Great Britain Playoff Preview: Who’s in?

Following the final weekend of regular season matchups in the British National League (BAFANL), the seedings are set for the playoffs, which will commence on August 27th.

The BAFANL Playoffs are structured in a four-team bracket, with two semi-finals determining the participants in the Britbowl Championship Game. The top seed of the North will host the second seed of the South, and vice versa.

Let’s take a look at who will compete in the postseason.

#1 Seed North: Manchester Titans – Record: 9-0

Since their inaugural season in the Premier division in 2018, the Titans are yet to miss out on the playoffs, making their first Britbowl appearance last year and coming away with the win. The defending Britbowl champions will yet again fill the top spot in the North, following a flawless season. 

Great Britain captain and quarterback Sam Bloomfield has led the second most efficient offense in the league averaging just shy of 48 points per game played, but their defense is where the Titans transcend the rest of their division; Manchester have conceded just 5.5 points per game. The Titans have allowed just six offensive touchdowns all year and have even scored six defensive touchdowns of their own, putting them at a net zero touchdowns conceded. They went until their final game against the Tamworth Phoenix before even conceding a touchdown in the first quarter

Their roster is loaded top-to-bottom with talent, from defensive back Sam Fossey (GB Team Captain) to GB offensive lineman Tyler Harvey Fallows (Troy University, NCAA DI). Altogether, the reigning champions feature 13 players and two coaches who were a part of the national squad who beat France earlier this month, along with four players in the 75-man squad who will battle for a spot against Denmark in October.

The Titans will host the Bristol Aztecs in a rematch of last year’s semifinal, which ended 32-27 in the favor of Manchester.

#1 Seed South: London Warriors – Record: 9-1

Last year’s runners-up occupy the top spot in the South following a nail-biting victory against the Bristol Aztecs on Sunday. The Warriors have yet again been a powerhouse, charging through almost every team in their division without any difficulty. Led by Dee Williams, the Warriors boast the highest scoring offense in the league, averaging a whopping 50.1 points-per-game. Former Leipzig Kings back Ray Sobowale has been key to their performance, with his aggressive running style making him a constant problem for opposing defenses.

The Warriors’ season does have an asterisk beside it, however, as week eleven saw the London side take their first regular season loss since 2017. Although they recovered from the defeat, handing the Aztecs a loss of their own, this is the first time in recent years we have seen a threat posed to the Warriors in the South by a team not called the London Blitz.

The London Warriors will host the Edinburgh Wolves on August 27th for the chance of appearing in their fourth straight Britbowl.

 #2 Seed North: Edinburgh Wolves – Record: 7-3

The Edinburgh Wolves are the only team in the playoffs who will be making their Premier division playoff debut after their most successful regular season campaign.

After being handled with ease by the Titans twice, the matchups between the Wolves and last year’s semifinalists, the Tamworth Phoenix, would prove to be the most pivotal. The first meeting saw the Wolves take a 30-7 win at home, while the Phoenix got the better of the Scottish side in the rematch, taking a 27-7 win. The three points between the two scorelines would be the most crucial three points to either team; both teams ended the season with seven wins, making head-to-head points difference the tie-breaker, grinding the Phoenix’s season to a halt.

Image courtesy of Duncan Gray

Edinburgh will make the 400 mile journey down to London to take on the six-time British champions, the London Warriors.

#2 Seed South: Bristol Aztecs – Record: 8-2

The Aztecs have maintained the position they held last year, finishing just behind the Warriors despite upsetting the London-based powerhouse earlier this year.

Bristol are coming off one of their best seasons in recent history, defeating every team in their division by a significant margin, barring the two London teams (Blitz, Warriors) who took one win and one loss each versus the Aztecs. Quarterback Louis Benzey led the team to a seven game win streak prior to their loss on Sunday, the team averaging 38.7 points per game in the process. A running back carousel consisting primarily of KK Brooks (University of Pennsylvania, University of West England) and Hosam Alzahrani (Bristol University) has been integral to the success of the offense, with both players finding significant success on the ground; Brooks had himself a four-touchdown performance in the win over the Warriors.

Other key components include several players and coaches who are coming off a BUCS National Championship with the UWE Bullets, such as defensive end Billy Elliott, D-Line coach ‘Ti’, among others. Safety Dan Bate (formerly of Cardiff University Cobras) and DB Manny Crispin have also been crucial to the Aztecs’ success, both recording multiple turnovers and defensive scores throughout the season.

The Aztecs will look to flip last year’s result which saw them fall short to the Manchester Titans in the semifinal. 

A current student at Bournemouth University as well as a quarterback with eight years of playing experience. Brad's goal is to be a part of the growth of the game around the world through journalism and media.