BAFA University Commission Lead, Marcus Boswell, has shared the provisional 2019/20 structures with BUCS teams, giving our first insights into the shape of the British University game’s upcoming season.
Though negotiations are still ongoing between BUCS and BAFA to concrete a more effective working relationship going forward, the countdown to the 2019/20 BUCS season has begun as we see the who’s where for the upcoming winter/spring University football season!
Before we look too closely, however, it’s worth bearing in mind that these alignments are still entirely provisional, as Commissioner Boswell shared,
“It must be emphasised that though we’re releasing these provisional structures at this time, they are indeed just that – provisional.
Teams have until 2 August to provide feedback on these alignments and objections could yet lead to further realignments if warranted.”
So don’t go checking out coach prices just yet, as we may well see further shifts!
However, what’s perhaps most encouraging is that, alongside this provisional structure, Marcus has worked to ensure that, even if there are further amendments to be made to the alignments, multiple schedules have been created to account for any of these possible changes and as such full schedules will be released immediately upon final confirmation of the League structures – Friday 2 August, a full month earlier than we’ve seen in previous seasons!
All that said, let’s get a look at who’s ended up where:
Welcome to the big league!
The first, and most obvious, takeaway is that there are three new additions to the BUCS game:
- The University of Nottingham second team
- The University of Western England second team (The ‘Pellets’?)
- The University of Winchester Silverbacks
These teams will join the 2A Midlands, 2A South West and 2A South, respectively.
The addition of these three programmes, along with the withdrawal of the BNU Buccaneers, has allowed for a much more even distribution of teams across the six Division Two Conferences – only the 2A North now remains an ‘odd one out’ with eight teams as opposed to seven.
Slide to the left… Slide to the right…
Secondly, we see a number of realignments, largely to balance the D2 conferences, with the biggest changes featuring in the 2A South and 2A South East.
The City Sentinels, Greenwich Mariners and KCL Regents have all shifted sideways from the 2A South, into the 2A South East, and are joined by the Canterbury Christchurch Chargers who swap places with the promoted 2018/19 Champions, the Essex Blades.
Plugging those gaps in the 2A South, the Oxford Lancers and OBU Panthers have moved across from the 2A South West, and the conferences has been joined by the Winchester Silverbacks, while the Kingston Cougars trade places with the promoted Royal Holloway Bears.
This left a couple of spots going spare 2A South West, which is joined by the new UWE Seconds, while the Plymouth Blitz return to Division Two football following their disappointing 2018/19 campaign, trading places with the Worcester Royals.
In the northern conferences at least, things are a tad simpler:
The Nottingham Seconds join the 2A Midlands, and to make room the MMU Eagles have been shifted across into the 2A North, reigniting their rivalry with the recently relegated Manchester Tyrants.
Finally, the last sideways shift we’ll see is in Division One, where the Brunel Burners find they’ll have no chance to defend their 2018/19 Southern title, as they instead make a new home for themselves in the 1A South East, displaced by the return of the Portsmouth Destroyers to the 1A South.
Lastly, it’s worth noting there were some concerns as to whether the Coventry Jets and UEA Pirates might yet see a switcheroo, owing to the fact that UEA is nominally more northern than Cov, who in turn find themselves in such close proximity to the likes of the Birmingham Lions. However, as things stand the plans are for the newly promoted outfits to stay put in the regions they earned promotion in.
Anything else we need to know?
Eyes peeled for updates in coming weeks, including the aforementioned planned fixtures release next Friday, 2 August.
Marcus Boswell photography (c) Dave Tidswell.