Opinion & Analysis

Now You’ve Been Promoted….

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Chris TebbuttOpinion & Analysis
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Promotion is the second sweetest word in Uniball behind Championship. We are going to look at those fortunate enough to leave their old division behind and play for pastures new in the 2022/2023 season.

But also turn the Tebbutt crystal ball onto what I think will happen to these newcomers to the Div 1 and Prem.

Divison One —> Premiership

SGS Pride – Promoted from Div One South Western to Prem South.

The winners of division 1 came as very little surprise to anyone when this season started, the Filton Pride programme could be argued as one of if not the best in the nation.

Going undefeated in their campaign at to the top, with a +387-point differential and only allowing the Div 1 North Champions the Newcastle Raiders 8 points in their 8-21 victory in the finals.

It allows for Uniball fans to dream of next season when we have the Bristol Bowl twice a year as the SGS Pride will square off with the reigning prem champions the UWE Bullets.

A prediction for the Pride – They will obviously make Prem playoffs, but I don’t believe they will be able to take the Bullets in a championship game, I think the beauty of their promotion will come in the playoffs where they may have to face teams such as Nottingham Gold or Leeds Beckett Carnegie.

Newcastle Raiders – Promoted From Borders Div One to Prem North

The winners of the north also went undefeated in the regular season, shutting out multiple opponents during their run in Div 1.

Their differential just pushed over the two hundo mark at +203. The Raiders played their hearts out during the division 1 championship match with the Pride, making a comeback towards the end to make the game slightly closer. But considering the pride had just beaten the Exeter Demons 51-0 in their last outing before the title game, holding them to 21 points is an accomplishment.

Prediction for the Raiders – It seems to me that the Prem North has slightly better teams than the South, with Durham, Leeds Beckett and Nottingham all being forces within that division.

The Raiders biggest rivals should be the Stirling Clansmen whose season finished in controversial fashion as they gave the Bullets a walkover victory and their head coach then announced his departure, this turmoil could lead to the Raiders capitalizing and staying in the Prem another year in order to find their feet and get the ball rolling.

Division Two —> Divison One

Glasgow Uni Tigers Formerly of Div Two Borders

If there is one thing that will haunt me about the 2021/22 season is that we will never get to have the Edinburgh Napier Knights vs Glasgow Uni Tigers and now we can’t have it for at least another year dependent on what happens next year.

The Tigers finish the season undefeated with a point differential of +166 and four shutout victories in the regular season, in the post-season they removed two of the Midlands 2 teams beating Lincoln 27-0 and Staffordshire 42-06 and then going on to lose 32-03 to the Liverpool Raptors.

Predictions for the Tigers –

I think the Tigers are going to do well, I can see the Div 1 playoffs in their future. As the big dog of Borders 1, the Newcastle Raiders venture to the Prem it leaves a space for a team to dominate and unless Edinburgh, Hull or Northumbria step up, the vacancy could end up being filled by the Glasgow Uni Tigers.

MMU Eagles Formerly of Div Two Northern

The Eagles bounce back from a poor 1-6 2019 season to promotion this year, MMU went undefeated with a points differential of +65 as their regular-season record contained three walkover victories and their biggest victory coming against the Div 2 North Champions the Liverpool Raptors in 12-0 win in the regular season.

This is where this promotion may come with an asterisk, as they lost to the Raptors in the playoffs and their division rival went on to win the Championship against the Glasgow Tigers, which would make them the best team in Div 2 North, but they get no promotion. But that is the way things go, MMU beat everyone in that Division and sometimes that is enough.

Prediction for the Eagles – I just hope they get to play all their games next year, nothing that is their fault but their walkover patched record and their biggest victory being against the Raptors only to then lose to them in the playoffs.

I don’t think the MMU Eagles will be sent straight back down to Div 1, but I can see them finishing middle of the table behind the Sheffield Sabres & Sheffield Hallam, with their biggest test being against the Manchester Tyrants, with the LJMU Fury being sent down next season.

Staffordshire Stallions – Formerly Of Div Two Midlands

The Midlands 2 division has been an absolute rollercoaster this season, with DMU Lions leading the pack for the first half of the season, then the news of the ineligible player for them sent that back down the rankings, it opened a door for Staffordshire, Lincoln and Nottingham to all have a shot at promotion.

