Sapphire Series 2018 Preview
Throughout the months of February and March it’s time for Britball’s Sapphire Series to sparkle on the gridirons across the country.
Women’s Football supremo Jim Messenger has crafted a three tier structure as he continues to drive the women’s contact football game forward. This year there are eighteen teams competing in total, let’s see how it breaks down.
All the teams will battle it out for “ranking points” in an effort to qualify for the Finals Days starting on Saturday March 17th for Division one, then Sunday March 18th for Division 2A and Monday March 19th for Division 2B.
Division one has a Northern group featuring, East Kilbride Pirates, Edinburgh Wolves, Leeds Chargers and the Manchester Titans, with the Southern group made up of the Birmingham Lions, Derby Braves, Herts Tornadoes and London Warriors. Division two “A” sees six teams split into two groups of three. In the North it’s Teeside Steelers, Chester Romans and the Sandwell Steelers, whilst the southern group has the Cardiff Valkyries, Portsmouth Dreadnoughts and Wembley Stallions. All these teams will play a seven a side format.
There are then a group of four newer teams that will form Division 2 “B” and play a five a side format, they are the Kent Exiles, Oxford Saints, Peterborough Royals and Staffordshire Saxons. The Sapphire season structure is one that sees a series of tournaments held at the different teams home fields. All the Sapphire regular season game days are on a Saturday starting with round one on February 3rd and further rounds being held on February 10th and 24th, along with March 3rd. The teams then a get a two week break to prepare for the Finals.
So who should we expect to shine the brightest?
In Division One North we should see some fierce battles with all four teams having historically achieved success to some degree and having individuals who have represented Great Britain. The Leeds Chargers were finalists last year, and with players like Gaby Knops, who played in the Women’s World Championships before spending her “off season” balling out in Finland, they may well be headed right back to the Championship game.
Division One South has the four time National Champion Birmingham Lions, with their depth of talent and large contingent of GB players, it’s hard to look past them if you’re seeking to find this year’s winners. I hear that they’ve recruited well and are raring to go. The Hertfordshire Tornadoes had historically been Birmingham’s main challengers for the National crown, that was until last year when Leeds put them out in the semi-final. With GB standout Oli Davies back from playing in Kansas the Tornadoes will be looking to exact revenge on Leeds and go head to head with Birmingham once more. The Derby Braves are looking to build on their achievements of last season and have installed GB defensive back Collette Wong at quarterback, she’s a good athlete and will be a dual threat that the other teams will struggle to contain. Rounding out Division One South are The London Warriors they are a group of well-drilled competitive athletes, if you take them lightly, they will punish you.
Scoping out the Division 2A teams, it looks like the side to beat could be the Sandwell Steelers. They will have the Great Britain Lions QB2, Sydney Green starting for them this season…at Linebacker! She is a prodigious talent, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her playing both ways. I’d put my money on the Wembley Stallions to meet them in the Division Two A final, they are part of a well structured and progressive programme. As for the Division 2B National teams, I don’t think there will be a stand out leader, but I’m sure their division will be competitive as they journey through the season.
Check your diary and get yourself along to one of the game days, I’m sure you’ll be impressed!