Last weekend (9th-10th March) saw each of the five UK regions host Uni Open Outdoor Regionals, to decide which clubs get to compete in Division 1 and Division 2 Nationals in April. Here’s what happened:
The first drama came first game on Saturday in the South East, where Sussex Mohawks 2nd team beat Portsmouth’s Sublime in sudden death [video here], Sublime having won the Division 1 title only a few years ago. It was an indication that there were going to be some serious shifts in the South East. Sublime were catapulted into the undesirable position of having to then win game after game after game to have a chance of fighting back up to Division 1, whereas Mohawks 2 were guaranteed to qualify for either Division 1 or Division 2 Nationals.
Disc Doctors and Team Surrey had an incredibly tense and tight game in group C, with 6th seeds Surrey defeating 3rd seeds from Imperial to knock them onto the hard path. This meant only one of Imperial and Portsmouth could qualify for Division 1, setting things up for a very intense Sunday. LSE held onto their 4th seed over 5th seeds Kings Thrown.
Both Sublime and Disc Doctors didn’t struggle too much in their 5-12 crossovers, but then immediately had to face each other in the 6v7 – a position neither team expected or wanted to be in at this point. Imperial came out on top, meaning Sublime were restricted to possible Division 2 qualification only. Imperial went on to beat Thrown and LSE Beavers to make it into the 3v4, whilst Sublime won the rest of their games, beating Brunel in the 6v7 to secure their spot at Nationals.
At the top, Mohawks 1 put an end to LSE’s run to get into the final, and Surrey used their experience to beat Mohawks 2 in the other semi, despite struggling against Mo2’s zone later in the game. Mohawks 1 continued their domination of the tournament in the final, defeating Team Surrey 12-1, Rich Roberts getting MVP. Mohawks 2 found their form again in the first 3v4 against LSE, and defeated them to earn a spot against Disc Doctors in the 3v4 game to go to Div 1 Nationals.
The 3v4 was a thrilling game, with Mohawks 2 taking an early lead and then Disc Doctors fighting back, getting many points in a row near the end of the match when Mohawks 2 needed just 1 point to win it. Disc Doctors’ chants of ‘Y E L O’ were countered by an army of Mohawks (with two other Mohawk teams lining the sidelines) chanting ‘R E D’, filling the game with an energetic and slightly frightening atmosphere. For a while in the cap it looked like Mo2 had lost their nerve, resorting to ambitious long shots in a seemingly desperate bid to put the game to rest, but in the final point they showed they were still confident enough to string together multiple passes down the field to make that shot into the end zone easier. Sim Kennedy threw the final pass to Roadtrip Rob, and despite it hovering above him for a second or two, he brought it down two-handed to secure the game and Mo2’s qualification to Division 1.
Full game videos from Mohawks 2 v Sublime, the 1v2, and the 3v4 are / will be available from here.
It was a freezing weekend in all regions (so cold that Sam “Toto” Bretherton from Mohawks in the South East and Jonno Saunders in the Midlands actually got hypothermia), but Scotland suffered the worst of it – Scottish Uni Regionals was called off on Saturday evening, to the outrage, disappointment and frustration of all the teams involved. Uni Ultimate veteran Graeme McDowell had this to say:
“Two years ago it was cancelled twice and we ended up going to nationals based on finishing positions from the previous year. That was quite frustrating seeing as we never got a crack at Edinburgh although after nationals the results suggested we probably couldn’t have taken them. There has been a fair bit of chat so far about options and it seems like organising a mini tournament will be the best solution. The real problem is when, as it’s almost the easter holidays and lots of teams have mentioned they have people away home.
Anyhoo, yes, 1 day was played. Pretty much all went to seed except in one group where Stirling 1, Glasgow 1, Heriot-Watt 1, finished with Stirling bottom and Glasgow top. Stirling then lost their cross over 9-3 to Dundee 2.”
Uni Coordinator Edd Carmichael was brief:
“Yeah I got a call Saturday evening from Benji, spoke to the TD that evening too. Nothing decided yet, am in contact with relevant teams about options.”
