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So before we look forward to your tournament, we should talk about how the season has gone for you guys? You worked your way to Second place in the British Championship in T3 North, which sent you off to the play offs weekend in Newark! How was that for the team?
L: The team have been incredible all season. as always, living in a tiny uni city, we've had a big turnover of Tayzer skaters though the season but everyone takes it in their stride (lol pun), and we've welcomed some incredible new additions to our roster. Playoffs were surreal - we didn't expect to perform so well against Swansea and for a moment panicked we'd have to go to teir 2 haha.
M: This season has made us so proud of our team, they always go into a game with a positive attitude and a focus on performing to the best of our abilities. We went into playoffs with a view to keep our scoring differential to a minimum and just like every other game our team came together and smashed expectations!
We've covered a little bit about the Tenerife Tournament in our previous interview with Crime City, how did you guys get involved with that? This is the first international away game for you guys isn't it?
L: We'd been approached by Tenerife last year but at the time British Champs had wiped us all out and the league had no travel funds. So we kept in touch and organised a game for this year as far in advance as possible!
M: This was organised mainly through Milky (Liston #07) and Ellin (Seaton #102), keeping lines of communication with other leagues open. We're so excited to have been invited over, it's a great step forward for DRG as a league!
How are you guys as a league preparing for all of this then, it's not just the skaters that are going as your officials are working towards this tournament as well! How is everyone getting ready to skate in the blistering heat of “winter” in the Canaries going?
L: Our officials are always so busy, right until the end of the year. They've been all over lately - Cardiff, Helsinki, Newcastle. Obviously all good prep for the sun!
I think the Tayzers are prepping by bulk buying sunscreen.
M: We are a very lucky league to have so many dedicated officials - they work tirelessly to develop their own skills and bring them back to DRG, like Milks said they've been doing a great deal of travelling lately so they're probably better prepared then the team! Most other leagues are now going into their off-season but we've asked our skaters to keep up the focus and training for this upcoming tournament, it has extended our season quite a bit but we were happy to do it.
Do you all set yourselves personal goals or do you have a league goal with this tournament in mind?
L: We're going into this tournament with the same league and team goals as always - to do our best and have an awesome time. We've got a very short roster against some incredible teams, so this'll be amazing learning to take forward for the season ahead.
M: Yup our league wide goal is to enjoy every game as much as you can and perform to the best of our ability. If we can come out of a game having supported each other and gained new learning focuses we've always won!!
And just to round off, what are the plans for next year? I believe there are a few changes coming to DRG next season, possibly with a hint at more international teams?
L : We're hoping to graduate from WFTDA Apprentice status to full members next year, so hopefully we'll get a few more trips away to sunnier climates! Or colder. We're not picky...
M: Yes yes next season all focuses are on WFTDA, it'll be a great learning curve for our little league and we hope it will really help us develop. We're all buzzing for our leagues future and yes hopefully some more trips!
To fund raise for their travel Dundee Roller Girls are hosting a gofund me: https://www.gofundme.com/drg-tenerife-tour, and along with donations towards their cause, DRG are offering their training experience to leagues, from jammers to blockers, officials, league maintenance and structure to game planning and everything in between! Anything you want help with: DRG are willing to come!
The Tenerife Triple Header will be on December 17th, from 14:00 (WET, which is the same as GMT) in Pancho Camurria Sports Centre, Santa Cruz, Tenerife. You can read more at the event page: Torneo Triangular!
Keep up to date on Dundee's travels by following their snapchat: wearethedrg
This week our roundup of the weekend's Roller Derby in Europe, Latin America, Australia and the Pacific is slowly showing signs of even the most enthusiastic leagues thinking about their winter off-season, with definitely less total events than in previous weeks
That said, in some places, those events are rather large...
The World Cup will be held in the first week of February, 2018, with precise days to come very soon.
We're pretty sure this is a shock to a lot of people - we know most of the rumours that were flying around, of various degrees of actual truth, and we don't think the Manchester area figured in most of them.
At this point, we should also write a disclaimer: the author has been a member of the Roller Derby World Cup Committee, the group of 10 derby people from all areas of the sport who are responsible for organising the World Cup, for a few weeks at the time of writing. So, I do write here with a certain declared bias.
