Bruce Mouat led his team to yet another title at British Curling’s December Superspiel today and in doing so completed a perfect calendar year in domestic events.
With international competition ravaged by the Covid pandemic, Mouat has played in just nine men’s and mixed doubles tournaments in total, winning all seven of those that have been played in Scotland, as well as being part of the European team that beat Team Canada in the glitzy, Ryder Cup style Continental Cup in Canada at the start of the year.
That run stretched across the entire year, starting in early January at the Perth Masters where he and regular teammates Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie and Hammy McMillan successfully defended the title they had won for the first time in 2019 at the biggest annual event played in Scotland.
They followed that up with their third successive Scottish title win, while Mouat won the Scottish mixed doubles title with Jen Dodds, before being denied the chance to go to two World Championships, following the inevitable cancellation of both events.
With travel still heavily restricted, British Curling has worked hard to ensure that its leading players continue to get the chance to compete and has put on four events in the first half of the 2020/21 season under special protocols at the National Curling Academy in Stirling.
Team Mouat won the men’s titles in both the September Shoot-Out and the November Classic and, after Mouat and Dodds won the British Curling Mixed Doubles Tankard earlier this week, they have now ended the year as they started it, by claiming the December Superspiel title in a match televised live on BBC Sport Scotland and BBC iPlayer.
They clinched it by avenging their only defeat in the preliminary stages of the tournament when they met Team Whyte in the final, just as they had done at the Shoot Out and the Classic, easing clear in the second half of the match to claim a 7-3 victory.
“We knew it was going to be a tight game. They beat us in the round-robin when we didn’t put in our best performance, so we knew we were going to have to play a bit better,” said Mouat.
Ross Whyte and his colleagues Robin Brydone, Duncan McFadzean and Euan Kyle had started impressively, putting Mouat under pressure and forcing him to take a single at the opening end, then registering two at the second to move in front.
However, after a blanked third end, Mouat’s men upped their game in claiming a two of their own at the fourth before taking control when they stole another shot at the next to move 5-2 ahead,.
“The steal at the fifth was definitely the turning point. They had probably been the better team in the first half, but then after that it changed and we managed to get a good force at the next end to secure our spot as front-runners and favourites going into the last two ends and the seventh end was really good where we played some simple shots, but played them really well.
“We didn’t change anything in our gameplan. We just hadn’t been executing as well as we should have been, but after that we really turned the tide and made sure we were just making the shots simply rather than trying to over complicate things in the way we were in the first half.”
With teams across the globe severely limited in terms of competitive opportunities, Mouat believes that a combination of access to state of the art facilities at the National Curling Academy and the growing strength in depth within the British Curling squad is standing players in good stead.
“There are four or five really good men’s teams in our programme that we’re playing against constantly and to have a team like Ross Whyte’s giving us games like that is a good challenge for us in preparation for World Championships if we get to go to that,” he said.
“You always want to have tough opposition to make sure you’re not in a false sense of security and the boys are really good opposition and we think we’re going to be playing against teams like that later in the season as well. So, to have them here is a great opportunity for us to have some really tough games.”
He acknowledged that winning all three tournaments played this season has put his team in a strong position to go to the World Championships in Canada this season after the disappointment of missing out on contesting them when they were due to be staged in Glasgow earlier in the year.
“It’s a lovely position to be in going into the break,” said Mouat.
“This definitely put us as the front-runners for selection. There are two more events into the New Year that will obviously come into account as well, but I guess when there are only five events before selection and we’ve won three of them it’s quite a good thing for us.”