Contributors: Dylan Spiers (SMOG 1), Andy Moss (Thundering Herd 1), Katie Ackerley (SMOG 1), gyanhan (Birmingham)
Additional Contributions*: Megan Brass (Glasgow 1), Black Eagles Captains, Greg Mann (ExƎ), Alice Hanton (JR), hilmaniaa (LED)
*Those who sent quotes rather than taking part in the chat. Those with no access to the chat have been italicised.
Black Eagles win Tour decisively on the Sunday, claim joint-victory in overall Tour rankings.
Glasgow get historic Saturday win over Bleagles, claim second.
Reading and SMOG make a full WUCC top four with all teams sending non-split squads for the first time.
Mighty Hucks take fifth, and also joint-overall victory
Birmingham defy predictions, finish 6th
Deep Space bounce back from MT2 slump to take 7th
Who are our big underperformers/overperformers at Mixed Tour?
Are Black Eagles our top pick for WUCC?
2. Glasgow 1
3. Reading A
4. SMOG 1
5. Mighty Hucks (Joint Tour winners)
7. Deep Space
9. Thundering Herd 1
11. Flat Perth
14. Purple Cobras
15. SMOG 2 (Highest second team)
17. Thundering Herd 2
44. Cambridge Ultimate 2 (Spirit winners)
***A very small note at the start. I'm not going to be running/editing any chats for Open/Women's Tour. I'm very happy to facilitate and join in - but I'm only in the country for OWT1. We'll try to find other people, I'm just getting the excuses in in advance in case we don't. Thank you all for reading these, hope you enjoy!
Welcome to the MT3 chat! We're getting into the closing stages before WUCC (Worlds) now, with only two months to go. As such, this chat will be a whistle-stop Tour through the top teams, with some more general mixed chat at the end.
We saw all WUCC teams start to get close to full strength with their rosters, with Black Eagles, SMOG and Reading all combining into one top squad for this Tour - and not forgetting Glasgow (who would do that?) who entered close to a full strength team to MT2 as well.
Let's start in pool A: Reading, SMOG, Might Hucks and Thundering Herd. Mighty Hucks have been the strongest non-WUCC team so far, and so I think they've merited an early mention.
A really solid team, bringing one of the largest squads I've seen them with (mainly more men). Having Connor McHale for the show game was obviously a big boost, he came up huge more than once
He certainly did, but I have to say in my opinion getting Merrick Cardew as a pick up for the full weekend may have been more of a boost (as opposed to Connor for a game). A very solid, experienced player, who was able to bring down a few amazing grabs himself.
Yep they are a great group of players. Probably suffered a bit in terms of numbers during games on Saturday against other much larger squads. But bounced back from coming fourth in the pool in their Sunday games. Herd had a 12-7 win over them on the Saturday, where I think they got pretty frustrated with what wasn't working for them. They started strong, but actually didn't take many many of the long shots seen in their other games, and made a fair few overthrows when they did. The 10 ladies Herd had also helped and they were playing 4 women as much as possible.
Hucks have a really solid deep game, when we played them in the 5v6 final the Joe-Rollo/any male connection was rather unstoppable. Whether it was a early stall huck or a last minute release valve, they brought it down more often than not. But while they seemed almost unbeatable in the earlier Tours, they didn't seem as much this Tour. Brum gave them a really good, close game, and started off with a 3-1 lead even before the score went back to serve
I'm going to end with one final thing I think still separates Hucks from the level of the WUCC non-split squads. They need some more women. Those they do have are still capable, but it is clear that teams are taking advantage of the fatigue in their later games. I think this is true across all Tours, at least from my perspective. With that said, well done Mighty Hucks in sharing the Mixed Tour title, and good luck to the Hucks players playing Worlds on their own with various teams.
|Mighty Hucks elevated themselves to a (joint) Mixed Tour title this year|
Photo by Andrew Moss for the ShowGame
We'll move up based on finishing position. Let's find out about how SMOG's weekend went.
Glad that we fended off the non-worlds teams and had some great games against other worlds teams it was a shame that we didn't come out with wins in our two games against Reading and semi vs Glasgow.
