The Hanover College Panthers from Indiana, are headed to Europe to take on the East Kilbride Pirates, the top team in Scotland and British 2014 semi-finalists, on May 16 at Hamilton Rugby Club on the outskirts of Glasgow.
While this is a spring game for the NCAA Division III Panthers, East Kilbride will have played four games going into the game including a win against the Irish champions, the Belfast Trojans, and last weekend’s surprise loss to the Lancashire Wolverines.
For the Panthers, the trip will include an historical tour of Ireland as well.
Their opponents in the challenge game that will highlight the overseas visit, the East Kilbride Pirates, are focused on their opponents in the British American Football Association National Leagues but are looking forward to the challenge of playing against an American college team.
Last season the Pirates posted an unbeaten 10-0 record during regular season and reached the semi finals of the British premiership playoffs under head coach Ross Templeton. Following its annual three-day residential training camp at Strathallan School in Perthshire, where almost 80 players, coaches and staff attended, the Pirates opened the football season with the win against the Trojans from Belfastb and are in the midst of their BAFL season. But the game against the Panthers is clearly on their minds.
“Everyone in the Pirates is really looking forward to this game,” said coach Templeton. “It will be great to be able to measure ourselves against a team from the United States. We’re expecting it to be an exciting and challenging encounter, and hopefully it will help us continue to get better and take the next step in our growth as a team.”
Hanover head coach Steve Baudendistel, who has been a member of the Panther coaching staff for ten seasons and led them to a second placed finish in the HCAC (Heartland College Athletic Conference) in 2012, said:
“I am very excited to be bringing the Hanover Panthers to Scotland for our game against the Pirates. The opportunity to visit Ireland and Scotland will be a great cultural and educational experience for our players, but also allows us to promote the game of football internationally. Our trip to Germany with Global Football five years ago was a great trip and I know this will be as well.”
While in Ireland and Scotland, the traveling Hanover party will visit Dublin, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Croke Park Stadium, the GAA Museum, the Guinness Storehouse, the Titanic Belfast, Trim Castle, and take a ferry ride from Northern Ireland to Scotland.
Patrick Steenberge, president of Global Football arrangers of the trip for the Panthers, is especially eager for this tour, adding:
“During the 19 years of running Global Football tours we have never had the opportunity to travel to Scotland, where they have a solid tradition of good football. By combining the competition in Scotland with the very special culture and history of Ireland, this will prove to be a memorable journey for Hanover. It is wonderful that Coach Baudendistel continues the tradition of international travel there.”
The game has the support of the British American Football Association, and has been approved by the International Federation of American Football and USA Football.