Tuesday evening the BUCS postseason fixtures dropped… and it’s fair to say they received a very mixed reaction.
Some teams were pleased, indeed surprised, to find they’d unexpectedly made the postseason, while for others there was disappointment and a justified sense of anger as playoff dreams were shattered.
So what were some of the big surprises?
UCLan lose their crown, drop from #2 to #6
Heads were turned across the league when they saw a number of fixtures, played out on the Gridiron during the season, voided on Monday and Tuesday.
Hard-earned victories, blood, sweat, tears, in some cases the injuries sustained? Suddenly all for nothing as BUCS chose to wipe them from the slate, as if they never happened?
Why? Deadlines. A goodly number of teams missed the league deadlines to submit scores, and so BUCS simply scrubbed them from the slate.
REG 9.2 Results of ‘Home’ fixtures should be entered by an appropriate institutional representative of the home team.
REG 9.3 Institutions are responsible for ensuring that the results of all their matches (home and away) are entered into the BUCS website correctly.
REG 9.3.1 If an institution believes the result of an ‘away’ match has been entered incorrectly, or has been omitted by their opposition, they should contact that institution in the first instance and the BUCS office thereafter. Contact with the BUCS office must be made BEFORE the results submission deadline, as outlined in the ‘BUCS League Dates’ document in Appendix 3.
REG 9.3.2 Result Entry/Amendment Deadline: Athletic Unions will not be able to request additions or amendments to any fixture results after the league deadline has passed. This deadline will be communicated in the ‘BUCS League Dates’ document in Appendix 3. Following this deadline all BUCS leagues will be locked and no further requests accepted. No further correspondence shall be entered into in this regard by the BUCS office.
REG 18.104.22.168 Correction of league placement as a result of incorrect or missing results will not be permitted post the result submission deadline, as outlined in ‘BUCS League Dates’ in Appendix 3.
The gist? Any result not in by
midnight on Sunday 25 February 23:59 Monday 26 February was wiped from existence. No extensions, no provisos, do not pass go, do not collect £200.
While it’s good that BUCS have regulations in place to ensure results are submitted in a timely, the callousness of the enforcement on this occasion has left a number of teams fuming – regulations prioritised over performance. Teams ultimately punished perhaps because their opponents didn’t meet league regulations?
One team particularly affected by this were the UCLan Rams, who appeared to secure the 1A Yorkshire conference crown with a win over Leeds on Saturday, 32-20.
However, neither team (with the primary responsibility to submit scores being the home team, Leeds) submitted the score ahead of the Monday night league deadline.
The wiped scoreline instead sees the Sheffield Sabres shift to the top spot in the 1A Yorkshire, assuming the #3 seed, while the Rams drop to #6 with a 5-2 record rather than 6-2.
The Sabres and Gryphons, both, have expressed their dissatisfaction with the situation, and support for the Rams argument that the game should stand as played, Sheffield even offering to play the unexpected fixture AT UCLan, who would have originally earned themselves a home berth.
They were far from the only team affected, and indeed nor the worst-impacted.
Gladiators drop out of postseason following missing Week 11 result
The Gloucestershire Gladiators 37-7 Week Eleven win over the Oxford Lancers was also seemingly never submitted to BUCS. Similarly to the Rams situation, the Lancers have voiced their support of Gloucestershire deserving their place in the postseason.
As such, the combination of the missing scoreline, along with the odd enforcement of regulations this year (see below), means at present the Gladiators miss out on the postseason.
While these two instances have had the most significant impact, it should be noted that a large number of teams have also been affected by BUCS’ cull of fixtures. One hawk-eyed facebook commenter noted Durham, Stirling, Swansea, Portsmouth, UCLAN, Leeds, York St John, West of Scotland, Oxford, Bournemouth, Gloucester, Anglia Ruskin, Essex, Greenwich and the University of East London have all had fixtured scrapped due to the missed deadline.
Week Twelve fixtures, in particular, have generally gone missing, due to the submission deadline being so definitive – you couldn’t sneak it in a little late this week, as the final deadline of the season was Sunday night.
We can’t help but feel BUCS have set a worrying precedent here, however.
If you lose on the final weekend of the season? Don’t worry! Just don’t submit a score and odds are it won’t count. It’s pretty unlikely your opponent will have had time to contact you, in the first instance (REG 9.3.1), and then the BUCS office, just to be super-super sure you submitted the score.
Indeed, both BAFA Competitions Director, Russ Hewitt, and Sports Advisory Group Chair, Phil Wood, have expressed grave concerns with the BUCS office’ mishandling of the situation.
UCLan and Gloucestershire have both appealed the decision of BUCS to not validate their results. They have started a petition at change.org to rally support for their postseason aspirations.
Division Two all shook up
When the Division Two North and South fixtures were released, the teams were, bar one, as expected. However, the seeding was completely out of sync with DC’s own expectations.