We were missing two of our main O line handlers in captain Alexis Long to uni exams and Tom Lees (yellow) to injury. I think this made it really tough in some of the games as extra pressure was placed on the remaining players having to step into new roles on the fly
I would say not having Rachel Turton until Sunday may have made an impact too - the Reading vs SMOG Saturday game swung on some quite sharp momentum shifts.
I think Reading went on a 4 point D roll at one point being completed with a layout Callahan! I think that with a few more O line legs the bleeding would have been stopped much sooner
As someone who isn't the biggest fan of having O and D lines, I will certainly concede that point.
we are learning all the time how to use our large squad to its fullest and that game was certainly a very useful experience that is hopefully going to help us later in the season
It definitely gave us something to think about. In our games on Sunday we adapted a lot quicker so I'm actually quite glad it happened when it did.
Any final thoughts on what adaptations to make before Worlds?
You'll have to ask the captains about that one. I'm sure they've been talking a lot. But I'm sure getting our missing O line handlers back (as well as the huge D line players we were missing) will change a lot. I'm not worried.
Onto Reading (A)! I believe the only WUCC squad with their entire team there, albeit with injuries. We had one really educational loss against Black Eagles, but apart from that a successful weekend. Many hard fought games, practice at both coming from behind and defending leads, and also lots of positives in our play (including Erin McGready scoring a game-winning sudden-death Callahan vs Mighty Hucks). The rock-hard ground and some pre-existing niggles did lead to a bit more of an injury list than we would like though.
I think the measure of our success can be seen by our dispatching of Thundering Herd. They are a good team which played well, and we felt like we never let them get into the game.
With that said, I would really have liked a game against Glasgow. They earned second-place with a Saturday win over Black Eagles and a semi-final win vs SMOG.
I didn't touch the disc during Herd's game against Reading :sweat_smile: think you only gave our D line two or three chances and I wasn't on the pitch for one of them. Avril played great that game - we couldn't really stop her scoring.
In MT2, Glasgow found themselves up against a Black Eagles side in the semi-final, but were unable to close it out. Here in Cheltenham, we had a similar situation, but Glasgow held on against a four-point Bleagles comeback to take the game. A little bit of a reflection of the small squad Glasgow have, but they seemed to have gelled very quickly as a side.
|Glasgow may have a small squad, but they can still get up tall.|
Photo by Andrew Moss for the ShowGame
The weekend was great for Glasgow. We went down with just 15 players from our worlds squad, with a few key players missing, but that didn’t stop us from turning up and really showing what we can do. We went up early on in our first game against Black Eagles and I think the energy that brought to the team is what carried us all the way through for the win. Mentality is something which sometimes causes us difficulty on the pitch, especially when we’re nearing the end of a match, but even when Bleagles took the game to universe we kept our cool, which felt like a great achievement for us. I could say a similar thing about the flat Perth game as well - we went a few points down at the start of that one, but managed to fight back for the win in the end.
It was a really intense game and they played really aggressively all the way through, I am not sure if the legs got the better of them by the final but they certainly put a shift in the semi. Their offence was very stoic in the face of a lot of different defensive looks we threw at them with breaks coming at a real premium
Finally, Black Eagles. Following their Sunday performance, I think we can say deserved winners of MT3. The Black Eagles captains sent us this:
We started the weekend slowly against GUX. The first half was not up to the standard we expect. They capitalised on this and were a lot more clinical.
From that point onwards we were very pleased with our performance, intense D and composed O.
It was a young money inexperienced squad playing this weekend with 12 players missing from our WUCC team. Full squad back together next weekend at Talampaya which we're using as our main warmup for worlds.
|No one could touch Black Eagles when they got into their groove on Sunday.|
Photo by Alice Hanton for the ShowGame
Matching up against them in the semi was intimidating. When Cameron Agnew (a fairly respectable threat on all parts of the field) is their shortest male player, it was not unexpected that they roasted us long and high for a lot of the game. I think the relatively calm conditions of Cheltenham may have helped them though. I'm not saying they couldn't have played their game in stronger winds, just that they became near unstoppable with the way things were.
