 4th place and we had a great game again the eventual champions, Bristol. I'm excited to see what the final squads look like in all the divisions.

ali
Oh man, that LLLeeds game was something else (GBU24 were 5-2 down, then managed to win 15-5).

catpope
There was a lot of that over the weekend, in the Bristol game we were 8-2 down at half, then we lost 15-9, so the second half we were trading.

hazard
It's worth saying, I don't think a GB U23/U24 side has ever finished in the top 4 of Women's Tour before. You guys were doing that consistently, even when you split your squads. That's really impressive.

ali
Yes, although if Iceni had been at Tours 2 and 3 things might have looked a little different.

dp
So what are people's opinions on Iceni being absent? Of course some of them were able to offer their coaching skills to the U24s which was amazing and well worth it.

catpope
Well it's great that it meant the champions of Tours 2 and 3 were up for grabs, a Bristol v SYC final is exciting to see.

ali
It's also easy to see why a weekend of only five potentially very easy games isn't appealing and might be considered by some to be a waste of time compared to a regular training weekend. But on the flipside, it means that women's teams don't have the opportunity to play against one of the best women's teams in Europe.

hazard
I commentated on a few Iceni games at Women’s Tour 1. My honest analysis is, I’m not sure how much teams gained by playing them. I’m glad they showed up for that one, but no team was really close. I would have loved to see them against a full strength-Bristols side, or against SYC when there wasn’t a strong wind. What Iceni are currently missing is the mental game if a team does end up getting close to them - it’s what happened at EUCF last year. I would love to say that could happen at tour. And I would love someone to prove me wrong at Nationals. But currently, that game isn’t there for them in UK Ultimate.

ali
So you don't think Bristols are close yet?

hazard
Bristols could be there. I won’t say no. But based in EUCF performance alone (which I think is a more reliable test of skill), SYC have been the slightly better team in recent years. And given how far off they were, I think my point stands.

dp
I know that they really enjoyed the SYC game at Tour 1 since SYC were able to throw some different D looks. Iceni really had to adjust, but yes they are having to go to foreign events to push their mental game and find those closer games currently.

ali
Finally, Brighton. Hannah Brew had this to say about Brighton's performance:
"Brighton actually had 8 on Saturday so even more impressive managing to top their group. We never really went into the tournament wanting to place high, we just wanted to make the most of having our core players which would be going to Nationals. We're super happy with our results and we're confident that given a couple of extra legs at Nationals we'll be able to close out games, which we struggled with over the weekend. Was really impressed with the improvement in skill level of the U24s. Unfortunate drops are things that can be easy ironed out, so pretty excited to see the final squad in action at worlds. Looking forward to playing SYC again, hopefully in the semi at Nats :P"

k-j

Brighton were an incredible team to play against - they hardly seemed to be tired at all and were able to give 100% for every game and every match-up, despite only having 8 or 9 players, so massive kudos! Also (in my opinion) one of the most spirited teams in the draw, so losing to them twice didn't seem quite so frustrating cos they were all so darn nice :P

doug
Definitely agree that Brighton are an amazing team to play against - you never know what they are going to throw at you on D and you never know what they are going to throw (and inevitably come down with too) on O either, so it makes each game very interesting. Obviously they are very smart players who know how to maximize their many talents and obviously they are slightly mental entering such a small team, but it never feels like they are low on subs when playing against them which is pretty impressive. It will be interesting to see how they adapt when they have those extra legs at Nats - potentially it will be the edge they need but could also slightly dilute the connections and chemistry they have built through the season. They are definitely a team to watch, that's for sure. Plus Brew's talks at the end are always great value.

hazard
Brighton as a whole team are very strong. Brew obviously has a mechanised cannon for an arm, and Megan Hurst can read the pitch without needing to look at it sometimes. They do lose GB player Avril Hunter for Nationals though. Given how much they rely on core stregth of players, that could hurt hard. But, given that there's no Brighton Mixed team entering Nationals, this will be the strongest Brighton Women's side we've seen on that stage for a long time.  

ali
Let's finish off the chat with the team that finished off the top 10, then. @k-j, you're up.

