2016 was another great year for Clapham Ultimate. Winners of:
- Tour 3
- London Regional's
- UK National's
Clapham's O and D lines entered as separate teams for the first event with several top European teams making the trip across the channel to London.
Having recombined for a special show game against Germany's Bad Skid late on Saturday, both CU teams put in commanding performances to set up an all-frog final.
The more vocal and fired up D-line took advantage of early mis-cued hucks by the O to go up early and never looked back, taking an emphatic win.
Tour 2 saw one of the shocks of the summer with scorching and still conditions at a Nottingham venue so well-known for its gale force winds and near-horizontal downpours.
Both CU lines, again entering as distinct units, were caught taking shortcuts in the heat on Day 1 and had to squeeze out sudden death wins against Fire and Brighton.
Disaster struck late on Saturday with JJ Howell taking a nasty fall resulting in a broken arm that is likely to end his season. Get well soon!
Sunday saw a re-match of the tour 1 final but the O line this time took the win in an intense and gritty affair.
Cardiff next and a full strength CU squad entered the final Tour event. Relatively straightforward progress was made until the wind picked up for the final v Chevron. Clapham edged a win to remain undefeated (disregarding CU v CU matches) for the season.
Europe's best met in Amsterdam for this Swiss-draw/power-rankings format tournament.
Clapham dominated with only Basel's Freespeed able to take more than 10 points.
Special mention to CU #99 Rob Schumacher for an unbelievable mac greatest in the final vs Heidees.
Clapham defend their title in Bordeaux by beating Freespeed 15-8 in the final.
Check out this first round game here:
Clapham takes UK nationals in dominant fashion, no team scoring double digits on us. Bring on Euros!
Burro (15-2), Devon (15-3), Brighton (15-9), Chevron (15-8)
CU left the UK 18 strong, looking to take on some teams in the US and cruise around in some big cars and eat big meals. The trip could be considered a success in each of these. We showed we're at the level of the top US teams, I believe this is certainly a first for the club and hasn't been done by any European team recently.
Truck Stop L 9-15
After checking out NY and Washington or just flying in for the weekend we had a show game against Truck Stop, in which we/they raised more than $1,800 that will be donated to Robin and Molly Poullath Be the Match fund. It was at an incredible high school facility with stands, floodlights and several hundred spectators. Certainly not what we expected initially when we were talking about a "pre-tournament scrimmage", but absolutely awesome!
We started slow, getting broken !4! times in a row to go down 4-0. They were running rings around us, the pressure they put on our O was unlike anything we'd seen this year, and on their O they were cutting a lot harder than we were used to. I can remember the lefty number 99 in particular being very hard to shut down. They made some great plays in the air, the crowd was loving it. We slowly got ourselves into the game and made a few plays, but the lead was too much. We traded out the second half (maybe got broken once), but had now started adapting to the much faster pace, which would help us for the weekend.
Note: This game was also played with observers. Many of our team hadn't played with observers before, and I for myself can say I'm all in favour of it when there are people watching. Time between points is so much shorter, discussions and foul calls dealt with quickly. It makes you realize how long you usually take...
Oakland W 15-5
Not much to say about this game except we came out harder than they thought we would and they gave up after we went up by a lot early. They looked better later in the tournament, so could certainly have put a few more points on us. Our first win this year in the US!
Pony L 12-15
New York seemed like a team where no-one really stands out, but no-one really makes any mistakes. The disk was very hard to get off this team, and their defence solid. In the end a few too many mistakes by us cost us the game. They seemed like a fun bunch of guys who enjoyed making a variety of pony based calls to fire themselves up. Seemed to work for them!
Ring of Fire W 15-12
This game had plenty of back and forth. We started strong on defence, and were up 7-5 looking to take the half with a break 8-5. We failed to punch it in, and instead Ring took the half 7-8. Normally this would have been the point for the US team to take the game away, but instead we fought back, everyone knowing we had what it takes to win this game. At half, we adapted to what they were doing on defence. We broke them repeatedly, and at some point around 12-10 also broke their spirit. Their heads were down and they had lost the will to win this game. This game was the moment we broke the usual pattern of going to the US. Instead of the US team figuring us out at half time, we had them figured out!
Madcow W 15-8
I cannot remember much about this game, except we went up early, but somehow they never quite gave up and we had to keep pushing all the way to the end. Winning this game would set up what would be essentially a quarter final against Chain Lightning in the morning. We knew we had to win, and took the win, but not without a fight.
Chain Lightning W 15-14
Chain had playing for them GB-open vet JD, so they had some insider knowledge about player preferences... but not enough banter really... In this game Chain took the first half, but we knew where we had seen this before. We knew that they would throw some risky shots that we'd have to keep pressuring and the D's would come. And with the D's came the breaks, we found ourselves up 2 with only a few points to go. Chain ramped up the pressure, JD was spotted increasingly often both on O and D, and they fought it back to universe point. We'd played enough universe points at practice...to calmly work it to the sideline and throw a huck down a narrow channel to Justin. Not ideal, far from it, but it worked this time. And with that we took a 4-1 pool and a spot in the semi finals!
