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Lindenwood's Emmanuel Albert Wins 2021 Scholz Award

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Lindenwood's Emmanuel Albert Wins 2021 Scholz Award

The intense glare of Emmanuel Albert. Belle Erhardt photo.

Lindenwood University lock Emmanuel Albert has won the 2021 Rugby Scholz Award as the nation's best Men's Collegiate rugby player.

Albert, who got his start playing for Eagan in Minnesota's high school league, emerged this season as the foundation of Lindenwood's excellent season. A superb scrummager and winner of rucks, Albert runs the lineouts for Lindenwood, is a leader both by example and by voice, and does all the scrappy, unglamorous things a great rugby team needs to be spectacular.

“Emmanuel’s standards in contact training make our entire team better," said Lindenwood Head Coach Josh Macy. "He’s a bad man in a small space and when we buckle up for contact training, it’s his grid that want-to-be tough guys gravitate toward. Looking at lots of the other players in our team who come on through the year, you can trace some of their improvement to creating those sparks while sharpening irons with Emmanuel.”

Former teammate and current Austin Gilgroni Michael De Waal is a fan.

“Emmanuel is the perfect picture of a collegiate rugby player," said De Waal. "He was exceptional raw material but he took every opportunity to learn the game and turn into the top player he is. Emmanuel ticks all the boxes. He’s a top defender (watch out for those shoulders!), great ball runner, and excellent line out option.”

Current LA Giltini and former Lindenwood All American Cristian Rodriguez also had words of support for the selection.

“Emmanuel couldn’t be more deserving of this award," said Rodriguez. "Playing with him when he was younger I knew he’d be something special and he proves that every day through his hard work. His actions speak louder than words and I guarantee anytime someone leaves the field playing again him, they remember Emmanuel Albert."

The Rudy Scholz Award is presented by the Washington Athletic Club every year, and in non-COVID times the WAC hosts an awards dinner in Seattle for the recipient. Last year and this year the dinner has not been held and there will be a Awards Show for the 2021 Scholz and Sorensen award winners. The men's award is named after Rudy Scholz, who played rugby at Santa Clara and won two Gold Medals in rugby in the 1920 and 1924 Olympics. A scrumhalf in rugby, Scholz was a lawyer by profession who served his country in two World Wards and was decorated for his service. He continued to play rugby into his 80s and is the epitome of how college rugby players become valuable members of society in a variety of ways.

The award itself is decided using a panel of coaches and experts, which develops a list of nominees. The rugby public also votes for a nominee. That list of nominees is then whittled down to a group of finalists, again with the rugby public, and college rugby team leaders, participating in the vote.

That list of finalists for 2021 was:

Emmanuel Albert, Lindenwood; Payton Telea Ilalio, Saint Mary's, TJ van Rensberg, Arkansas State; George Phelan, Life University; Jack Wndling, Central Washington University.

The panel of coaches and experts (including GRR's own Alex Goff, who moderates the voting) then votes on the winner.

All Rudy Scholz Award Winners:

2016: Dylan Audsley, Saint Mary's
2017: Bryce Campbell, Indiana
2018: Connor McNerney, Navy
2019: Harley Wheeler, Life
2020: Payton Telea Ilalio, Saint Mary's
2021: Emmanuel Albert, Lindenwood