Five teams from four countries will compete in the European Football League (EFL) in the 2017 season. With last year’s champion Frankfurt, its runner-up Amsterdam and Badalona from Spain promoted to the Big6 for this year the EFL title is up for grabs, and the EFL Bowl on June 11 will bring up an EFL championship debut for any of the finalists.
EFL under the current format was established in 2014, the same year the „Big6 European Football league“ was launched. For teams not ready yet to compete in the Big6 for the Eurobowl, the EFL tournament serves as a stepping stone into international competition. The three EFL Bowls until now have been won by the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes (twice) and Samsung Frankfurt Universe.
While Frankfurt takes its well-deserved spot amongst the Big 6 Europeanteams this year and despite the absence of Kiel still one GFL team will try to continue the German Football League’s EFL Bowl streak: Two-time Eurobowl champion Berlin Adler settles for the EFL competition this year after somewhat falling behind in the Big6 in the last couple of years. Before that the team from Germany’s capital had won the Eurobowl in 2010 and the inaugural Big6 championship in 2014, and some years before that the title in the old „EFAF Bowl“, which proved to be a turning point in the recent club’s history. The Adler hope to make EFL 2017 another of such turning points now.
But competition will be fierce for them. In the preliminaries they play the Black Panthers de Thonon-les-Bains from France at home and the Prague Black Panthers on the road. Before that the first group game will be played between the two teams with the same colour and nickname at Thonon-les-Bains. In the early stages of the French season Thonon seems to be back on track for what could be another run at the French national championship. Thonon made it to the final game four years in a row from 2012 to 2015, winning the title in 2013 and 2014.
Winning national titles in a row however is something the other Black Panthers from Prague are very familiar with. Since 2013, when the team was formed as a merger of the two top Czech teams until then, they took home the national trophy every year. Until last year the team also competed quite successfully in Austria’s AFL (which was one of the reasons for merging in 2013). Now the Prague Black Panthers strive for the next step in international competition and enter the EFL for 2017.
These three teams battle for one of the spots in the final game, the second spot will be decided in round-robin games between the Milano Rhinos and the Nice Dauphins, the second team from France in the EFL 2017. In terms of European American Football the city of Milan is to Italy something similar as Prague to the Czech Republic or Berlin to Germany: one of or the founding centre of national American football activities, regularly represented in the top league of the country by more than one team and subsequently collecting national titles.
The Rhinos are the reigning Italian champion, the foundation for that triumph was a narrow semifinal win against their city rivals Seamen. The year before that same semifinal fixture in an also close game went the other way. Which not only might be a hint why the Seamen joined the Big6 instead of the Rhinos, but also justifies the Rhinos’ ambitions for winning the EFL title. First team to step into their way are the Dauphins de Nice, trying to revive the successful American football heritage of Southern France. The Dauphins last year made it to the French national championship game after winning the prestigious battle against Aix in the semifinals and now have their hopes set on EFL Bowl 2017.
EFL 2017 schedule (subject of change):
(home teams named first)
April 8: Milano Rhinos - Dauphins de Nice
May 6: Dauphins de Nice - Milano Rhinos
April 22: Thonon Black Panthers - Prague Black Panthers
May 6: Berlin Adler - Thonon Black Panthers
May 21: Prague Black Panthers - Berlin Adler