Nice Dauphins Riding the Rondell White Train To An Undefeated Season In France

The Nice Dauphins won their fifth game of the French Elite season last weekend, defeating La Queue-en-Brie Gladiateurs 12-0. That left the Dauphins undefeated at 5-0 and alone atop the French standings at the midpoint of the season.

A far cry from last year when Nice struggled to a 4-6 season and was eliminated from playoff contention late in the season.

The reasons are many, with team unity coming to mind and improvements, particularly on defense where Nice has allowed only 53 points in five games. But improvements at key positions have helped.

Like running back.

The Dauphins signed untested running back Rondell White (5’11”, 190 lb) in 2016 and since his arrival,  he has torn the French league up. In the game against the Gladiateurs, he had 215 yards rushing and a touchdown.

In fact, he is averaging 187 yards per game and almost two touchdowns per game. He torched the defending champion St. Ouen Cougars for 220 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries in a Dauphins 31-28 win. He is literally a one-man wrecking machine.

He is quick to point out he couldn’t have done this without great teammates such as quarterback Sullivan Silverio along with his amazing offensive line.

“These guys have been great to play with and I could not have done this without them. We are truly a team.”

Quite a turnaround for the quiet, unassuming White, a graduate of West Chester University outside of Philadelphia. A year ago he was helping coach running backs at the school, wondering if his playing career was over.

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En route to 152 yards vs Aix en Provence Argonautes Photo: Syl Lerou Henaff

It shouldn’t have been, though. Playing for the West Chester Rams (Div. II) he was putting up outstanding numbers too. As a junior, he led the nation in all-purpose yards, and finished his college career with more than 4,000 rushing yards; 2,000 receiving yards and 1,000 return yards.

The 4,000/2,000/1,000 statistic is a threshold that just one other college player in history, at any level, was able to achieve: Villanova’s Brian Westbrook, who went on to become an AllPro with the Philadelphia Eagles.

In fact, only one player in Division II history – Chadron State’s Danny Woodhead – amassed as many career all-purpose yards as White. And Woodhead has been in the NFL since 2008 and is playing for the San Diego Chargers.

White didn’t get drafted for some reason and like many young players did not know where to turn. So he helped out where he could at his alma mater. Until a friend told him about playing in Europe.

So here he is in Europe, back playing the game he loves, living on the French Riviera. He has had a chance to see Paris and loves the French culture, French food, and the French people.

“Sometimes I think I’m still dreaming but it’s actually a reality. Things I’ve seen in movies such as the Eiffel Tower. I was able to go and see it with my own eyes. And there’s so much beauty in this country from the building designs to the cars and fashion it’s great!

“The French food is really good. My teammate took me to his grandparents home where they had a brick oven and his grandfather made pizza which was the best I ever had! The people are all so kind and polite and treat you very well so it’s all positive!”

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Will this incredible playing year help him get a “look” in the NFL or the CFL? With much more attention being paid to players in Europe now, and French national team member Anthony Dablé recently signing with the New York Giants, the odds of being “re-discovered” in Europe are rising.

But for now, White is intent on helping his team win a French championship.

“We have already qualified for the playoffs halfway through the season. I am just focused on winning this with my team. Then we’ll see what happens.”

Watch highlights from the Dauphin’s win against the St. Ouen Cougars.

Photo credits: Guillaume Mouchet, Syl Lerou Henaff

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.