The decision for this Roller Derby World Cup location was perhaps a more complicated one than in previous years - this is the first World Cup where decisions of the RDWC are performed in collaboration with, and with the advice of, the Roller Derby Nations Committee. The RDNC didn't exist until after the 2014 World Cup in Dallas, and its role in representing the collective will of the Nations involved in international events is one which has really grown rapidly over 2016, as the Committee has developed and organised itself.
Balancing the advice of the RDNC with the needs of a tournament which might need to host even more Nations than in 2014, the best choice was the EventCity hosting location in Trafford. Quite apart from the obvious experience of Rainy City themselves in venue management, from their many years of running The Thunderdome, their own leased bouting and training venue, the sheer size of the place will allow us to hopefully run 4 simultaneous tracks, making scheduling and accommodating such a large event feasible.
We are also hopeful that the location, not far from Manchester International Airport, and near to the City of Manchester, one of the most international cities in the UK, will make it easier for newer National Teams to participate in the event.
We'll have more from you on the World Cup as things develop.
Whilst now most of the big events are finally dying down as leagues head into their winter off-season (sometimes reluctantly), there's still some sunny climes where tournaments are yet to come. In particular, Tenerife Roller Derby have been on a bit of a tournament kick recently, and are topping their previous three-team international tournament (against Paris and Royal Windsor) with a possibly even more international one, by distance, as Dundee Roller Girls and Malmö's Crime City (B) both fly down to the Canaries to take in a bit of sun, and a lot of Derby.
In this interview, we caught up with Darling Ripper, of Crime City B, to see how the Swedish team are feeling about skating in 20º Celcius heat in December.
Crime City B, Darling Ripper middle (visible 6 on arm) Photo: Helena Mettävainio
Crime City B have had a very good year to date - you have won all 5 of your games, mostly by quite big margins.In particular, you seem to have made a big jump in performance, to judge from your rematch against Copenhagen and Berlin! In 2015, you lost in quite a close game to Copenhagen, in 2016, you won extremely convincingly; and while you've won against the Inglorious Bombshells twice, you increased your lead this year. Can you say how the year has been from your perspective, and if the team has been doing particular thing to improve this strongly?
DR: It has been a really great year for us and we are very proud of our own development! It's always hard to know exactly why we have improved this much, but I think it's due to the fact that our charter has been rather stable for the last year so we've become a really close-knit team and we have so much fun playing together as well! It also helps having such great coaches from our A and B team.
In fact, Swedish (and Finnish, so maybe "Scandinavian" ) Roller Derby has been doing exceptionally well in recent years. Do you have any thoughts about what Sweden is doing well, in general?
DR: Haha, I don't know what Sweden is doing in general, maybe wrestling polar bears? But I think the Scandinavian teams are quite good at helping each other out and we play and practice together in different ways so maybe that's why.
Tenerife will be the furthest Crime City B have travelled for a bout since you've existed. Do long trips feel different than short ones - and how are you expecting to deal with the much warmer climate?
DR: Traveling is always exhausting, but we are really excited to go to Tenerife and look forward to get away from the cold here in Crime City.
Flat Track Stats puts you as the favourite to win this tournament too, with Dundee Roller Girls and Tenerife both roughly equally rated. What's the teams' goal for this final tournament of the year? (Are you aiming to win, or do you have personal goals, or other goals here?)
DR: Our aim for the tournament is to have fun and play our best game. We expect a hard competition from both teams.
Finally, with this year going so well, what's next for Crime City B next year? Will you be aiming at higher level opponents - Flat Track Stats thinks that you're on a level with, say Nantes or Auld Reekie - and our own ratings put you a little higher, and in contention with the next tier of French teams, maybe Newcastle Roller Girls…
DR: We will have to wait and see what next year will bring us! But it would be fun to play those higher-ranked teams you mention. As a B team, it can sometimes be a bit hard to find competition at your level, seeing how we are not a WFTDA team and therefore can't play Sanctioned bouts. I hope more higher-ranked teams will be interested in playing us now that we have shown that we can put up a good fight!
The Tenerife Triple Header will be on December 17th, from 14:00 (WET, which is the same as GMT) in Pancho Camurria Sports Centre, Santa Cruz, Tenerife. There's no event page at present, but we will add more information as we have it.
