Pulling The Flag

Packing Their Bags For Britbowl – Youth Edition

Rather sadistically back in July, we left you sitting on the edge of your seats, staring into your electronic device, eagerly awaiting flag related news as to which youth teams were to be running around in Doncaster on September 26th, hoping to be named National Champions.

Well, since then, school is out, the playground is closed, you’ve no doubt wanted to strangle your lovely wee nipper of a child and more importantly, all the places at finals have indeed been filled. That and the realisation that your child is actually seventeen, drinks more alcohol than you do, has a fully grown beard and hates the ground you walk on just for being alive.

Shocking we know, but since we love you readers and know you love to go anywhere away from hearing the groans of “It’s not fair” and “can I have some money” and you constantly shouting NO! We thought we’d let you grab your tablet or phone and actually have something interesting to occupy your mind with for five minutes. Plus it’s kind of our job to report the news back to you and keep you a breast of what’s going on.

He he, he said breast!

So without further ado, here’s the full round up of the BAFA National Leagues for Under 17s and Under 13s!

Under 17s South

The Horsham Barbarians will be entering finals day as the red hot favourites to take the trophy home. They will be seeded #1 overall at finals. The South didn’t really have an answer to the Barbarians and they didn’t falter once against any of the opposition that they have faced all season. They have played 20 games, won all of them, scoring 809pts and only conceded 93 on defence.

Now some of you might think that they had possibly had it easy? Not at all! Their division contained the team that undressed them rather unceremoniously in last years final, the Buckinghamshire Wolves. The Wolves, who admittedly are going through a transitional phase, are still one of the best teams in the land and to beat them 5 times out of 5 is quite the achievement

Also within the division were the upstart Northants Titans, who can find themselves unfortunate not to be going to the finals themselves in their rookie year, having finished with a winning record of 11-9, ouch!

hORSHAM

Picture Courtsey of John Hill

Pipping them were the Wolves, who had to navigate a last day obstacle to join the Barbarians at the finals. Despite losing to the Titans in the eagerly awaited last day fixture, the Wolves did just enough to get over the finish line and end up with a 12-8 record.

It was heralded as the best match-up in the South on the final day, however the London Warriors spoilt the fun by beating the Titans before this game took place and it made the tie academic, bummer!

Credit to the Wolves though, they maintained their ever present record at finals and will be in with a shot of retaining their crown come game day.

They do look sharp at times and if they can get a head of steam in the round robin stage of the finals, you can put money on them being a horrible team to have to face should they make the final itself.

Where do their strengths lie? Their defence looks solid enough, but their offence is in fine fettle with a combined tally of 574pts over the 20 games, giving them a 30.2 average per game.

Picture Courtesy of Buckinghamshire Wolves Facebook page

Picture Courtesy of Buckinghamshire Wolves Facebook page

Under 17s North

If you matched like for like the records of the Horsham Barbarians and the Coventry Cougars, you wouldn’t find much in the way of difference when it boils down to it. The only difference is that they only got to play 10 games and 5 forfeit wins from the Doncaster Mustangs, as opposed to the Barbarians 20 games that were all played out. That being said, the Cougars were also undefeated within their division, racking up 377pts on offence and only conceding 84. Had they the opportunity to play those extra 5/10 games, they would likely have been in parity with Horsham statistically, if not better and could have been sending their team as the #1 seeds.

Due to the lesser amount of games, they averaged 37.7pts a game compared to Horsham’s 42.6. But what if they had played 5 more games? Well they kind of did albeit against friendly opposition in the last two tournaments. The Coventry Panthers Academy entered the last two tournaments as friendly teams, sometimes with more than one team.

So how did the Cougars fair in those games? They owned them, putting up scores over fifty in all but one game. Unfortunately for the Cougars, those games didn’t count to the league and despite their unbeaten record are seeded at #2 for finals.

Still, its not difficult to see, the Cougars are, like the Barbarians, smack bang in form. They are also the only one of the junior teams going to be competing at finals with females within their ranks. Noticeably, they actually have 5 and could field a full female team should they choose, alas, I digress…

Cougars

Picture Courtesy of Mandy Keating

The Cougars and Barbarians met in last years semi-finals and the game was an epic. It was so close, it went to the sixth round of overtime, before the Barbarians came out on top and clinched their place in the final. So expect fireworks when these two meet in the round robin.

Joining the Cougars are the Chorley Buccaneers. The Buccs, have been quietly going about their business, taking their wins from their games against the improving Studley Bearcats and benefiting from the Doncaster forfeits.

Because of the split of wins v losses, it’s difficult to know where to pitch the Buccaneers once it comes to the shake up. What we do know is, they have been improving at every tournament and could be a tricky opponent for the other three teams and shouldn’t be underestimated.

Under the guidance of Arron Taylor and backed up by the fine coaching team at the Buccaneers, you wouldn’t put it past them to turn a few heads on Sept 26th.

Picture Courtesy of Deborah Carr

Picture Courtesy of Deborah Carr

Under 13s South

It seems ages ago since we reported that the London Blitz had won the South division undefeated and would be going to the finals as the #1 seeded team. They are in fact the only team within both the Under 13s divisions to navigate the season without a loss.

Their success is based on the rapid pace of their wide out play-makers and the strong arm of their quarterback They have dismantled every defence put before them thus far and certainly look the team to beat.

