LAFAYETTE, Colo. – West Virginia was winless heading into its eighth and final Rugby East match of the season, but the Mountaineers inability to earn a victory was not due to the stellar play of Luke Ellis. Last weekend against Delaware, Ellis captained West Virginia for the first time and led the team to a 33-24 win, earning the full back D1A Rugby Player of the Week honors.
Ellis isn’t exactly an unknown commodity throughout the Rugby East landscape. Last season, the junior from Milwaukee, Wisc. was named to Rugby East’s Honorable Mention All-Conference team. Ellis might be heading for higher honors this season thanks to his team-leading six tries.
“Luke has been a great player for us all three years that he has been here at West Virginia University,” said Mountaineers Head Coach John Baker. “As far as what makes him a great player, I think it is his positive attitude and drive. His speed and wrestling background are helpful assets too.”
Ellis was coming off back-to-back two-try performances against Buffalo and Iona heading into the team’s final fixture against Delaware, but those were in losing efforts. Desperately wanted to end its conference season on a high note, the Apparel Design and Merchandising major took over captaincy and led from the front by scoring a try and connecting on four of his five conversion attempts.
“His kicking kept us ahead in the game,” Baked added. “If it weren’t for his leadership, as well as some of our older players, the game could have gone a different route once it got close.”
West Virginia’s fall campaign is over, but Ellis and his Mountaineer teammates will likely use the spring to attempt qualification for the program’s third consecutive USA Rugby College 7s National Championships.