Welcome one and all to the first ever Britball Nation Awards, celebrating all things Britball in 2016.
We have a host of awards coming up over the next few weeks, with various selection methods being used to determine the winners and losers. Ahead of the video submissions, the Nation’s Choice and the Nation Nomination awards, we present our lead-off categories, determined by a panel of Britball experts from all versions of the game in this country.
Today’s awards are for teams that have punched above their weight in 2016, and those who might need to look at dropping down a class or two…
Overachiever of the Year
The nominees are: Swansea Titans (BUCS), Merseyside Nighthawks (Adult), East Kilbride Juniors (Junior), Kent Exiles Juniors (Junior)
In the past, Double Coverage has had some stick for kicking teams while they’re down, but we also love to champion teams that are punching above their weight and generally balling out!
East Kilbride Pirates (Juniors)
The Scottish Youth and Junior game has appeared a one horse race in recent seasons with the high-achieving Highland Wildcats programme holding sway in the north. However, 2016 finally saw the Wildcats topple from the top spot as the East Kilbride Pirates Juniors shocked the #Nation with the success in #Britball16. Entering a conference reduced to only three teams due to withdrawals, the Pirates went 5-0-1, including two wins and a draw against the Wildcats, who had come into the season off the back of five straight Scottish Championships as well as back to back Britbowl victories in 2014 and 2015.
However, under the guidance of loooong time Britball Coach Matthew ‘Spoonie’ Davies the Pirates finally scooped the Scottish title, and then surpassed expectations in the playoffs with a confident win away at Manchester. Headed to Britbowl, they made the long trip South, but fell just short of hosting the trophy – falling 14-8 to the on form Kent Exiles, despite shutting the Exiles out through the first half!
Speaking of the Exiles…
Kent Exiles (Juniors)
The Kent Exiles Juniors side turned heads left, right and centre this past summer on their way to a Britbowl triumph. Those ‘in the know’ with regards the Junior game might have seen it coming, but the Exiles still managed to upset the apple cart by beating both the London Warriors and the London Blitz in the regular season, before topping the highly-fancied Birmingham Lions on their way to Britbowl.
The Exiles Juniors represent the great success the Exiles have had in developing a true Britball programme, apparent when you see the ever-improving performance of their teams in each format of the game, including a strong 2016 outing from their Seniors, in no short amount due to the quality contributions of their Junior products.
They took home their first silverware this summer with a victory over EKP at Britbowl and are now a team to watch heading into #Britball17
Merseyside Nighthawks came into their first Premier North season as generally un-fancied mid-table fodder, but finished the campaign with a 7-3 record to take the runner-up spot ahead of long-time powerhouse of the North, the East Kilbride Pirates!
Their season didn’t get underway until Week Five, and the strong opening day win over Sheffield turned few heads… But when this was followed by confident victories over long-time Premiership staples the Lancashire Wolverines and East Kilbride Pirates, numerous cases of results-induced whiplash were reported in the Premiership North.
They were handsomely beaten at the hands of London Warriors in the National Semi-Final, but then again, who WASN’T handsomely beaten by the Warriors in 2016? So that doesn’t take the gloss off what was a cracker of a season for the Nighthawks.
Truth be told, we at Double Coverage have had a bit of a love affair with the Titans since Simon George slung them to the Challenge Trophy two years ago, but even we couldn’t have predicted their successes in 2016.
They romped to the Western 1A title in the early part of 2016 before beating UWE, long-time rivals Cardiff and Surrey in the play-offs to secure promotion to the Premier Division, capping it all with a 21-16 win over NTU in the Division One final to add another ring to their collections.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, they started their 2016/17 Premier Division campaign with defeats of Bath and Kingston to position themselves as surprise bowl contenders. Even a narrow loss to Birmingham hasn’t taken the gloss off a superb 2016 for the men in green.