Building a Dynasty – The Rise and Rise of the London Warriors – Part Three

In AFI’s continuing collaboration with Great Britain’s top American football website – Double Coverage – we present the third of a three-part series on the top club in Great Britain, the London Warriors. In the first installment, Nick Wilson-Town examined the early years of the Warriors from the youth squad up to the first appearance in the championship game.  In part two, Gareth Thomas took a look at the Warriors as they grew and went on to win their first BritBowl. In part three, Thomas brings us up to the present with the Warriors winning their 4th straight Britbowl and gaining a stranglehold on American football in Great Britain.

Ahead of this weekend’s highly anticipated game between the #BritballNation’s number one team, the London Warriors, and Sweden’s Carlstad Crusaders, we thought we’d take this opportunity to get to know the premier premiership programme a little better.

Following their opening two wins over the Bury Saints and Farnham Knights to open the BAFA National leagues campaign, DC have been offered exclusive insights into a programme well-known for their tight-knit, tight-lipped ethos that focuses on building the strong internal bonds that have seen the Warriors win four straight National Championships

So they’d done it. In just six seasons of league football, the Warriors had claimed the biggest prize of them all. Six years from assembling a group of young, London ballers to becoming the dominant force in Britball, and regularly putting their local rivals in place. Since then, things have remained largely the same in Britain’s upper echelons. It’s now almost expected by the Britball Nation that the Warriors will walk away with another set of medals to add to their collection, even before the season begins.

In 2014, the smackdown they put on the rest of the Premier South was truly something to behold. Just an eight game season, they went undefeated, giving up just three scores all season, with two of them coming in a relatively mundane 33-13 victory over the London Blitz. Oh, we should add that they averaged 57 points scored per game too.

The route to the final at the John Charles Centre was likewise pretty routine, dispatching the Coventry Jets 52-6, before kindly allowing the Tamworth Phoenix to finish within thirty points of them, winning 41-14. However, in contrast to the rest of their season, the showdown with the Blitz (who else) was a typically nervy affair…

With a slightly different look with Nick Jacquet under centre, the Warriors failed to run away with the game. The Blitz took a lead on a safety, before the Warriors took back the lead near the start of the fourth quarter. The Warriors, thanks in most part to MVP cornerback Samuel Obi, managed to hold off a late scare as the Blitz clawed back a touchdown late on, but failed on the two point conversion to give the Warriors the victory.

In 2015 even with long time head coach Tony Allen taking some coaching in Europe, the Warriors looked very much like it was business as usual, offing teams with high scores and defensive shutouts, and even giving European powerhouse, the SWARCO Raiders Tirol a scare on a European adventure, until the end of the season took an uncharacteristically close turn. The final game of the season saw the 7-0 Warriors face the 6-1 Blitz, with the Warriors having defeated the Blitz on the last five occasions. However the unexpected happened, and in a defensive masterclass by both sides, the Blitz walked away with a 13-7 victory, seeing both sides finish with a 7-1 record. Missing running back Dwayne Watson, the Warriors very nearly saw themselves knocked out by the Tamworth Phoenix in the semi-finals, if not for an outstanding one handed catch to seal a 14-9 victory, setting them up for yet another final against the Blitz, this time in their hometown.

The two teams traded scores throughout the game, but it appeared Blitz RB Deji Alli had sealed the game at 19-17. Eventual MVP and brother of quarterback Nick, Ian Jacquet had other ideas, and became the kicker to have the biggest impact on a British final since Mark Webb won the title with a field goal for the Birmingham Bulls in 1991.

Cast your minds back to last year, and you’ll remember the Warriors going undefeated, scoring almost fifty points a game and giving up slightly less than a field goal per game on average. A 13-6 victory over the London Blitz was as close as it got in a season culminating with a pretty one-sided 36-15 victory over, of course, the Blitz in the Britbowl at Worcester.

But it’s not just the senior team where football is flourishing. The Warriors are just as good in every aspect of football. Their Junior team finished last season ranked seventh nationally, their youth team ranked sixth, and their women’s team taking home a divisional championship in the Sapphire Series.

A team that was born from youth beginnings will obviously do their all to ensure they’ve got a steady trickle of talent readily available, but Tony Allen flips it on its head completely, not believing that every adult team should have a youth team, but that every youth team should have an adult team. All six formats at the club can call on an unmatched wealth of coaching, and it would seem that the Warriors are doing everything right to continue their domination of Britball for years to come.

This Saturday, the Warriors will play their second game in inaugural Northern European Football League against seven-time Swedish champion, the Carlstad Crusaders. The Crusaders have picked up where they left off in 2016, dominating the Swedish league, and without imports.



Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.