Based out of Llanharan RFC in the heart of the valleys, The South Wales Warriors (formerly the Tiger Bay Warriors) are Wales' only fully kitted American Football team competing in British American Football Association National League (BAFANL).
The club was formed in 1993 as the Tiger Bay Warriors and started out as a Junior Flag team. They were accepted into Junior Division Two Touch and recorded a 4-0-0 record in the regular season (including one postponed game against the Gloucester Gladiators which was awarded to the Warriors) before narrowly losing the bowl game 6–8 to the London Capitals.
The following two years, the Warriors played at Youth Kitted level. In 1994 season they won the BYAFA South East Division with a perfect 8-0 record and reached the playoff semi-final. In 1995, they recorded a 2-3 season in the Southern Division but still managed to reach the playoffs, losing 0–8 to the London Capitals in their quarter-final.
The decision was then taken to move up to senior level, and the Warriors were admitted to the Southwest Conference of the British Senior League's third division. Their experience in their previous youth tournaments seemed to serve them well as their first season at this level saw them post an 8-2 record, finishing second in their conference. They went on the reach the playoff semi-final before losing to the eventual divisional champions, the Winchester Rifles. They reached the playoffs once again in 1997 after finishing second in their conference, only to be forced to withdraw from their playoff match against the PA Knights due to an acute player shortage.
As with the year before, the Warriors finished the 1998 regular season in second place, tied with the Southern Sundevils with a 7-1 record but with an inferior points difference. As a result, they lost home advantage for their playoff match and this proved crucial as they went down by a single point to the London Mets. The following year, they once again finished the regular season with a 7-1 record tied with the Hertfordshire Stags and the Sabres, but they avoided last season's disappointment by finishing top on points difference. This paid off as they made it all the way to the divisional playoff final before losing a tight final game against the Chester Romans by just two points.
Unfortunately, the Warriors were unable to build on this success. After losing several key players and the services of Head Coach Rob Mota, they were forced to withdraw from the league in 2000.
In 2001, the team was reformed as the South Wales Warriors and were re-admitted into the British Senior League to compete in Division Two South. After a year out of action, they found the going tougher and finished with a 2-5-1 record. The following two seasons repeated this pattern, with the Warriors finishing with 3-6 and 5-5 records in 2002 and 2003 respectively. However, 2004 saw a vast improvement and they finished second in their group with a 7-2-1 record, making the playoffs for the first time since reforming. Unfortunately, they were knocked out at the first stage, losing their quarter-final 6–30 to the Chiltern Cheetahs.
This feat was repeated in 2005, finishing the regular season in second place before losing their playoff quarter-final. In 2006, the Warriors once again finished in second place, clinching their spot on the last matchday of the regular season with a 27–21 win away to the Andover Thrashers. They were drawn at home to the Essex Spartans for their wildcard playoff. However, the visitors complained to the BAFL that the pitch at Bedwas RFC was too short, and therefore did not comply with league rules. After consultations between the two teams, the game was played as normal but the BAFL decided afterwards that the Warriors would forfeit the game, and therefore the game was awarded to the Spartans as a 1–0 victory.
The 2007 season saw the Warriors get over their playoff disappointment by winning their group with a near-perfect 9-1 record to win their second ever conference championship. A 13–7 quarter-final win against the Cambridgeshire Cats set up a semi-final tie away to the Norwich Devils, who came into this game on the back of a perfect 10-0 regular season and a quarter-final win against the Cornish Sharks.
Unfortunately for the Warriors they were unable to beat an impressive home team, going down 28–43.
2008 was another good year for the Warriors, who finished 9-1 and advanced to the quarter-finals where they lost 21-7 to the Cambridgeshire Cats.
In 2009, the Warriors benefited from a league re-alignment and were promoted to Division 1. This proved to be a big step up for the Welsh team, but a step they handled with surprisingly good results. The team finished 6-4 and middle of the table, narrowly missing out on the playoffs.
2010 turned out to be a difficult year for the team. Low recruitment, retirements and exceptionally high injury rates meant that the team struggled in the latter half of the season, despite a strong start with several key wins. Low on personnel in key positions, the team decided to forfeit its last game of the regular season against the league-leading Tamworth Phoenix. This decision proved costly as the League officials later declared that they would exercise their discretionary option to relegate the Warriors back to Division 2, despite the Warriors still finishing ahead of two teams who were not relegated.
