It’s a busy time of year for Loughborough Sport’s newest BUCS competitors. Loughborough Students American Football Club have entered 2013 with an undefeated start to their 25th anniversary season, and are counting down the days until one of the biggest regular season games in club history; The Big Match versus Birmingham Lions.
Since the clubs inception in 1987, they have earned three National Championships, seven Conference Championships, and fourteen Division Championships on the way to becoming one of the most successful teams in league history. However, with the last Championship coming in the 2002-03 season, the team is hungrier than ever to earn title number four and BUCS Gold in an increasingly competitive league.
Loughborough have been getting closer and closer to the big dance over the past few years. Last season the team fell agonisingly close to the final, losing to eventual National Champions, Hertfordshire Hurricanes, in the semi-final. The year before, Loughborough lost in the quarterfinal to Birmingham, and the year before that lost to the Lions in the final. Needless to say, the rivalry between the two Midlands powerhouses has grown over the past several years.
Birmingham joins Loughborough in being one of the most successful programmes in British Universities American Football. The Lions have also won three Championships, winning in 2006, 2009 and 2010. With the two teams playing in the same conference, and then again in the playoffs most years, there have been plenty of huge games which attract nation-wide attention because of the competitiveness and the playoff style atmosphere. There is always an abundance of talent when the teams come together, and this year will be no different. An impressive 27 of the 65 players selected for the preliminary GB Students team are from both clubs, which speaks volumes of the level of coaching at each university, and the hard work the players put in over the season.
The winning team will most likely take the Midlands Athletic Conference, gaining a high playoff seeding, the loser being seeded at the lower end of the rankings. The Students know how important seeding is more than anyone, as a loss to Birmingham last time the teams met, resulted in road trips to Stirling, Newcastle, and Hertfordshire in the playoffs, whilst the Lions kept a home field advantage. The stakes are high in what looks to be an unmissable matchup between two of the best teams the league has to offer.
Make sure you get down to watch Loughborough Students AFC versus Birmingham at Holywell Park American Football Pitch on February 17th from 11am!