Ironside L 12-14
Our offence had some real issues starting off the game, I think in the first or second O point we had about 8 turnovers. We ended up scoring it, which either speaks for the O-line D or the inability of Ironside to work it in. Possibly a bit of both. This certainly takes the pressure off a lot though, knowing you can get it back relatively easily. Our D-line was again using the first half to find out matchups and what defensive look we should use to slow them down. We worked out quite late what to do, and by this point we were down a couple. We clawed back a few breaks to tie it at 12-12. They put in their O-point to make it 13-12, and then we got broken to lose 14-12. Certainly a game we could have won, having had the disc at 12-12. Both teams could have cleaned up their offence a bit and taken the game away, but this way it was certainly a very watchable game. Many great plays... Download it here:
Pony L 7-15
Don't tournaments finish after you get knocked out? Apparently not... A show game on Friday, four back to back games on Saturday, another pool game in the morning and an overtime semi final... you see where I'm headed? That's not an excuse. They ran us into the ground, they wanted it more and we had nothing left. Next time... This year New York cost some of us a ton of money and half our losses this weekend. Ouch. I won't go into detail in this game as there isn't any...
At the tournament we went 4-3, with a close semi final. That's just about OK... for now. We've still got a way to go until Italy next year, but this is the first milestone on the way there. Plenty of new players will have time to integrate better and we have 12 more months of training ahead of us. Know that you have it in you, and what it takes to bring it, and bring that to every practice. Make CU practice the best game in Europe.
Author: Rob Schumacher
Clapham sent 14 players to tour 3 in sunny Cardiff. Due to torn l...igaments we were only playing with 12 players at any one point. Early advice was keep your shirt on. No sun's out guns out for us this weekend. So with the fair skinned creaming up in 50+ and others getting the tanning oil ready we prepared ourselves for the first game against Brighton on Saturday at high noon.
Clapham - Brighton
We started slowly, getting broken before putting a goal in. We quickly brought it back and started trading. Brighton had a great deep game, which we failed to do something about until roughly 10s, as we were still struggling with sorting out our own offence. We then denied their deep shots and finished the game off with a run, 15 - 11. Brighton mentioned afterwards that their goal last season was to get 10 points on us, so less than year late they made it. It won't be this easy again ;-)
Clapham - Fire
Again we came out slowly, again we went down a break early, and again we fought it back and started trading before pulling away. We were still not happy with our offence, but had cleaned it up a bit. Our defence was still not dictating the way it can, and Fire took advantage to score some easy goals. We were really making life hard for ourselves, the final score was 15-10.
Clapham - GB U23's
This was the big game for both teams on Saturday. We had both guaranteed a semi final, this was for bragging rights. In classic Saturday fashion we started the game off by going down 0 - 3. The GB team was very athletic and played some tight defence which put us under more pressure than we'd previously had. We were tired at the end of the day in the sun and after two games that we let go on for longer than necessary. We struggled to come back into the game, and found ourselves trailing late in the game. We knew we could do better. The pressure on GB mounted, our defence pushing them into smaller and smaller spaces. Sol had a great grab over 3 GB players, and everyone was imposing themselves on defence. The pressure was on and we got the breaks we needed to win the game. There is no doubt that GB played the better game in the first half and it was our will to win that pulled it out in the end 14-12.
We went out to eat some Japanese and everyone did what they had to do to be fit on the next day. Again we had a late start and were determined not to come out as slow as we had done in the games today. Tomorrow was knock-out time!
Semi-final, Clapham - Emo
Emo had had a great season so far, we had met them in the knock out stages of every tour, and I believe with this semi-final appearance they have pretty much qualified for worlds - congrats. In this game we did not come out slow. Our O quickly put the first point in upwind and then the D clamped down straight away. We dominated the first half, and emo had a few nice grabs to put a few points on the board, but we finished the game with relative ease 15-5. It saved us a lot of energy, if only we'd played like this yesterday...
Final, Clapham - Chevy
Somehow even after the great semi final performance we went down again by a break early. Chevy had a nice poach set which forced several cheap turnovers helped by the wind and we went down 8-6 at half. Jaimie politely told us to step up our game and the team agreed, it was time to go into the next gear. Chevy rested in the shade and punched in their upwind O to make it 9-6. We were tired, but knew that if we wanted it enough we could claw back and win this game. We switched it up a bit and tried some zone, which worked well for a while. Again the pressure was mounting and Chevy were staying in the game by virtue of some individual great plays, sometimes over several defenders. We knew this couldn't last. Finally Dom got a D which got called back, but the pressure was on! Jaimie got a crucial run through poachy D and put it deep to Giacomo straight away. We earned ourselves break after break, and had our chances to close the game out. But we didn't. It was 12-12, game to 13 and we were receiving upwind. We worked it comfortably half way and Chevy missed one of our guys going deep for an easy finish 13-12.
