The BUCS season is upon us, and so our Power Rankings return along with your opportunity to have your say on how things stack up across the three tiers of the University game!
We’re collating this year’s rankings via the highly successful format used this past summer – polling not only our own team of BUCS correspondents but also giving all of our passionate Patreon supporters the opportunity to determine how these rankings stack up!
Each contributor submitted their own picks of who’s top dogs in each tier, and then we tallied it all up to create these amalgamated rankings!
If you want your say on who’s top dog in each tier? You can join our Patreon for just $1 a month and directly contribute to the growth of the game, and DC’s survival!
Head to https://www.patreon.com/dblcoverage to learn more.
There’s only four days left of the regular season, and yet more than half of the postseason berths in the middle tier are yet to be secured! Three crowns remain up for grabs, along with four postseason berths in the North, and five in the South… At this point the only thing we really know? Is that Week Twelve is going to be HUGE in Division One.
But which teams do our Patreons and Pundits see showing the strongest form going into the final week of the season?
Northumbria Mustangs – Despite their high placement through much of the season, the Mustangs crash out of the rankings following their doubleheader defeat in Week Eleven! It’s tough for a team to lose any games and keep ahold of rankings spots in the crowded middle tier – yet alone lose two in only 48 minutes of football! A demoralising blow, for sure, but the Mustangs can take comfort in the fact that they do at least still control their own fate with regards playoff football: a win over the Sharks on Sunday would see them through to the postseason.
The Edinburgh Napier Knights continue to hover on the edge of the top ten, but perhaps our pollsters are looking for some more flashy scorelines than the defensively-led Knights have tended to muster this season? At 4-2 on the year, Edinburgh are poised to earn themselves some postseason action – but must face two daunting opponents in Week Twelve – the undefeated Newcastle Raiders, and the BUCS regulations that look likely to see their other missing fixture against the Raiders be voided from the schedule…
10. QMBL Vipers (4-2) – Hold
QMBL cling onto their rankings spot, just about, after no action in Week Eleven.
On paper they’re still in with a shot of snagging the 1A South title, but will need a couple of things to fall into place in order to do so.
First and foremost, is beat the Pirates. UEA scuppered the Vipers convincingly back in Week One, so it’ll be interesting to see whether QMBL’s clear development over the course of the season allows them to claim another big scalp this season!
That’s challenge enough for most teams, but then perhaps the more difficult task might be resolving their missing matchup with the Imperial Immortals. It doesn’t look like it’s going to be played, and unless BUCS choose to award it in the Vipers’ favour? There’s a real possibility the Vipers could earn themselves a conference title on the field of play, but still miss out on wearing the crown.
9. Exeter Demons (5-2) – Re-Entry
The Demons make their first appearance in the Power Rankings since a brief one-week sting way back in Week Three!
They’re riding a three-game win streak since the midseason break, and are yet in with a shot of stealing the 1A South West title if they can secure a big win over the Stags on Thursday evening. Hells, any win at all would be good enough to lock up playoff action, and give the Devon outfit great momentum heading into the postseason!
8. Southampton Stags (5-1) – Hold
The Stags made short work of the Plymouth Blitz in Week Eleven, and yet it wasn’t enough to see them climb the rankings.
It seems there’s simply still too much up in the air in the 1A South West for our pollsters to put their faith in the Stags as a top contender in the Southern half of the tier just yet…
Though a title-securing win over Exeter on Thursday evening might be just the solution the Stags are looking for!
7. Kent Falcons (6-2) – Down One
The Falcons remain in the top spot in the 1A South East heading into the final week of the season… but having wrapped up their eight-game campaign, their fate is no longer their own to control.
Their narrow loss to UEA in Week Eleven leaves the door open for both the Pirates and the Vipers to potentially sneak in and swipe the conference title.
The perfect solution for Kent? QMBL beat UEA, and the Vipers’ game versus the Immortals is voided from the schedule, leaving the Falcons to fly high over the 1A South East once more!
6. UEA Pirates (6-1) – Up Three
A HUGE win for the Pirates in Week Eleven, as their narrow 6-0 victory over the Falcons not only ends a lengthy spell of disappointment for the Norwich-based outfit, but also puts them in prime position to take control of the top spot in the conference when they take on the Vipers this weekend.
For the Pirates this one’s simple: Win, and the years of anguish are over. UEA will wear a conference crown for the first time since… yeesh, we’re gonna go with 1997? (Britball historians, please get in touch if you know more!)
5. Coventry Jets (5-2) – Hold
They might have been a bit rattled to find themselves coming from behind at the half, but the Jets found a way to get it done in Week Eleven, a strong second-half performance against the Wolves locking up playoff action for Coventry in their first year in the tier!
They close out their regular season against the Division Two-bound Longhorns this weekend.
4. Newcastle Raiders (6-0) – Up Three
The biggest climbers this week are the Newcastle Raiders, who rocket up the rankings courtesy of a doubleheader victory over local rivals, the Mustangs, in Week Eleven.
Their defence has been on fine form through most of their campaign, and that continued into their clash with Northumbria, holding the Mustangs to a mere nine points.
The win moves the Raiders to 6-0, with only one potential rival for the 1A North title… this weekend’s opponents the Napier Knights – the first time these two teams will meet this season.
One thing worth noting, however: BUCS regs don’t allow doubleheaders in the final week of the season… so while on paper the Knights theoretically can displace the Raiders from the top of the table, the harsh reality is that if the fixture goes unplayed (which at this point it looks like it will), odds are it’ll simply be voided, and the Raiders are actually already uncatchable atop the conference!
3. Loughborough Students (6-1) – Down One
Loughborough locked up the 1A Midlands title with their Week Eleven win over the Longhorns… but if we’re honest, we’d’ve liked to see something a bit more convincing from the preseason-promotion-favourites at this point in their campaign.
They wrap up the regular season with a trip to the troubled Nottingham Trent Renegades, and though their title may be secure, it’s still a fixture well worth winning for Loughborough – a seventh victory would like ensure either the #1 or #2 seed in the North heading into playoffs, and the multiple-rounds of home-advantage that comes with these higher berths!
2. Brunel Burners (6-0) – Down One
Their Week Ten fixture versus Brighton was called off at the last minute, and we’ve heard no word whether it’ll yet be awarded to Brunel, which means all the Burners can do is focus on what they can control – completing their campaign against the Cougars on Sunday.
With their impressive defensive performances, a win would all but ensure them the #1 seed in the south – with perhaps the added incentive of also consigning rivals, the Cougars, to Division Two football next year.
1. Sheffield Hallam Warriors (7-0) – Up Two
And with a far more convincing performance than in their previous two outings, the Warriors return to the top of the polls heading into the final week of the season!
They conclude their regular campaign against the relegation-locked Tyrants, and though Hallam have already locked the 1A Yorkshire/Lancashire title, a win here will still matter a good deal to them – not only earning them an undefeated campaign, but also concreting their position as the #1 seed in the North!