This week we had a little chat with the head honchos from all the programmes competing this weekend to give you guys the opportunity to get to know them, and their programmes, a little better.
Let’s start with one of the most popular programmes in the league, whose openness and positive attitude to BUCSball, as well as awesome field fashion, have earned them fans across the BUCSball nation: The NTU Renegades.
Head Coach Adrian Giles gave us some insights into the #PinkTide
How would you summarise your season in ten words or less?
One game at a time!
What’s been the highlight of the year so far?
Sunday’s last minute win in Glasgow, closely followed by our three victories over University of Nottingham in one season.
Is there one play from the entire season that stands out in your mind?
Rookie RB Joe Peers taking a run up the gut for 6 against UoN in our first match up! Great blocking and his natural speed torches their secondary!
What were your expectations of the players and team coming into the season? Have they been met?
Obviously you’re always wanting a successful season, and promotion was our target, although we knew we had a tough division to get out of, and our defence had been decimated by graduation the previous year. However, we recruited well, and we lucked out with some great athletes.
Gaining promotion was an awesome experience, and the best of it is that we had a large percentage of our starters as first and second year players, they’ve had a good year of learning the systems ready for an attack on the Premier teams next year!
Let’s talk about playmakers – on and off the field. Has a certain member of the coaching staff excelled? One of the game day crew particularly stood out? And who’s been really balling out on game days?
Offensively we are a TEAM, although WR Kieran “GONZ” Goncalves has had some fair to middling games (wink).
QB Harris Tzen led the team through the early season games, but a video evidence ejection meant having to elevate Lancashire Wolverines Junior Scholar Callum Docherty to starter, and he grabbed the chance, making it a difficult decision to swap him out. We will always play the “hot hand”!
Rookie RBs Robbie Jones and Joe Peers have led a talented RB corps, with all of them having a play to make!
Our Offensive Line has been supplemented with some larger players this year, which is key when playing the larger teams (Glasgow’s DLine were a talented bunch and a handful!)
Dline was our main concern coming into the year and a season ending injury to team leader Daniele Chiazza was a sucker punch, but they pulled it round and have become one of our strongest units, making plays when needed.
Linebackers have been led all year by third year Kieran Matthews and ex-Stirling Jack Rice. They make plays all over the field, ably supported by a great corps of guys.
DBs have been our “oldest” section with third year DBs “Brosh” (Brad and Josh) along with Peterborough Saxons Junior Scholar Natal and a good depth of rookies.
I think we have the best team of coaches in our league. DC Karl Walkinshaw and OC Scott Messom run their units well, our D is one of the best in the league and our O can score on you from anywhere!
Your previous game – take us through it. What went right? What went wrong?
Our game against Glasgow was a tough defensive battle. They had a physical front seven who we thought would give us problems, and they did.
Defence did their usual job of limiting their O to small gains here and there, keeping us in the game.
Key moments were the “Peyton” style snap into the endzone for a safety in the third quarter you could tell at 0-0 getting that safety was a key moment for Glasgow. Shortly after, an exchange of turnovers then quickly led to a breakaway run and a score for Glasgow… 9-0 down, with minutes ticking away in the game, an errant punt snap gave us great field position. A great play from Rui Rodrigues making the catch knowing he was getting blown up got us good field position but on 4th and 10 from the 20 we decided to go for it rather than try for a field goal. A 4th down a throw to Joe Peers in the end zone got us back into it, a missed XP only made it more fun, ha!
The onside kick failed, but staunch D got us the ball back a pass interference call on 4th down kept the sticks moving. A deep pass to Gonz got us the go ahead score with about 2 mins left… I cant remember much else… it was a bit all too much at that point! We got the obligatory over celebration penalty of course.
D played tough and got a great tipped pass pick by Kieran “Baby Bash” Matthews which gave our O the chance to chew up the clock… we still had to punt, but a strip sack recovery on the last play ended the game – tense stuff!
What’s your preparation been like coming into this game? Are there any roster issues, significant injuries that have you concerned, or aspects of your opponent’s game that you think will be particularly challenging?
The lads have taken my pre game speeches to heart through the playoffs with them all playing “as though every play is your last play”. We’re pretty banged up with injuries and niggles across all positions, but they’re all ballers, so it will be a tough decision to see if their knocks will keep any players out of the game of the season!
Swansea look to be a great all round team, as proven in last week’s dispatch of Surrey. We’ll see what happens come 4pm Sunday, hopefully we can meet their challenge.
And finally, what do you want to tell the world of BUCSball ahead of this game?
Regardless of Sunday’s result, I’m proud of the team and coaches for getting us the promotion we aimed for at the start of the season.
And what about their incoming opposition? The Swansea Titans, coming into the game hot off the stomping of the Surrey Stingers…