What Went Down At: UXIR 2017/18

Contributors: hazard (Oxford, tSG University Editor-in-Chief, TCLF founder), Rush (Edinburgh), h.christou (Dundee, tSG Men's Uni Editor), AnnieB (Edinburgh), Slender (Sheffield), Alun P (Leeds), Becky Greenwood (Loughborough), Clackers (Lancaster), andrew (Swansea), ali (Cambridge, tSG Women's Uni Editor), gyanhan (Oxford),  jonnyarthur95 (Reading). 
Editor: ali

hazard
Welcome to our first chat of the University calendar! We start with UXIR - University Mixed Indoor Regionals. There are seven regions to cover, and our writers will be having the lowdown on each of them.

Qualifying Teams:
Scotland
1 Glasgow 1
2 Edinburgh 1
3 Strathclyde 1
4 Aberdeen 1
---
6 St Andrews 1
7 Strathclyde 2
(Heriot-Watt finished fifth and declined their place at Div 2 Nationals, giving the spot to Strathclyde 2)

North
1 Newcastle 1
2 Manchester 1
---
3 Liverpool 1
4 Durham 1
5 Newcastle 2

Yorks & East Mids
1 Huddersfield 1
2 Loughborough 1
3 Leeds 1
4 Nottingham 1
5 Sheffield 1
---
6 Hallam 1
7 York 1

West Mids & Wales
1 Birmingham 1
2 Warwick 1
3 Birmingham 2
---
4 Bangor 1
5 Swansea 1

South West
1 Plymouth 1
2 Bath 1
---
3 Southampton 1
4 Bristol 1
5 Exeter 1

South East
1 Oxford 1
2 Reading 1
---
3 Portsmouth 1
4 Sussex 1

East & London
1 Imperial 1
2 Hertfordshire 1
---
3 Cambridge 1
4 Brunel 1

Complete results:
Sc - https://goo.gl/A11e9K
NE&NW - https://goo.gl/JnYEGs
Y&EM - https://goo.gl/zzwdzM
W&WM - https://goo.gl/ks4bTD
SW - https://goo.gl/So3ifJ
E&L - https://goo.gl/NiELde
SE - https://goo.gl/kd2YJW

We will start in across the border, at Scottish Nationals (still a regional tournament in the eyes of BUCS).  So, I’ll leave this as an open question. Anyone care to give us a summary of what happened?
Scottish Mixed Regional Champions: Glasgow


Rush
Scotland, land of the Sturgeon. ScUXIR this year was bedlam, second teams took it to first teams. Dundee didn’t do all that well. Strathclyde dominated the scene as I predicted that they would with Strath 1 qualifying for Div 1 and Strath 2 qualifying for Div 2 (only after Heriot-Watt pulled out though due to their exam season being earlier than all the rest). Glasgow were their usual dominant selves taking the top spot and medal positions. St Andrews had one of the dodgiest spots to go to Nationals by beating Edinburgh 2 in the game to go to Nats lacking decent spirit and playing a point with 3 men while we had 3 women…. (in case you can’t tell, I’m still bitter about that game). Edinburgh 1 meanwhile crushed all that came before them and came second seed after beating Strath 1 on universe for second seed but losing out to Glasgow 1 in the final. Aberdeen 1’s mixed scene is looking its usual healthy self allowing them the last spot into Div 1 Nationals. Heriot-Watt brought up the rear with a spot at Div 2 achieved but unable to be claimed due to the issue of exam season. So Div 1 spots went to Glasgow 1, Edinburgh 1, Strathclyde 1, Aberdeen 1 and Div 2 spots went to Saint Andrews 1 and Strathclyde 2 (only after a Heriot-Watt 1 drop out).

AnnieB
Prefacing this with a reminder that I wasn't there, so this is all from my sources/watching live streams/checking schedule and results! I am not honestly surprised by the final match up - it seemed pretty likely, as Edinburgh and Glasgow are both strong teams with a large number of experienced players. Edinburgh, as always, benefited from their US students to some extent, but then were possibly hindered by the fact most of them have never played indoors before.  When it comes to Glasgow and Edinburgh, it’s always going to be a fast, physical match - and a mental game. In indoors, if you get a team’s heads down, it's hard for them to make a comeback in such a short amount of time.
As far as the rest of the tournament went, some really tense games were played between the lower seeded teams. Although Glasgow and Edinburgh predictably smashed their way through the pool play, some teams had a tougher time. Stirling and Dundee seemed to have suffered from tough pools. And St Andrews - I’m going to be the one to say it - they’ll be disappointed. As someone who wasn’t there, I was hearing their results and definitely curious as to what was going on with them. However, I’ve no doubt they’ll go into Div 2 with their eyes fixed firmly on the trophy.
I can see Scotland storming Nationals,with all qualifying teams (well done Strath 2) looking to play hard and take it seriously. Also impressed with the number of teams entered, great to see so many unis fielding multiple teams.

