I have to let loose on a rant.

Sorry, but this is driving me crazy.

The Western League for BUCS is a complete shambles. Maybe other leagues are the same, but I can only speak for my specific experience.

Last year was pretty bad. Schedules were changing day to day for matches to be played that week or weekend. BUCS posted a schedule full of Wednesday matches, which many players then used for planning purposes (for those who don’t know, the traditional sports day in the UK is Wednesday). The problem was that most matches ended up being scheduled on weekends in a tournament type format, creating conflicts.

Now, I have no problem with schools favoring more of a tournament or tri-match style of approach as it tends to make things more efficient and cost effective. It would just be good to know in advance what’s happening. I’d have liked to do some travel on my free weekends, but I couldn’t do it because I never knew what was going on. Then, after primarily doing multi-match dates through the first term, come January it became a case of midweek matches to round out the schedule. And getting them played as a major undertaking.

That was bad enough. This year it’s worse.

The whole schedule is being negotiated between the respective AUs (rough equivalent of an athletic department). BUCS has again provided a Wednesday-based schedule. Some schools are forcing that to be used for their designated home matches while others are trying to arrange tournament style scheduling once more. On top of that, some schools are running best of 3 set matches and others best of 5. The BUCS rules state that in the case any matches are to be done tournament style then all matches have to be played best of 3 for the sake of consistency, which is required for handling tiebreakers.

So what you end up with in cases is teams traveling a long way to play hardly at all. For example, the trip from Exeter to Bournemouth is about 2.5 hours one way. A 3-set match is generally done in 1.5 hours or less. That means 5 hours of driving to get 90 minutes of playing, tops. Major waste.

Oh, and we’ve got a potential situation where instead of a double-round of matches against each team in Division 1 we could end up with just a single. Who then gets priority for being the home side in any given fixture arrangement when BUCS has proscribed a double round?

It’s a total mess. I can’t help but think that BUCS needs to enforce a policy and make the schools adhere. Or at least require that the schools get their scheduling done before school starts so people can make plans. This doing it on the fly stuff is rubbish.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

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