With the University football season finishing and the BUCS division champions being crowned, football doesn’t finish – it just morphs into the BAFA Adult season starting April 9th and ending five months later as the NFL takes over.
The interest in the sport we love continues to rise in the United Kingdom and with it so does the development of the game. This season, the BAFA National League will welcome five new teams and the return of one that sat out last season. All six teams will enter at the Division Two level.
The league is divided into three levels with the Premiership at the top and all divisions are aligned into geographic areas. The Premiership is split into North and South while Division One and Division Two cover four and six areas respectively. When addressing the expansion of Division One from the eighteen teams of last year to twenty in 2017, BAFA Competitions Director Russ Hewitt explained that the overall performance of a number of Division Two teams demonstrated to the National League management that those teams were ready to step up to the next level.
The 20 team structure will allow the division to return to four conferences with five teams each, replacing last season’s three conferences. The teams will play ten games with regional playoffs before the North Champions face the South Champions for the division one crown. To complete the league structure, Division Two retains three Conferences in both the north and south keeping it as regional as possible including an All Scottish conference in the north.
All teams in Division Two are also scheduled to play ten regular season games before post-season football will see the Conference first placed teams ranked 1 to 3, second placed teams ranked 3 to 6 and the best two third placed teams ranked 7 & 8 enter the elimination stages to reach the final.
With their strong football programme, the London Warriors will be favourites to become National Champions for the fifth straight time. Although they should dominate the Premiership South, come playoff time they will be looking over their shoulder at the Tamworth Phoenix from the North Conference. The Phoenix have laid a solid foundation with their community American Football programme and it will be interesting to see if they can build on it and make it to the 2017 BritBowl.
In Division One, the NFC South looks to be a very competitive affair with the relegated Coventry Jets joining the promoted Leicester Falcons and 2016 Conference champions Sandwell Steelers.
The all Scotland North Conference in Division Two will see the return of the Clyde Valley Blackhawks, who played in the Premiership, but were unable to field a team last year so sat the season out. New to the league the Dumfries Hunters will join the Blackhawks and two teams that know each other well, the Aberdeen Roughnecks and the Glasgow Tigers.
Want to know who exactly the teams are? Here they are:
|Tamworth Phoenix – 2016 Premiership North Champions with 10-0 record|
|East Kilbride Pirates|
|Edinburgh Wolves – Promoted Division 1 North 2016 Champions with a 10-0 record|
|London Warriors – 2016 Premiership South Champions with 10-0 record|
|Bury Saints – Promoted Division 1 South Champions with 10-0 record|
|NFC 1 North|
|West Coast Trojans|
|Newcastle Vikings – Promoted Division 2 North Champions with 9-1 record|
|NFC 1 South|
|Coventry Jets – relegated Premiership North team|
|Sandwell Steelers – 2016 Division 1 Midland Conference Champions with 9-1 record|
|Leicester Falcons – Promoted 2016 Division 2 South Champions with 10-0 record|
|SFC 1 Central|
|South Wales Warriors|
|Ouse Valley Eagles|
|Oxford Saints – Promoted Division 2 South West Champions with 10-0 record|
|SFC 1 East|
|London Olympians – relegated Premiership team|
|London Hornets – Promoted Division 2 South East Champions with 10-0 record|
|NFC 2 North|
|Clyde Valley Blackhawks – returning to the league after a year’s absence|
|Dumfries Hunters – new to the league|
|NFC 2 Central|
|Morecambe Bay Storm – new to the league|
|Leeds Bobcats – 2016 Division 2 North West Champions with 9-1 record|
|Knottingley Raiders – new to the league|
|NFC 2 South|
|SFC 2 West|
|Jurassic Coast Raptors|
|Worcestershire Black Knights – new to the league|
|SFC 2 South|
|Berkshire Renegades – 2016 Division 2 South Conference Champions with 9-1 record|
|SFC 2 East|
|East Kent Mavericks|
|London Blitz B|
|East Essex Sabres – new to the league|
Guest blogger Gordon Dedman is a Pittsburgh sports fanatic and Steelers history researcher. You can follow Gordon on Twitter at @SteelUK.