Rush
Edinburgh sent five teams to ScUXIR, the force of ultimate is strong with us this year. Team 3, 4 and five all ended up in the same bracket which was real good fun and I’m sure a great time was had by all beginners. Edinburgh 2 crushed left right and centre only to lose out on a spot at Nationals to St Andrews in a rather underhanded manner. Three Saints men and two Saints women vs three Edinburgh women and two Edinburgh men then allow the point to stand… highly suspect if you ask me. Edinburgh 1 achieved what they set out to achieve, have a good time, gain a spot at Nationals and attempt to beat Glasgow 1 along the way. Unfortunately we didn’t get the last one but we still did well against them and all other opposition. Edinburgh 1 will see you all in Coventry.

hazard
Link to the final here (credit: Facebook FarFlung - Glasgow University Ultimate).

h.christou
Overall, I don’t think there were any particular surprises with results with the exception of both Stirling and Dundee. Stirling looked decent for Nats qualification but had a tough crossover with Heriot-Watt 1 which ended that dream. As for Dundee…as many may be aware we are rebuilding a Women’s team from nothing (we have four experienced women in the club, all with little high-level experience), and not many of our top-tier guys could commit to this weekend. On Sunday, Asif couldn’t play through injury which left four guys (one was a fresher), also our Women’s captain was injured in the crossover and reduced us to two women. Aaand only us and Glasgow 2 (shout out) went to the party – poor show Scotland. We spent our Sunday throwing pish to an aerially challenged line.

hazard
So, a quick ask of @Rush  - taking five teams is really impressive. Any advice to anyone to a uni that wants to grow and field that many teams themselves?

Rush
Freshers fair is about pulling aside as many as possible, doesn't matter who they are, what their background is or whether they seem interested or not. Just grab em and get them to come along, then get the experienced to work their charm to convince them to come back time and again. Eventually once they learn to love it, they'll never look back. We are very keen in investing in our freshers and all clubs should invest time into freshers as they are always gonna be the future of uni ultimate. I'll turn this over to @AnnieB for any further suggestions

AnnieB
I know that was for @Rush  but want to chip in - encourage women to join, and stay! You can see the previous discussion for my thoughts on this, but specifically about Edinburgh, they have a very strong female squad, and respecting women as players and coaches is vital to keeping female players playing, enjoying, and improving. Obviously this applies to the male freshers as well, but as demonstrated at Glasgow One Day, many unis are struggling to have enough female freshers to have even two on the line.

hazard
Fun fact - in over half the regions, the team that brought the most second/third/fourth/fifth teams won the tournament (Glasgow/Edinburgh tied, Newcastle, Birmingham, Oxford).
Ok. So, let’s go for a big question then. Why did Glasgow win?

h.christou
I didn’t get a watch of Glasgow until the final and nothing particularly stood out, they were all round very solid and looked to be calm and simple most of the time across the whole team; so I’m not too sure.


Rush
Glasgow came out of the gates firing, they were up for it. We weren't all that keen for the game. Even with a hyped sideline we couldn't turn the tide. They have a good fitness regime over at Glasgow, we should invest in our fitness more in my opinion. Ultimate is all about sprinting and we should be up for that in every game we play, even if it is right at the end of the weekend. I watched Glasgow sprint through every point they played. Plus Heriot-Watt nearly caused a cupset being 3 points up but Glasgow were calm, safe on the disc and reeled HW back in. Cool heads and athletic bodies won the day.

AnnieB
Edinburgh weren't playing their best. I watched the final, and it seemed like they were losing focus. I may be wrong on that, but as a squad with big names (multiple Black Eagles players, and GBU24's  Chris Habgood, Lochlan Fisher and Helena Slater) they looked capable of beating Glasgow on paper, but that didn't translate to the pitch as well as it might have. I've go to say though, I feel like it may be a different story when outdoors rolls around...

Rush
Amen to that, we crush at outdoors all season long. If we are fit and up for it for the indoor season then I think we would have won.

hazard
A regional-specific comment, can we expect a lot of three-women calls from Scottish teams come Nationals? It seems to me that, this year, Scotland looks to have a particularly strong Women’s scene.

h.christou
Scottish ladies look strong. A lot of high-level talent this year, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Strath have very good cores that will challenge, or even, dominate the top 8 at Women’s Nats.

Rush
Scottish ladies crush week in and week out. Glasgow prefer to play through their men but all the other teams expect to see three women on the line at all times. I have no further thoughts on the Scottish region, look out for us at UXIN as we look to see all four qualified teams in the top four.

hazard
BOLD. Although, from last year, I’ll say not completely unreasonable to expect all of them in the top half.

