This weekend saw the return of Britain’s BWPL men’s Division 1, with Manchester and Cheltenham taking big steps towards qualifying for the Super 5s in 2022.
Like the women’s competition two weeks ago, the first weekend of the men’s league took place at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield and saw Manchester and Cheltenham both take maximum points from their opening two games.
Manchester, who are the current reigning champions, faced the newly promoted Welsh Wanderers on Saturday, beating them with relative ease. On Sunday, they proved why they are the team to beat, dismantling London Polytechnic, 17-8. Dan Paddon (pictured) led the way for his side, netting three against the Welsh, and seven against Polytechnic.
Cheltenham, however, fresh from their GB Championships victory earlier this year, kept pace with Manchester, by seeing off Sheffield in their first game, and easing past Lancaster on Sunday. Great performances over the weekend from Charlie Brogan, Joe Hubble and Tom Hunt paved the way for the four-time winners to be well-placed for Super 5 qualification.
Invicta, based in and around South London and Kent, had a weekend to forget, losing to Lancaster and Sheffield. Down in seventh place, they will now need some big results in the next two matchdays to secure their place in the Super 5s competition.
Title winners in 2017/18, Solihull stayed undefeated from two close games this weekend. A tense game on Saturday saw them draw with Polytechnic, but Oliver Vodden had the composure to snatch a winner in the last two minutes against the Welsh Wanderers, to put the side from the Midlands in third.
Saturday October 9, 2021
Manchester 25-12 Welsh Wanderers (7-2, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3)
Invicta 6-9 Lancaster (4-3, 0-2, 0-3, 2-1)
Polytechnic 9-9 Solihull (2-0, 3-4, 2-4, 2-1)
Sheffield 5-9 Cheltenham (2-1, 1-3, 1-3, 1-2)
Sunday October 10, 2021
Invicta 4-11 Sheffield (1-3, 2-1, 0-2, 1-5)
Solihull 13-12 Welsh Wanderers (3-1, 5-4, 2-3, 3-4)
Manchester 17-8 Polytechnic (4-1, 4-3, 4-1, 4-3)
Cheltenham 16-5 Lancaster (4-1, 3-2, 5-0, 4-2)
1. Manchester, 4pts (+22 GD), 2. Cheltenham, 4pts (+15), 3. Solihull, 3pts (+1GD), 4. Sheffield, 2pts (+3GD), 5. Lancaster, 2pts (-8GD), 6. Polytechnic, 1pts (-9), 7. Invicta, 0pts (-10), 8. Welsh Wanderers, 0pts (-14)
The format of the British League involves two phases whereby teams play multiple fixtures across several weekends in various locations around the UK.
In the first phase of the season, eight teams in the top division play each other once in an attempt to qualify for the ‘Super 5s’ competition in the second part of the season. As the name suggests, the top 5 ranked teams from the first half of the season progress to the Super 5s, while the bottom 3 teams from the first phase take on the top 5 teams from the division below in a promotion/relegation play-off.
The team that tops the Super 5s in Spring is then crowned British Champions.