k-j

Smog only finished 10th at Tour 3 - after an undefeated Tour 1 and then finishing 4th at Tour 2, I think the team was disappointed that they were unable to stay in the top 8. The arrival of Bristol as a low seed in their pool knocked them down, and they were unable to beat Swift 1 too, who they'd beaten at both Tour 1 and 2. It was a very handler-heavy line missing several of their key receivers, but Tour 3 also saw the addition of several new up-and-coming players who will be key to the team's success in the future. Some of the team will be playing for Smog Mixed at Regionals, so #bringiton!

ali

#bringiton indeed! Thank you so much everyone for contributing, see some of you at Mixed Regionals and the rest at Nats!



Some GB U24 ladies photobomb Brighton's team photo after their final game on Sunday
Photo taken by Brighton Women
 




What Went Down At: Open Tour 3

Main Editor/Discussion Chair: hazard (Reading 1, former Ka-Pow!)
Main Contributors: 
dp (ShowGame cofounder, Fire 2), doug (SYC), connormch (EMO, former Clapham), tadhgb (Ireland U24 Men), jonnyarthur95 (Brighton City), hillmaniaa (GB U24 Men)

Additional Quotes/Contributions*: Sion 'Brummie' Scone (GB U24 Men's Coach), Rupal Ghelani (GB U24 Women), Charlotte 'Bubbles' Kennedy (JR co-captain)
*These people did not have access to the chat, but very kindly provided us with quotes. Their words will be given in italics.

Welcome to the post-Open Tour 3 chat!

Here are the headlines we'll be discussing
A return to normality? A Clapham-Chevy final, with Fire finishing as 3rd best UK team
EMO and Reading fall from their previous tour standings
The first appearance of Irish club teams in A Tour! Will they be taking slots at EUCF come Nationals?

A reflection on how the Tour season has gone for GB U24 Men
What on earth happened to Brighton this season?
JR Mixed finish the season strongly in B Tour. We ask them about their decision to play mixed in the Open Division.

TSG previews
A Tour
B Tour South
B Tour North


The schedules
A Tour + B Tour North
B Tour South


Top 20 Teams
1. Clapham A
2. Chevron Action Flash
3. PELT 1
4. Fire of London 1
5. Ranelagh
6. Devon 1
7. GB U24 Hobart
8. Glasgow 1
9. Manchester 1
10. Ka-Pow!
11. EMO 1
12. GB U24 Canberra
13. Reading 1
14. LLLeeds 1 (highest placed B Tour team)
15. SMOG
16. BAF
----------
17. Brighton City
18. Flump
19. Rebel Ultimate
20. Gravity

Top 4 in B Tour South
1. Reading 2
2. Purple Cobras
3. Devon 2
4. Brighton Legends


hazard
Let's begin. Tour 3 saw a return to a more conventional set of tour results. Chevy return to second place, Fire finish as third best GB club team. Chevy also ran Clapham very close in the final (15-12) and weren't afraid to make big plays. Did anyone see Chevy play and have any thoughts on it? Clapham also finished first, like they've been doing at all the tours so far. I'll go first actually since I saw them play Pelt in their semi-final. The issue is, I haven't seen them play any of the rest of the season. They had Lucy Barnes there as a "coaching consultant" and pretty much a full strength squad (Steve Kolthammer being the only injury on the sideline). They were using deep shots very well, and getting huge on bids.

dp
Both Chevron and Fire have not been quite at strength in previous Tours. I know that Fire were able to field an almost 100% first team but due to availability they had to move a large number of potential first teamers down to seconds to field both teams, which is probably good for both the second team and those players. I expect the selection will not be easy for Fire. Similarly Chevron appear to have brought more players and more strength to Birmingham but I am yet to watch the footage to confirm this.