Rush
I'm just saying that Scotland don't mess about, we like to think we're the best and we often go out and prove it ;P

AnnieB
Scotland women have a tradition of being very strong, and it's just getting better. I'd look forward to true mixed Ultimate, and great on-field connections.

hazard
Alright. Let’s end with predictions for an all-star team.

h.christou
Women: Ellie Taylor (Aberdeen) Kate Stafford (Edi) Ela Sifnerova (Strath). Then I think it’s tight to pick 2 more, so I’ll give a shout out to Hayley Dalmon (Strathclyde), Zsofi Marozsak (Glasgow) and another Aberdeen lady (sorry, don’t know names and a FB photo of the team isn’t up!)
Guys: Fraser MacDonald; Chris Habgood; Jonny Shaw (Horses had a lot of depth and rotation, so, not sure if he was the pick of the bunch); Lochlan Fisher (St Andrews); Julian Grant/Iain Campbell

Rush
Men - Jonny Shaw (Strath) Cameron Mackie, Gavin Nicholson, Chris Habgood and Sam Finlay
Women - Kate Stafford (Edi) Hayley Dalmon (Strath) Beth Hall, Bella Tait and Jiaqui Sng

hazard
Right, onto the Yorkshire and East Midlands region! Based on bids alone, currently the strongest region in Mixed Indoor University Ultimate. It also produced a bit of an unexpected winner, so I want to hear some more about how it went.


Yorkshire & East Midlands Champions: Huddersfield


Alun P
Quick hits: perennial powerhouses Loughborough and Leeds lose last year’s monopoly on finals, falling one place each as Huddersfield snatch the region. Resurgent York and Hallam return to Nationals after poor showings last year, claiming Div 2 spots, while Sheffield and a depleted Nottingham round out Div 1.

Slender
Y&EMUXIR threw up less upsets than last year unfortunately. Huddersfield continued their year on year improvement and won the region. I think some people might have been surprised about that but Huddersfield aren't, they'll have gone in feeling pretty confident about taking the trophy home (unfortunately I was playing during the final so didn’t watch it). Loughborough were as strong as always and will be disappointed to have lost two games all weekend to the same opponent (Huddersfield) but will be looking to avenge those defeats come Div 1 in a few weeks time. Leeds and Nottingham were good enough to make the final and will believe they can challenge at Nationals as well. Sheffield Uni snagged the last Div 1 spot in a closely contested game to go against varsity rivals Hallam; while they'll be disappointed not to have made Div 1 they'll be encouraged by how much their Mixed team has improved since last year and will be aiming to win Div 2. York came out on Sunday fired up, improved dramatically from Saturday, deservedly took the last Nationals spot and were rightly ecstatic about it.
Unfortunately there were less upsets in the region this year with no second teams managing to make it to Nationals (although Loughborough 2 were pretty close and it wouldn't have been a fluke had they made it). All the teams you'd expect to do well delivered. The lower brackets were as highly contested as the upper ones and very few games were walkovers come Sunday, which hopefully speaks to the depth of the region as a whole.

hazard
Alright. I’ll be kind. First question to Slender - how did that impromptu varsity game go? There is already a big Hallam vs Sheffield rivalry (to quote Alex Walsh - “Hallam ’til I die”). Add a game-to-go element to that, and I can see it getting intense.

Slender
Both matches were incredibly intense with huge sidelines and chanting throughout. We both know each other’s styles really well and matches against them are like no other you play, your team tactics and plans go out the window and you play to specifically counter them. There is always the potential for the matches to become a bit nasty but I think there's a huge amount of respect between the two teams so they were always well spirited. Scoring the point to go to Nationals in a varsity game is one of the best experiences I've had.

Alun P
Shoutout to Hallam's spirit this weekend, they were second at time of awards ceremony. A big turnaround from their overly contact-y reputation.

hazard
Alright. @Becky Greenwood What about Loughborough? To come so close must be tough. What was the difference between them and Huddersfield?

Becky Greenwood
Despite losing a number of strong and rapid players due to the crisis of graduation.. The mighty Loughborough, African Violet, Haze Army was well set to bring forth three strong teams, to exceed expectations and take the North by absolute storm! However with four of our girls very recently getting injured,(including myself, due to ligament damage at Pitch Hog a few weeks back.. at the same venue..) we unfortunately had to cut down to only two teams..
Loughborough 1 battled it out strong all weekend, along with some new rapid and talented players. Shout out to Alvaro Itur who moved up to the first team from the thirds last year and played absolutely incredible. Their defence was on fire: and their offence was completely unreal; with some massive grabs, bids and impressive patience, they were really great to watch! They managed to easily hold second seed while only marginally missing out on first place against Huddersfield 1, in a truly gripping game which could have gone either way, finishing 8-6. Loughborough 2 had a wide mix of players; from people who’d been playing for years, players who’d had years out and also the new fresher girls who had been brought up. Considering all this they played amazingly incredible on Saturday and won every single one of their games!! However they very closely missed out on a spot at Nationals in a gripping and very close game against Trent on Sunday. They finished 9th overall. Despite dropping a few seeds they were the highest finishing 2nd team in the final standings and easily best second team there. Who knows what we could have done if injuries weren’t a thing?!