But it came down to a victory over the Lincoln Colonials in week 6 that put the Stallions in the best position possible to win, though a surprising loss to the Nottingham Green Superbowl weekend could have hampered their plans.

Staffordshire finish the season with two massive wins over Keele and Huddersfield and put up the first 50 burger of the season, their record is impressive, but can it translate to Div 1 success.

Prediction for the Stallions –

Staffordshire much like Newcastle I don’t believe are going to be chasing a championship next season but having the momentum to enter the 2023/24 season as a Div 1 side is going to be their best bet.

So, when the Stallions gallop into Div 1 their biggest rival should be the Coventry Jets, who have been plummeting down from the Prem championships to knocking on Div 2’s door, the Jets’ only wins coming against a Leicester Longhorns side that couldn’t cope with being in Div 1 and a surprise victory over the playoff making Warwick Wolves.

If the Stallions can thrash the Jets, then their Div 1 hopes can be supplemented with an influx of new talent and bolstered by those experienced players.

Kent Falcons – Formerly Of Div Two South Eastern

The Falcons are heading up to Div 1 finishing 5-1 with a +70 point differential, with their sole loss coming at the hands of the Cambridge Pythons 27-20.

Kent’s season highlights come from a victory over the Greenwich Mariners 6-2, however, this was before the great turnaround done by the Mariners after the Christmas break, as well as a 36-6 victory over the KCL Regents who also finished with a 5-1 record but due to having a point differential of +30 and losing the head to head, the Regents will stay in Div 2 and have to deal with a Greenwich Mariners squad who could end up taking the top of the division next year.

Their playoff run went smoothly at first shutting out the OBU Panthers 9-0, but then meeting the team who would win it all, the Bournemouth Bobcats, who beat the Falcons 8-6.

Predictions for the Falcons – Kent are entering one of the best divisions in football, with QMBL, Imperial and Brunel all surrounding the top of the division, I can’t see the Falcons coming and disrupting Imperial & Brunel.

Their aim should be to unseat the Essex Blades if they wish to stay in Div 1 for more than a season and as the Blades went 2-5 with their only wins coming against the winless ARU Rhinos, it could be possible but due to the Div 1 experience, Essex has don’t be surprised if we see Kent back down in Div 2 in the 2023/24 season.

Bournemouth Uni Bobcats – Formerly of Div Two South Western

The Bobcats finish undefeated and with a Div 2 South championship, with one shutout victory.

The Bournemouth Bobcats, coached by Steve Reins have been a consistent team all season apart from a few close games with Solent Redhawks 21-20 & Kent Falcons 8-6, the Bobcats were the favourite for a championship run throughout last season.

Predications for the Bobcats –

One thing we know about the Bobcats is that they have a young team, so they have time to develop into a Div 1 team and beyond. They have a developing star at QB and with Coach Rains leading the charge there could be a big splash in recruitment for the squad.

Going into Southwestern 1 they replace the Bath Killer Bees & Reading Knights and have to face some teams who may be coming back with a vengeance after the Albatross of the SGS Pride isn’t hanging around their neck.

I do still see Exeter Demons winning the division next year, but I think the Bobcats have a great shot of making the playoffs, but their biggest test will be with the two other teams in that division, the Bristol Barracuda and the Southampton Stags as they both finished 4-4 last season and are looking to prove they aren’t third-place teams.

Oxford Lancers – Formerly Of Div Two Southern

Now this is where I have to start with an apology to Oxford, in an earlier article I called them can crushers as they beat three teams with less than stellar records and I was unsure if they could beat OBU and Brighton, I was wrong.

The Lancers finished undefeated with a differential of +96, proving me wrong, though their playoff hopes were dashed by the emerging Greenwich Mariners, who beat the Lancers 31-6.

Predictions for the Lancers-

The division they are going in to have some heavy hitters with Portsmouth, Hertfordshire and Royal Holloway. Oxford are going to have to set their sights on the Sussex Saxons and try and beat them out to gain that important Div 1 momentum as they look to move up the rankings in the Southern Div 1.

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