Strange Blue Tournament Report

University Mixed Outdoor Nationals

2-3.May.2009 - Nottingham

Kia ora,

This weekend just gone, as is SB's current wont, a minor menagerie of wildlife took to the joys of the A14/A1(M)/A52 to travel to Nottingham for Uni Mixed Outdoor Nationals, hosted by Random Fling. Carefully caged during transport were a hippo, a leopard, a falcon, a meerkat, an octopus (in a tank of water, obviously.), a wolf, a spider monkey, a koala bear, a peacock, a yellow giraffe, and a "shire horse" (I've got no idea how this is different from a normal horse). The journey on Saturday morning was uneventful, sadly bereft of death-defying tales involving an overloaded Nissan Micra.

Photo of the team

When we arrived at the pitches, it was actually turning out to be a vaguely nice day. The number of teams entered (14!) meant there were two pools of seven; 6 pool matches followed by 2 bracket matches on Sunday. In SB's pool was: 1. Bears; 2. Positive Mojo; 3. Too Many Pies; 4. H.S. Beavers; 5. Us; 6. COW!; 7. Phat'eds. While the arcane techniques that resulted in the seeding were unknown to us, despite our diminished zoo size, we were confident we'd do pretty damned well, actually.

Pool play 1:

SB 11 - 3 COW!

Well, who else did we end up playing first but a team of glorified single-celled protozoans from the dank swamp of The Other Place. For once SB decided not to do its "we've just driven up, let's play like soporific sloths for the first match or two" thing and we actually basically tore them a new one. To be fair, they only had one person who came close to being a baller (Phil), but we seemed to have more legs than them and we just ran all 'round for an easy win. Thus for our second match, we were suffused with the wonderful sensation of "a winning start to the morning".

Pool play 2:

SB 10 - 8 Beavers

Towards the end of the COW match, some Americans came over and started heckling Fatty for his skills, his decision making and for not being in London for some insignificant A tour warmup event. What this meant, of course, was that Beavers had turned up and we were gonna have to take them on next. The tight-ish scoreline well reflected the tension I felt during the match - while I wouldn't claim any of their women were superstars, when you've got 3 Americans who seem to take every undercut as an opportunity to try and cut your legs out from under you with a layout D, and whose main response to being on O is to run like the frigging bejesus, it's gonna be a tough match, you know? As it turned out we played pretty damned well, with the oppo still having to work off their travel legs while we were nicely warmed up by our preceding glorified training session (cough cough). This is the match where the "Jagali" connection really warmed up, with Mags constantly cutting long to receive one of those floaty forehand hucks that Fatty threw consistently all weekend. I can't actually remember very much else from the match besides having to chase fired up Americans all over the pitch, but Gary managed to psyche one of 'em out throwing a full-pelt backhand huck right into the bridge of his nose. It made one of those sounds that you get when a disc hits something very, very hard, and the dude fell over and started crying from the pain. It turns out the damage wasn't especially serious, so he ended up coming back on a few points later (and playing out the remainder of the weekend too), so respect. (The shame was that his great work on D was thrown away by the guy who came on as the injury sub. hah!)

Pool play 3:

SB 5 - 11 Bears

So then we played a team we've played quite a lot before. Unlike the previous two teams Bears had actually pretty darn good women and even one (Gemma) that Jassy spoke of in awe for, well pretty much two days straight; Dave Tyler and Smiley were both there on the guys' side, along with a bunch of people I'd recognise from a police lineup but not much else. This sorta felt like the opposite of the last match, inasmuch that Bears basically ran rings around us with sweet connections and we were always playing catchup. We still managed to put more points on them than their other opposition, so we didn't feel that bad, and they were #1 seeds, so, ya know, they should've been pretty good. After the match DT said we had the consistently best offense they'd played year, which was such a nice thing to say that my heart melted a little. Aww. (That still didn't make up for losing, o'course).