Alun P
The biggest takeaway from the weekend, for me, is that strong women really do win Mixed tournaments. Huddersfield nailed that home, and I feel like Loughborough and Leeds had probably the two next strongest female groups, and it showed. Likewise for Sheffield, running through the fifth place bracket. The teams that got Div 2 had solid women, but tended to play much more through the men, and use the women as a one-off release, then get right back to the blokes again, while most of the Div 1 qualifiers were a bit more even in their gender usage. That aside, the standard was high again this year, really showing why we get more bids than anyone else. Loughborough 2 and Trent can consider themselves a bit unlucky to miss out. The only other thing, really, is how disappointed we were with Hallam and Sheffield losing quarter finals to let the Midlands into the top four. Poor show.

ali
Didn't Huddersfield only have three women on their team?

hazard
Yup, but three quite strong women: Elly White, Tanya Fozzard, and Isabella Barber-Lowell.

Clackers
I don't know if this is the case now, but Huddersfield are known to not have regular trainings, and just seem to gel on the pitch really well

Alun P
I have a theory on how Huddersfield beat Loughborough twice, but it's speculation.

Clackers
They scored more points than them?

Alun P
What stood out for me about Huddersfield is that they played their own game against everyone. Particularly against physical or athletic teams like Haze and Hallam, it's easy to play their game, and lose because they're better at it, but Huddersfield do their thing no matter what you throw at them.

Slender
Huddersfield's women are really good and their guys have mastered how to throw to those specific women, they put a huge focus on Mixed and it's paid off.


hazard
Alright, let’s have a quick look through the other Div 1 teams. Alun or Slender, care to give us the low-down on Sheffield or Leeds? (and then someone tell us about this “depleted” Nottingham side).

Slender
Sheffield Uni started the tournament well, professionally dispatching the teams in their group. Loughborough 2 were our first challenge, they put up a really good game and were in the ascendancy but unfortunately couldn't bring it back before the buzzer went. We went into a tough power pool and finished the day with a draw with Hallam that felt like a loss.
The next day started with a close loss to Leeds 1 in a game we felt we under-performed in towards the end. Wins against Leeds 2 and York followed to take us into the game to go to Div 1 against Hallam. It was neck and neck for the whole match but two breaks from Uni Of at the end won a great match. The University as a whole did well with the second team being two points away from playing the first team in the Sunday crossover. Big shout out to the women in the second and third team as due to a comically huge number of last minute injuries and sudden commitments a lot of freshers had to step up and did the Uni proud.

Alun P
Leeds 1 were fairly happy with our third place. We managed to breeze through pool play without too much trouble, although Hallam were tough, and then came out really hot against Loughborough 2 to start the power pool and ended up somewhat rolling them. Sheffield on Sunday morning was a tough prospect, but we toughed it out. By the time the bracket came around, Huddersfield and Loughborough were the two teams we were worried about, and it was a shame we got Haze in semis, and then never got to play Hudd. Only one loss makes for a pretty good weekend, and we’re feeling good about Nationals. We played every Nationals qualifier other than Huddersfield (hats off to the schedule there) and had a marvellous time.
Re: "depleted" Nottingham, there was no George Gayton, no Lauren Mounteney, no Liam Reddy, Gideon Bergbaum didn't play Saturday. They'll have another gear by Nationals, I expect. Fourth with about half their top line missing is pretty impressive

Slender
Rumours are George Gayton isn't playing the indoor season this year. Nottingham do have a fair amount of strength in depth though, and paid coaches, it doesn't surprise me that some players could move into the first team and step up their game.

hazard
I’d also like to give a shout-out to York. They’ve been on a bit of a rebuilding effort for a couple of years, since some of their top players (e.g. Hannah Willet) have moved on. But, with a very young squad, they still pulled out a Nationals qualification. And double shout-out to Hollie Cardwell, who helped my YOpen team finish second at Pitch Hog. I don’t think they’ll be challenging for titles yet, but there should be some players to watch.
Alun P
Their O was very smooth, and took some stopping, but they were let down by D. I'm not sure they got a single block against us.

hazard
Right, moving to end this. Any final thoughts on the region, how they’ll do at Nationals (do you reckon you’ll keep the really high number of bids?), or your top ten line from the region.

Slender
Star 5 Women: Tanya Fozzard, Elly White (Huddersfield) Alice Hanton (Leeds) Rupal Ghelani (Loughborough) Zarah Dixon (Sheffield).
Guys: Nic Peters, Jonah Leake (Leeds) Omar Khan (Loughborough) Joel Miller (Nottingham) and Tyler Copley (Hallam, had surgery on his shoulder two weeks ago and was making huge defensive plays all weekend).
I don't know if any of our teams will make the top four at Div 1 this year but I think all our teams should be do well and justify their spot.

