Update on UKU Regionals and Nationals 2017

We would like to provide an update on the current plans for UKU Regionals and Nationals. We have a classic mix of exciting news alongside some ongoing challenges...


Nationals

We have been working on moving Nationals into a new stadium venue with Worcester Warriors (picture).  This venue has the unusual combination of a stadium and sufficient fields on site to accommodate the event.  Please note that we have not yet fully finalised the agreement, but wanted to make members aware of the plan.  Alongside this change we will be extending the event to include play on bank holiday Monday for most of the teams, and adding an annual dinner/party in the stadium on the Sunday night for players and spectators.  We plan to maintain the player fees at the same level as Nationals 2016.

Worcester Warriors Sixways StadiumWorcester Warriors Sixways Stadium

Regionals and qualification to Nationals 2017

We will be introducing a specific qualification round to the Women’s and Mixed division rather than inviting teams based on results at UKU Tour 2017.  These qualification events will take place on the same weekend as Open Regionals, and in general we will do our best to co-locate those competitions.

As our provisional date clashes with the US Open we intend for Regionals/Qualifiers to take place on the weekend of 29/30 July.  We encourage teams to contact us if they have genuinely made plans based on the previous date.  The backup solution is to revert to the original date and award an automatic place at Nationals to teams that are invited to attend the US Open.  

 We are gathering provisional (non-binding) information now about which teams plan to enter Regionals-Nationals [https://goo.gl/forms/LF1UAmmAJaUXXYPj1].  Please let us know if you would like or expect to enter [https://goo.gl/forms/LF1UAmmAJaUXXYPj1].  Teams are reminded that Regionals is intended as much for the teams that do not expect to qualify for Nationals as those that do expect to qualify.   

 The information gathered will be used to help determine whether we can run viable regional (North/South) qualification events in the Mixed and Women’s divisions, and where an appropriate dividing line would be drawn initially.  Taking on board the varied success of the regional events in the Open division we will also use the information to help an ongoing review as to whether we should merge some of the regions in that division.  Merging regions in the Open division would help to provide improved seeding at Nationals, and would also reduce the impact of the Irish team(s) being added to the competition (see below).


Nationals and qualification to international events 2017-18

We previously published this document containing details of qualification to international club competitions in 2017-18.  We are able to provide an update on the number of Irish teams that will have a bid to UKU Nationals / EUCR-W, and the number of bids the West region will have to EUCF provided that Ireland does indeed move to the West region in 2017:

Women’s division:

  • Nationals/EUCR-W will have 8 teams in this division.
  • There will be 1 Irish team competing at Nationals/EUCR-W in the Women’s division.  I.e. there will be 7 UK teams that qualify to the event.
  • West region will continue to have 2 bids to EUCF.

Mixed division:

  • Nationals/EUCR-W will have 8 teams in this division.
  • There will be 1 Irish team competing at Nationals/EUCR-W in the Mixed division.  I.e. there will be 7 UK teams that qualify to the event.
  • West region will continue to have 2 bids to EUCF.

Open division:

  • Nationals/EUCR-W will have 16 teams in this division.
  • There will be at least 1 Irish team competing at Nationals/EUCR-W in the Open division.  We are still in discussions with IFDA about whether Ireland will receive a 2nd bid.
  • West region will continue to have 5 bids (1 elite + 4 challenger) in the Open division.  Note that if Ireland did not join the West region, this would be reduced to 4 bids.

 

Questions and criticism

Following the publication of the document above there were some criticisms and questions voiced online.

 

Is it Nationals if an Irish team plays?  

Yes it is.   In our view this is absolutely a UK event, and is absolutely UK Nationals.  US Nationals has survived for many years allowing Canadian teams to compete.  We invited Irish teams to University Nationals for years, and during that period there were few (if any) complaints or concerns that it was “not Nationals”.  We recognise that this is a matter of opinion and that some people may disagree. 

 

What if an Irish team knocks-out a team from qualifying to WUCC?

The inclusion of the Irish teams in Nationals creates a concern that a team might be effectively knocked-out of their run at qualifying for WUCC by an Irish team.  Firstly this problem is easily mitigated in the 8-team Women’s and Mixed divisions with appropriate recovery games and a third competition day so our view is that this problem is only complicated to resolve in the Open division.  In the Open division, the third day provides us with options to adjust the format so as to be more robust against this problem, and the general problem of a team having a difficult 1st round draw due to circumstances outside their control.  It is not possible to eliminate the risk entirely because teams may perform inconsistently over the course of the tournament, and no competition format can fully resolve that problem.  We add the following comments:

  • It is already the case that WUCC-UK3 is awarded to the highest ranked team at EUCF 2017 (excluding WUCC-UK1 and WUCC-UK2).  By definition then this bid is awarded to a team that achieves the best result against international opposition rather than directly against other UK teams.  
  • By awarding WUCC-UK3 in this way we are also extending the number of bids at Nationals that keep teams “in the hunt” - i.e. any UK team finishing in the top 5 at Nationals will retain an opportunity to qualify for Worlds.
  • One reason for considering merging regions is that it would add extra “rounds” to the full competition and give each team greater control of their seeding at Nationals.
  • At WUCC 2014, in the open division the UK teams finished in 5th, 15th and 17th.  The Irish club at that event finished 43rd.  The results at EUCF 2016 show that the Irish teams are closing that gap, but the top Irish team still finished one bracket below the 2nd and 3rd UK teams.   For a team that is (in their view) knocked out by an Irish team, this will be a painful experience.  But from the perspective of designing an appropriate competition and qualification structure, it is hard to argue that this scenario would result in WUCC-UK3 being obviously less likely to do well at WUCC 2018.