The 2011 Season saw the Warriors compete in the reformed BAFA National Leagues. The opening game of the season saw them take on the Gloucester Banshees and win 46-0, one of four shutout games that season, which was to set the tone of the Warriors season. Eight wins and two defeats to the hands of the Berkshire Renegades resulted in the team finishing runners-up in the Division 2 West league and entering the playoffs as wild card fifth seed. The quarterfinals against the Kent Exiles resulted in a 33-13 Warriors victory.
The Warriors then moved on to the semifinals at the home ground of the Lancashire Wolverines in Blackburn. The Wolverines were soundly beaten 32-17, leading to a South Wales Warriors and West Coast Trojans Britbowl final at Crystal Palace and promotions to Division 1 for both teams.
The Division 2 Britbowl final was played on the 25th September 2011 at the Crystal Palace Stadium, London, with the final result of 48-20 to the Warriors crowning them Britbowl XXV BAFANL Division 2 Champions.
2012 saw the newly promoted Warriors play a condensed season of football (10 Games over 13 weeks). The warriors had a mixed result, winning six games and losing four. The Warriors home game to Essex Spartans was postponed from 16 June to 15 July due to adverse weather conditions affecting large parts of mainland Britain at the time, the subsequent game was forfeited after Essex were unable to field a team. The Warriors managed to keep a 100% home record for the season which left them finishing in fourth place within the division.
On 23 September it was announced that the South Wales Warriors were to be promoted to the Premiership South Division after an expansion programme run by BAFA.
2013 saw the newly promoted Warriors in the expanded Premiership South Conference and played a season of 10 games from the end of April till the end of August. The Warriors played each club in the Conference one give a total of 5 away games and 5 home games. The Warriors started the season at home to Peterborough Saxons, which ended in a narrow loss and ended the season on the road to London Olympians, which again was a narrow loss. The Warriors finished 9th in the division and started to get ready for their second season in the Premiership South Conference.
2014 sees the Warriors back in the Premiership South Conference which sees them playing a total of 9 games with Peterborough Saxons and Ipswich Cardinals been relegated and the Colchester Gladiators been promoted and come into the season on a High after winning the National leagues final. The 2014 season found the warriors finishing with 3 wins and 5 losses, narrowly missing out on a playoff spot against the London Olympians who won 26-0 to destroy the Warriors playoff chances. warriors found victories against Colchester Gladiators, East Kent Mavericks and Cambridgeshire Cats, and defeats against Bristol Aztecs, London Blitz, London Warriors, London Olympians and Berkshire Renegades, finishing the warriors season 6th in the division.
2015 The Warriors stayed in the premiership south along with Bristol Aztecs, London Blitz, London Warriors and London Olympians. Colchester Gladiators, East Kent Mavericks and Cambridgeshire Cats relegated and Berkshire Renegades fore-fitting the season. The 2015 Season is one the Warriors would like to wipe from history after finishing the season losing 8 out of 8 of their matchups. Due to Berkshire forfeiting the Warriors live to fight another season in the Premiership South for 2016 along with London; Warriors, Blitz, Olympians, Farnham Knights and Bristol Aztecs.
2016 The Warriors completed the season with an overall record of three wins, five losses and one draw, finishing in fifth place in the six-team division. Former double European champions the London Olympians are relegated and failed to complete their winless season, forfeiting their final fixture at newcomers the Farnham Knights who as a result finish in fourth with one more win than the Warriors. The drawn game cost Bristol when they pulled off the shock of the season in week 9. Despite beating the London Blitz, in the capital, they failed to move ahead of them in the race to finish second to the mightily three-time defending national champions the London Warriors due to that tied game. Since that upset however the Aztecs also lost to the Knights in what has been one of the most competitive Premier South seasons despite the continued dominance of the London Warriors who advance to the playoffs with the second place Blitz.
Although the 2016 season was officially the Warriors best performing season in the Premiership, the second half of the 2016 season demonstrated that they were not in a position to compete over a full season at that level, therefore, the Warriors accepted a voluntary demotion to Div 1 Central.
Following voluntary demotion from the Premiership, The Warriors have put a strong emphasis on recruitment, helping to build strong foundations for the teams future.
The 2018 preseason saw the Warriors take to the road and hold four taster sessions across South Wales, bringing in new players from around the country and exposing the team to a new audience.