Pool play 4:

SB 11 - 7 Phat'eds

The last game on Saturday was against Sheffield, who were in the unfortunate position of having their 3 women ironman it for the entire day. This meant our women instituted their now-famous "girly clam", while letting us boys do all the hard running on man D. To be fair the girly clam had been working pretty damn well, and having people standing in the lanes tends to help cut down on open undercuts, y'know? Fantastic. Despite being the bottom of the pool and having a squad comparable in size to ours, they took us right to the limit, with fatigue on both sides starting to show. Still, we played well, with the 3-4 that Bears had complimented on us gelling well and giving us options (when we had the energy to run, anyway). It was in this match that Rich stamped his nickname with a series of ludicrous full speed undercut one handed grabs that looked like the disc had decided to attach to his fingers, which was pretty sweet. The other big thing I can remember was when Fatty had a totally sweet full-extension vertical layout D on a huck when the game was still in the balance; we cheered quite a lot for that (at least after he got up and brushed himself off and didn't roll around on the ground injured).

Thus ended our Saturday's play, a fully respectable 3 for 1 so far. Chuffed with the day's work, we went and had showers (just as good as the ones at Tour 0! With the added bonus of not having heaps of league players!), and then went to the hall we were sleeping in. Dinner was cheap and eerily efficient Italian, and we decided to chill out by going to watch the new X-Men movie (potted review: fills every action movie cliche you want. What deus ex machina to justify the succeeding movie franchise?). After that we spent a while wandering around the shiny lights of central Nottingham, during which we established a few things: 1. Noone had any idea where the damned party was; 2. 7 seater cabs are hard to find; 3. Nottingham women do like a man wearing Hawaiian shorts (though my reply made her gag audibly); 4. Guinness Red is crap. We didn't end up making it to the party, having a few pints in a pub full of old people before heading back to the hall for bed.

Of course this wasn't the end of the night; I had to open the front door by sticking my arm through the mail slot, a few of us played "guess your age" with the guy on the night shift (we were very wrong), and then the drunkards started trickling in from the party. Apparently there was some dude who walked in and then walked into a door, twice, trying to get through. (Apparently he managed to pull on it the third time.) And even more shockingly, some dude from Bears came in with A WOMAN, and was spotted by Jassy counting off seconds before he could make an entrance to the sleeping area and a proposition to the object of his desires. (To this I observe: not only are they better at frisbee than us, they're also going to the parties AND getting action. What on earth are we doing wrong as a club?!)

Sunday morning dawned bright and frigging windy; from the aesthetic pleasures of Saturday's two-way flowing ultimate we were descending into a foetid pit of huck-and-zone-D and more floaty forehands than... something with a HELL of a lot of floaty forehands. Going off the previous day we had a great chance of getting into the top 4 bracket if we played to our full potential; the less-good news was that Alex was out for the day with her dodgy dodgy knees. But we went ahead and ploughed on with 10 anyway...

Pool play 5:

SB 10 - 9 Mojo (sudden death!!)

We didn't play that much zone in this game. Did we? I don't think so. Anyway this game was definitely dominated by the wind, with their downwind O based around jamming it down the downwind sideline and our D based around trying to make sure we weren't beaten to that bloody downwind sideline. Sitting at my desk now I can't recall much about the match other than it must've been pretty damned tight given we won it in sudden death, and there must've been a break or two, but Alex had won the first of two crucial tosses which meant we had the wind advantage, and so we pulled through. Woo! Downing the second seeds in our group, given that Pies hadn't played well all weekend, meant we had a sweet chance of getting through.

Pool play 6:

SB 9 - 4 Pies

The final pool match was a bit of a blowout, really. We didn't win the toss, but scored an upwind with the very first point, which pretty much set the tone for the match. Our downwind D was based around a junk which really, really effectively shut them down, reducing them to playing pretty much entirely with their 3 or 4 at the back, and good pressure in the wall and upfield meant that they never seemed to threaten getting any breaks on us, while we obviously scored a few (as the final score attests). I especially enjoyed this match because they had some dude from Ireland who I was marking quite a lot (as I played chase). People from Ireland are funny. This meant I had fun. Capische?

2v3 semi:

SB 9 - 8 Halcyon (sudden death!!!!)

