NEWS | Eagles announce partnership with Bedfordshire Bulls

18 Sep

The club are delighted to announce a partnership with the Bedfordshire Bulls.

With a number of campuses across the area and more than 24,000 enrolled students, the University of Bedfordshire is a modern, innovative university with a heritage of top quality education.

The Ouse Valley Eagles were formed in 2013 with the aim of becoming one of the leading lights for American Football in the UK. Members of our club come from a wide range of backgrounds and over a large geographical area to be part of one of our three teams:

– Ouse Valley Eagles (Adult Kitted, age 18+)
– Bedford Blackhawks (Adult Flag, age 16+)
– Bedford Blackhawks (Youth Contact, age 13-16)

As part of the agreement our teams will enjoy use of the University’s grass and artificial pitches at the Bedford campus as well as classroom facilities, and Eagles coaches will work with the Bulls as they embark on their first BUCS Division 2 Midlands Conference campaign.

Eagles Chairman Michael Dilley said:

“We are incredibly excited to be teaming up with the Bulls and hope it is the start of a long-term partnership between the programmes.

“With campuses in Luton, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury as well as Bedford, working with the Bulls offers us a fantastic opportunity to help grow the sport in our area, and hopefully inspire future generations of players and coaches”

Beds SU Vice President of Sport, Kieran Nixon added:

“I will be trying a sport for the first time, like so many of the University of Bedfordshire students. It’s a proud moment to be facilitating the opportunity to try something new, as that’s what its all about.

“I hope that this model of partnership between student groups, local organisations and passionate individuals can be replicated to other areas of the sporting landscape within the Bedfordshire Bulls, as we look to develop our sporting programme in an organic and sustainable way.

“The future of sport looks extremely positive, both in the local area and particularly here at Beds.”

Open Sessions for players interested in joining the Eagles for the 2018 season will be taking place during November. Further details will be announced shortly, but to register your interest in the meantime please get in touch via Facebook.com/ovfootball or Twitter.com/ovfootball.

Taster Sessions for University of Bedfordshire students interested in joining the Bulls will be taking place over Freshers Week at the end of September. Further details can be found via BedsSU.co.uk/sport or Twitter.com/BedsBullsAmFoot.

SENIOR | New coaches wanted

12 Sep

The Eagles Senior team are looking for a number of new coaches to join Head Coach Neale McMaster’s backroom staff for the 2018 season in the following positions.

Coach McMaster is looking for new QB, WR, DL and LB coaches to work with his existing team of coaches to develop our players and each other, as the team looks to build on last season’s 4-6 record in BAFANL Southern Football Conference 1.

The successful candidates will be qualified to BAFCA Level 1 (or be willing to obtain that qualification almost immediately), and will have previous coaching experience.

If you are interested in one of these positions please contact Coach McMaster via neale.mcmaster@oveagles.com.

PREVIEW | Eagles ready to renew Solent rivalry

28 Apr

The Eagles are back in SFC1 Central action this weekend when they travel to the South Coast to meet the Solent Thrashers on Sunday (12.30pm).

It is the fourth meeting between the two sides, with the Thrashers running out winners in each of the first three contests – including eliminating the Eagles from the play-offs in 2014 and 2015.

In the first game of the season three weeks ago an under strength Eagles side ran out 14-12 winners in a competitive game away to South Wales Warriors.

The Thrashers meanwhile went down 23-0 at home to early pace-setters Sussex Thunder last weekend, and will be looking to bounce back in what is their second of three games in successive weeks.

Team News

Head Coach Neale McMaster reported no new injury concerns following the opening-day victory over the Warriors. A number of players who missed the Warriors game are set to make their first appearance of the season, including linebackers Gareth Pullen, Fabrizio Gargiulo and Paul Mountford, and wide receivers Troy Mayer, Ryan Bowtell, Chris Gains and Rich Batten.

Andrew Oliver and Gareth Thomas will be late decisions, but longer term absentees Peter Howgego, Raul Fernández, Oliver Latimer, Jack Noblest, John Rudgard and Darren Willison are still out.

