On Super Bowl Sunday, the British American Football Association released the proposed alignment and schedule for the 2017 National Leagues season at Youth (U17) and Junior (U19) level.
Double Coverage understand that the release is currently only indicative, as there may be slight changes required before a final schedule is confirmed. However, never one to pass up the opportunity to share information with the #BritballNation, you can see the proposed structures below.
Out with the old, in with the new…
The 2017 structure loses 5 teams from the previous campaign; Berkshire Renegades, Pennine Panthers, Prudhoe High School, Shropshire Revolution and Woodham Warriors.
Coming in to the league we have the Black Country Vipers, Edinburgh Napier Knights, Kent Phoenix, the North East Academy (a collaboration between Newcastle Vikings and Northumberland Lightning), Ouse Valley Eagles and South London Renegades. Furthermore, expansions to 3 existing sides have seen the creation of ‘second teams’ in Cobham Cougars Varsity, Kent Exiles Rebels (along with the Kent Exiles Outlaws) and Manchester Enthusiasm (on top of the original Manchester Titans). Interestingly, whilst both Manchester outfits find themselves in the same division (as do the Cobham sides), the Kent Exiles Rebels and Kent Exiles Outlaws find themselves separated.
The 2016 season ended with just 19 Junior sides across the BAFA National Leagues. As we head towards the 2017 season, you’ll note that there are 24 sides across the Northern and Southern Conferences, as well as 4 affiliate sides. What role the ‘affiliate’ sides will have in 2017 we currently do not know, as they don’t appear on the schedule yet.
Returning to the U19 structure are the Black Country Vipers and Wembley Stallions, both of whom pulled out of the South Two Conference last season. The other side to withdraw from that conference – Leicester Falcons – have not returned.
Also not returning for the 2017 season are the Buckinghamshire Wolves and South London Renegades. However Burnley Tornados, Cambridgeshire Cats, Essex Spartans, Hertfordshire Cheetahs and Lincolnshire Bombers are in for the new campaign.
Let’s take a look at the indicative schedule…