In a bonus for this week, we're returning to EuroClash for one more interview before the weekend.
Today, we're talking to Auld Reekie Roller Girls. The second oldest league in Scotland, ARRG have been active on the European stage almost as long as they've been competing - and their trip to the USA last year was their third. Whilst they qualified for WFTDA Division 2 Playoffs in 2016, the team declined the invitation for a host of good reasons - unfortunately, given the changes in competitive divisions in 2017, it will be harder work to make it a second year running. Last year, Auld Reekie's All-Stars competed against Dublin and Newcastle out of the other EuroClash attendees - with a win against the former, and mixed results (a win and a loss) against the latter. Team Scotland Roller Derby, who will also be competing at EuroClash, have 6 Auld Reekie skaters on their roster of 20, so they will also be represented in the bout between Ireland and Scotland.
Auld Reekie's Sharlotte Patterson (also a Team Scotland Rostered skater) talked to us about the team's past and future.
The ARRG All-Stars had a pretty good 2016 - starting off with a couple of wins against two other EuroClash attendees, Dublin and Newcastle.What was the high point of the year for you? Oh my goodness where to start? It was a fantastic year for us. We really played well together as a team. It’s hard to pick just one point in the year, there were so many good times for ARRG and myself. I think that I am just proud to a part of this wonderful team and play with very talented people. Everyone works hard at fostering togetherness and making us all feel like part of a team.
You then went across the Atlantic to compete in the Big O 2016, a return to the tournament from 2014. Despite facing even tougher opponents than the last time, we think you held up pretty well and reached the playoffs selection point with a high enough ranking to be invited to D2, which you declined. Overall, how was the transatlantic experience - does it ever get "normal" to travel across to the USA? And do you think you'll be keeping up the tradition, now that more WFTDA things are being scheduled on this side of the Atlantic? The Big O was an incredible experience and it was my first time visiting the USA. It was a really good environment and the organisers of the tournament were super welcoming. It was a great chance for the team to bond being together for a long period of time away from home. I’m not sure you could ever say that it be ‘normal’ to travel such a huge distance to play roller derby - an amazing experience, yes! One that I will always remember as my first far flung trip away and my first tournament. The team were really strong and we came out with some very good results which helped us move up the rankings.
It’s hard to say anything further on tradition about going over but it is really exciting that there are more WFTDA things being scheduled this side of the Atlantic; this will mean more opportunities for European teams as cost is always something that will impact teams on going far away for games. I can’t wait to see how this progresses and watch/play in all the high level derby that is out there.
Coming up this weekend, though, you're still giving yourselves the tough challenges, playing current-hot-stuff league in the UK, Rainy City Roller Derby! How did that come about, and how are you feeling about challenging the WFTDA #26 team? This was a game arranged last year, and we have travelled down to scrimmage Rainy on a few occasions over the last year. They are a lovely team to play against and it has provided us with some valuable extra training. This weekend is going to be an incredibly challenging game but one we can absolutely rise to the challenge of. We have been training hard and have had extra team training sessions this year, not just for this game but for our upcoming season. I know that the All Stars will go down and will always give their absolute best.
At EuroClash, Auld Reekie will be playing Middlesbrough Milk Rollers, Bear City Roller Derby and Leeds Roller Derby. How are you feeling about the three bouts, and are there any specific plans you're making for them? Really excited. The last time we played against Middlesbrough Milk was back in 2015 for British Champs and it all came down to the last jam. I still replay that in my head at times because I was the jammer for Auld Reekie during the last jam and it was nerve-racking. Bear City and Auld Reekie have played each other a few times in the past and remained fairly close in the rankings. This will be our first time playing the new merged Leeds team. All three games are going to bring their own challenges, but we have been training as hard as we always do and really nailing our tactics.
When you're not on skates, are there any teams, or matchups, which you're particularly looking forward to seeing? There’s so many amazing teams taking part in Euro Clash that it’s too hard to pick. I’m really excited to watch all the other teams because each game is going to be as exciting as the next! It’s so good to see such high level teams have the chance to play in a European tournament and hopefully this is the start of many many more to come.
EuroClash also features a rematch between Team Ireland and Team Scotland. Last time, Ireland had had a single training session, and Scotland had a selection from the training team - this time you both have more experience of playing together, and Scotland has selected its final 20. (Congratulations on being a member!) How did it feel to be selected for the team - and how are you feeling about the rematch with Ireland?
Thank you, I am so proud to have been selected as one of the final 20 to play for my country. It’s an honour and I can’t wait to get stuck in. To be able to go to the World Cup to play and watch some of the best skaters in the world is going to be an unforgettable experience. I’m excited about the rematch with Ireland, it’s going be a challenging game as well as a great training opportunity for Team Scotland; we now have our final 20 selected and will be settled into our specific roles.
After EuroClash, what's next for ARRG's All-Stars?
The All Stars have a trip coming up to play Kallio and Paris at the end of April, and we will also be playing Newcastle again on 27 May. Our league has been pretty busy since the start of the year and our C team the ASTROs have a game against Bairn City on the 25 March and our B team the Reserves will be taking part in their first British Champs game on 22 April. It’s a really exciting time to part of ARRG and we have many more games coming up for all three of our teams over the coming months.