Throwing a question mark into the mix, is the rather annoying statistic, that they only played 13 out of the 20 scheduled fixtures, due to forfeit wins against the Berkshire Renegades, Hertfordshire Cheetahs and London Warriors. However, once you dig a little deeper, out of those 13 games, they scored 375pts, for an average of 28.8pts per game (second highest in the league) and only conceded 132pts (second fewest). If you average that out over 20 games, they would have been on 570pts, which would have them as the highest scorers by 15pts over Chorley Buccaneers Red Beards.

Its obviously just hypothetical, but the Blitz have been so impressive this year, they have been heralded by the folk in the know as the firm favourites to win the title.

Wolves Cadet

Picture Courtesy of Buckinghamshire Wolves

Who backed them up into second place? It was the Sam Mckee coached, Buckinghamshire Wolves. The Wolves have been showing steady progress this year after throwing plenty of new blood into their ranks.

Again the league record of 14-5-1 is somewhat misleading as they again only played the 13 games because of the forfeits. That being said, they did manage to hold the Blitz to a 13-13 draw back in tournament 5.

What we do know is that the Wolves are coached by one of the best, however, Coach Mckee will not be present at finals day due to crucial work commitments. The Wolves loss is obvious, but this is also a huge loss to the finals itself. Will Sam be back at the helm of the Wolves at next years finals? Lets hope so as the league is much the better for his involvement.

With or without Sam on the sidelines, you can be sure the Wolves will be well prepared for the finals and whoever it may be in charge on the day has a great team spirit to fall back on in spades.

Under 13s North

Unlike the South, the North seems to have been awaiting a resolution as to who’s making the trip to Doncaster for ages. Thankfully, this was resolved this past weekend in Studley.

What we did know, was that the current champions, the Chorley Buccaneers Red Beards, were always likely to be making he trip. Hugely impressive all season, the Red Beards have showed why they are the team to beat going into the finals itself with a 17-2-1  division winning record. The fact it was so impressive is due to the competitive nature of the North division itself.

The most northern team needed to clinch the division title on the final day to lock down the #2 seed at finals and clinch it they did. If you take away the draw off the record, which was realistically a very winnable game against the Studley Bearcats, which was put down as a tie due to both teams not playing the opening day fixture, they would have been 18-2.

Picture Courtesy of Chorley Buccaneers

Picture Courtesy of Chorley Buccaneers

The two losses came against the always competitive Coventry Cougars and Leicester Huntsmen. Those losses won’t faze the Buccs much though. They scored 555pts on offence and had the tightest defence in the whole of the league only conceding 113pts. Had they been given the opportunity to play the Studley fixture, they would have most likely been nearer 600pts on offence based on their other ties against the Bearcats.

In the last tournament in Studley, they only fielded 5 players all day, in extremely hot weather conditions. They still managed to get the job done though and are our favourites to retain their title come the big day in September.

Look out for an interview with ” BAFA Flag Coach of the Year”, Keith Schofield over the next weeks. The Chorley Head Coach, will be giving a keen insight to this years finals, a review of the season and the future of the Buccaneers.

Seemingly sitting on a knife edge since tournament 3, the Leicester Huntsmen have had to wait for their right to make the trip to the finals. Having only lost to the Red Beards all season, a Coventry Cougars win over the Red Beards in tournament 3, left the Huntsmen needing to win 5 out 8 games to guarentee their place.

Picture Courtesy of Anne-Marie Cook

Picture Courtesy of Anne-Marie Cook

The Cougars could have upset their début season and they sure did give it a good go. Narrow wins for the Huntsmen (13-7 & 12-8) ultimately sealed the Cougars fate and send the Huntsmen to finals with a 16-4 record, going as #3 seeds.

Offensively they look decent enough, scoring 436pts and for an average of 21.8pts per game. Defensively they look in good shape as well conceding 155pts over 20 games. The Huntsmen look to be a dark horse at this point and are seemingly peaking just at the business end of the season.

In their first season in the league, they are the only rookie team accross both age groups to qualify for the finals.

Finals Schedule

Britbowl finals, will take place at the Keepmoat Athletics Arena, Doncaster, on the 26th of September.

Due to the format being a round robin for the youth and a straight forward semi-finals and finals in the seniors, we will endeavour to bring you the finalised schedule as soon as it is confirmed.

In the mean time sit tight and try to resist those parental urges to decapitate those blessed young’uns of yours for being overly annoying and ruining your summer and feel safe in the knowledge that finals are only a few weeks away.

If you are one of those little buggers and you are reading this? Do yourself a favour and go outside and throw that ball around with your mates instead of being an annoying sod. You never know, that practice might just make the perfect that will win you the title of National Champions.

On behalf of the PTF team, we’d like to wish all the teams who qualified for Britbowl a huge congratulations and the very best of luck on September 26th.

May the best teams win!

Final Standings

Under 17s South

Horham Barbarians 20-0 #1

Buckinghamshire Wolves 12-8 #4

Northants Titans 11-9

London Blitz 4-16

London Warriors 3-17

Under 17s North

Coventry Cougars 15-0 #2

Chorley Buccaneers 10-5 #3

Studley Bearcats 8-8

Doncaster Mustangs 0-12-4

Coventry Panthers 0-12-4

Under 13s South

London Blitz 19-0-1 #1

Buckinghamshire Wolves 14-5-1 #4

Hertfordshire Cheetahs 8-11-1

London Warriors 6-12-2

Berkshire Renegades 0-18-2

Under 13s North

Chorley Buccaneers Red Beards 17-2-1 #2

Leicester Huntsmen 16-4 #3

Coventry Cougars 10-9-1

Chorley Buccaneers Black Beards 4-15-1

Studley Bearcats 0-20

 

 

 

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