Today Nottingham’s Outlaws American Football team took on Trent’s Renegades in the first match of the Varsity Series. The passion and drive of both teams was clear and made for a thrilling match that was not at all reflected in the final 8-0 result to the Renegades. The Outlaws showed their skill in stopping the run well and had great pass coverage, though their vulnerabilities were exposed by giving away too many penalties and their inability at stopping outside runs. The Renegades ultimately came out on touch largely thanks to their ability to more effectively capitalize on their opposition’s mistakes.
The match began with a steady start from the Nottingham Outlaws and it looked as if, once their offence started to push through, they could be in for a productive afternoon. None were doubting the Outlaws were under pressure after last year’s loss they began with a great sack from the Outlaws’ middle-line backer and lead defensive player, No. 25 James Beaumont, who went on to prove to the crowd at Harvey Hadden why he’s earned his four caps for Great Britain. Ultimately, the Outlaws’ offence failed to capitalise on moments when it seemed the Renegade defense would be waning.
The only touchdown of the match occurred in the second quarter when an enormous punt from the Renegades left the Outlaws in their own one yard line, negating their defence’s good efforts so far. In an attempt to regain ground the Outlaws attempted their own punt, however the windy conditions ensured this ultimately led to nothing. This left Trent just ten yards from a touchdown with four attempts to gain ground. Although Outlaw defence held them back twice , on the fourth attempt the Renegades managed to score a touchdown. This was followed up with a play action pass allowing Trent to score a wide-open 2 punt conversion putting the first and only scores on the board.
The third quarter marked the beginning of a long slog for the both defences who fought well throughout a tiring second half. The Outlaws’ No. 22 Declan Foley made some notable plays such as a blocked pass on the scrimmage line and picking up a bad snap that was fumbled by a Renegade punter. Their offence were less prominent, with little opportunity for play, and notably gained more ground due to penalties given by their opposition than by their own plays. Overall the game was well played with both sides’ defences causing a general stalemate. The adverse weather conditions played in Trent’s favour and allowed them to make some speedy gains, although both team’s offences were incapable of really capitalising on their opportunities.
After their defeat the Outlaws were clearly disappointed and Line-back captain Chris Freeman articulated this when he told us “we put all their hearts in it” but that ultimately “luck wasn’t with us”. Indeed the Outlaws’ faces showed their dejection for all to see and it was obvious how much winning this match would have meant to them. Varsity is definitely an important match for both teams, especially as they were so recently fellow team mates. Although we can reveal the split has caused a bit of “bad blood” between the teams there was no real hint of this from the stands and the game was largely without incident. Indeed the enmity between the two universities was wholly publicized in the stands and with the Nottingham Knights notably absent from the actual game, only turning up to do their half time performance, the Outlaw supporters could have done with a little bit more encouraging to let them counter the Trent taunts.
So what for the Outlaws now? Quarter-back and President Henri Dillinger unsurprisingly said their main focus in the future would be “for the offence to punch it into the red zone and get touch downs from short yard field positions” but showed that they haven’t lost their confidence by adding that if they had done that today they “could have easily won”.
The Outlaws will always have another year to try and set the record straight, though for some of those who lost today it is a shame they don’t have another year left to try. And though Nottingham University are now left trailing to Trent nine fixtures remain for them to turn around the Varsity scoreline. And with Ice Hockey around the corner Uni won’t have to wait long for the chance.
Sam Wilkinson and Ruth Edwards
Thanks also to Richard Grundy