James Dunn helps bring Fire of London back into contention at OT3
Picture from Claire Baker, taken for The ShowGame
hazard
We (Reading) played against Fire in our first game. Part of it was we were a little less confident, but Fire did look a lot stronger than they had done. Even the U24 Irish player we added to the roster wasn't enough to scare Fire away. Do you reckon Fire are now in a confident position going into Nationals, to try to take a WUCC spot @dp?

dp
I wouldn't be able to comment on that. We have two trainings ahead of Regionals (which I miss for the EuroStarsTour) and then a couple weeks of hard graft ahead of Nationals. I think it's been a gradual upward build towards Nationals and we shall see how it pays off. A lot depends on the format of course.

doug
Having watched just the first half of the Fire vs. Clapham game, I thought Fire were playing with a confidence I haven't seen in them all season. They were really making Clapham work for it, and taking control on offense - very calm but decisive. I know that Clapham pulled away in the second half but it was interesting to see Fire gelling so well, particularly as they didn't have some of their key players there. If they can maintain that into Nationals and beyond, I think they will be in a great position.

hazard
Let's move onto EMO then. Up until this point, EMO have been making a strong case for themselves. Last chat, I believe we settled for calling them 'the second-best performing team' so far this season. However, in Open Tour 3, they sunk to 11th. @connormch, was it just a bad tournament?

connormch
I would say so. Apart from maybe the Rebel game (15-7), I don't think we really reached the gears we know we're capable of. Disappointing but I think an important learning curve before Regionals and Nationals.

hazard
Anything you would have done differently, if you could have entered the tour again?

connormch
I can't speak for the captains, but me personally, no. We just weren't at our best and other teams took advantage. I said at the start of the season that we're a young squad that could cause some serious upsets, but I think this is the flip side of that coin.

hazard
For another young side looking to cause upsets, I'll jump to Reading. This tour, in Open, we actually had a squad quite similar to the one we'll be entering into Open Regionals. We only had four guys who won’t be playing for the first team at Open Regionals, and we subbed out three top players into our second team (who won B Tour south, just to get that in there). We were a bit disappointed with 13th, but I think winning our final game 15-4 shows that we were better than our final placing, if not the third-best club team we've been at previous tours. So - we can finally talk about Reading and what it means for Nationals, but since we didn't actually finish well enough it's not really worth doing. 

For some teams that might cause some upsets at Nationals, let’s move onto the Irish. Pelt finish 3rd. Ranelagh 5th, after losing their quarter-final to Pelt. Rebel, a bit further down.

tadhgb
As you said earlier, this was the first time Irish teams were in A Tour this year. Obviously with Nationals around the corner, this was the last chance for them to scout out the competition ahead of EUCF qualification, so for PELT and Ranelagh, those are two massive results.

dp
Worth noting that, before Clapham pulled out their second team, Rebel were chosen in A Tour over Flump, since UKU thought they might be the better team. Then, once Flump got pushed back up, they smashed Rebel (15-7), which kind of vindicates Flump derision over being initially pushed out by the Irish team.

tadhgb
Pelt came over with a 12 man squad and only suffered losses to Clapham and Chevron, despite a resilient comeback in the semis. Ranelagh on the other hand have been fairly injury-stricken since Windmill, and still managed 5th, only losing out on the top 4 because of a quarter-final loss to Pelt. If the squads are at full strength come Nationals, it could spell danger for the UK teams.

connormch
We (EMO) played Ranelagh at Windmill and it was a very close game, they're a great team. This weekend they played fantastic defence against us. Our usual offensive flow wasn't quite there and we couldn't convert our D line turnovers.


Aidan Kelly shows that Ranelagh are a tough side to play against at OT3
Picture from Claire Baker, taken for The ShowGame
hazard
How many Irish teams will be joining us for Nationals?

tadhgb
In Open, it's only PELT and Ranelagh you'll have to worry about!

hazard
Shouldn't be much of a worry then ;) is that decided already? Or is there a tournament in Ireland we in the UK should all be keeping an eye on?

tadhgb
Brave words. No Irish clubs at Tour 1 and 2 - Reading in the top 4, Irish clubs at Tour 3.... ;) That tournament would have been lasts year's All-Ireland unfortunately for you guys! The top two from the previous year's All-Irelands get first preference, so the next time you'll see us is at Nationals I'm afraid ;)

hazard
Going back to the Chevron-Pelt game again, I have to say that Pelt looked strong, but there's still a fear factor when they play the very top teams. They'd lost to Chevron three times in the past (including EUCF last year), and it took them until the second half to really start fighting.