George Hudson gives the run-down on what happened in the Midlands:
“The midlands region saw 23 teams show up for two days of cold and windy ultimate. In fact on Sunday: games were delayed because of the snow. Historically there have always been about 8 teams that could qualify for nationals (three div 1 spots, three div 2) and those that do go on to place highly at nationals. It has always been a strong region and this year was no exception. Cambridge (Strange Blue), Birmingham (UBU) and Leicester (Jesters) all qualified for Division 1. Loughborough (Haze), Warwick (Bears) and Nottingham (Fling) qualified for Division 2. East-Anglia university (Aye-Aye) and Oxford (Ow!) you might usually expect to see contending but this year they were kept out.
Warwick and Oxford have rarely failed to qualify for division 1 and so Warwick finishing 5th and Oxford finishing 7th, is quite an upset. Not to mention that fact that in the build up to regionals, Oxford were pegged as one of the favourites for division 1 after beating a number of midlands teams in friendlies. Their failure to qualify could in part be put down to the absence of Jonathan Saunders. On day 1 he was training with the GB u23 Mixed team and on day 2 he was seriously struggling with the cold. There can be no doubt that his absence as their main handler affected the team in a big way.
Warwick have qualified for division 1 eight times in the last 10 years. This year it was Leicester who beat them in the pool stages and then Loughborough sealed their division 2 fate and took the spot in the game to go. Warwick’s well drilled offence could not be utilised perhaps as much as they would have liked because of the windy conditions and a lot of zone defence but no doubt they will go on to do well in division 2.
So putting aside Cambridge who consistently qualify for Division 1; this year the midlands will also be represented by some less familiar faces at nationals. Birmingham have been fantastic all season with an offence that does not let go of the disc and a very hard working defence. Even against the best zones the region saw this year, Birmingham kept putting in the points. They switched well from a calm offence to a furious defence and the depth of skill within the team will serve them well come nationals. Then we have Leicester University, who have not qualified for division 1 in the last 10 years. So the regulars of division 1 will have to put up with this team and their unconventional offence come nationals.
So that is how the region went, and whilst there were a lot of upsets in terms of seedings I think most would agree that even the tightest games were incredibly well spirited. Friendly rivalries have replaced grudge matches over the years and more than a few teams replaced slaps with hugs, even in the most crucial of games. The 6 teams will be going into their respective divisions together and with high hopes.”
Midlands also saw the TD’s car getting stuck in the mud in the venue, and players having to band together to help push it out – what a lark.
From the North, we have TD Adam reporting:
Let me start by saying a big thank you to everyone who helped out with NUOOR it was a success despite the weather and the short time frame we had to throw it together. The pitches dug up horribly but this did not prevent some really exciting Ultimate being played. As ever in the North East, strong wind, rain and even snow were factors which meant experience on the disc proved vital.
Winners were Manchester and they deserved their victory after sweeping aside all those in their path on their march to the trophy. They combined fluid handler play with plenty of aggressive cutting patterns to create an irresistible offence. The rest of the field was much closer fought with some shocks. On balance it has to be said that Sheffield deserved their 2nd place after they demonstrated their ability against Newcastle 1s, it has to be said that they were the better side. In a closely fought 3 v 4 Durham also prevailed against the hosts seemingly through sheer desire to win this local derby. Their passion was shown by their reaction to every point scored and the team that wanted most eventually won- a fitting result.
Hosts Newcastle 1s, Leeds and Liverpool qualified for nationals so congratulations to them, they all look as though they will be competitive in Div 2.
Lancaster won the plate late in the day and looked good for their win, having looked a strong team all weekend and were unfortunate to miss out on a higher ranking. Bangor took them all the way in the final which is testament to how competitive this region is.
Congratulations also to Newcastle 2s who finished as the best second team of the tournament after a tight fought win against Durham 2 in the 15 v 16 match. The deciding point of which seemed to last an eternity but they were finally able to score the winner. Mentions too must go to UCLan competing in their first ever outdoor tournament where they put out a very strong side considering and Hulltimate for being the only team to make it out on the Saturday night.
