The British Water Polo League got back underway for the 2022-2023 season over the previous two weekends, as Elstree, Bolton and Sheffield hosted the opening rounds of matches over four days of action - with the third round of games coming up over the next two days.
There have been a number of standout performances from clubs across the divisions as Great Britain's premier senior water polo league has got rolling again.
Sixty-four teams across eight divisions (five male and three female) are taking part in the first phase of competition, which runs from 17th September to 11th December 2022. Following the conclusion of the first phase, the top half of teams in each division will then join with the bottom half of teams in the division above for phase two, which takes place in the early part of 2023. The top five teams in Division One for both the men’s and women’s competitions will then form their own “super 5s” division to crown the overall champions.
The first set of fixtures included clubs from Men’s Divisions Four & Five, with matches split between Haberdashers' School and Bolton’s Jason Kenny Centre. Northampton triumphed 10-9 over Avondale in the first match of the weekend, with both teams new to the division for this season.
The standout results for the first weekend came from Division Four's Sedgley and Birmingham, as the former team got off to a great start with a 26-11 win over Tyldesley before topping the division on the weekend's conclusion. The West Midlands club got the better of local rivals Coventry by a score of 20-7.
Division Five saw a much tighter affair, with the best result coming from the eventual division leaders Sheffield Dolphins. The Yorkshire club overcame Radcliffe by a score of 15-5, following Avondale's similarly impressive 15-4 victory against Invicta Marlins.
The following weekend (24th-25th September) saw all three women’s divisions take to the pool at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge, as defending Super 5s champions City of Manchester began their title defence against newly promoted Tyldesley - with the game finishing 18-6. It was Otter who topped Women's Division One on the weekend's conclusion, though, as they produced 18-7 and 13-9 wins over Sheffield Sharks and Liverpool Lizards respectively.
The other two women's divisions continued the high-scoring matches, as Rotherham Metro took two victories from two games in Division Two to finish the weekend in first position, with Manchester Comets also finishing their weekend top of Division Three.
Men’s Divisions Two and Three are the next in action on 1st and 2nd October, before the turn of men’s defending champions City of Manchester to head to Ponds Forge as they take on Cheltenham the following weekend in their first game of the competition.
Speaking on what is the 12th full season of the league since it’s restructure in 2010, BWPL Chairman David Andrews confirmed that the competition is in fine shape.
“With the season starting mid-September and the top 64 teams preparing to compete, the League has done all the background work required; pools and hotels are booked, officials and volunteers in place and all the behind the scenes systems primed and ready to go. All the teams have their players registered and are committed to the season," he said.
Further water polo action since the conclusion of the 2021/2022 season included the Champions Cup, which saw City of Manchester and Liverpool Lizards take the men’s and women’s titles respectively. The 2022 British Water Polo Championships then followed, as Sandford Parks Lido produced some stunning matches to culminate in Cheltenham and Otter winning their respective men’s and women’s tournaments.
British Water Polo League President, Trevor Pledger, commented prior to the first round of fixtures.
“Looking ahead to the upcoming season and against a background of such uncertainly for the sport as a whole, the League will continue to do what it does best - bringing together the best teams and the best officials in the best possible environment.”
More information on the British Water Polo League, including details regarding fixtures and results, can be found here.
Header image: Trevor Hyde/BWPL