Successfully ensconced in the "real" semi-finals, we now faced the gigantic purple colossus of the tournament, Halcyon. They'd brought down two FULL lines with a handful of subs, so obviously they had the potential to run us into the ground; as the match turned out though it was always too tight for them to really use their numbers effectively. Once again Alex pulled the required rabbit out of the hat by winning the toss and thus giving us the wind; right from the word go, it was obvious that they were totally fired up (going well with their bleached hair and 5ulti gear). What ensued was fairly awesome to watch, with both teams struggling to get it upwind against tight D; Rich got a string of swipes on their favoured up-the-line dump pass, and when Jacko (their baller, obviously) threw some HUGE forehands into the wind they repeatedly died into the safe hands of Mark and Fatty. The one successful upwind break they pulled off early on was immediately matched by us the next point, when my best forehand huck of the weekend somehow crawled halfway up the sideline and into Fatty's clutches, who then threw the goal to Mags. With the oppo so totally fired up - there was a lot of raised voices, at both male and female members of the team - we were fighting hard to keep them out of the game. This wasn't to say they didn't have their chances; off two of those ludicrous upwind hucks they had the last pass to an open (wo)man in the endzone go wrong (the first one was O-I and got totally owned by the wind, the second got turfed about 2 yards in front of the receiver). We were having big troubles upwind too - Natman attempted a stall 9 hammer upwind which ended up sailing over his head and back into our endzone. But through both D and that good luck on their upwinds, we held on to score the downwind winner and send us into the final. Wooooo SB!


SB 4 - 10 Bears

Well, who was there on the show pitch but our old nemesis, eh? We took the hope into the final that, with the wind up, the fact we were more used to playing in it would give us an edge. The match was one of those remarkably unpretty games that happens as a result of strong wind, with both teams playing for safety when defending an upwind near their endzone - and this time Alex hadn't managed to win the toss so we were starting with the disadvantage of having to get a break, too. In the first half we did play well downwind, with Mark and Fatty's hucks into the acres of open space being pulled down by, well, Mark and Fatty and everyone really, and both teams had definite difficulty moving the disc upwind against good man D and plain bad luck (I mean the wind, of course) taking the disc and sending it rolling towards the softball pitches on the other side of the paddock. So we traded to 4s (including an upwind each, if I'm remembering right) and then Bears got another break to take half 4-6... and after that it was kind of a blur as they put 4 more in back-to-back to take the game away from us. While downwind our connections kept on coming into mid-field, we just couldn't make the space and cuts in the red zone to score the points to keep us in it; and as their main handler DT (the men's MVP in the final) had great interplay with Smiley and indeed everyone in their team, always taking the right 95% option which meant they got the breaks to win it. One of the last few points probably illustrated it the best: in their own corner DT breaks on stall 0 to Smiley at the front of the stack, who sends a backhand huck up the sideline to one of their women, who then lays off back to Smiley for the goal (and speaking as the dude who got totally burned by him - twice - ye bloody gods, can that man go from nothing to fast in bugger all time). (As an aside, because I'm gonna have to fit this story in somewhere, and to explain the previous email - on a downwind point Smiley was marking me, on the sideline, and he gets told by DT to make sure I don't get an io forehand off. I do. A few turns later we're back in more or less the same place, and this time he's told to REALLY not let the break off, to basically mark me backhand. I still got the break off. There was, as could be imagined, a rather big grin on my face as I ran after the disc downfield.)

Mags got picked as women's MVP for the final for her non-stop running downfield - go Mags! And as above, DT got the men's for being a total baller and all-round nice guy. (He almost scored a Callahan, too - what a way to end your uni career that would've been). Our team MVPs went to Mags for working tirelessly in the Jagali all weekend, along with running around a LOT and marking out her woman, and Mark, who totally didn't freak out and played sweet O all weekend both handling and cutting, and was also always under that swilly high disc to get that all-important D on the upwind.

And that was that - the most successful uni team that SB's put out all year (hah)! Everyone played totally awesomely - big ups to Anna who was playing her very first tourney! - and we were all totally chilled out with each other and well-spirited as well (third in the scores, after Pies and Halcyon). Our reward was a big frigging plate with 2nd place engraved on it, and the photos are already on Facebook if you haven't seen em already. Make sure you've got tickets (if you haven't got any tickets, you should talk to Mark first).

That's it from me, congrats on making it to the end (and apologies to Cat - obviously the short report was never gonna do, was it). And woooooo mixed SB! (totally)

- Mike