tadhgb
I wouldn't say fear factor, but Pelt in the past have had a tendency to not rise to the occasion when it comes to the big games. The same thing happened at Euros last year against Chevron as at Tour where we gave them a huge lead, and managed to make a come back but had left it too late. This failure to get the job done was a major issue way back when the club had started, but more recently, Pelt are coming out on top in those games (winning their first All-Ireland last year, qualifying through EUCR-S, 3rd place finish at Windmill). We'll find out at Nationals if the Chevron game was the result of skeletons in the closet or if it was merely a symptom of a small squad.

hazard
Alright. My final point in A Tour revolves around the GB U24 teams. This tour, we saw one of the teams (GB U24 Hobart) crash the top 8, and the other side (GB U24 Canberra) make a decent name for themselves too. I asked GB U24 Open coach Sion 'Brummie' Scone for some comments about different aspects of the team, here were his responses.

brummie
Thoughts going into Tour:
Obviously, you want teams to play well and win games; it’s a great litmus test.  But the objective was always development. Are we better now than we were one game ago? Are we learning from our mistakes? Getting people to talk was the top priority, and after working on lots of individual skills at practice, our main tournament considerations were quite different; how were we going to play as a team, dealing with the highs and lows as a unit?

Key moments: 
Getting to play against the top UK teams means that every mistake is punished, so some of the guys genuinely struggled when we're 7-0 down and most of the team haven't put a foot wrong.  Many of our team had never even played A Tour, so for most, it was a huge jump in quality to anything they've seen before, so the dialogue about the journey we're on is really important.  For me, seeing some players rise to the occasion has been incredibly rewarding, especially some who have really come out of their shells and starting playing big. We've had lots of close games too - more sudden death games than many teams play in several seasons in fact - which has been great for our mental game. Seeing someone who has been very timid come up with a huge layout block at a crunch moment, or effortlessly breaking mark after mark, is something that every coach dreams of. I couldn't be happier with how things have gone so far.

Reflections: 
It's been amazing to get to coach 120 people over the course of 9 months, and the players involved have formed great friendships with their university rivals, which I think will benefit many of the ultimate programmes out there. Again, for us it is about the wider impact and developing Team GB, not just picking 25 people to play in Perth. For those lucky enough to be selected for one of the Worlds teams, this is just the beginning of a tough but incredibly rewarding journey. For those who don't get selected, the journey doesn't end quite yet; they've been exposed to lots of great coaching and now we want them to take those lessons back to their own teams and raise the level of ultimate across the UK. We always see a cascade effect from GB cycles, so we hope to see a much bigger one this year.

dp
I have actually quite a lot of insight into this living with two of the coaches and having played against one of the Open teams. I think they are doing a great job so far and selections will be very hard. I know that the coaching staff are talking very regularly to not only ensure GB has the best representation in Perth but that players will develop and share their knowledge (like Brummie mentions).

hazard
Do you know how much training they'll be having after this? It's a long gap until January.

dp
Not sure, haven't got past selection questions yet.

hillmaniaa
I played two open tours with GB this summer, and what shocked me most was how keen everyone was to learn. I wasn't expected the quality of Ultimate to be so high, especially considering these teams only played as a team for one tour each. The GB Development Programme has been seriously rewarding, getting to play with some great players that I'd never get the chance to otherwise. Some guys had never played this high in A Tour and to turn up and be part of victories against the big club teams was really incredible. Excited to take everything I've learned back to uni next year. Finally, massive shout out to the coaching team that should take a lot of credit for the successes of the increase in quality of club and uni Ultimate in the years to come.

