MIXED TOUR 1

14th – 15th April 2007 Report by Tom Howard The UWIC pitches of Llanrumney, Cardiff, were the setting for the first of this year’s Mixed showdowns. Thirty-three teams made the journey to the south of Wales for the event, and were able to enjoy yet another sunny weekend as the abnormal early-Spring conditions continued. If only the weather stays this good for the rest of the year… Mixed Tour, for 2007, promises to be somewhat different to last season. In the run up to the World Ultimate Club Championships, several teams had recruited and reshaped their squads in preparation, and were using Mixed Tour 2006 as a proving ground to hone skills and gel together. These included Discuits, Sheffield Steal, Thundering Herd, Bristol Plastic Factory, and 2006 National Champions LeedsLeedsLeeds. This year however, with no club championships to aim for, and the Great Britain Mixed squad having not entered the fray en mass pre-Europeans, some mixed teams have disbanded (LLLeeds) and others have returned to their pre-WUCC strength, while other new teams have formed to fill the spaces left behind. What exactly this means for Mixed Tour 2007 though remains to be seen. With seeding directly based on last year’s Mixed Nationals, and new teams placed at best guess, Mixed Tour One used a schedule which pigeonholed teams into upper, middle and lower pools, with teams playing each Tour with the aim of gaining “promotion” to the pool above and, ultimately, into the top eight and onwards to victory; this ensures that close and evenly matched games are more likely, as teams learn to play to their best levels against similar standard opposition. Familiar faces held spots in the 1-to-8 bracket, including an amalgamated team formed from last year’s Tour Champions Iceni-Fire, in this case incarnated as IF Only. Alongside them were Locomotive Leeds, Brighton and others, as well as two new teams: A Chevron Action Flash mixed squad bravely debuted some of the best GB Junior Women in national competition; and BOOM, a friends-network team roughly born out of the remnants of Rampant X and some LLLeeds WUCC squad players. Inside the top eight, games were very close, particularly in the pool containing BOOM, Chevron, Locomotive Leeds and Brighton 1. At one point, after early dominating performances by BOOM in particular, things looked suspiciously like entering a multi-team tie! Brighton 1 were pushing BOOM close and hard, and Locomotive were doing the same to Chevy, with previous results conspiring to create the seemingly surreal situation, but both games eventually went to the higher-seeded teams. In the alternate pool, IF Only and Ping Dynasty were able to secure themselves the top two spots, and the semi final match-ups were decided: Ping v. Boom, and IF Only v. Chevron. Outside of the top-eight, things were being shaken around a bit. With equally hard fought games, some teams were on the up, including a talented Curious Bacon side who made a fairly dramatic upward surge, perhaps buoyed by the presence of Steve Vaughan in their ranks. Strange Blue and Flaming Galahs 1 also made good showings, and Brighton 2 claimed the honor of being the highest placed second team at 13th. Elsewhere, a post-WUCC Sheffield Steal could be seen on an unfortunate losing streak. Thundering Herd and Discuits, who might have been expected to suffer a similar fate after losing players from last year’s super-squads, instead defied the pundits, with Thundering Herd even securing their highest Tour finish ever after ending their weekend losing to Locomotive in the 9 v. 10 Plate Final. A small and under-manned Locomotive Leeds side dropped out of the top-eight in an incredibly tense encounter, just falling short of pressing home a tenacious come-back in their cross-over against an agile and well-skilled High Altitude. The Scots were on the way upward into the higher echelons for the first time, securing an eventual 6th and simultaneously claiming the Spirit of the Game trophy. Come Sunday afternoon, the semi finals were decided, with BOOM and IF Only progressing to the first Mixed Final of 2007, despite the best efforts of Ping and Chevron who were left to contest 3rd and 4th place. Chevron were especially unlucky, losing in sudden-death to IF Only. Sudden-death and come-backs seemed to be the order of the weekend. The final, though slightly marred by calls in the early stages, looked over as BOOM took a few points lead entering the closing stages. IF Only had different ideas though, clawing back to take the game by a single point and snatching victory from BOOM. IF Only became Tour 1 winners in Cardiff in dramatic fashion, setting themselves up to retain their Tour Champions title in two events’ time, but not if a hard-done by Chevron or a revengeful BOOM can prevent it. For more information, visit Iain Thackra’s (TD’s) website:http://web.mac.com/iainthackrah/iWeb