THE BAFA LEAGUE IS BACK! We’ve taken stock of all the first action and decided to draw some all-too-early conclusions and name some Heroes & Villains!
Firstly, and most importantly, it’s time to address a big development we had in the international flag scene. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that Richard MacLean is the legitimate president of IFAF. But what does that mean? Well, it means that we’ve had two more nations, Austria and France enter the fray again by joining re-joining the recognised IFAF body. This guarantees some exciting games down the line. There’s still a number of federations still to commit to the recognised body for the sport, such as Spain, Germany and Holland to name a few, but if they do, we’re finally going to be able to have international competition without asterisks!
Panthers among the Pigeons
In the Premier South, we saw a huge set of results which may have serious implications for the rest of the year. Everyone is going to be excited by the prospect of the defending champs losing a game, as the Buttonhookers fell to the Rebels in an error-strewn performance. But we’re looking at you, Victoria Park. The Panthers have always been within touching distance of the Rebels, but never quite managed to have enough. Well, they flipped the script this weekend, with an epic 45-40 victory over the Rebels. They then put 54 points on the much-fancied, but under-strength Reading Lions (a better margin of victory than the Buttonhookers managed against the same squad). Could we be seeing a shift of power in the SEC? Who knows? It definitely makes things far more exciting though!
Stand Back! There’s a Hurricane Coming Through!
While there’s question about the top team in the SEC, the same can’t be said for the SWC as things stand. The Hurricanes blew the doors off of their competition, dropping two 50-burgers and another 40 point haul against the Birmingham Lions. The Hurricanes have definitely come to play, and will look to their June 24th matchups against the SEC to lay down a real marker to the rest of the league. Their closest rivals, the Titans, went undefeated also, but looked a lot less convincing than Cardiff.
Finding True North
We had pretty much gift wrapped the MEC to the Sheffield Giants in a pretty, light blue bow. They came into the season after finishing 3rd overall last year with more weapons, a focussed squad and a somewhat easy division. The dream situation turned into a nightmare as the Giants now find themselves looking up at the Manchester Titans in the standings. The Titans thumped the Giants 35-12. That’s more points than the Giants conceded in any game during last year, and it was their worst points output that we’ve seen. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a statement. The Titans overcame the Crows 33-32, and put the Samurai to the sword with a 46-19 win. The Titans started last year strongly too, but this year they’ve managed to notch that big win over their closest rivals. Can they keep this up? Their cross-conference battles will go a long way in telling us just how real their championship credentials are.
Elsewhere in the North, the Hornets and Oilcats got their seasons underway with a pair of 2-0 days. The latter was entirely expected, but the Hornets had the sticky fixture against the Grangemouth Broncos to negotiate. Both teams warmed up with huge wins against the Outlaws and Comets (both of whom are already in a relegation dog fight), but it was the Hornets who looked the calmest on and off the field. In a business-like performance, the Hornets won 32-18, a scoreline which somewhat flatters the Broncos as they added two late scores to make it more respectable. We have no doubt the Broncos will be back, but they can’t afford any missteps as they aim to restart their championship bid, which might already be on life-support.
Division One Debuts
Division One threw up little in the way of surprises, with the favourites largely dominating proceedings, but some teams have earned some deserved love for picking up their first wins!
The Paisley Spartans started their second season with their first ever win over the Aberdeen Silvercats. The Silvercats and Glasgow Killer Bees also picked up debut wins in their first game day.
In the MEC, the Warrington Revolution Chorley Buccaneers went undefeated in their first official action, while the Wigan Bandits and Rotherham Roosters quickly put a win on the board.
In the South West, the Celts, Hammerheads and Swindon Storm all got a W, but it was the Tydfil Trojans who went 2-0 to top the division early.
The South Mid saw the Rugby Raccoons pick up their first win, but the Leicester Huntsmen grab the headlines after going 2-0!
We’re Just Here So We Don’t Get Fined
While their offseason has been turbulent, the Edinburgh Outlaws debuted this season with two miserable performances against the Broncos and Oilcats. They didn’t muster a single point. Not one. They also struggled to pick up any first downs against two strong teams. With Jamie Archibald missing due to injury already, they look doomed. They can find some solace in the fact that the Comets went 0-2, but the Comets didn’t look quite as bad as the Outlaws.
The Birmingham Lions came into the year with more questions than your average Britbowl finalist. Without their star QB, they would always have a difficult task of keeping up with the pack in the SWC. Without their top target Drew Newiss, it’d be nearly impossible. Without their defensive star Paul Zinkus, it was never going to be pretty. To be fair, their second half showing against the Hurricanes was a lot better than the first. They are capable of good things on the field, but it’s going to take a monumental effort to overcome an 0-3 start.
Mad, Bad and Sad Sabres
The Sabres are in our bad books this week. As if their on-field showing against the Killer Bees and Silvercats wasn’t disappointing enough, their reaction wasn’t much better. It took one week, yes, one week before we saw a rant regarding referees. From what we can gather, the Sabres were convinced they were ahead of the Silvercats, and with possession of the ball. Upon finding out they were a point down, all hell broke loose. The Sabres have priors for this, and we don’t mean taking to Facebook to vent their frustrations. At the Forth Bowl, hosted by the Carnegie Flag Football outfit, the Sabres were in a tied game and bizarrely started the run the clock out against a weakened Glasgow Hornets side. This might have been tactical, but our understanding is that the Sabres were under the impression they had a slender lead.
It’s bad enough not knowing the score in a game, but it’s another to question the integrity of your opposition and the referees, especially when your complaint contained expletives which caused it to be removed. The Sabres went 0-2 on the day, and while frustrations were at a high, there’s no excuse for that behaviour after a game. Sure it was one player out of a fairly large squad, but it’s not a positive reflection of a side that we felt could push for promotion.