With the winners medals now hanging firmly around the necks of the victors and the dust settling on another enthralling season of BUCSball, it’s time for one final installment of What We Learned: BUCS edition!
Rather than run the rule solely over the two national finals from John Charles Stadium, we thought we’d take a step back and have a look at everything that went down across all three tiers – and even have a look at how we ourselves at Double Coverage have performed in 2015/2016. So for one last time, lets have a rundown of what we learned:
1. Brum broke their three year championship drought , but the scalp of Stirling will be just as satisfying
After having to watch a previously dormant team from north of the border rudely disrupt their dynasty, you can bet Birmingham were more than up for the fight in Leeds this weekend. And judging by the ‘Built, not Bought’ slogan they took this disruption personally. We doubted the Lions, especially after they struggled to a winning scoreline against Kingston more befitting of association football than American, but you have to give them credit for regaining their place at the head of the table.
2. The BUCS realignment finally bore fruit
The uniball structure is far from reaching parity, and it’s not beyond reason that some further rejigging may be on the cards this off-season, but most importantly for the first time teams outside of the top tier were able to pick on opposition their own size. Perhaps the biggest downside with the old system was that new and inexperienced teams on the block got beaten handsomely week in, week out, practice sessions dwindle, games get forfeited and eventually these teams fold. The three tier system not only gave the newbies an enjoyable breaking-in period to BUCS life, but also gave their fresh-faced rosters their first taste of victory as they recorded a clutch of wins between them. DMU, a team who was forfeiting games last minute a year ago, should also be safe from folding after notching two wins this year. Parity and competition can only be good for American football in this country.
3. Our pre-season predictions got a lot right, but we certainly got hit with a few surprises.
At the top level, we got it mostly right. In our pre-season predictions back in October we narrowly voted that Birmingham would regain the national title, that Imperial would get relegated from the top tier and that Swansea would be taking the Immortals’ place in the Premier South in 2016/2017. Perhaps our most glaring error was to, bar one vote, rule that either Brunel or Southampton would win the Division Two South – with the former fading in the final stretch of the regular season, the latter crashing and burning in week four and failing to reach .500 – neither program even made the playoffs! Most significantly erroneous, however, was our unanimous verdict that the Derby Braves would be relegated in 2016. The Braves proved to be the surprise package – sweeping both Hallam and Loughborough on the way to a 4-4 record.