Original header image courtesy of John Maher
Following on from our focus piece on the Swansea Titans, who begin their Premier South campaign this weekend, we now take a look at NTU Renegades ahead of their Premier North opener on Sunday.
The Renegades have been one of the most consistent sides in the second tier of Uniball for a number of seasons, registering a 14-2 regular season record since the beginning of the 2014/15 campaign, and winning their respective divisions in the process.
Unlike their 14/15 campaign – where they flew out of the traps, decimating their opponents before a shock defeat to Worcester Royals that put an end to their 6 game win streak, the Renegades ground out wins in their opening two fixtures in the Midlands 1A (N) division last season. A 24-12 win over Warwick Wolves was followed by a 20-26 road win in the Nottingham derby.
However, much like their prior campaign, NTU hopes of a perfect season came unstuck in close defeat to the Wolves in the third game of the campaign. That defeat lit a fire in the Renegades, however, as they went on to win their remaining fixtures and enter the post-season. Noticeably however, NTU’s offensive output dropped dramatically from the season prior. After putting up 40.6 points per game in 2014/15, the Renegades managed only 18.5 points per game in the 2015/16 regular season.
Unperturbed, the Renegades marched through the post-season, despatching Carnegie and Nottingham in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively. A 9-13 win over Glasgow Tigers in the Division 1 North Final cemented the side’s place in the Premier for the new campaign, before losing a close National Final against Swansea Titans.
Winning promotion to the Premier was our goal to begin the year, and we satisfied that objective… – Daniele Chiazza, President NTU Renegades.
Reflecting on their 2015/16 campaign, NTU Renegades President Daniele Chiazza said “We had a fantastic year last year. Winning promotion to the Premier was our goal to begin the year, and we satisfied that objective with a dramatic last minute win over Glasgow in the Northern Final that took a few years off the lives of everybody involved! The biggest positive about last season was getting promoted with such a young team. Although we lost some key players, we maintained 9 of our starting defensive unit and only lost 3 or 4 from our starting offense.”
Coaching consistency is demonstrable evidence when explaining NTU’s rise in the Uniball ranks over the years. Head Coach Adrian Giles and his Offensive and Defensive Coordinators have all been with the side for 5+ years, having also spent time with Nottingham Caesars in the BAFA National Leagues.
There are, however, a number of changes on the field. Centre Tom Crumpton, safety Alfredo Ferreira, lineman JJ Asante and receivers Harry Guest and Stefan Rock have all departed.
Daniele points to a number of recruits expected to fill the holes left by the departed though, highlighting incoming players such as linebacker David Izinyon, Derby Braves and Belfast Trojans lineman Anthony Black, and receivers Tayoa Adekunlee and Nathan Cotterell (Hertfordshire Cheetahs and Birmingham Bulls respectively) who all bring in veteran Britball experience.
Starting running back Tre’rail Peters also spent the summer with BAFA National Leagues Premier North winners Tamworth Phoenix, and has come back to NTU looking very strong and benefitting hugely from his time there.
NTU will be calling on all of this experience and more as they travel to Durham Saints on Sunday, who are coming off a victory over Loughborough Students in the opening week of the season. Danielle was clear though, “We are not here to make up the numbers”.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Quarterback Callum ousted long-term starter Harris Tzen from the QB position halfway through his rookie campaign and has not looked back since. An intelligent pocket passer who reads defences well, how he fares in the in the tough Premier North will be a large determinant on how the NTU Renegades fare. Image courtesy of Dave Tidswell.
A second year line-backer who came from the Stirling Championship winning squad of 2013- 14. He leads the team by example, putting in the work in the gym, classroom and on the field. His studious habits reflect on the pitch where he is able to rack up the tackles through his knowledge of the game. Image courtesy of Dave Tidswell.
The linebacker, a star player for repeat Britball champions London Warriors and former Surrey Stinger has joined NTU to do a masters. An athletic freak, who makes plays all over the fields with his size and speed. The Premier North offensive coaches will have to game plan effectively to neutralise David to prevent him taking over the game on his own. Image courtesy of Tall Boy Images.