The first weekend of April saw british club teams meet for the first time this season at Mixed Tour 1 in Cardiff; and a solid contingent of current and ex bears were there to keep the Airplane references high and the organized fun had. From the Bears: picking up for Devon based Shakedown was myself and Rob alongside actual ShakeDown team member Mike; Leia played for Birmingham 1; Romit, Matt, Winnie, Ellen, Wei, Rohin, Athreya and Isabel teamed up with the lemmings to play a huge role in Bearly Lemmings. We also spotted Kris playing for smog, some Bear Cavalry kit amongst the GB mixed team and were assured that if Fire had a mixed team, Robbie would have been there!
ShakeDown – Cathy’s Tournament Report
This was my first tour experience, having heroically missed the outdoor season last year by spending my time almost entirely in a boat. Rob had picked up for Shakedown at MT2 last year and we thought now was the time to see if we would drive each other mad playing on the same team, in a team seemingly full of couples it seemed promising! They were a lovely team to play with and whilst I was at first nervous, after my first throw completed I managed to relax into the team a bit more.
We were seeded 16th and knew we would be up against tough opponents, including last years overall mixed tour winners: Black Eagles. Our first game was against JR, they’d come off the back of a convincing victory over Birmingham and went up on us quickly, with a far higher completion rate of their passes and as we all learnt and got comfortable in our places in our zone. However passes started hooking up and we really benefitted with the strength in depth of our team, any player with a loose mark proved enough to break through their defence and string some continuations together. We lost 13-9 and it was a really good start to the weekend.
We then played last years champions Black Eagles, losing 15-7, and TBC (The biggest chump) losing 15-6. Both of these were signs of a tiring team, losing players to injury and getting our heads down a bit in a tough pool of top teams. Our last game was our heaviest defeat to Birmingham, losing 15 – 4, this was very disappointing and we definitely felt that had we played them earlier in the day it would have been a lot closer had we not won, but they played better than us in the game and the score showed that so can’t complain! Either way I got to mark up against Leia and lots of fun was had and we’d survived a day in wales without any rain. To the campsite for the night!
After a cosy night under canvas we were on for the 9am game against Scarecrew on pitch 1, which came with the added curiosity of game observers… I don’t think any pulls in that game were deemed on side but we did learn some fun hand signals and how easy it can be to ignore those with ‘best perspective’. We had to win this game if we wanted to finish above 21st and came out fighting. I missed some layouts but Rob played like a man possessed, earning the prestigious title of ‘man of the point’. Scarecrew were a lovely team to play and this was my favourite game of the tournament, we were running good continuations and kept the disc moving. Fresh legs from our men proved invaluable as the 5 girls were starting to flag. Threatening a consistent deep game with every player it became clear they were trying to mark that option out and we reverted to short under’s slowly working our way up the pitch, we held onto the win (mostly thanks to an early lead that Scarecrew tell us could have been down to some poor decisions made the night before).
Our next game was against Sublumni, punny team name but the less said about this game the better, I lost my nerve a bit in this game and got into my own head after a confusing foul/strip call early on, either way we lost and were now fighting for 19th against Flyght club! This was a really hard fought final win, and once again the spirit suffered from this unfortunately; the end was in sight and both teams left every bit of energy they had on the pitch.
So we dropped seed over the weekend but I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to play for such a talented team and feel I learn so much more with every new team I train or play with. Being in the top 16 allowed us to play quality opponents all weekend, learning a new sort of zone and reviving my enjoyment for playing mixed. We came second to last in spirit (55th… oops!) but conveniently below us were Sublumni who pretty much every member of our team had an argument with on pitch and generally weren’t very nice or spirited so there is some justice in the world.
My eyes are now on Mixed Tour 2 in Manchester where, if they’ll have me, I’ll be playing with Shakedown again!
Bearly Lemmings – Isabel’s Tournament Report:
Mixed Tour 1 was my first tour so I was pretty excited!! Especially going back to Cardiff where we had women’s regionals and I knew from experience that Cardiff was in fact a sunny, non-windy place (hahaha) and I’m pretty sure everyone else was psyched for good weather too!
We had a difficult first day where we arrived just ten minutes before our first game against Birmingham Ultimate 2 so the game became our warm-up of sorts and we had to deal with lack of players & lack of team chemistry resulting in an eventual loss 15-5. Nonetheless still a fun game and we had some moments of good offence play.
Our next game was against Chesham Kites where we lost 14-5 though the game felt much closer than that when we traded points at the start before they pulled ahead with some deep shots that we couldn’t stop due to some mismatches frown emoticon
Our next game was a close one, 8-7 win for us against Black Sheep 2. They threw a really loose zone on us a couple times and we walked right up the pitch all the way and that was reaaaaally satisfying. (Also really baffling that they still kept playing the zone – perhaps to slow us down?) Other than that our sideline play was moving things along and some deep shots connected and it felt good to walk away with a win.
We ended the day with a game we really wanted to win but ended up losing 10-7 to Cambridge 2. We were ahead at the start with a couple of unlucky turns by them at their endzone (A dropped pull, ohno) and traded points for a while before they took half and came back in full force.
Day 2 saw us repeat our Day 1 Game 1 problems when we again arrived just 10 minutes before hahaha. We weren’t exactly on form and dDx were simply more on form than we were, taking half easily with barely any drops and good options. We came back with some strong man D but it was too late and we lost 11-3.
Our second game was against Curve 2 who were really hoping for a win having lost all their previous games. They pulled a tight cup zone on us but we managed to break it fairly easily, and on defence we played strong man D to take out their first two options in their horizontal stack and resulted in lots of turnovers for them. So yay us we won 10-7.
Last game of the tournament was against ABH Hammer and it was a close game throughout though we pulled ahead a tiny bit to take half, they came back after resulting in a 11-11 draw after the soft cap whistle had gone. We were playing some slick offence breaking through their occasional zone or working our way up the sideline, but they traded with us with some nicely put deep shots that we had no chance with due to a mismatch and they capitalised on this. Luckily for us we won 12-11 with a huge hammer and we finished 53rd.
All in all MT1 was a great experience and I’d especially like to say to all the girls to SIGN UP for the rest of the tours, we capitalised on our girls for some of the games and we definitely utilised every single person on the team.
(Also camping is an awful experience I do not recommend it, though Matt does have an awesome pop up tent -and Romit has a normal tent- and contact with the stars above you is pretty fun)
I’m not sure if we’ve managed to field a SharkBear! team for MT2 in a couple of weekends time but if you’d like to play and haven’t yet found a team, get vocal on the facebook group or message me and we can try to get even more bears picking up in Manchester!