Alun P
Huddersfield could do phenomenally, or could bomb it. Scottish women could be their kryptonite. Loughborough will be a force, as ever. Nottingham should step up a level. Sheffield's iso on Zarah Dixon was offensive scheme of the tournament for me. And of course Leeds are amazing. I hear they've made a major pickup this year, can't remember his name though :P
At Div2, I can see Hallam breaking top four. York will need to up their D, but certainly have potential. Three in the top ten, two in top eight, one in top four.
Star team
Women: Alice Hanton- Leeds, Tanya Fozzard, Isabella Barber-Lovell- Huddersfield, Monica Persson- Nottingham, Zarah Dixon- Sheffield
Men: Nicolas Peters- Leeds, Dan Hillman, Alvaro Itur- Loughborough, Joel Miller- Nottingham, Jonah Leake- Leeds
If I could have more, Rupal, Rozzi Nicholson (Leicester) Lucy Cinnamond (Leeds), Max Larkinson (Sheffield) and whoever it is from Hallam with the hat grafted to his scalp just missed out.

Becky Greenwood
Shout-out to Loughborough ladies Grace Wilkinson, Kathryn Styles, Sarah Lacy and of course Rupal Ghelani for being absolutely insane on and off the pitch.

hazard
Alright, thanks all! Now, onto the Wales and West Midlands region. @andrew, business as usual?

andrew
So, the finishing positions probably don't look too shocking, with Birmingham 1 and Warwick 1 taking the top slots and Birmingham 2 rounding out the Div 1 qualifiers. Bit of a surprise to see Swansea qualify, but they did it a few years back, I think. But having played every qualifying team and most of those who just missed out, I have to say the region feels pretty weak. A lot of not so experienced or beginner girls on qualifying teams, and everyone was talking about how much weaker Birmingham was this year. Aberystwyth lost to them 10-9, after being up 8-2, if you want an example. If I can be a bit brutal, it's baffling that Birmingham 2 qualified for Div 1 over Bangor. I didn't see the game, but the number of throws that went to uBu 2 ladies when we played them were in the single digits.I would expect disappointing results Nats, in Div 1, at least.
We're buzzing over here at Swansea to qualify for Div 2! We had a slow start to Saturday, initially trading with uBu 3 and Bangor 2 before running away with those games. We had a mini varsity against Cardiff and won that, I've never seen Swansea so animated on the sideline. On Sunday we got stomped by Birmingham 1 and Warwick 1, unfortunate mismatch games where we weren't even sure what we could have done to win. A losing mentality contributed to losses against uBu 2 and Bangor 1, but we managed to see through the game to go against Aber, who were quite unlucky not to qualify.

hazard
Do you reckon you could have won that Birmingham 2 game with the right mentality? It’s always impressive to see a second team qualify, particularly for Div 1.

andrew
Absolutely we could have. I don't want to say too much because the spirit in our game was a bit lacking, so I might be a bit biased.

hazard
Were they a strong all-round team? Sometimes seconds can play through a single player.

andrew
Well, like I mentioned, they didn't utilise their women at all, they seemed content to more or less weave it with three guy handlers who were all quick and decent with the disc.

Rush  
I hate that, @andrew I hope you marked them down on spirit firmly.

andrew
I pushed hard for a low spirit score, but I'm unsure what our captains decided to do. They're both too nice for their own good, haha.

hazard
Certainly Warwick seemed to do quite well with the seconds, but less well with the firsts. Do you (or @ali/@gyanhan) have any insights?

ali
The Bears scoop is that uBu 2 play well against everyone except Warwick 1. And I think Warwick 1 just chumped it a bit against uBu 1. O-line kept getting broken. The two stalwarts of the team (Jack Skipper, Joe van der Wiel) also didn't have a great game apparently, which didn't help.

gyanhan
I think Warwick 1 have a strong male core who can take on the uBu 2 men any day, and their women will definitely be better than than theuBu 2 girls too, and be thrown to a lot more. And with Mixed, the team who utilises their women better wins almost 99.99% of the time (absolutely scientific percentages there). I’m pretty sure the gap between Warwick 1 and uBu 2 is going to be bigger than just one seed come Nationals, not surprised Warwick 1 beat uBu 2. Also uBu 1 have got Ophelia Byrne who is tall and quick, and Grace Owen who has been with uBu for five years now…

hazard
The West Midlands took the top three spots, but Wales took the next four. Andrew, is this evidence of some more strength across the un-walled border?

andrew
You know, I've been really feeling Wales this year, it seems like a pretty good year for them. Cardiff were nowhere near full strength without Ben Alba, and I'd keep an eye on them to qualify for Men's Indoors and Aber (a club that can't even field an outdoors team) had an insane game against Birmingham, just missing out on Nationals too. Bangor are always in contention and I've bragged enough about Swansea. It could be the start of an upswing for the region.

hazard
Another person from my Pitch Hog team - Dom Knight (Bangor) seems to have actually improved a lot too. I’m not sure how he was this weekend, but on my team he was far less trigger happy and a lot more solid than he has been in the past. Something like that can really change a team dynamic for the better. Also GB U24's Ed Simpson can’t hurt.

andrew
Oh yeah he was super solid when we played him, though they did walk over us, so it's hard to judge how Dom would play against a Div 1 team. I did not see Bangor play much, unfortunately, due to scheduling.

hazard
Final thoughts on the region?

