What We Learned – BUCS Playoffs Round One 2016

From last-second game winning catches, to some major seeding upsets, the first week of the BUCS 15/16 playoffs certainly gave us a lot to talk about in the first postseason installment of’ ‘What We Learned.’ Here’s the countdown of  the key takeaways from the last weekend:

1. Stirling got their first reality check in months

After yet another dominant regular season for the Scottish uniball stalwarts, a 59-21 victory over Bath may appear  to be another standard day at the office for the Clansmen. Even the halftime score wouldn’t suggest Stirling had any cause for alarm, after they led 31-15 at the interval. When you consider, however, that the Clansmen haven’t conceded as much as 12 points since they were ran to the wire by Durham in November and Bath actually held the lead for large parts of the first quarter, you begin to realise that this win wasn’t anywhere near as comfortable as the national champions are used to.  Playing against an inconsistent Hertfordshire outfit in the semi-finals, Stirling are no doubt the heavy favorites to reach the final once again, but  Sunday’s victory definitely provided the Clansmen with plenty of learning points for their film sessions in the coming week.

 2. Seeding can provide a false sense of security

The UCLAN Rams are probably the best example of a team who took little trouble in seeing off their divisional opposition in the regular season, rolling to one of the top seeds in the playoffs and recording a perfect season in the process. Come playoff time, however, the relative strength of each division suddenly becomes apparent and teams such as the Rams realise that there is a lot more out there in the BUCSball world to disturb their previously uninterrupted sense of confidence they had built up over several months. UCLAN got a heat check in the most gut-wrenching way as they were dealt a last-second 25-22 defeat at the hands of Nottingham on their homefield – the footage of which you can see courtesy of our staff writer Simon George’s Youtube channel. Whether this demonstrates the fact that the Midlands 1A possesses superior depth to the Yorkshire 1A is a matter for debate, but what is certain is that the postseason is a totally different kettle of fish to the challenges the regular season presents.

3. BUCS continue to befuddle and bemuse with every passing week

We came down pretty hard on uniball’s governing body last week – so we’ll cut them some slack this week by giving them a slightly less vigorous cross-examination. Having said that, the communication between BAFA, BUCS and the university teams themselves presented yet another weekend of confusion following the abandonment of the Herts-Derby quarter-final following a serious injury. With few seemingly aware of the playoff ramifications, BUCS and BAFA eventually ruled that the game should we awarded to the home team by way of a less than straightforward combination of their respective regulations whereby Herts’ win/loss/tied record from the regular season was superior to Derby’s. Regulations aside, it seems hardly fair to end a team’s postseason , after months of physical and mental preparation, not through defeat but simply because they didn’t perform as well in the regular season (and in an arguably tougher division).

In other news, there appeared to be some confusion as to why Nottingham, a team who finished third in the Midlands 1A, have been scheduled for a home semi-final against NTU – a team who won the Midlands 1A and had a superior record to Nottingham. Best as we can tell, it seems BUCS’ pre-determined brackets, whereby Nottingham’s win against UCLAN means that they essentially replace the latter as the number two seed in the tournament. Don’t ask why, we don’t know.

A good ‘Why?’ however is why does there appear to be so much confusion, in so many places, with the decisions made by BUCS in the last few weeks?