Southampton Stags – Pride of the South

It seems things are finally looking up for the Stags, the University of Southampton’s American Football team. Until 2009 Southampton Stags were one of the best sides in the country, […]

It seems things are finally looking up for the Stags, the University of Southampton’s American Football team.

Until 2009 Southampton Stags were one of the best sides in the country, winning the 2008 National Championships, and making it to the Semi-finals in 2009, before being knocked out by the eventual winners, the Birmingham Lions.

The Stags will be hoping to regain the title they won in 2008

However, following the league rule change which banned multi-institutional teams in an attempt to get BUSA membership, Southampton Solent University split to form their own team, the Redhawks.

This did not initially work out for Southampton, who lost many of their players and coaches and struggled to recover.

This season though the Stags have swept aside every team in their path, winning 8 out of 8 games and beating 2011 National Championship winners and in the process local rivals Portsmouth Destroyers in the Varsity Cup, a game described by Head Coach Gareth Thomas as:

By far the game of the season. In the build up to Portsmouth I’m not sure who were more excited, the players or the coaches! There was certainly a different buzz at training.  I think everyone enjoyed that game (except me – too highly strung!); it was a tough, hard hitting game

Southampton Stags warming up

They are currently seeded second in the south, behind only the Hertfordshire Hurricanes on average points conceded against playoff teams, earning them a first round bye. Following a second round victory over the UWE Bullets, the Stags will play the Birmingham Lions in the semi finals. When asked about the upcoming tie, Tim Curry, reciever for the Birmingham Lions, said:

Obviously I’m going to back my own team. An interesting side note in this game is the fact that there will be two brothers playing in this game – one for Southampton and one for Birmingham!

I caught up with Jonny Brooks, VP Sports Development and Southampton Stags player, to get his thoughts on the season so far:

So Jonny, the season has gone flawlessly so far. How far do you think the Stags can go?

This season I really think the Stags can go all the way. We have all of the talent there and only we can hold ourselves back by not performing on the day.

This season has seen the team come on leaps and bounds. What is the secret behind the current successes?

The secret behind the success is nothing new. Lots of hard work and practice. We have extra training sessions and study game film of the opposition to learn their tendencies. Like the saying goes ” A champion trains like a champion even when no one is looking”.

Which team would you most like to beat – Solent Redhawks or Portsmouth Destroyers?

Easy, we prefer to beat Portsmouth. They are the current national champions and they have been very vocal about their talents which came across as very cocky. Though it just so happens that we beat them both this season!

Who do you see as your toughest challenge in the National Championships?

Toughest challenge will be between two teams: Hertfordshire and Birmingham. They have always been known as two of the tougher teams in the league and this season doesn’t seem any different. Although we like to approach each game as it comes and we treat it like each game is the toughest game of the season.

What do you see the Stags achieving in the future?

I see the Stags going back to the ways of old and being up there as one of the top teams in the country consistently. At the moment the league don’t really see us as a championship contender but that will change. I have no doubt that there’ll be multiple championships won by us in the future and that’s because we have one of the best coaching set ups in the country.

We at the Tab strongly believe we can go all the way, so get involved and back the boys!