andrew
Well, I think there's been a significant weakening of the teams at the top. No one felt crushingly powerful and there's very little chance of seeing one of these teams in the top four. But that small amount of breathing room seems to have given Wales a chance to grow, so I'm hoping it'll be good for the region in the long run!
All Star Squad: to be honest, I've only just started playing competitively and so haven't built up that name base yet so I'm just gonna shout out some amazing women players I saw at the weekend: Jo Lewis (Cardiff), Emily Stratton (Aberystwyth), Immie Wong (Swansea), Ophelia Byrne (Birmingham 1)

hazard
Now onto what was probably one of the most competitive regions, the South East. Both games-to-go and the final went to nail-biting sudden death points. @gyanhan, what were your thoughts as an addition to the region?
South East Champions: Oxford


gyanhan
Coming from the West Midlands (where uBu has dominated through the three years I’ve played at Warwick), something that really stood out for me this weekend was the parity of the top teams in the South East. The 1v2 final as well as the 2v3 and 4v5 games-to-go were all won on universe point, which goes to show how well-matched these teams were. It was difficult to predict who would come out on top in those games. I liked that element of uncertainty and suspense, though a little less when I was playing in one of those games haha.
I was surprised that Sussex didn’t make Div 1 and had such a close game to qualify for Div 2, but we didn’t play them and I didn’t watch their games closely enough to find out why. I thought Kent played pretty well all weekend and used their women well and were really unlucky not to qualify for Nats - if only there were more spots in the region.. They certainly looked at least Div 2-worthy!
With only four spots in this region for Nationals I think the South East should feel a little hard done by, especially since the West Mids & Wales have five spots...

Clackers
South East lost two spots two years ago if I'm correct?

hazard
Correct. I believe Sussex may have had something to do with that…they had the nail-biting time of losing the final in sudden death (notice a theme?) and then the game-to-go after losing Vicki James, one of their star women.

jonnyarthur95
I can get the medals out if it's needed to stop this Sussex hate.


gyanhan
Anyway, something I particularly liked about Oxford is that we were probably the only team who regularly called three women on the line. I’m pretty sure there is a correlation between how well a team uses their women and how well a team eventually finishes. Teams that didn’t throw to their women enough were punished by poaches or eventually had to jam a 50/50 to a man on the team that didn’t always work. I’d like to think Oxford ran our offense through every member of the team and that’s what contributed to our overall win.

hazard
Well, having you, Allegra Molkenthin (an American Import), Sarah-Jane Rodgers (SYC), Christine Moore (Black Eagles/GB Women’s Beach Masters) and Joyce Kwok (Euros Bronze Medallist with Reading) means not many people want to play three women against us ;)

jonnyarthur95
And it helps to have players who seem to have forgotten you're supposed to leave uni and get a job at some point, to keep leading the team (Harry Mason).

hazard
I would also like to point out how much more inclusive Oxford was this year. We had four undergrads! (Last year’s regionals total - one)
I think there are actually three main stories from our region though. One is Chichester. After having such a strong Women’s side for the last couple of years, they’ve now mostly graduated. Sofia Hill and Jordan Sloan were the two really experienced players remaining. They still managed some really good results and managed their team well. They should be really proud, I’m hoping they can rebuild again.
Second, Reading. They are so much stronger this year than last year, and actually showed really good depth. I would say they had the strongest women after Oxford.
Third, Kent. I didn’t actually manage to watch any of their games sadly, so I’ll leave this (or any other thoughts)  to @gyanhan.

Clackers
Reading regained Ryan Coones from the States, and their recruitment and retainment of women has been class the last few years.

gyanhan
The Reading women were amazing to watch, I loved their confidence in their throws, they were happy to throw blades/hammers/scoobers to their male iso (usually Ryan) that were accurate a very large percentage of the time.

gyanhan
Reading were big on overheads, they are well-drilled to throw them and catch them. Interesting to see how they do outdoors.

jonnyarthur95
I think I said it in the men's chat last year that Reading were a team on the rise. The return of Ryan added some star quality, adding Hugo Turner from St. Andrews has brought big indoor and big game experience. Also big shout out to Charlotte Marriott  for leading them into a proper good Mixed team.

Rush
Wait @jonnyarthur95 you guys picked up Hugo Turner?! He’s a high quality player, you’ve bagged a dime there.

hazard
I’m going to add to recruitment/retention, with the word development. Players like Charlotte Marriott and Rosie Kerr have developed a lot in a short space. I think Reading’s club season could be one factor, but the determination their players have to have to improve is also key. My opinion of the Reading guys was that they were all strong, without anyone being especially stand out. A great play could happen (say, Sam Benians getting a Callahan in the game-to-go), and it could have been any one of them. However, the flip side is that Reading, in general, liked the big athletic style of play. If they weren’t on form (like our first game against them) it meant there were a few too many turns. If it works, however, it really works.

gyanhan
Kent definitely had a star player in David Famer, but they utilised their women well, mostly from the handler position - which is great, more women handlers in Mixed ultimate woopwoop. David Farmer bailed the team out a couple times and was mostly the primary receiver.