[Author: Rob Schumacher]
1) Britney, Cian, Dom, Enda, Giacomo, Jaimie, JJ, Magnet, Nick, Phil J, Schuie, Sol, Thrash, Voodoo
2) Not officially anyway
3) Food, not people
4) Including but not limited to: Ice bath, rolling, massage, beer, Cardiff night city tour
5) The author approves - he likes doing the same lazy defence
6) Not frothing too much
7) Yours truly did not catch a D in the upwind endzone to go up 2 points, instead the disc was caught by someone else
Nottingham’s prevailing south-westerly gales, perhaps more suitable for a wind farm than beautifully flowing athletic ultimate, were the backdrop to Clapham’s continual ramp-up to Chesapeake, European’s and World’s. Make no mistake, the journey has already started.
The two O and D squads of 12 from the previous tour combined into one team of 18 and the two lines played both offense & defense all weekend. In a potentially difficult environment for development, the goal was set to maintain the high level of focus and intensity needed to close out games by playing at the level aspired to.
Game 1 vs Ka-Pow!
Ka-Pow are a real mix of experience, age & developing talent and these boys came out hard. They were prepared to run deep and put up a lot of hucks. After initial successes, CU players and the wind started to close the skies. The different Clapham zones started to warm up and the addition of ‘cheese’ shouts added to the defensive pressure. On offense, players were hesitant in the wind and cutters tried to help by come too close. The result wasn’t pretty but CU eventually pulled away for the win.
Game 2 vs GB Under 23
Their loud, confident and supremely positive attitude came out and kicked us in the nuts for a 3 nil lead. A Clapham timeout, whilst GB celebrated, gave the required focus and CU went on a 4 point rally. On any other day summer’s day this game would have been a great spectacle. Unfortunately the rain was now horizontal, the number of turns went up accordingly and players were still not playing the systems. CU’s second objective was set; man the **** up. We needed to take individual responsibility to make the hard but needed throws into the wind and to cut expansively using the systems. The result was noticeable, even trapped in our own end zone, there was now space and re-sets were coming off more easily. GB continued to apply hard pressure on D but unlike spring chicken Sol, they couldn’t produce the goods. Clapham just didn’t look back after his shoulder height layout block. In all honesty, this is a GB squad with ridiculous amounts of potential. If they play only a little more patiently on O and up their percentages they will dominate. Good luck in Toronto!
Game 3 vs Ranalagh
Unsurprisingly, CU weren’t keen to hang out in the driving rain and so the game was moved forward, making it 3 on the bounce. The lesson learned in the previous GB game was carried forward with great effect. After a couple of miscues early on, playing expansively really started to pay off as CU began to get into proper flow patterns. The lads from Ireland seemed to have a harder time with the conditions and the number of turns really hurt their offensive efforts. With his Clapham career already off to a great start, new comer Stephan Rossbauer decided to end on a high note with a sick layout score.
Semi Final vs EMO
Sunday afternoon. A new day, a new pitch orientation, same big wind. EMO came out of the blocks willing and able to huck it up wind and they took the first point. The CU D line was playing the down wind points and EMO’s zone required a lot of patience. As CU is still learning the ways of consistent D line offense (taking easy options), Tom Abrams went into another gear to everyone else and started on a D-spree, including 4 blocks in one point. In the meantime, Clapham’s O line made short work of EMO’s upwind zone, consistently playing through the cup, or hucking it upwind. When did Britney develop that backhand? In search of more pitch time, Jamie even snuck onto the D line for a sublime first pass huck assist, show off. EMO’s expansive systems and looks made shutdown defense difficult in the first half and it wasn’t until the second that certain individuals took on responsibility, generating true blocks that closed it out at 15 / 7.
Final vs Chevron
Following the long GB buildup to Japan, the Nottingham final was a return to the classic domestic battle against Chevron. However, Chevy were unusually subdued and light on numbers, with 9 of their lads playing with GB U23s. In contrast, Clapham’s momentum continued building with each game and Giacomo Maltman’s block & score set the tone. The game was largely a zone affair with long bouts of patient zone offense from both sides. CU’s O line were particularly effective at resetting it again and again in tight spaces. During the sporadic moments of man D, there were surprisingly few deep shots from Chevy, whilst the CU D line were willing to play big and gaining yards from it. The returning David Stobbs put in a solid handling shift like he’d never been away and the conversion rate for the D line was at it’s best of the weekend.
Can Clapham focus and finish games off? 15 / 5.