The National Division should be interesting across the board this year. The likes of Gateshead, Solent (previously Hampshire) and Shropshire coming in from the old Division 1 and the likes of Farnham and Leicester taking up their berths after time in the old Premiership divisions provide plenty of talent and experience.
However every team will be looking to show what they are about and will have targets set on the "big boys". So without further ado we give you our preseason Power Rankings:
1. Farnham Knights
Farnham missed out the entire season last time around, forfeiting before a throw of a football. You may have remembered them being the butt of many a DC Towers joke during our Power Rankings last year. But they’re back and they should be taken seriously.
They may have lost players and coaches but some of the Farnham experience and talent that had them near the peak of British football still lingers and should be enough to show some dominance at this level.
2. Leicester Falcons
The Bergamo five scandal is in the past. Branagh and Kersey are gone. Punishment has been handed out.
Will the Leicester Falcons bounce back? They have the talent and experience to do so, certainly but they are in a tough division. We’ll see what level the Falcons are on the first few weeks of the season but until then their past experience has them second.
3. Milton Keynes Pathfinders
The Pathfinders were a dominant force last year, only being beaten by the Division 2 runners-up Peterborough, who were a class above. With the Saxons now in the Premiership and with much the same division, with the addition of Essex and Kent, look for the Pathfinders to top the National South Central this year.
4. Gateshead Senators
The North East team should be in the Premiership North this year but dropped down through request. This could say a lot.
However, despite losing Coach Jon Rooney, they are a well-drilled team. What they lack in numbers they more than make up for in determination and they are capable of beating everybody in the National Division North.
5. Oxford Saints
The Saints were dominant last year, losing just once in the regular season, to the Cornish Sharks. There are rumblings around the league of a few key retirements at the Saints but they should still be more than competitive in the division. The matches against Farnham and the Solent Thrashers will be key to their playoff hopes.
6. Solent Thrashers
Next up, said Thrashers. Rebranded from the Hampshire Thrashers in attempt to make stronger links to the local university side, the Solent Redhawks, Solent are coming off the back of a 3-7 season in Division 1 South.
They’ll want to improve that this year and may fancy a run at the playoffs but they’ll need to step up their game.
7. Shropshire Revolution
The Revolution found Division 1 a step too far last year but improved throughout the season and finished respectively. Even in games they lost they gave a great account of themselves, including a spirited fight back against the Lancashire Wolverines in Blackburn.
With a strong defence and a balanced offence that can score points on anybody, look for the Revolution to be taking the fight to old foes such as Chester and Manchester as well as creating new on-field enemies with the likes of Leicester.
8. Manchester Titans
Everything is change in Manchester. In comes Britball legend Nigel Dias as Head Coach and with him comes an attitude change. The Titans were somewhat grieved to miss out on the playoffs last year, after playing Sheffield twice as opposed to Chester’s once and having their game with Chester postponed and eventually cancelled due to weather. If they had won that game they were in.
Look for them to carry a chip on their shoulder this year and take the game to the likes of Leicester, Shropshire and Merseyside whilst their game with Chester may carry some extra venom.
9. Edinburgh Wolves
The Wolves made it to the playoffs and beyond last season and will be looking for a repeat at the very least. They face tough competition though, with Gateshead dropping in to their division and the much talked about DC Presidents also in there. If the Wolves off-season activities have improved the team then they could be ones to watch this year.
10. Kent Exiles
The Exiles also went 3-7 in the Division 1 South and Central last year and find themselves in the National South Central with some inconsistent teams. The likes of Bedfordshire, Colchester and Watford have the ability to beat anybody in the division on their day and with the Pathfinders in there too the Exiles could be facing a much tougher division than first sight shows this year.