ali
Quote from Kent's President Liam Hogan: “Kent looked extremely strong this weekend, going into crossovers with 7 wins to 0 losses, however the not-so-familiar success created some pressure for Kent and our infamous zone. Close games with SE’s top teams lead to us narrowly missing Nats, but we’re hoping to build on the new cornerstone created.”

hazard
I’d like to move on to closing this region. @gyanhan, are you ok to pick women for an all star team and I’ll pick the guys? Also, add any final thoughts.

gyanhan
Okay I’ll give this a go: Christine Moore,  Joyce Kwok  (Oxford), Charlotte Marriott, Nikki Bliss (Reading), Erin McGready (Oxford Brookes) and… I’ve run out of people I know.

hazard
Fair shout with Erin. Very strong player on that side.

gyanhan
Also wanted to add that Oxford Brookes actually ran all their offense through Erin McGready and Danni Barriball, and they were the only two players on the team who had been to a tournament before. With more experience on the rest of the team perhaps next year, those two could really carry the team even further.

hazard
My final thoughts are that Portsmouth have actually really developed as a Mixed side. Josh Awcock is still the dominant force (and Josh Boorer has really stepped up too), but I actually think they play much better mixed now than I’ve seen when they had arguably strong women. Also, no idea what happened to Sussex.

jonnyarthur95
Sussex lost a lot of women.

hazard
Guys: Josh Awcock (Portsmouth), Hugo Turner/Ryan Coones (Reading), Luis Semple (Sussex), Me (Oxford).
I know it’s bad to put yourself in, but honestly I think that’s the best I’ve ever played at uni regionals. And given how many of those I’ve played, I think that means something.

hazard
Right, second-last region. East and London. Ali, what happened?


East & London Champions: Imperial College (their third team also won spirit)


ali
Nothing super surprising happened in this region, I think, the major upset on Saturday was UCL beating Aye-Aye (UEA) in the pool stages, they then came crashing down somewhat on the Sunday, losing to Cambridge, Herts and Brunel. The Herts vs Imperial final on Sunday was really exciting, with both teams undefeated up until that point. Herts were up 4-1, then Imperial switched to force flick and Herts became very confused, allowing Imperial to win 8-6, despite Herts' Ernest 'Ernie' Simons not taking a point off for the entire game. Sadly Cambridge's attempt to replicate the force flick tactic wasn't enough to stop him (and the rest of the team) in the 2v3, in which they traded to 4 all, then Herts put their foot down and won 8-4. Brunel then took it to UCL in the 4v5 to round out Div 2.
Similar to @gyanhan's point - the top teams all had really strong women and played through those women.

hazard
I’ve seen Ernie at a few tournaments so far, and he is looking on form for this indoor season.

hazard
How strong were Imperial looking? They’ve had a promising team which has struggled to gel for the last few years, in my opinion.

ali
They looked pretty solid actually. They've picked up Rolo Turnell-Ritson from Cambridge and Claire Baker (GBU24). They stuck to patterns that were clearly well-drilled, but also managed to pull off some amazingly jammy catches in the endzone.

gyanhan
From what I know, Imperial played lots of 3-women points. Losing Qiao Yan Soh but picking up Claire Baker.. their women are strong.

hazard
UCL falling so hard on Sunday is a little bit of a shock. Any idea what happened?

ali
UCL are a team that are good, but not great. Each individual player is solid and dependable but they don't have any standout players/superstars that bring the spice.

hazard
UCL should still have Alicia Tan though, and they did win Women’s Outdoor Nationals last year (with a very small squad).

ali
More of an outdoor team I guess. I think they prefer not having to throw overheads (according to Alicia), and that can really hurt a team indoors.
Let’s talk about my team :P I've only been playing with Cambridge for two months and it's clear that they don't put a lot of emphasis on Mixed, so I had my doubts going into UXIR, but they were completely dispelled by the end of the first game. We breezed through our pool (high point: capping and bagelling Essex 2 while playing three women to their three men because they only brought two ladies). Our games against Imperial and Herts were really really fun, even though we lost they were probably our best games of the tournament. Losing to Imperial on universe was definitely frustrating but we brought so much fire to that game, if we'd have been able to sustain that intensity (and been able to stop throwing hammers into walls) we might well have been able to give Herts a closer game and maybe even make Div 1. But all in all, a great weekend.

hazard
Did you see anything of Aye-Aye out of interest? They won the region last year, but only finished seventh this year.

gyanhan
I think they may have lost most of their women who were really good last year.

hazard
Ok, how do you think the teams will do at Nationals, and a top ten if you have them.

ali
I think Imperial will do excellently if they play as well as they played against Herts, Herts will do very well as long as no one can mark Ernie out. As for Cambridge and Brunel, I think they both struggle somewhat against zones, but if they work on that between now and Nationals then they'll definitely be fighting for the plate.
Top ten: Alicia Tan (UCL) Claire Baker (Imperial) Lucy Hawkes (Brunel) Ola Kulikowska (Herts) Ali Thomas (Cambridge) <--using the excuse of being unfamiliar with the region to put myself in ;)
Ernest Simons (Herts) Stuart Franz (Imperial) Adam Borchert (Cambridge) Calum Ward (St Mary's) Casimir Chanteau-Gedrich (KCL)

hazard
Final region time! In the past, the Northern region has been a bit of a one-team phenomenon. @Clackers, what happened this year?

