Mixed Ultimate Nationals 2011 Review

The 2011 South African Mixed Ultimate National Champs took place bewteen 30 April and 2nd May at the Pirates Sports Club in Johannesburg. An unprecedented 16 teams took part in the tournament with a chance to match their skills against teams from across the country and even beyond the border.

The games over the weekend were scheduled to provide the most closely competitive games for all teams throughout the weekend, with a Division 1 including the top 8 seeded teams and the remaining 8 competing in Division 2. Once the Pool stage was completed, the Group stage provided opportunity for all teams to compete for a final place in Division 1.

The competitive standard of Ultimate over the weekend was excellent with very close games across both divisions. The main standouts in Division 2 were ALA who played some highly athletic ultimate that included many dramatic hucks, the Hammerheads from East London who have improved massively in just one year and competed strongly for a top finish in Division 2. Durban’s Prawn Bunnies narrowly missed out on a top 8 finish in a very competitive game against Zebru from Cape Town and went on to win Division 2 in another hotly contested game against the Hammerheads.

Division 1 showcased the highest level Ultimate that Southern Africa has to offer with some solid experience and amazing athelticism on display. Some of the early pool games were good enough to be finals with some fantastic match ups and closely fought games. A few upsets over the course of the weekend kept the tournament interesting and the title winner was still uncertain up until the absolute last few point in the final. Mozambique kept their heads as a small squad with injuries to claim 5th place over the top Jhb team, Ult-Ctrl-Del. The UCT Tigers faced old Cape Town rivals Chilli in the 3rd place playoff, with Chilli using their experience to keep the tireless youth at bay and claim 3rd.

The Long Donkeys from Pietermaritzburg and Khayoba from Cape Town met each other in the final, both with a clean record of wins in the tournament. The Donkeys brought their unconventional and opportunistic style of Ultimate to the final that had them storming through their early games leaving most opponents totally bewildered. Khayoba had also moved through their weekend with a show of intense and athletic play, most notably taking a closely matched win from Chilli in the pools to grab the first seed into Group 2. The two sides battled it out in the final mostly trading points the entire game: the Donkeys zone defence and lightning quick capitalisation of turn overs versus an incredibly disciplined and clinical Khayoba. The threat of the Long Donkeys is so evident when you find yourself standing enveloped in the shadow of a player you’re supposed to stop from throwing the disc, add to this the consistent high release throws in all directions and passes are close to unstoppable. They have a truly enviable collection of height, fitness and speed which they use in every point. The Khayoba patience and accuracy with the disc had them making an incredible amount of successful passes each point to work the disc into the endzone, and with the Donkeys rock solid deep coverage, it was the only way to go. The disc was worked under, over and around the cup, squeezing through holes and finding gaps that would lead to the jailbreak one-two passes up field.

As the teams played into the time cap, it was an unlucky Donkeys turnover that allowed a quick offensive reaction by Khayoba which got them their final point to win and the title of South African Champions for 2011. A fantastic final game to end off a great weekend of Ultimate. Huge thanks and appreciation must go to the organisers of the tournament for keeping things running smoothly all weekend: the co-ordination of games, food, accommodation, lifts, entertainment and prizes all added to the success. We appreciate your efforts at setting the standard so high for the next tournament organisers!

*If you have great photo’s from the tournament then email us (contact[at]safda.org.za) and we will let you know where to send them to be added to the gallery.

Final Standings:

1. Khayoba (Cape Town)
2. Long Donkeys (Pietermaritzburg)
3. Chilli (Cape Town)
4. Ikey Tigers (Cape Town)
5. Mozambique (Maputo)
6. Ult Ctrl Del (Johannesburg)
7. Zebru (Cape Town)
8. Northern Lights (Johannesburg)
9. Prawn Bunnies (Durban)
10. Hammerheads (East London)
11. UCT New Boots (Cape Town)
12. African Leadership Academy (Johannesburg)
13. Voodoo Pirates (Johannesburg)
14. Rebels (East London)
15. Ultimates (Polokwane)
16. Orange Farm (Johannesburg)

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