They always say open with a joke – here’s one I made earlier:
The Irish Department of Defence were very satisfied with their recent order: “Tanks a million.”
As Rob Tilley (probably) scored the winning point against Ranelagh in the 7v8 match to conclude Bristol Open’s participation in Siege of Limerick 2015, I reflected on my first outdoor tournament with my new club team. A few thoughts…
Should we have gone to Dublin instead?
We did play our 3 group games against Dublin teams – Trinity, Gravity and UCD. The first two were straightforward victories, with our big name players making the plays while the team found its rhythm. Both opposition sides deserved respect for bringing mixed, developmental squads who ran us hard enough to get the early kinks ironed out, but we thought we had Dublin figured out come game 3, and we were wrong. UCD were a big step up, with athleticism and throwers to match our own. We went down several points before starting to trade, but they were scoring with ease and we were doing things the hard way. The solution to stuttering O? Smothering D. We upped our intensity – stifled handlers, outran receivers – and clawed back a few points of our own. It wasn’t pretty, but it was the first time that weekend we really worked for each other, and though the deficit proved too great to overturn, we’d seen what level this tournament would ultimately require. Cork’s Rebel Ultimate were beaten in sudden death with defensive pressure again proving decisive in the late Saturday crossover to earn ourselves a Sunday morning quarter-final meet with the GB U23 boys.
Could we hold our drink?
With GB under strict instructions from their ‘mum’, any more alcohol or less sleep we had than them was at our peril. But then again, we had come to Ireland. Our social sec’s Friday night antics had led to renditions of ‘Bristol’s full of lightweights’ (disclaimer, he’s at Bath Uni and, despite wearing a Bristol Open top at the time, his alcohol tolerance is not representative of the club) but happily everyone’s stomach contents remained where they were at the Saturday night party. Rocking to a live band proved a perfect way to burn off some of the giant portions of Chinese we’d consumed, as had been the half hour trek to find the restaurant – a result of our taking every word spoken by the cute Irish waitress, at the burger place which hadn’t had space for us, as gospel. So what if a ‘ten minute walk’ turned into fitness training? We had no intention of letting her well-intentioned, beautifully accented and hugely inaccurate advice go to waste.
Did Mike Richardson deserve a spot on the GB roster?
With selection apparently based solely on lifting prowess, the answer for someone who would be shoved out of the way by teammates twice over the weekend had to be no. But these lads were meant to be able to play ultimate as well, and turns out there weren’t terrible at that. Mike gave an imperious deep performance on both O and D as we traded the first few points, leading to calls for his late instatement into the squad, before GB’s impeccable catching saw them dominate the scoring mid game. The play itself remained tight, and tough – everyone had been excited to play the GB boys and I for one savoured the chance to match up and run hard against some of the top young players in the country, especially during the hard-fought last few points that took us to 13-5.
Is Boyzone a good warmup for a boy zone?
The loss to UCD was just a warning light compared to the match against Cork’s UCC. Their combination of youthful athleticism and enthusiasm, coupled with a zone defense that seemed to only allow throws to receivers under pressure, led to a demoralising first half whitewash. Some attributed our uncharacteristic drops this game to the pre-match bellowing of Ronan Keating – with lines like ‘the touch of your hand says you’ll catch me’, I’d be surprised if that was to blame.
Are national stereotypes accurate?
Some of our opponents were definitely ginger. Ranelagh (who, by the way, went to Worlds over the summer), having lost a hard fought match (OK, so they were slightly understrength) said ‘tanks a million’ no less than five times in the post-game chat. Hoping that this suggested good humour, we showed them Lewis’ loosely-Irish-themed quiz which had been our entertainment on the plane over. Questions like ‘the Irish love a good fight but in what round did Carl Froch KO George Groves?’ somehow didn’t lead to violence towards us – it seems some stereotypes were, much like all the great breaks I threw over the weekend, wide of the mark.
Jake “Skylance” Waller