We’ve got Uniball to come… but we can’t deny we’re already excited for the next year of Senior Ball! This way too early look ahead to next year drops each team into a group, ranging from “Bowl Contenders” to “Nervously Looking Over Their Shoulders” as we give you the low down on a changing Britball landscape.
Sandwell Steelers, Kent Exiles, London Olympians, Oxford Saints, Leicester Falcons, Manchester Titans
The number of teams we picked here is testament to the quality and balance of Britball’s second tier. Sandwell will be disappointed but take a realistic view of 2016. They bossed the MFC1, but nobody expected them to top the Saints. Nobody will be more glad of the Saints’ promotion than the Exiles. A fantastic season after a promotion from Division 2, we expect they’ll be making another post-season appearance sooner rather than later. The Titans rivals also got promoted, giving them a clearer path to glory. We know the Olympians suffered big time in 2016, but they’ve got the playmakers that can win games at this level. If they can turn round some off field issues, they should be in the hunt come August. We’re also backing two new boys to make big waves. The Leicester Falcons had a dominant season the likes of which are rarely seen. Britball’s highest scorers, stingiest defenders and sapping talent from around the Midlands? Sounds like a recipe for success. Oxford have the game right in just about every area, on and off the field, and with some amazing athletes, they could do serious damage in the second tier.
They’ve Got An Outside Chance…
Coventry Jets & Solent Thrashers
The Coventry Jets had a pretty abject 2016, but they finished on a positive note, taking a morale boosting win from the Lancashire Wolverines. In Division 1, teams can get away with just a few difference makers, and Coventry definitely have them. They’ll be in an ultra-competitive MFC1, but if things fall into place… why not? The Solent Thrashers will be disappointed with their 2016, after making the Division Final in 2015. They’ve got quality in all areas and a great set up. With the Saints out the way, tickets to the post-season just got easier to come by in the SFC.
Making Up The Numbers…
Doncaster Mustangs, Sussex Thunder, Nottingham Caesars, Birmingham Bulls, Yorkshire Rams, Newcastle Vikings
A number of these teams played Premier ball in recent years, the Rams as recently as 2015, but they’ve been left behind in the race to get back to the promise land. Sure, some of these outfits might make the post-season again, it wouldn’t surprise us. But then again, they’ve all shown that they can be dragged into torrid battles closer to the foot of their conferences. The new boys, the Newcastle Vikings, should show everybody they were too good for Division Two and act like they belong in their debut season in the second tier.
Nervously Looking Over Their Shoulders…
Ouse Valley Eagles, West Coast Trojans, Cambridgeshire Cats, Colchester Gladiators, Gateshead Senators*
In defence of Ouse Valley, they’ve got a new head coach and were missing a lot of key guys last year. If we had to pick a team that could have the biggest swing, it’d probably be them. The Trojans only “beat” the teams below them (two of which were 1-0 walkovers) and one or maybe both of them could be playing in Division 2 next year. The Gladiators had a rough season following a play-off year in 2015. The Cambridgeshire Cats looked great last year, but based on their 0-10 showing the last time they appeared in the second tier, we’re yet to be convinced. Finally, the Senators, whose only “wins” came as walkovers, could well yet be the fourth team to be relegated from Division One.