Consultation on Mixed & Women's Nationals 2012 and beyond...

Jim HancoxA note from Jim Hancox, UKU Mixed Coordinator:

Over the past ten years, we have always struggled to find the right place in the season for Mixed Nationals.  The Competitions Committee has come up with a potential new approach (see below) - but please note we would like feedback on this IDEA before making the final decision.  And in particular please note that there is big knock-on impact to Women's Nationals too.

Based on the poll-responses received so far we decided to provide some additional information on some of the common questions/comments - but please read the proposal and poll first if you have not done so already.

In recent years, Mixed Nationals has been somewhat shoehorned into the current Mixed Tour as opposed to being a standalone event as it had been in previous seasons. The combining of Mixed Nationals with both Mixed Tour I and Mixed Tour III over the last two seasons has, to my mind, reduced the importance and prestige that Mixed Nationals enjoyed as a standalone event. This is something that has not necessarily been universally popular but a credible alternative has always remained elusive.

Since taking over as UKU Mixed Co-ordinator just under twelve months ago I have prioritised the promotion of Mixed Ultimate as a division within the sport and also aimed to try and improve the stature of the division when compared to Women’s and Open. The driving force behind this was to increase the accessibility of Mixed for the UK player base and to hopefully, improve the standard of Mixed Ultimate at both national and international level.

Two years ago the UKU made a conscious effort to turn Open and Women’s Nationals into a flagship event aiming to provide not only a better tournament for the players that were competing, but offering an opportunity to showcase our sport at an elite level to the wider sporting community whilst also providing a better experience for the spectator.

A clear degree of separation between Nationals and The UKU Tour was created with the introduction of Regional qualifying events and the use of Nationals as the qualifying round for UK club teams aiming to compete at the finals of the European Ultimate Championship Series. This separation of Tour and Nationals/EUCS Series has been warmly received thus far giving clubs two distinct competition strands that can be entered with different rosters.

In partnership with the tournament organisers a three year plan was agreed to realise these ambitions and following two hugely successful events in 2010 and 2011, it is hoped that the 2012 event will expand to a three day event.

In addition to the expansion of the tournament to a three day event, the UKU Competitions Committee have been discussing a number of other proposals which along with the rationale for their introduction are outlined below.  We now welcome feedback in order to ensure that any development of the UKU National Championship Series is beneficial to both the development of the sport in the UK and to the playing community.

Proposal 1 – Capping Women’s Division to 8 Teams

As with the Open division, we propose to cap the number of teams competing in the Women’s division at Nationals. The rationale behind this is to provide meaningful, highly competitive games for the UK’s elite Women’s club teams with the purpose of crowning the winner as National Champions and determining which clubs qualify for the finals of EUCS.
Capping the number of teams at eight ensures that the tournament organisers can plan for a set number of competing teams guaranteeing the qualifying teams a good fair schedule and a better tournament experience.
At present teams would qualify based on the overall rankings from the Women’s Tour however in the long term we would like to introduce a regional qualifying round held alongside the current regional Open qualifying events.
Please note that there are absolutely no plans to reduce the number of teams at Women’s Tour and that the number of places for teams at Women’s Tour events will remain uncapped. Indeed the UKU is committed to being as flexible as possible with these events so as to encourage as many teams as possible to enter.

Proposal 2 - Introduction of a Mixed Division into Nationals

With the relative demise of Mixed Nationals over recent years and the desire to increase the standing of Nationals as UK Ultimate’s flagship event, the natural progression is the inclusion of a Mixed division.

Initially, it is proposed that the Open division will take place over all three days of the event.   However, in order to allow our smaller Women’s player base to compete in both the Women’s AND Mixed divisions, these divisions will take place over one and a half days – the Women’s division being played out over Saturday and Sunday morning, the Mixed starting on Sunday afternoon and culminating on Monday for example. Or vice versa. It is important to emphasise however that this part of the proposal is NOT set in stone and still to be finalised – it is for exactly this kind of reason that we are requesting feedback...

In line with this the entry fee would reflect the shortened duration with Mixed and Women’s teams paying ≈50% of the fee paid by Open teams.

Qualification for the Mixed division would be determined by final ranking in the Mixed Tour however, as with the Women’s division, in the long term with the continued growth of the sport in the UK, we hope to introduce regional qualifying events.

In 2013, we expect the European Ultimate Championship Series to include an extended European Ultimate Championship Finals (xEUCF) as it did in 2009 which will include a Mixed (and hopefully Masters) division.  The European Ultimate Federation is committed to retaining the Mixed division on an annual basis with the aim of improving the standard of Mixed Ultimate in Europe and, at the EUF Championship Series Committee is currently discussing the possibility of the annual mixed event within EUCF happening in 2012.

With this in mind it is key that UK Ultimate has a robust and relatively future proof qualification process and the introduction of a Mixed division into Nationals not only facilitates this but aims to strengthen our representation in the Mixed Division at European club level.

 

The UKU Competitions Committee is committed to constantly improving the UK’s domestic Ultimate competition structure for all UK Ultimate players, regardless of ability whilst at the same time both promoting and developing the sport, making it more accessible to a greater number of people.

It is for these reasons that we are making the above proposals. However, we recommend the need for honest, relevant and appropriate feedback form you, the UK Ultimate community before implementing changes that are as significant as those outlined above.

We welcome any considered written feedback on these proposals and have also set up a poll/feedback form on the UKU website through which we hope to capture additional feedback. In particular we are interested to hear from members of Women’s teams that have competed at Nationals in the last two years.

I look forward to your comments...

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LINK TO FAQs

LINK TO THE FEEDBACK FORM
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Jim Hancox
UKU Mixed Co-ordinator
On behalf of The UKU Competitions Committee