U18 Trans-Tasman Test Series Re-Cap
By Max Halden
In what has now become a crowd favourite event, the NZ U18 teams crossed the ditch in late September to play Australia in a series of test matches. Here are some lingering thoughts from the Australian captains.
Firstly, if you haven’t watched this highlights reel, take two minutes and do yourself a favour.
Amazing, right? The U18 Trans-Tasman Test Series featured six high quality hit outs between the rivals from either side of the ditch, Australia and New Zealand. If you want to be inspired by the next generation of young up-and-comers, there’s no better start than here.
InsideOut spoke to the captains of the Australian mens’ (Thunder) and womens’ (Southern Terra) teams about the experience of leading the green and gold and what viewers can expect from the games.
Hey Caps! It was awesome to watch the Trans-Tasman series, even if the results for the Australian teams weren't exactly the ones we might have hoped for! How are you feeling after the games?
Reyer Carpenter (Terra Vice-Captain, 17, Western Australia): Personally, I am still exhausted from the tournament and sad that it is over. Losing 3-0 to New Zealand wasn't the result we had hoped for but in my opinion we should be proud of how we played as a team. We showed grit and determination in the face of tough opponents and challenging score lines bringing our first game to universe after being down 3 points at time cap. Our game play improved over the next two games but we couldn't get one up against the Kiwis unfortunately. I am still so happy to have played some great Ultimate with an exceptional bunch of girls.
Is this your first Trans-Tasman series? If not, how did this one compare to last time?
Tom Boyle (Thunder Co-Captain, 18, Victoria): I wish this wasn't my first, so much fun!
Nic Lelli (Thunder Co-Captain, 18, New South Wales): It was not, I was selected in 2013 and 2015 to play against NZ. In 2013 it was just one game at the end of youth nationals , but nonetheless as a young frizzerino it was very exciting! 2015 was a similar 3 game structure in NZ, it was equally exciting and was the first time I played in front of a "crowd" and loved the cheers and claps I could generate from making plays on the field. To receive recognition from friends , family and strangers that Ultimate is entertaining, athletic and special is a moment I try cherish each time I experience it.
Holly Reeve (Terra Vice-Captain, 18, New South Wales): So this was my second Trans-Tasman series, having had gone to NZ in 2015. The quality of this tournament was leaps and bounds ahead of last series, from womens both teams, which is really incredible to be apart of. There were many returning players from both countries, adding to the friendly rivalry, and really enhancing the average experience. Being on home turf with familiar sideline support was new, which although took away from the ‘representing your country’ feel, as our country was representing itself, added to the desire to do them proud. I’m really excited to see where the series will be at in 2019.
How were the New Zealanders to play against? How would you describe your relationship with them?
Tom Boyle: Incredible athletes and people, on and off the field. Very friendly and spirited. Definitely a healthy rivalry, frenemies would explain it well.
Holly Reeve: Spirited. Super spirited. On and off the field, it was a breeze to get to know them. Despite the score, it was also fantastic that NZ played seriously the whole time, not getting cocky or comfortable. Hands down one of the best spirited series I’ve played.
Nic Lelli: I personally don't buy into many sporting rivalries, I think that comes from playing a lot of ultimate. To me, Ultimate isn't about beating the other team , it's about focusing on how well your team can play and enjoying the feeling of winning or just competing with your team. The idea that occurs in most other sports that you MUST beat the other team, they're the "enemy", results in a hostile environment. On the weekend, many times I was high fived by the NZ players and shared a smile after a good point. The games where spirited and friendly, calls were made on universe point and talked about calmly and productively. The future of spirit in ultimate looks good to me.
How did you find the experience of captaining an Australian team?
Nic Lelli: It was an extremely rewarding experience. To be chosen by your teammates to lead the team is such a privilege. I have never been a captain of an Australian team before so it was an extra special experience. Personally, the best part of being vice-captain for me was when head coach Ciaran Hudson would look to me to call positions on the line. Knowing that he trusted the decisions I made was a satisfying feeling. Our captains worked hard together to keep team morale high which was difficult at times but rewarding, especially when maintaining a positive attitude translated into a block or break.
Reyer Carpenter: It's humbling to be selected as a leader in any team , but when it's at an international level , the feeling multiplies. It's an easy enough job when you have such dedicated and experienced coaching staff such as the ones we had. I think the position is more about leading via example, making sure your heads up when things aren't going to plan, running hard so others do the same and making sure people feel included and part of the team.
What are some of things that viewers should look out for when watching the games?
Tom Boyle: The appropriate use of game advisors and sportsmanship (handshakes and high-fives) between the two teams. The unbelievable range of throws and looks put on display. Alan "The Kid" Kidd's layout block!
Holly Reeve: The unfailing attitude has been one of my favourite things from this campaign, and I believe it’s visible in the livestreams. Additionally, the Thunder boys and Australian A Squad and their support was invaluable, and worth looking out for. Almost every point from memory we had 7 if not more girls ready and willing to be on the line, an obvious indicator for the spirit Terra brought. I would also really encourage, when Terra is on defence, looking at which players don’t get the disc, as our girls did solid work shutting down options, something which often goes unnoticed.
Nic Lelli: I think viewers should keep their eyes open for the young talent coming up through Australian Youth Ultimate in the few years. The level of play has risen substantially in the last couple of years and can only go up from here. Look out for a cheeky Callahan in the first game as well as some beautiful hucks from many players throughout the series.
What's next for you and what's next for Australian campaign to the World Junior Ultimate Championships in 2018?
Reyer Carpenter: I have my final exams for my last year of school fast approaching but that will not stop me playing as much as possible, much to my parents' dismay. I am looking forward to training hard in preparation for WJUC 2018 selections at the end of the year and can't wait to see what the coaches have in store for us.
Holly Reeve: AMUC in Hobart is the next big thing, but shortly following is a bunch of flights to Melbourne and Perth to try out for Ellipsis WUCC and play in the Stingrays for WU24UC with an incredible bunch of women. Very excited and absolutely stoked at the opportunity. As for Terra, there will be a few selection camps over Summer, and the final team will fly to Canada in August 2018. After coming away from playing with such a great team in Trans-Tasman, I’m really keen to see the squad selections will roll out. After Poland 2016, many of the girls have built strong relationships and experience, including with the coaching staff, so keep a look out for great things ahead...
Anything else you'd like to add?
Reyer Carpenter: For anyone who is thinking of getting into Ultimate but who is not 100% sure, I cannot recommend it more. I have made friends for life thanks to this sport and the community and I love every single minute I play.
Tom Boyle: Never again will I forget my cleats… [Editor's Note: Tom committed a classic, cardinal frisbee sin by leaving his cleats at the accommodation and missing the start of the first Test. Like chicken pox, it’s good to get this out of the way early.]