British Linemen to France’s Gladiateurs de La-Queue-en-Brie for 2017 Elite Season

Two of Great Britian national team linemen are crossing the Channel for an opportunity playing American football in France

Jonathan Ridge and Jamie Gallagher will take their size and skills to La-Queue-en-Brie, France to help first year head coach Hugo Pointillart make his Gladiateurs competitive in France’s top American football league. The Gladiateurs have rapidly risen to the top of the French club system and now are looking to challenge the top teams in the nation.

“I recruited the UK guys but it’s really just a coincidence,” said Pointillart. “I was looking for two promising Europeans that want to develop and play at the next level.”

In 2016, the Gladiateurs struggled in the France’s top Elite divison, going 1-1-7. However Pointillart has a plan to make 2017 different. “As for on the field, our line of scrimmage was in shambles last season (still is) and I am convinced that to rebuild the team, I needed to start there. Those guys (Ridge and Gallagher) will bring what the Gladiateurs lack; weight, technique and aggressivity on the line of scrimmage. There is a very talented backfield but there is only so much a quarterback can do without a real offensive line. Same goes for defense.”

Jonathan Ridge has taken an interesting road to playing American football in France. “So I was working in IT Sales in London, when one day I decided to check my EuroPlayers profile I created whilst playing uniball with the Hertfordshire Hurricanes,” said Ridge. “I had quite a few messages from teams, including Hugo’s message from the Gladiateurs. I got on really well with Hugo over a short period of time, he is a very honest and transparent person and an incredibly motivated and driven coach. And towards the end of September I figured working a 50 hour week could wait, so I signed with the Glads and have loved being a part of this organisation even though it has been a short time.”

“Jon (Ridge) is a defensive lineman first,” said Pointillart. “An ex-rugby player, he is aggressive, not slow (5.1 40 yard dash).”

When asked what he will bring to the Gladiateurs next season, Ridge was quick to answer:

“I am going to bring physicality, aggression and durability to the line of scrimmage. I will be playing both ways (defensive tackle and offensive tackle) and I’m going to make sure we are stopping the run, pressuring the quarterback and have a secure pocket to run our playbook.”

France’s American football federation, the Fédération Française de Football Américain (FFFA), allows two American imports and up to five European imports per team. Ridge saw this open door on and went for it. “I was aware of the league, I had the opportunity to play Nice Dauphins with London Blitz in an IFAF Europe Champions League game, and I had also heard about Thonon and the Flash. But I had never heard of La Queue-En-Brie before EuroPlayers. I think this is due to the fact the team is still quite young. They only formed in 2005, but they have climbed the leagues quickly in this time.”

Jamie Gallagher is fresh out of Durham University and played his club ball with the Tamworth Phoneix. “I’ve just graduated from uni and have planned to take a year out to play abroad and coach. I was searching on Europlayers for a while, and started chatting with Coach Hugo. I already knew about La-Queue-En-Brie as I’ve played with and against one of their other imports, and the opportunity was too good to turn down.”

Pointillart is excited about his British lineman. “Jon (Ridge) and Jamie (Gallagher) are big guys. They can move. But what I look for the most on film, not knowing the level they play at, is their agressivity. Do they loaf? Do they relentlessly attack the ball carrier? Do they finish the blocks? These guys do it all.

Jamie (Gallagher) will arrive in January. He is an offensive line guy first, and will probably play left tackle for us. He is young, big kid with the will to perform and get to the next level.”

“I believe, that given the chance to work out (we work out three times per week outside of practice on OL/DL fundamentals), passionate, aggressive football players will reach their potential. They are both versatile players with experience on both sides of the ball and that represented their country for Team Great Britain,” said Pointillart.

The La-Queue-En-Brie Gladiateurs begin their 2017 FFFA Elite season against the newly promoted Rouen Leopards on the first weekend in February next year.

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John McKeon is a former professional and collegiate American Football player and coach now living and working in New York. His goal is to spread news, information, and opinion on the global growth of the sport he loves.