It took a few hours of head scratching, but we finally figured out why.
In previous seasons a simplified version of the seeding tiebreakers would be as follows:
Ranking (1st/2nd/3rd) > Number of Wins > Average Points Conceded Per Game
So three first-place teams would be seeded above any second-place teams, a first-place 7-1-0 team would seed above a first-place 6-2-0 team, and a first-place 6-2-0 team with that conceded 5 points per game on average, would seed above a first-place 6-2-0 team that conceded 8 points per game on average.
All making sense so far? Good. Forget all that. BUCS certainly have.
The core part of the change this year is that number of wins is no longer tiebreaking criteria in the way that it was previously. Nor, essentially, is rank.
Rather, BUCS points (as opposed to league points that were used previously) have been used as the primary tiebreaker this year.
These are awarded upon the completion of the season and based on each team’s finish in their respective conference.
In Division Two it’s:
- 1st – 20pts
- 2nd – 16pts
- 3rd – 14pts
In Division One:
- 1st – 30pts
- 2nd – 26pts
- 3rd – 24pts
And in the Premiership, just for reference as the seeding process is simpler up there:
- 1st – 50pts
- 2nd – 42pts
- 3rd – 38pts
- 4th – 36pts
Where this has caused confusion this season is that the use of these points in Division One and Division Two immediately creates three-way ties in each of the four playoff pools (D2 North/D2 South/D1 North/D1 South):
Three first-place teams tied at 30/20pts, three second-place teams tied at 26/16pts, three third-place teams tied at 24/14pts
Previously, as discussed above, we would have seen these teams then separated by their WLT record, i.e. league points. 7-1-0 seeded above 6-2-0. However, this year BUCS chose to resolve these three-way ties using REG 13.11.2
“REG 13.11.2 When establishing the next best first team or best performing team the following process will be used:
– A mini league table consisting of the relevant teams’ performance against the top three teams of each respective league will be created for comparison.
– If this does not produce a single team then the teams that are ‘performance tied’ shall have the top 4 teams per league compared, then top five teams and so on until a clear ‘best performer’ is determined.
– This process shall also be used in relation to other regulations where a best performing team must be determined.
REG 22.214.171.124 An exception to the application of REG 13.11.2 will be if teams involved in calculations to establish the best performer from opposing leagues have completed the same number of league fixtures. The performance from those league fixtures will supersede the need to create a mini-league, initially using league points attained. If this does not determine an individual team the appropriate performance indicator to the sport will be used.“
As such, we can see that for almost all cases in Division One, 126.96.36.199 kicks in, and we DO revert back to league points. However, the uneven schedule length in Division Two means that mini tables are created, and that’s where things get messy.
Essentially the Criteria in D2 now becomes BUCS Points > Performance against top three teams in conference > Average points conceded per page (we’re unclear whether this is across the entire season, or against top three opponents).
This creates seedings something like the following:
Division Two North
- Seeding | Team Name | BUCS Points | Performance v Top 3 | Points against per game
- #1 Coventry Jets (20pts, 1.000, 2.4 papg)
- #2 Manchester Tyrants (20pts, 1.000, 3.86 papg)
- #3 Newcastle Raiders (20pts, 1.000, 4 papg)
- #4 Bangor MudDogs (16pts, 0.667, 10.0 papg)
- #5 Huddersfield Hawks (16pts, 0.667, 13.4 papg)
- #6 Teesside Cougars (16pts, 0.667, 22.5 papg)
- #7 Edinburgh Wolves (14pts, 0.333, 8.6 papg)
- #8 Liverpool Raptors (14pts, 0.333, 12.18 papg)
- #9 MMU Eagles (14pts, 0.333, 21.2 papg)
Which as you can see aligns with the fixtures released last night:
Division Two South
- Seeding | Team Name | BUCS Points | Performance v Top 3 | Points against per game
- #1 Brighton Panthers (20pts, 1.000, 2.8 papg)
- #2 Southampton Stags (20pts, 1.000, 8.33 papg)
- #3 QMBL Vipers (20pts, 0.833, 15.0 papg)
- #4 OBU Panthers (16pts, 0.667, 7.62 papg)
- #5 UEL Phoenix (16pts, 0.667, 9.25 papg)
- #6 KCL Regents (16pts, 0.500, 9.2 papg)
- #7 Essex Blades (14 pts, 0.250, 9.63 papg)
- #8 RHUL Bears (14 pts, 0.250, 13.4 papg)
- #9 Gloucestershire Gladiators (14pts, 0.000, 7.4 papg)
Which again, syncs up with the fixtures:
What are your thoughts on the situation #BritballNation?
Should teams ultimately do a better job interpreting and sticking to BUCS regulations? Are BUCS themselves at fault for not clearly communicating with teams at any point this season, and seemingly constantly moving the goal posts?
Let us know in the comments down below, via Facebook, or @Dbl_Coverage over Twitter!