Head Coach Neale McMaster

“Really excited to renew what has been a bit of a one-sided rivalry with Solent over the past few years. Given the changes both teams have gone through since we last played it’ll be interesting to see how teams have changed and improved.

“I’m excited by the improvements we’ve made ourselves since the South Wales game – continually focusing on developing our players – and I think we’re in a good position to get a ‘W’ for the first time against the Thrashers, although as is the case with all Steve Rains-coached teams I’m expecting it to be a tough fight.”

Directions

The Thrashers play their home games at Test Park, Lower Brownhill Road, Southampton SO16 9BP:

Game Coverage

If you can’t make it to Southampton to watch the games, we will be providing live play-by-play updates via our Twitter page.

YOUTH | Blackhawks schedule confirmed

16 Apr

The Bedford Blackhawks Youth schedule has been confirmed, and sees the young Hawks kicking off the season next week hosting Berkshire Renegades, Buckinghamshire Wolves and Solent Seahawks.

A fortnight later they travel to Farnham to meet the Knights, Cobham Cougars Blue and the Wolves, before mini-tournaments hosted by Cobham Cougars Blue on 10th June and Buckingham Wolves on 22nd July.

Bedford Blackhawks Youth (U17) 2017 South Conference Regular Season Schedule

Saturday 22nd April (hosted by Bedford Blackhawks)
vs Berkshire Renegades
vs Buckinghamshire Wolves
vs Solent Seahawks

Saturday 6th May (hosted by Farnham Knights)
vs Cobham Cougars Blue
vs Buckinghamshire Wolves
vs Farnham Knights

Saturday 10th June (hosted by Cobham Cougars Blue)
vs Cobham Cougars Blue
vs Farnham Knights
vs Solent Seahawks

Saturday 22nd July (hosted by Buckinghamshire Wolves)
vs Buckinghamshire Wolves
vs Sussex Thunder
vs Swindon Storm

FLAG | Stratford named Blackhawks Head Coach

14 Apr

The Club are delighted to announce that Jonny Stratford has been named the new Head Coach of the Bedford Blackhawks adult flag team.

Stratford claimed the vacant spot having previously been held temporarily by Coach Ian Papworth, and says he can’t wait to get to work:

“It’s a great privilege to be named as the new Head Coach of such a great bunch of players. The potential which I have seen throughout the squad we have can I believe lead to great things for the club.

“I featured last year as a player and I’m delighted to make the move into building a coaching team to take us to new heights. The team chemistry is amazing and I can’t wait to get started on what I believe is going to be a great season for the Blackhawks!”

Jonny began his affiliation with the Blackhawks last year playing the entire debut season in the crucial linebacker role. Despite playing such a fundamental role within the Blackhawks defensive set up, Jonny also managed to put up three touchdowns in his debut season.

Speaking on the appointment, Flag Football Coordinator Jake Cooper said:

“Jonny possesses incredible amounts of natural raw talent which we are extremely looking forward to seeing implemented on the team. Despite being relatively new to the sport it was clear to see that Jonny has great ability to read the game and implement strategical changes to suit.

“We would like to thank him on the magnificent season he put up for the Blackhawks last season.”

The 2017 season gets underway for the Blackhawks this weekend when they travel to the West Essex Showboats, where they will also play Aylesbury Vale Spartans and Ware Wolves.

REPORT | Eagles edge out Warriors in opener

13 Apr

The Eagles opened their 2017 BAFA National League campaign with a determined and gutsy 14-12 victory over the South Wales Warriors on Sunday afternoon.

Whilst the rest of the UK enjoyed BBQ weather, South Wales was overcast and windy which did not help either offence settle in their first outing this year. An uneventful first quarter was scoreless.

The Eagles offence established a foothold with their running game in the second quarter, but were frustrated by a spirited goal-line stand by the hosts when looking likely to score.