Would people say, given their strong Tour performances, Black Eagles are the most promising British prospect (in mixed) at this stage for WUCC?
Looks like it, if half their squad are missing yet they still win comfortably, they're only going to be stronger at WUCC
Very true, although perhaps their performance at euros last year is a little bit of a warning as they didn't really make an impression despite having a dominant domestic season
I would agree with Dylan - I've yet to see them prove themselves beyond the British stage.
This is not to say they can't - I think they've been missing a couple players each time at EUCF, and have definitely come on from their 2014 squad in terms of ability and experience. Just that we haven't seen it yet - and internationally there's quite a few different styles of Ultimate we don't see as much in the UK. If they do well at Talampaya then consider any reservation I have withdrawn.
Exactly, these top teams have played each other countless times and so it is hard to read too much into results. I am looking forward to seeing results of Talampaya and Windmill which will really give an idea of how the teams are going to perform at worlds.
|Can Black Eagles take on the World in the same way they took on the UK?|
Photo by Alice Hanton for the ShowGame
Ok, back to the UK for a second, and I think it would be unfair not to mention Birmingham. A very successful MT3 to wrap off a very good overall season.
We won our pool quite comfortably to play the seeding game against Rebel. It's nice to play a non-UK team and Rebel were certainly very good and difficult to turn.
I was quite sad to see Ireland don't seem to be sending a mixed team to WUCC, but it's great to see Rebel over here all the same.
We played the 6v11 cross up against Herd 1 in a rematch of our cross at MT2 and we won again, starting off strong to take a huge lead and that was a nice cushion throughout the rest of the game.
It only shows how much Birmingham deserve to really be in the top 8, and I was sorely disappointed when we were seeded outside of the top 8 so we couldn't take a crack at the WUCC teams.
The 6v7 against Deep Space was close, we spent the whole game chasing till 10-10, and won on universe. While we struggled at first to stop their really slick offense, the defensive pressure just kept building and we got the turns we wanted. The final 5v6 against Hucks was similarly close, we started strongly but unfortunately a couple of miscues gave them the breaks they needed to secure their lead again. We ran our offense largely through our women but a few well timed poaches from their men got the blocks. Nonetheless it was a great effort by Brum, and shows again how well we can hang with the top teams.
I believe this was the most successful Mixed Tour run Birmingham has had, and hopefully this puts us in good stead to be seeded in the top 8 at the start of the next mixed season, rather than have to keep crossing up into it .
I believe that's true. Even the year Brum won Mixed Nationals (2014) they didn't have as successful a Tour season. Signs of good things to come.
Now, who do we think were the over/underperformers at Tour?
I'm going to start with ExƎ. A surprise top 8 finisher at MT3 (with a decent MT1 too), captain Greg Mann gave me the lowdown
ExƎ is a team of Exeter grads (or soon to be) that entered mixed this year with the aim of finishing top 20. After MT1 we realised we could compete on the same level as the established names in the mixed game. Going into MT3 our motto for the weekend was: ‘Good basics, good choices’. Playing the athletic style of game you’d expect from a team with roots in Devon and sticking with this motto allowed us to take some big scalps over the weekend, the most notable of which was Cambridge. I’m particularly proud of the way the team played against Cambridge, after trading out the first half (starting on D), at half we reaffirmed our focus for the weekend and put Cambridge to the sword in the second half winning it 8-1.
I'm gonna jump in with SMOG 2, they have had a huge season finishing Tour 3 once again as the highest second team
SMOG 2 certainly did well, but I think we have to say a successful Tour for second teams in general! Herd 2 finished higher this year than last year, and Reading 2 faced off against them in a thrilling "plate" final (17 vs 18). Glasgow 2 have been holding their own against some good teams too.
It is great that clubs going to worlds have still been able to focus on developing the next generation. it will be interesting to see how these clubs take on Open and Women's Tour
|They may be second teams, but don't count them out - Reading 2 vs Thundering Herd 2 was a well fought 17 vs 18 game.|
Photo by Andrew Moss for the ShowGame
Were it not for their MT3 performance, I think I would have put Deep Space in underperformers. Coming 7th here earns them enough credit to avoid that title though, in my opinion. Excited to see if they can build further. Guildford and Cambridge are other clubs who seemed to have built up successfully this year. Otherwise, Curve sending three clubs and LLLeeds doing decently on a long-awaited return to Mixed Tour round off my list. Finally, I got sent this by LED, who have had a really impressive season as one of the youngest clubs in Tour.
