Five teams from four countries will compete in the European Football League (EFL) in 2017.
With last year’s champion the Frankfurt Universe, from Germany, along with Dutch runner-ups the Amsterdam Crusaders and the Badalona Dracs from Spain moving over to the Big6 this year, the EFL Bowl, scheduled for June 11, will feature a new champion.
The five teams competing this year have been divided into two groups. Group A consists of Italy’s Milano Rhinos and the Nice Dauphins from France. Group B is made up of the Berlin Adler from Germany, France’s Thonon-les-Bains Black Panthers and the Prague Black Panthers from the Czech Republic.
The European Football League, under the current format, was established in 2014, the same year the Big6 European Football League was launched. The three EFL Bowls until now have been won by the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes (twice) and Samsung Frankfurt Universe.
Germany will be represented this year by two-time Eurobowl champion the Berlin Adler. Despite struggling in recent Big6 tournaments the Adler have rebuilt for the 2017 season. Berlin won the inaugural Big6 championship in 2014 and were Eurobowl winners in 2010.
They will face tough competition this year though. In the Group B preliminaries they play the Black Panthers de Thonon-les-Bains from France at home and the Czech champion Prague Black Panthers on the road. Before that, the two Black Panthers teams will face each other at Thonon-les-Bains.
In the early stages of the French season Thonon seems to be back on track for what could be another run at the French national championship. Thonon made it to the final game four years in a row from 2012 to 2015, winning the title in 2013 and 2014.
The Prague Black Panthers are also multiple national title winners. Since 2013, when the team was formed as a merger of the two top Czech teams, the Black Panthers have taken home the national trophy every year. Until last year the team also competed quite successfully in Austria’s AFL (which was one of the reasons for merging in 2013). Now the Prague Black Panthers strive for the next step in international competition and enter the EFL for 2017.
These three teams will battle for one of the berths in the championship game.
The second final berth will be decided in round-robin games between the Milano Rhinos and the Nice Dauphins, the second team from France in the EFL 2017.
The Rhinos are the reigning Italian champion after dominating the Bolzano Giants in the 2016 final under head coach Chris Ault. Meanwhile the Dauphins advanced to the French championship game last year losing to the St. Ouen Cougars.
EFL 2017 schedule (subject to change):
April 8: Milano Rhinos – Dauphins de Nice
May 6: Dauphins de Nice – Milano Rhinos
April 22: Thonon Black Panthers – Prague Black Panthers
May 6: Berlin Adler – Thonon Black Panthers
May 21: Prague Black Panthers – Berlin Adler