The breakthrough finally came after a Byron Chowles interception gave the Eagles great field position, and running back Ben Cockin was able to convert from five yards. Mike Turner added the extra-point to give the visitors the half-time lead.

True to form the Warriors opened the second half in determined fashion and soon replied with a rushing touchdown of their own. The extra point conversion attempt was blocked – crucially as it would turn out – so the Eagles retained a slender advantage.

The key offensive moment for Ouse Valley took place on the next drive when QB Justin LaRoda found wide-out Bob Benney in the corner of the end zone from 36-yards for a spectacular diving catch. Turner again converted the extra point to put the visitors up 14-6.

The Eagles then appeared to be content to keep their opponents at arm’s length playing ‘bend but not break’ defence. Spirited tackling from Harry Rackham and sacks by Ross Hubbard and Garvin Yarde continued to contain Warriors offence.

This effort was exemplified by Linebacker Kase Chibwe chasing down the opposing running back and tackling him inside the five-yard line when he looked certain to score. South Wales were unable to convert and were pushed back out of field goal range by an Eagles goal-line stand.

The fourth quarter was played out with both sides exchanging possession until the Warriors drove in the last two minutes. The Eagles may have thought they had closed it out with their opponents facing fourth down with one second of the game left, however the hosts brilliantly converted a scrambling play to score in the corner as time expired.

The Warriors’ ensuing two-point conversion attempt was snuffed out by a gang of Eagles tacklers leaving them to edge a close one by 14-12 and take the win back east.

Both teams should take credit for producing an exciting game played in a great spirit. The Eagles will be glad to get that one out of the way and will look forward to hosting the game five return in Bedford on Sunday 11 June.

The next challenge is another road trip, this time to Southampton to face the Solent Thrashers, on Sunday 30th April.

Photo courtesy of Daria Urban.

PREVIEW | Eagles go west for season opener

06 Apr

The Eagles kick off the 2017 season with a long trip west to take on the South Wales Warriors this Sunday afternoon in SFC1 Central (2.30pm).

It is the first ever meeting between the two sides, and the Warriors’ first game since making the difficult decision to accept a voluntary relegation from the Premiership at the end of last season.

The Eagles meanwhile head into the game on the back of posting a disappointing 4-6 regular season record in 2016, but with a new coaching staff and a strong group of rookies looking to leave their mark.

Head Coach Neale McMaster

“I’m incredibly excited to get this season kicked off and I feel the trip down the Wales is the perfect opportunity for us to start this campaign off the right way.

“Having just came down from the Premiership last season, the Warriors will pose a great test for us to kick off our season. They have the experience of the higher level, both mentally and physically, and will test us in both departments.

“With the league schedule coming out so late we’ll be travelling with a pretty depleted squad to kick off the season, but I firmly believe the guys have it in them to go out and execute to the best of our ability and come away with a win.

“The thing I’m most looking forward to is seeing our Special Teams units be unleashed on an opponent.

“In our two pre-season games we’ve not really been able to rep them due to our opponents, so seeing them live will be exciting. I’m absolutely positive they will make a difference in the game.”

Directions

The Warriors play their home games at Llanharan Rugby Club on Bridgend Road, Llanharan CF72 9RD:

Title picture copyright Rob Dummer 2016.

SENIOR | 2017 Captains Named

20 Mar

The Eagles captains for the 2017 season have been confirmed following a vote by the players.

Gareth Pullen has been named Team Captain, Danny Cousins is the new Offensive Captain, Ross Hubbard is Defensive Captain and Fabrizio Gargiulo is Special Teams Captain.

Linebacker Gareth “Tish” Pullen is a returning captain, having previously captained the team in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He was named the Eagles’ Defensive MVP in 2015 and 2016, Player’s Player of the Year in 2014, and is a former Bedfordshire Blue Raiders MVP, Players Player and Defensive MVP:

Offensive Lineman Danny Cousins is in his third year with the Club. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in his first season, and was named Joint Players Player of the Year in 2016.

