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Thanks to the Arciers, American football is exported to Nevers

Helmet in one hand, protections all over his body, Anthony Vigier would almost still be surprised. “If someone had told me that I would play American football one day! “Two evenings a week, this driver of machinery in public works crosses the Loire to train with the Arciers on land at the ASPTT Nevers. “I joined the team last season, thanks to a friend. He invited me to see practice. Three days later, I was in uniform. »

The practice of American football develops the sense of the collective, during and before training, during which protections remain essential.

Conquered by the “physical and human contact” of a discipline open to all sizes, this inhabitant of Avord flourishes as a basic man on the offensive line: “I have to protect the quarterback (the chief passer). A mission for the heaviest”, smiles Anthony Vigier, 33 years old and the carelessness of a first license. “I didn’t know anything about US football before I started last year. »

Managing to break through the bubble (of the quarterback) is something to live for. In the game, I almost succeeded. Once.

“Me, my job is to go through Anthony’s line,” rebounds Jason Horn, passing in front of his teammate. This element of the defensive line, who is discovering American football this season, sums up his role: “Catch the quarterback! Not to hurt him, huh. But it’s an exciting challenge. Sometimes the guys in front of me still do Anthony twice! So managing to burst the bubble is something to live for. In matches, I almost succeeded once. »

Les Arciers de Nevers will start their regional championship in February, in agreement with Beaune.

At 20, this former second line, “drunk” by rugby, changed oval ball. “I am a roofer. A player from Les Arciers came to my work for an internship and told me about his team. I hooked up straight away. I find some similarities with rugby, in terms of shocks. But don’t be afraid. I talked about US football to friends. They watched NFL videos, they got scared. “Jason Horn, he is not shy. “I have one goal: to go pro. For that, it will be necessary above all to turn to Switzerland or Germany. »

Learning the rules in training

In the meantime, this converted rugby player, like many neophyte teammates, is learning to be an American footballer. “It’s funny to them because it’s a whiteboard sport. But when you establish a strategy, and it takes shape on the ground, it’s the best, ”appreciates Sébastien Heimberger, coach of Arciers de Nevers. “Players learn the rules during training. We have a playbook, and it’s up to the players to revise at home, to learn the vocabulary. I invite them to discover American football on their side, ”continues the former player of the Mustangs of Nevers and Gothics of Villeneuve-sur-Yonne, domiciled in Toy-sur-l’Aubois.

One day or another, they will all need each other, sometimes even off the field. For a move, to cut wood, or whatever

Still inexperienced, his team does not lack goodwill. “The preparatory ground work has been good. It takes some, even if it takes even more explosiveness than endurance,” continues Sébastien Heimberger, who is advancing step by step. “We lost 8-20 against Briare in the warm-up match. We were the first to score, and we lasted a quarter of an hour. A small victory, already, with a still limited workforce. “We ran out of oxygen a bit because of that. In the league, the Arciers will form an agreement with Beaune. “We are around twenty players at Nevers. We would have to be around thirty to do without them, ”explains the neversois coach.

Sébastien Heinberger distills his tips and tricks to his players, such as the right way to position his body to better withstand an opposing charge.

Behind the competition, a strong desire: to transform the enthusiasm of each player into collective strength. “That’s also American football. In the field, you need friends. One day or another, they will all need the others, sometimes even outside. For a move, to cut wood, or whatever else”, smiles Sébastien Heimberger, before leaving to give his instructions in front of a captivated audience. “Look, Jason. If you place your legs like this, you will be more solid on your support. The demonstration hits the bull’s eye. The learning continues.


The Arciers de Nevers participate in the Burgundy-Franche-Comté championship in agreement with the Hoplites de Beaune. They are in the West group with the Razorbacks of Briare, the Specters of Sens and the Fenris of Dijon.


Six days are scheduled, against Briare (Saturday February 26 or Sunday February 27, return April 9 or 10), Sens (March 12 or 13, return April 23 or 24), Dijon (March 26 or 27, return April 7 or May 8). The matches will be played on Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon.

RulesEach team must present nine players, and not eleven as in traditional American football, in the defensive phase, and as many in the offensive phase. The pitch, similar to that of a rugby pitch, remains the same size with nine or eleven players. The matches are played in four periods, of twelve or fifteen minutes.

Owen Cudgel


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