Dundee Roller Girls are raising money to fund their attendance here: https://www.gofundme.com/drg-tenerife-tour . We will add funding links for other teams if we are made aware of them.
As we approach the Christmas season, we've said only recently, people's thoughts turn to charity and giving. This means that we get to advertise a lot more events which support great causes, as well as providing fantastic Roller Derby!
After Glasgow Roller Derby's charity event this weekend, there's a chance to even more people on the 10th of December, as Grangemouth Sports Complex hosts a charity event in support of Re-Act Scotland.
Re-Act Scotland is a humanitarian aid project devoted to providing assistance to refugees from war-torn (and other areas in crisis) regions - particularly towards the large refugee camps which have emerged in areas such as Calais.
This will be a double-header event, with Scotland's first Junior League, Fierce Valley Roller Cubs playing an intraleague (their first since their first ever away bout, a few months ago) at the top of the schedule.
This will be followed by a Co-ed/Open invitational bout, currently featuring skaters from Fierce Valley Roller Girls, Bairn City Rollers, Mean City Roller Derby, Glasgow Men's Roller Derby, Auld Reekie Roller Girls and Granite City Roller Derby. (Many of these leagues are also providing officials to allow both bouts to take place, and Glasgow Roller Derby are providing the head ref in Candy Moho.)
As well as the on-track action, we're promised an array of stalls, with Sweets Jewellery, and Face Painting by Cinders already signed up, and potentially more to announce, as well as the traditional cake and baking stall.
As this is a Charity event, there will be no required entrance fee - but donations to the event charity are encouraged. These can be monetary, but they can also be in the form of useful items - for example, winter clothing for adults in small and medium sizes, waterproofs and sturdy footwear suitable for being outdoors in, tents, sleeping bags and/or blankets. Doors open at 2:30pm.
While we've entered the last month of the year, there's still clamour for Derby in Europe and Latin America, with lots of bouts to cover this weekend.
As everyone slowly winds down for the Winter period break, some leagues are spending their final time on skates for good causes.
One such league is Glasgow Roller Derby, who are embracing the spirit of the period by holding their last public event of the year in support of two great charities: the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) and "The Community and Beyond Toy Bank", a Glasgow based children's charity, which aims to provide support for children in poverty via gifts at Christmas.
In support of these charities, the event, "Don We our Skate Apparel", will be taking no money for tickets - instead, a donation of one or more items for either charity is politely requested. (This can be tinned or dry food for animals, for example; or (new) children's toys, books or other entertainments in the other case).
Once in the event, your generosity will not just be repaid by knowing you've done a good thing, but also by the usual cake stall and raffle, mysterious "half time entertainment", a possible appearance by Santa Claus, and, of course, some fantastic roller derby featuring skaters from Glasgow and surrounding leagues!
So, help to make the season a little jollier for others, and come to the bout:
3rd December, from 12:30, in GRD's usual venue The ARC, Glasgow Caledonian University.
Info on the charities involved, and suitable donations, can be found here:
With Team Wales' Road to TBC now complete, and France taking a victory over Sweden for 1st place, we've now seen 13 of the potential competitors at the Roller Derby World Cup on track in Europe, between this tournament and the earlier "European Roller Derby Tournament".
What's quite interesting about comparing ERDT and Road to TBC is just how much the balance of power in some of the teams common between them has changed in a relatively short space of time; and how different some of the newer teams may be to their 2014 versions.
Looking at returning teams first: at ERDT, Wales and Belgium took 3rd and 2nd, but looked very close in strength indeed. We predicted that home advantage would make Wales likely to win against the Belgian team at Road to TBC... but didn't predict by just how much! In fact, Wales did take our expected 3rd place, with an impressive performance; but Belgium was likely disappointed by their 7th place position by comparison.
France and Sweden, as predicted, duked it out for 1st and 2nd, and France emerged victorious. Sweden's performance, whilst easily good enough to win against everyone else [despite some opening issues with both Wales and Ireland], wasn't quite as commanding as their 2014 iteration managed at the World Cup - however, this was also their first tournament, after a relatively recent selection, so this may just be a reflection of the stage of their training so far, versus a more experienced France.