Being a uni team we really appreciated the lack of wind as we could really rely on running around and having solid structure rather than having to come down with 50/50s. We had a really great start against York and BAF where the guys stayed patient and we torpedoed our offence through our girls. This was only LED’s second year at Mixed Tour and we’re really proud of how we utilised our women and can’t wait to see how that progresses to uni next year and beyond. We stayed up late and came out slow against a solid Reading 2 team. The great thing about that game was that we knew that everything we were doing was right, we just played a bit pants. Lots to look forward to from the LED camp.
I think I would add JR have to be in the underperformer category, they were a top 8 team last season but dropped away a bit this year
I would agree with JR, but I think the reason for that is fairly clear they put a lot into trying to qualify for WUCC last year, and so took a bit of a more relaxed approach this year. With that in mind, their MT1 performance is still quite impressive to me.
While ideally we'd have finished higher, JR had a really fun weekend (and Tour season). As you said, last season was big for us with eyes on WUCC qualification, so taking a less serious attitude this year. We had several slow starts to games this weekend where we only really showed up in the second half: better pre-game preparation could probably sort this out, but again, this is a relaxed year for us. We had especially good games (and wins) against LLLeeds and Purple Cobras, although a round robin 3-way-tie put us below Cobras in the final standings.
I feel Cosmic Manatees, Brighton, and Black Sheep all slipped a little this year. Many potential reasons (people leaving, alternate focuses, etc.), but I think the results show that this year wasn't as successful as last year for them.
One final question I'm going to float - and if anyone reading this article is interested in making this into a more full chat, let me know as I'm happy to mediate it.
What should the GB cycle look like next year? Last year's Men's team took a very London-centric approach, while the Mixed/Women's teams were a bit broader. Is there enough Scottish talent to justify a more localised GB team? Or maybe only slightly localised (i.e. a Northern one to take in SMOG?). Or should we be trying to take the best of all talent in the UK, with the possible result of fewer trainings?
I definitely think that the top mixed teams should be heavily represented. The level of mixed in the UK has been really pushed recently as it has come into its own with more and more top players prioritising it over the single gender divisions.
Taking clumps from each of the worlds team would give a huge head start in terms of in built connections rather than trying to squish together a group of all stars.
I certainly think the Scottish teams have done well enough to justify this question being asked. My personal thoughts would be a potential split approach - a very clear north and south pod which come together for some group trainings, but train regularly together locally. In my eyes there is a bit of a midlands gap in mixed (Birmingham aside) which would justify this approach. Having some development players in each pod to boost numbers would also add some outreach.
As long as North is actual north not just "above Birmingham". tbh should probably actually just be in Scotland
North of England starts at Sheffield. Come at me Internet. Meeting people at my uni who considered Oxford as the north genuinely scarred me.
Alright, I'm closing this off now with a final question I like to ask. If you were to pick an all-star line (top four men and top four women from any teams), who would you pick?
Women: Tessa Hunt (SMOG), Ania Godbold (Reading), Avril Hunter (Reading), Katie Flight (Glasgow)
Men: Rollo Sax Dixon (Hucks), Mike Noblett (Black Eagles), Cameron Agnew (Black Eagles), Shaun Webb (Glagow)
I pretty much entirely agree with you except I think Bleagles women deserve some representing so I would add maybe Lucy Barnes instead of one of the Reading women. I would also have Tom Bennett (SMOG) in there, just because him and Tessa are too good a connection to miss out on
I might agree with you, but Black Eagles squad is so well rounded I actually had trouble picking out anyone in particular. I do think Black Eagles tended to use their men a bit more this weekend (and Reading use their women more), which is a personal perspective but reflected in my picks. Although Bella Tait of Bleagles would make it if I was just picking a D line rather than a generic line, as I thought she was very tough for people to play against.