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What is the mysterious 8GL league? Who is the governing body? What qualifications do coaches and referees need? We find out!

With the most recent stirrings online about an American Football match taking place somewhere in England last month it opened up a lot of questions among the Britball community. Why was a game played? Should it have been allowed?  Did it follow British government guidelines during the pandemic? However, the single biggest one that seemed to pop up was who or what are the 8GL? So I decided to look into it to see what I could find out.

8GL is an American football league that plays 8v8 full contact competition between what looks like eight different teams on the outskirts of Manchester and Midlands areas of England. The teams include the St Helen Cardinals, Wigan Raiders, Pennine Panthers, Leigh Minors, Warrington Storm, Kings Lynn Patriots, Midland Storm and Warwickshire Bears. Two of these teams at least how now withdrawn for this year but it would also seem there are more potential teams out there. It says they play under the rules of the British Gridiron League on the St. Helens Cardinals website. The British Gridiron league is a group with the aim of making a professional American football setup in the United Kingdom and covers all things Britball and NFL online. Players are to buy and use their own equipment other than team shirts to reduce the costs of playing the sport and would seem as if there is a mix of players that have never played in the BAFA leagues and those who have or still do.  

Other than that, information on them is extremely limited.

One thing that has over the years been a struggle for teams that are part of the British American Football Setup is numbers. Teams often struggle in particular to attract enough players to have a healthy roster for offensive and defensive lines where bigger guys/girls are required. An 8V8 league does allow for these problems to potentially be limited and could potentially link or provide a progression to any other sort of American Football in the UK. The largest problem here is the lack of governance in a game that can be exceptionally dangerous to your health.

The biggest questions are the following:

  • Q – Who is the governing body? Is it the British Gridiron League (BGL)?
  • A – Well no BAFA is the governing body. Whether they want to be registered to it or not is their choice.
  • Q – Where does the governing body take its rule book from?
  • A – Cannot find this anywhere
  • Q – Do coaches and referees for the league do qualifications through the 8GL or is it through BAFA?
  • A – It would seem some coaches are qualified through BAFCA but it certainly sounds like others are not.

In some places, it says they are following BAFA guidelines and in many comments, it says they are not associated with BAFA so where do they belong? Many believe that they offer another option to play the sport without so many restrictions, where others see this as a potentially unsettling situation that could bring the integrity of the sport into question.

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