One of Flag Football World aims was to be able to cover International Football leagues from all corners of the earth. We’re happy to welcome our Italian correspondent Marco Santagostino, and will be bringing you regular updates throughout the season. Without further adieu, here’s a preview of how the league is run!
HOW THE LEAGUE IS ORGANIZED & THE SCHEDULE
The 2017 Italian League is composed of 25 teams, divided into 3 divisions:
- North-West – 12 teams
- North-East – 6 teams
- Central & South – 7 teams
Each division will play 2 divisional Bowls, two inter-divisional bowls (one against each division) and two “2-days” bowl, one called “Elite Bowl” and the other called “Big Bowl”. In standard bowls (divisional & inter-divisional) each team will play 3 games. In 2-days bowls, each team will play at least 4/5 games.
The Elite Bowl is the 3rd bowl of the season and in reality is an event made of 3 separate bowls. The first 8 teams of the ranking will play the “Golden Bowl”; teams from 9th to 17th place will play the “Silver Bowl” and the remaining teams will play the “Bronze Bowl”. This allows all teams to have a bowl where they face similar competition, allowing both fun and chances to improve its ranking.
The Big Bowl is a… big bowl! Every team plays 4 “qualification games”, after that the first 8 teams will face each other in playoff games (quarter-, semis & Final) while the remaining will play one ranking game.
Let me now introduce you the most mysterious thing of the Italian Flag Football League: the Power Ranking.
Since, during the course of the league, there is no guarantee that all teams will face each other at least once, the ranking is made through a very complex formula that takes into account strength of schedule of each team, points for and against vs the average of the league, bonus & malus for bowl participation, etc. The Legend tells Albert Einstein was involved in its creation. Jokes aside, the Power Ranking starts “working” properly after 2/3 league weeks have been played, and at the end of the year always reflects what is seen on the field.
At the end of the regular season, the first 5 teams of the power ranking advance directly to the Final Bowl. Teams placed 6th to 13th play a semi-final bowl, divided into two pool. Winners of each pool go to the Final Bowl, while teams placed 2nd play a knockout game, winner goes to the Finals, loser go home.
A BRIEF HISTORY
Banditi Ferrara were the first real “dominant” team in Italy, winning 3 times in a row from 1999 to 2001. Cleavers Cavriago and Marines Lazio are the most winning teams in Italy, having both won the league 6 times.
Cleavers dominated the league in the early 2000, winning 5 straight times from 2002 to 2006, plus an additional title in 2008 – in between again the Banditi Ferrara won their 4th and last title. From 2009, the Marines domination started, with a record 6 straight league titles (2009-2014).
Their record-setting streak came to an end in 2015, when the Arona 65ers were able to defeat the Marines by 1 point in one of the best games ever played in the Italian league. The 65ers were unable to repeat themselves in 2016, losing the final to the Rome Raiders, who thus won their first Championship.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE 2017 SEASON
The upcoming season looks like the usual, hard-fought Italian Flag league, with Rome Raiders, Marines Rome, Cleavers Cavriago & Arona 65ers as the favorites for a place in the Final Game. Other teams like Hedgehogs Boschetto look to bounce back to their usual level after a disappointing 2016 season. Refoli Trieste & Leoni FVG will try to consolidate their presence in the final bowl and from there, anything is possible. The Red Tigers Ortona look to continue their growth and finally reach their first Final Bowl. Look for new contenders to pop up, like the newly created Nador Ferrara & Paccasassi Ancona (the latter born from the fusion of two good teams from the same city). Taz30 Bologna will look for a repeat of last year, where they earned a place in the Final Bowl.
Overall, the hope is to keep seeing the same widespread improvement we have witnessed in the last years.
The League will kick off with a NO vs NE inter-divisional bowl on Sunday, Jul 2nd at Mike Wyatt Field in Ferrara.
Below the upcoming games. I’ll check back with you this week for a recap and first impressions on the teams and how the weekend unfolded!