Five players. Thirty minutes. Two end zones. One Frisbee. How hard could Ultimate Frisbee be? Very, it soon transpired. Five minutes into the first match against previous champions St. John’s soon proved wrong those whispers of an “easy half-blue”.
Ultimate is a surprisingly intense game, requiring powerful sprinting ability, core strength and high levels of agility. Each team aims to catch the Frisbee in the other team’s end zone without dropping it, throwing it out or losing it to interceptions. Wind, opposition pressure and a time limit on possession of the frisbee often transpire to make this more difficult than it sounds. The thirty minute long matches soon had even the most seasoned teams rather red in the face as the bright mid-afternoon sun combined with 23 degree heat to add to the intensity of the matches.
Cuppers saw twelve teams competing for the title this year, with players of all abilities, from Blues through to the freshly formed St. Anne’s team, the latter having only just picked up a Frisbee five days prior to the tournament.
Novice teams are encouraged by something that its participants refer to as the “Spirit of the Game”. This stems in part from the self-officiated nature of the game, which fosters a strong spirit of sportsmanship and respect. One debate over a line contention was so civil that it prompted one novice to remark that this was the most polite game that she had ever played. The games are followed by a team huddle in which each team’s captain makes a short speech about the match.
Turning to the matches themselves, Balliol faced perhaps an unexpectedly difficult start against the newly formed St. Anne’s A team, winning by a 6-3 margin before settling into their rhythm and dominating subsequent matches. Their rivals for the title and previous winners St. John’s had an easier introduction tothe competition, scoring 10-0 and 10-2 victories over St. Anne’s B and Christ Church respectively. After three tough, thirty minute games, the group stages finished. Teddy Hall put forward an impressive effort in the semi-final of the cup, yet it was not enough to stave off the more experienced St. John’s side whose much larger squad helped to counter the effects of fatigue and secured them a 7-4 victory.
This victory saw St. John’s through to the final, facing their rivals Balliol. The two teams had already played this year during the Cuppers League with Balliol securing an 8-5 victory. The Cuppers final saw a much closer game, at times the two teams scoring point for point. However, true to this year’s form Balliol were able to secure victory over St. John’s, with the final whistle clocking in the scores at 5-4.
The Cuppers format included the ‘Plate’ competitions. allowing teams who had not won their groups to continue playing, giving everyone the same amount of game time. The winners of the Plate B competition were the oldest team on average, consisting of graduates from St. Cross, beating St. Anne’s to the title. The final of the Plate A competition saw the victory of the ‘Pick-Ups’ over ‘Kieran’s All Stars’.