We tipped Ireland for a strong placement, purely on the basis of their 2014 performance, and it seems we were right - despite their team being as new as Sweden's, Ireland managed to perform creditably and take a convincing 5th place position from Scotland...
...whilst Spain took the 4th place to Wales that we had thought destined for Belgium. The case of Spain and Scotland is an unusual one, with their bout the closest in the tournament, but having the result of essentially forcing one to take 4th and one 6th place (as Ireland and Wales would likely have taken their eventual positions against either team). This is an issue with this kind of group selection process, where the seeding is designed for "exagony" (the desire for teams to play teams they've not played before), rather than technical ranking. Ironically, Scotland actually performed better than Spain against France, and the two performed almost identically well against West Indies...
On principle, then, we performed the same kind of Bayesian inference on the Road to TBC that we did on ERDT, to determine what the most likely underlying strengths of the teams were.
(As an aside, one key difference from this is that the same method tells us that the performances at Road to TBC were much less consistent than they were at ERDT - the inference needs to assume around twice as much variation in performance for a given team in order to make predictions. This may be a reflection of the relative newness of some of the competing teams.)
That said, the inferred strength distributions (relative to France) are below (this is a slideshow, with different teams highlighted for ease of identification).
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As can be seen, it's fairly obvious that Sweden was most likely the 2nd strongest team in the tournament, and Wales the 3rd. What's more strikingly different from the tournament result is that the most consistent interpretation of the scores is that Ireland were the 4th strongest team, with Scotland, Belgium and Spain all quite close together in 5/6/7th positions (but with enough overlaps that upsets - like Spain/Scotland - were not unlikely).
Given the way in which the teams have changed in strength even since ERDT, however (and how some of the rosters were selected for Road to TBC), we would be hard pressed to predict performance at the next Roller Derby World Cup across these two tournaments - other than to say that Sweden will probably get stronger, and none of matchups below 3rd place might happen the same way in just a few months time...
This coming weekend is an exceptionally tournament-heavy one for Roller Derby in Europe, and Australia, although many of the remaining bouts are the last of the season for their competitors, as December approaches!
As always, bouts are drawn mostly from Flat Track Stats' upcoming bouts records, and we attempt some prediction using both FTS and our own SRD Rank (for when FTS can't rank teams, often with Men's or non-US/European games).
The Hawks have played two of their three competitors this year, with very similar losses against Auld Reekie's ASTROs (in Edinburgh) and Dundee's Bonnie Colliders (at home in Aberdeen). They finished off their year so far with a win against Mean City Roller Derby's women's team (also by a very similar ratio, but in their favour!).
We managed to catch new Fight Hawks Captain, Phanny, for a quick chat about their year, and ARRGmageddon.
So, how would you say the Fight Hawks year has been so far? Is there anything you'll be building on or focussing on as Captain?
That's quite a tough question! The Hawks have, we have had a good year - we've definitely come on leaps and bounds from where we started - we're a stronger team, and we work better together. I (just) think we're quite gelled, and we like to have fun, we like to have a nice time; we're not all about win win win, but when we do, its nice. And then we do enjoy a... sometimes we come off a loss and we're feeling pretty happy as well, because we've done our best as a team.
Given your location, having to travel long distances together to get to bouts must help with the gelling?
Yeah... Bus time is an opportunity to maybe speak to people that you wouldn't normally speak to, and then on the way back, from any tournament or games, it's a Party Bus, so a chance to drink with your teammates on the way up the road (laughs).
ARRGmageddon will be the first tournament that the Hawks have played in, do you have any plans for how to approach it?
We've had discussions about who's going on when, what's the best way to work this, not tiring out players before you get to the hour long game. I think, definitely going in for fun for the short games, and then really focus on the hour long game as the "big one".
What's next for the Fight Hawks?
Christmas Party! [laughs] As a team, we'll have a short break over the Christmas period - we'll be back on it around Janurary, and I believe... we're into games again in February!
ARRGmageddon is this weekend - the 26th November - starting at 11am at Meadowbank Stadium. Tickets £8 online, £10 (£6 concessions) on the door, free entry for under 14's, with a discounted rate for those just turning up for the final full-length bouts (from 4pm)