Ross Hubbard is also in his third year with the Eagles and is the current Joint Players Player, Most Valuable Player and Offensive MVP, having played Tight End in previous seasons.

Linebacker Fab Gargiulo is a vastly experienced player in his first year with the Club, having joined from the London Blitz.

Commenting on the appointments, Head Coach Neale McMaster said:

“I’m incredibly proud of these guys for being leaders to their team-mates, but also love the team for recognising the hardest working guys on our team as the people they want to follow.

“There’s a number of guys that they could have selected, but the players chose to single them out.

“There isn’t a finer person to have as Team Captain than Gareth, he is the epitome of what we look for as an Eagle.

“Danny as Offensive Captain is a great choice as he really understands football, and works well with Justin, who is our vocal leader on offense to really push the whole unit forward.

“Ross continues to be recognised by his teammates as a leader and having moved from offense to defense, has maintained his high standards and pushes people continuously.

“Having Fab as our Special Teams Captain is a huge statement by the players, as I don’t think you’ll find anyone more passionate about special teams in the UK. He has instilled a real pride in a unit we expect to produce a lot of points this year, and obviously the players are buying into it.”

The first game of the season takes place on Sunday 9th April away to South Wales Warriors. The first home game of the year is against the Solent Thrashers on Sunday 21st May.

FLAG | Blackhawks looking for a Head Coach

13 Mar

The Bedford Blackhawks Senior Flag Team, who currently play home games in Sandy, are looking to appoint a new Head Coach to lead the team and take them forward.

The Blackhawks were formed ahead of the 2016 season and are aimed at players aged 16 and over. In the 2017 season they will play in the SEC North Division alongside Aylesbury Vale Spartans, Ware Wolves and West Essex Showboats.

Flag football is a non-contact version of American Football where tackles are made by pulling a flag off an opposing player. The game retains the same principles as the contact form, but in a 5v5 non-contact arena with a maximum of 12 players per squad, and is a tremendous way to increase passing and catching fundamentals.

It is the fastest growing format of the game in Great Britain, encompassing schools, colleges, universities and community football.

The Role

As Head Coach of the Blackhawks Flag Team, you will be responsible for the development and implementation of training sessions specifically suited to Flag Football.

You will maintain and develop a team playbook as well as a player depth chart, and be responsible for the in-game play calling and substitutions.

Player retention, recruitment and development is central to the role. As such you will be expected to work alongside our Senior and Youth Team coaches in order to facilitate the transition of youth players into the adult program, and from contact to flag football (and vice versa) as appropriate, demonstrating and promoting the values of the Club at all levels.

The Head Coach will collaborate with the Club Committee on all matters impacting on-field activities related to Flag Football.

Requirements

The ideal candidate will hold a Level 1 BAFCA Coaching Qualification in American Football and have previous coaching experience.

They will be available for practice sessions and games, be highly organised, able to communicate effectively, have a forward-thinking approach to Flag Football, a positive attitude and a passion for developing talent.

Application Process

Shortlisted candidates will be requested to interview for the role by the current Committee. To apply for this voluntary position or enquire further, complete the form below before 5pm on Friday 31st March 2017.

All correspondence will be treated in confidence.

YOUTH | League Alignment and 2017 opponents updated

Blackhawks
08 Mar

Following a review by the British American Football Association (BAFA) the Blackhawks will now play in the BAFA Regional U17 Outer London Conference.

They are joined in the updated Conference by Berkshire Renegades, Buckinghamshire Wolves, Cobham Cougars Blue and Farnham Knights.

After receiving feedback from a number of teams concerned about large travel distances and associated costs, BAFA have removed all inter-conference games from the schedule. As a result of that change, the Young Hawks will just face their divisional opponents in a number of mini tournaments that make up the regular season.

The full schedule will be published here once confirmed by BAFA.

BAFA Regional U17 Outer London Conference

Bedford Blackhawks
Berkshire Renegades
Buckinghamshire Wolves
Cobham Cougars Blue
Farnham Knights