The British Army and the Royal Air Force will make history this weekend when their representative American Football teams take to the field against BAFA League opposition for the first time. The Army takes on The Yorkshire Rams while the RAF faces The Oxford Saints on Sunday afternoon.
The landmark exhibition games follows official recognition of UK Armed Forces American Football by the sports boards of the British Army, Navy and Airforce.
All three services have been building a programme from the ground up amid fierce rivalry between the Forces teams who will be battling for the spoils in the inaugural inter-services championship – to be played this Autumn.
Each of the squads comprise of players from all corners of Great Britain and boasting a number of players who feature for BAFA league teams – with both sides confident of giving Division One’s Rams and Saints a run for their money.
Chairman of the RAF, Cameron Stewart said: “As a squad we benefit from intense week long training sessions and fitness will never be an issue within our squad. We are fortunate to have Warren Smart as our head coach. He is ex-RAF and the experience he brings from coaching Wembley Stallions and working with BAFA is invaluable.”
Abe Day, the Army American Football General Manager and Head Coach said: “We expect to give the Rams a good game. The main purposes of these games is to become match-prepared for the inter-services championship games this Autumn, but I am sure both games this weekend will be fiercely contested – because they are history making.”
Between September and November, the three services will compete in a round-robin tournament for the William Seeley VC Trophy – named after the first American Born Serviceman to win the Victoria Cross whilst serving with the senior service (Royal Navy) in 1865.
Each event will take place between two services at any one time, consisting of a three-day scrimmage/training building up to a game, on a Friday evening under floodlights and will become an annual tradition between the months of August and December.
The weekend of September 20 to 22 will see the Army take on the Navy. October 11-13 will bring the RAF and the Navy head-to-head with the final clash – between the Army and the RAF happening across Nov 1-3. Venues for the historic games are currently being finalised.
The Army’s game against the Yorkshire Rams and The RAF’s match-up with the Oxford Saints both take place on Sunday afternoon. But it is the RAF that can claim early bragging rights as officially the first ever match between Forces and League teams in the UK – on account that they kick-off an hour earlier (1.30pm) than the army.
Images courtesy of Chris Coope