The BUAFL regular season is almost complete with a couple of the lower teams still to fulfil their fixtures but the playoff places have been confirmed.
The usual suspects have negotiated their way through the wind, rain and snow affected fixture list and are preparing for a series of epic showdowns in the post-season.
Most teams we expected to be in the shakeup are present but what FightForTheYard wants to know is, who is the best team to miss the playoffs?
Let’s have a look through the conferences and find out;
Newcastle Raiders (8-0) have predictably topped the table with the Stirling Clansmen (7-1) placing second after both outscored the rest of the conference considerably.
The Northumbria Mustangs (6-2) and Edinburgh Predators (5-3) have done enough to progress through to the Plate competition, with the latter posting extremely moderate points for and against, for a playoff calibre team.
Missing out on some post-season action is the Tigers, Napier Knights, Spartans, Saints Cougars and Pyros.
The Glasgow Tigers (5-3) are possibly the only team that can feel slightly aggrieved of the situation they find themselves in after finishing with a winning record.
Once again the dominant team in this conference has been the Sheffield Hallam Warriors (7-0), going undefeated during the regular season once again.
Joining them in the playoffs is the University of Hull Sharks (6-2) while the Sheffield Sabres (6-2) and Leeds Celtics (6-2) will have to settle for a pace in the Plate competition.
Before the season started, you wouldn’t find many people who were shocked by the omission of the Bradford Bears (5-2-1) and Bangor MudDogs (5-3). The Bears were overshadowed throughout this campaign by another rookie team, Northampton Nemesis but to go 5-2-1 in your first year is a great achievement and for a moment it looked like they were heading for the playoffs.
Bangor began the season on fire but ultimately the bad habits of seasons past returned and the strength of the opposition shone through.
Midland Athletic Conference
The ever present Birmingham Lions (8-0) and Loughborough Aces (7-1) will once more represent the league’s strongest conference in the playoffs while rookie outfit Northampton Nemesis (5-2-1) and NTU Renegades (5-3) will contest the Plate.
Missing out on the post-season once again is the Nottingham Outlaws (5-3), falling short due to the head-to-head tie breaker with the intercity rivals the Renegades.
Also finished for the year is the Derby Braves (3-4). Many believed the Braves hard-hitting running game would cause some of the bigger programmes a headache and possibly snatch a playoffs spot but a mixture of injuries and bad luck has halted their progress.
South Western Atlantic Conference
Coming out on top in the SWAC is the UWE Bullets (7-1) and the Cardiff Cobras (6-2).
Plymouth Blitz (5-3) and Bath Killer Bees (5-3) will play for at least another week as they have qualified for the Plate.
My knowledge of this conference isn’t the best but I’m sure the Bristol Barracuda used to be better than the (4-4) they posted this season. If that is correct then they will be massively disappointed with this season’s outcome, especially after building such a strong foundation in the past.
The Exeter Demons (5-3) were very unlucky to miss out on fourth to the Killer Bees after matching last year’s record, which coincidentally was enough for their post-season journey last year but not enough in 2011/12.
Thames Valley Conference
The Southampton Stags (8-0) romped to the TVC title with relative ease and will be joined by the OBU Panthers (6-1).
Last year’s BUAFL champions, Portsmouth Destroyers (5-3) will be disappointed with their season so far but have a chance of some silverware in the Plate competition along with rivals Team Solent Redhawks (5-3).
It is unrealistic for any of the other teams in this conference to claim any post-season action as none of them posted a winning record, although the BNU Buccaneers (4-4) had a fine finish to their campaign with four wins out of five.
South Eastern Conference
The Hertfordshire Hurricanes (8-0) remained unbeaten in 2011/12 and will feel confident that they can reach the latter stages of the playoffs, as will the Essex Blades (6-2) who join the Hurricanes after a terrific season.
Representing the SEC in the Plate competition will be the UEA Pirates (5-3) and Kent Falcons (4-3-1).
Missing out by the skin of their teeth is the Canterbury Chargers (4-3-1) who will have to think of what might have been after their match with the Falcons was awarded a draw due to Kent being unable to fulfil the fixture.
So we have the teams who narrowly missed out, but who do you think was unlucky to have their season cut short?