Rupal also has something she’d like to add about the Women’s Tour experience, for balance:

rupal.ghelani
The women's side of GB has been fantastic. The Development Programme has brought together pods of players from across the country to create a force of females showcasing the best of the what is to come in the future. The best part so far has been how committed everyone has been to developing together as a team for/with each other. Everyone has one goal in mind, and the off-pitch effort has so far shown through in some outstanding tour results. As a unit we are strong and determined and regardless of how we do at Worlds, the Development Programme has created a new breed of women to take new skills and mindsets back to uni and club Frisbee. Massive shoutout to the coaches who have been patient and dedicated through the whole process, not just the women's coaches but the men's and mixed coaches as well, for exposing us to all different styles of play and instilling confidence in us against every type of match up. It's been an honour so far and I'm super excited to see how females on both the mixed and women's teams do in Perth and hopefully play with each of the women in the Development Programme again in the future.

hazard
The Canberra team seemed fairly solid when we played against them, but still showed a little inexperience at times (zone being one of the main ways we brought that out). We had to be on top form athletically to get free though. As for Hobart - they were good when I saw them play Ka-Pow!, but a little reliant on a couple of star players they may not have at WU24UC. It'll be interesting to see how the team forms. 

Moving on, in a previous chat we highlighted Brighton and Ka-Pow! as two teams that had disappointing Tour 1s. Ka-Pow! certainly stepped their game up after that disappointing first tour. However, it seems Brighton weren't able to, losing a tight cross-over against SMOG to consign themselves to finish the year in B Tour. Considering how strong they've been in previous years (including making the semi-final of Nationals last year), this must count as a bit shocking. @jonnyarthur95, thoughts?

jonnyarthur95
Wasn't there this weekend but the feel from our chat is it was a solid weekend, only losing once in an incredibly tight crossover with SMOG. Kind of a disappointment that some of the B Tour teams we have beaten pretty comfortably this year ended up with simpler crossovers and got to finish the season in A Tour. If only UKU had sorted the seedings properly then we wouldn't have had the fourth ranked B Tour team at the start of the weekend starting as top B Tour seed… Basically we felt we were good enough to beat A Tour teams, and after just falling short against SMOG haven't had the chance to do so. Hopefully we will get it all together for Nationals and do the classic Brighton City move of reminding people we're good when it matters.

hazard
For those curious, the 13-20 crossovers (into A Tour) were: Flump vs LLLeeds, Rebel vs BAF, Brighton vs SMOG, Gravity vs Reading. 

Alright, final point for the chat. JR have been entering a mixed side (always playing at least two ladies), and have solidly held place in B Tour across the tournaments. I got a quote from JR co-captain Charlotte Kennedy about the experience

charlotte.kennedy
Playing in open tour as a mixed team has been a fantastic experience. Whilst JR has always been an Open, Women’s and Mixed team, over the last few years we have made a real effort to grow and develop ourselves as a high quality mixed team as we believe this is where our strengths lie. However, as a team that never trains, we are always looking for more playing opportunities to build upon the foundations we have created. In previous years, we have struggled with the lack of mixed competition between the end of Mixed Tour and Nationals, and therefore this year we decided to bridge this gap by entering Open Tour as a mixed team. This transition has given us the opportunity to play against a variety of oppositions and has forced us to adapt our playing style accordingly. We’ve also been able to work on our plays and tactics within this environment as the teams we’ve come up against have played against us as they would any other open team and respected us all as individual players. To be able to say that we finished open tour comfortably competing in the middle of B Tour with a 9-person mixed squad is amazing and we’re excited to see what we can take from this and how much it will benefit us at Regionals.

hazard
I'd like to close with a thought which extends from this point, and it relates to the gap between Mixed Tour and all Mixed Regionals/Nationals. How should mixed teams deal with it? Deep Space have been training during the tours. Reading enter separate training squads into the Open and Women’s Divisions. Now JR have just entered a mixed side into Open. What are the pros/cons of the approaches? 

I will say I've been on mixed teams that have entered Open Regionals before (both DED Mixed and JR Mixed). I've found it interesting and a good chance to gel as a team, but that you do have to change your playing style as opposed to what you would do if you were playing against other Mixed sides. It's good, but it can only take you so far. If your aim is to develop connections, great. If your aim is just to practice your tactics, less so. Hopefully the addition of Mixed Regionals will help this. It's a point that many other teams are bound to address as mixed grows as a discipline, so a big thanks to Charlotte for her thoughts here.




Discussion: Mind the Gap

hazard Welcome to the chat! Today we'll be discussing anything to do with women in university Ultimate. The chat will feature myself ...