Every team who showed up played as hard as they could and the real passion to win was evident is some of the performances and reactions to points. Cheers could be heard all around the pitches after important points which was no mean feat considering the howling gale.
Good luck to all those who qualified for Nationals and we will see everyone who didn’t at next year’s regional event!
From the West, Kei Matsumoto breaks it down:
Western Regionals was once again held in Cardiff, with the usual top six of Southampton, Bristol, Cardiff, Bath, Plymouth and Exeter harbouring hopes of qualifying for Div 1. A cold and often windless Saturday saw all top games go to seed, with Cardiff, Southampton and Bristol making the semis pretty comfortably from their respective pools. The game of the day saw 4th and 5th seeds Bath and Exeter match up in Group D for a top four spot. Exeter started the game in blistering form, going 4-1 up and looking like they would set themselves up for an easier route to Div 1 on Sunday.
Bath, however, fought back to take the game into cap. With the game to 11, a few turns and a very contentious pick call later, Bath took it 11-9 to set themselves up a semi-final against defending champions Southampton.
With rumours going around that Skunks had asked if they could leave early when they won the final before they had even got there, Sunday morning saw the semi-finals played out in strong wind and freezing conditions. Both games consisted of a lot of zone, and at time, pretty ugly ultimate. In the end Cardiff and Bath battled through to the final, while Plymouth, Exeter, Swansea and Bournemouth all won their crossovers to keep alive their hopes of Div 1 qualification.
The final saw Bath’s zone comprehensively defeat Cardiff, the final score 9-4 which included a Callahan score by Bath. In the 3-4 Southampton got over their semi-final loss by getting past Bristol to set up a 2-3 against Cardiff. A Callahan set Cardiff on the way to a 5-2 lead, however, Skunks fought back to take the game 6-5 in a game that involved several calls and strong up/downwind points. Meanwhile Exeter battled back by winning all Sunday games to set themselves up against Cardiff in the Div 1 game-to-go. Both sides were clearly running out of legs by this point, however, a game that started slowly soon picked up into a tussle between two teams that refused to give up. In the end Cardiff sneaked the win 9-6 to qualify for Div 1.
In the Div 2 game-to-go Plymouth and Swansea faced off to grab the last nationals spot. Plymouth’s experience came through in the end meaning they advance to Div 2 nationals for the second year running. In the bottom half of the draw Bath 2 won the plate, with Cardiff 2 taking home the Spoon.
Spirit was won by Swansea, and the MVP of the final was Alex Brooks of Bath.
Also from the West:
A handful of South East games can be found in the ‘SEUOOR 2013′ section of this site, under ‘Video on Demand’. Here are some other, free videos from the West:
Swansea v Bournemouth
Swansea v Bristol
Swansea v Southampton 2
If you have or know of any other videos from regionals, let us know!
Do you have any stories from your Regionals, or videos from your games? Was your team cheated out of a spot at Nationals? Does being able to throw in the wind make a big difference? Should teams play zone every time a breeze kicks up? Will it be a Mohawks v Halcyon final at Nationals? Who has a shot at winning Division 2? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
QUALIFICATION RESULTS: (with spirit scores)
1. Bath 1 (11.6) – Winners
2. Southampton 1 (12.6)
3. Cardiff 1 (12.25)
4. Exeter 1 (12.8)
5. Bristol 1 (10)
6. Plymouth 1 (12)
1. Sussex Mohawks 1 – Winners
2. Team Surrey 1
3. Sussex Mohawks 2
4. Imperial Disc Doctors 1
5. LSE Beavers
6. Portsmouth Sublime 1
1. Cambridge Strange Blue – Winners (12.3)
2. Birmingham UBU (12.4)
3. Leicester Jesters (14.2)
4. Loughborough Haze (12.9)
5. Warwick Bears (11.1)
6. Nottingham Fling (9.3)
1. Manchester Halcyon (8) – Winners
2. Sheffield (12.5)
3. Durham (12.75)
4. Newcastle (11.8)
5. Leeds (11.8)
6. Liverpool (13.8)