Clackers
Northern Regionals were really very different compared to last year. Seedings were tossed and turned all weekend, which culminated in a great final between Newcastle 1 and Manchester 1 going into a tight sudden death, and Newcastle edged out as victors. It also saw two new universities enter the competition for the first time, Northumbria and Liverpool John Moores, who both fielded strong teams that finished in the top 8. A slightly weaker than previous Durham, UCLan and Lancaster made the challenge for Nationals spots all the more intense. However Newcastle truly dominated the tournament, and finally steer away from Manchester dominance of the region? The game between Newcastle 2 and Northumbria to go to Nationals was edge of your seat, and again going to sudden death.
On a personal note, Lancaster 1 suffered injuries of two vital players (Declan Cartwright and Sarah Donaldson) on the Saturday, and combined with a crossover against a bandit Northumbria early on the Sunday took them out of contention for Nationals. They still were able to fend everyone else off and finish in 9th. The bottom 8 was strangely close, with eventual 10th place Durham 2 losing quite comfortably to Lancaster 2 on the Saturday. For us (Lancaster 2, whom I played for), we dropped two seeds, but these were seeds formerly occupied by Northumbria and LJMU, so I feel we did well. All of our women had played less than a month, and they shone magnificently on the pitch, improving immensely over the weekend. No Nationals for Lancaster this time around :/

hazard
Northumbria are one of those universities that have really benefited from BUCS Wednesday money. Coach Paul “Stig” Unwin is a good source of experience for the team. Even though they may not be as experienced as others, I was lucky enough to see their potential last year when I got to play with a few of them. They’ll be regretting finishing below Newcastle seconds though.

Clackers
Unfortunately the BUCS money may have boosted the Northumbrian men, but not their women, and not utilising their women cost them going to Nationals.

hazard
Any thoughts on Liverpool John Moore?

Clackers
I'm surprised by how strong LJMU are - they have seriously good players, both men and women, who work well as a team, and apparently have only existed as a club for a year. They're also really lovely.

hazard
Alright, Newcastle’s domination. I know this is at least the second year Newcastle have brought four teams, and having captain Beth Crisp being from what is clearly the best school in England (Manor CE shout out) is an unfair advantage. But it’s a big step from having a side with depth, to having a side which can win a region. How did they look?

Clackers
Their 2-1-2 iso play is incredibly slick, and really difficult to beat. However on paper their team isn't that different from last year, and they have lost GB U24 Ivan Mladjenovic. It's just their class offence, and strong development throughout their teams.

hazard
Adding Fire of London’s Ross Nugent may have helped somewhat though. He can be an impossible handler to keep hold of when you're trying to mark him. What about Manchester/Liverpool/Durham? An unsurprising way to round out the top four, and usually quite closely contested.

Clackers
The Manchester team felt a bit off compared to last year - it's hard to say since I was new to the region last year and didn't pay too much attention, but they just weren't as dominating. Liverpool have gained Will Carter, and this was enough to push them ahead of Durham. For Durham, I believe they were missing a couple of people (including Dylan Spiers), and with them the results in the top four could have been very different. Also playing most of the weekend in the bottom eight/four, I didn't see many of these teams play.

hazard
Also SMOG’s Kat Rowland ;)
Final question to lead into final thoughts - do you think Lancaster could have beaten Newcastle 2 with Dec and Sarah?

Clackers
Honestly no. Even with Dec and Sarah, Lancaster didn't have much of a connection on pitch. They did (before they got injured) manage to start to settle into a rhythm, so it could have been a different story on Sunday had they still have been around. Even on Sunday, they had more trouble against Durham 2 than Lancaster 2 did on the Saturday.
I would like to shout out Kate Gibson (Newcastle) for being MVP of the final.
For Nationals, if Manchester can pull what they had before out of the bag, they may be able to reverse positions with Newcastle, especially if teams start to adapt to Newcastle's offence more effectively than the teams this weekend. In Div 2, I worry for Newcastle 2, but a full strength Durham and Liverpool should represent the North well.

hazard
Nice! Our apologies for not having any writers to help contribute from the South West. In that region, Plymouth managed to cause a big upset by winning the region. I’ve seen a lot of them about - a lot of them played mixed tour so they’ve been gelling a lot over the summer. Also, “tall” Jamie Rabbetts was a big part of Reading Open’s Club Nationals team.
Thank you all, and well done!

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What Went Down at: UXIN Div 1 2018

Chair/Editor: Alun P Contributors: Rush (Scotland), hazard (Oxford), Slender (Sheffield), Axel (UCL, ex-Glasgow), geegee (Birmingham) ...