Heroes & Villains – Trials and Tribulations


In a relatively slow week, there was still plenty of action from the weekend to mull over. We saw the announcement of the GB Women’s squad, GB Men’s trials and the successful premier edition of King Bowl!

GB Lions

The GB Lions Women’s squad was finally announced! After head coach Andrew Gambrill whittled the trialists down to 24, a final round of cuts was made and a squad of 12 plus 3 reserves was unveiled. In a growing section of the sport in the UK, it’s been tremendous to track the development of the women’s game. We’re looking forward to seeing how the team do in action, but more on that later. Well done to those who made the squad, and congratulations to all who attended the trials.

While the women’s squad was named, the men got their first round of trials under way. Head coach Alan Young and his coaches put the hopefuls through a day of drills and scrimmages with the aim of choosing a squad strong enough to challenge as one of the top teams in Europe. As part of the successful trials, the team also took part in the the Women’s Contact team’s effort to raise money for their trip to Canada for the World Championships. You can read more about this effort here.

We’re also excited about the prospect of a flag coaching convention in the UK, and with the success of the Super 5s tournament, it’s only fair to say that GB Flag is in a good place.

Utrecht Dominators

The Dominators held their inaugural King Bowl this weekend, which went off without a hitch. This is a great accomplishment, as the scope of the tournament was large for a first time event. However, with solid infrastructure and excellent organisation, the Dominators pulled it off. Congratulations to Utrecht! The final was won by the Hague Hyenas, defeating the USA Mayhem.

Big Bowl XI

Big Bowl is right around the corner, and we cannot wait. We thought it was only appropriate to throw some love towards the organisers of this event also. For most, late call-offs can cause panic at tournament HQ. This is not the case for Walldorf, as they swiftly replaced the departing squads with a pair of high quality stand-ins. We figured Team Mexico’s attention would be more drawn to Battle Orlandoand we discussed the USA Mayhem’s decision to merge with the Ex-Pads last week, but Benjamin Klever & co. managed to draft in the Copenhagen Barbarians and Duisburg Steinfire. We hope this is the last of the movement required, but credit to the Big Bowl organisers for being so efficient.




Still waiting…


This is a bit of a sensitive topic to a lot of people, but we thought we’d bring it up. With all the talk of how well the GB Lions trials went, you still find a bit of scepticism over the whole process. There’s a belief that players are very entrenched, and there’s limited to no squad movement at the adult level. That’s a load of rubbish, frankly. The squad selection has been blown wide open in recent years, with players from all backgrounds suiting up for the GB Lions at the World Championships. The increased scouting by the GB coaches and Super 5s tournament also provides ample opportunity for any hopeful to impress. Attending trials is an excellent chance for players to see the quality required to be called up, so we’d encourage anyone and everyone to attend the trials, even if its just for the experience.


Speaking of sensitive topics, we feel this should get a mention. No, not so much the actual refereeing quality in the UK, but more the attitude towards it. As things stand, flag football is self-reffed. With the explosion of new teams in the past decade, there’s been mumbling and grumbling about the standard of refereeing being low. Our perception is that it’s really a vicious cycle. Team A joins the league, wide-eyed and innocent, with all the good intentions in the world of being a productive and positive influence. With all the bemoaning about refereeing, they’ll be understandably nervous about their first experience of the role. They’ll do a job, good or bad, and receive little to no feedback. They’ll then go home, see themselves or other refereeing corps thrown under the bus and wonder what the point was. For what it’s worth, there are a number of great referees in the UK who also still play, they arguably do a better job than the BAFA appointed referees who turn up as they’re more accustomed to the pace of the flag game and what to be looking for (e.g. a contact referee may spend more time looking at a receiver’s feet on the sideline to ensure they don’t step out of bounds, a flag referee would also be sure to look out for flag guarding or charging).

I have to say that the idea of a team having no real refereeing course or experience to fall back on, going straight into refereeing a league fixture is extremely harsh. It’s the nature of the amateur game we play that they kinda need to, but perhaps an induction day (first game day for rookie teams spent shadowing referees) would be preferable to a trial-by-fire scenario. A number of teams reach out to ask for assistance in my experience, and as long as they’re willing and able, they’ll usually go on to be fine referees.

Should the responsibility be on the league to educate and provide courses? Possibly, however before we go scaring away teams from refereeing, perhaps as a community we should appreciate that this new blood have had next to no guidance outside of an emailed rule book.  Courses can be good, and the mechanics were taught at one a few years ago, but clarity over confusing rules were not. Mistakes happen, but they don’t ruin the game we love. People only get better with more exposure to refereeing, so putting them off the idea entirely is far from productive.

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