Major League Rugby Player of the Week: SaberCats’ Emmanuel Albert hitting stride

Apr 2, 2024 | Uncategorized

By Aaron Wilson

Growing up in Minnesota, Emmanuel Albert thoroughly explored multiple sports.
Albert played football, baseball and he was on the wrestling team.
And the Major League Rugby Player of the Week also played rugby in high school and at Lindenwood University. where he was named the best collegiate rugby player in the nation.
“I played a lot of sports growing up, and football definitely helped me in rugby,” Albert said. “Rugby is a pretty physically demanding sport. Playing a lot of sports like football and wrestling translates to the pitch and contact areas of rugby.”
Albert’s skill and size prompted the SaberCats to draft the 6-foot-4, 250-pound lock and openside flanker in the first round with the second overall pick of the 2021 Major League Rugby collegiate draft.
Three years later, the former Rugby HTX player has emerged as a pivotal player for the undefeated, 5-0 SaberCats.
Albert scored two tries in a win over the Dallas Jackals last week and received leaguewide recognition along with fullback Drew Wild and fly-half Davy Coetzer. 
Albert also got the start in a win over the previously undefeated Seattle Seawolves two games ago.
“It was definitely a big opportunity for the coaches giving me a start against a big team like Seattle,” Albert said. “I know it was a big game for us. It’s a good feeling realizing the trust the coaching staff has in me and that just made me feel more excited and prepared going into that match. It feels good.”
And the SaberCats have taken notice of Albert’s personal growth.
“Emmanuel has really improved,” SaberCats director Heyneke Meyer said. “Obviously, he’s a youngster. He’s really playing well. He has improved as a ball carrier. We’re very happy with him.”
At Lindenwood in Missouri, Albert was a two-time National Sevens Champion, a Rugby Scholz winner as the top collegiate player in the nation and the MVP of the school’s rugby club. He also played for the USA Club Sevens Nationals and the St. Louis Bombers.
“I’m more of a physical player, not too flashy,” Albert said. “I do the dirty work, make big hits, do the small things that help us get a victory.”
The Eagan, Minnesota native and his high school rugby team toured England and Wales during his senior year of high school.
“When I was growing up, I played football and wrestled, so defensive tackling is one of my stronger suits, just getting in the habit of doing a takedown,” Albert said. “I played middle linebacker and tight end, both sides of the ball. I was pretty good at doing that and transferring that over to rugby.”
No ice hockey?
“I wasn’t too big on ice hockey,” he said. “I never grew up trying to skate.”
Playing for the SaberCats is more than just playing a sport for Albert. It’s about friendships and camaraderie.
“It’s a great group of guys, great brotherhood,” Albert said. “You can see how we play, always fighting for each other. We have days where we go grab a coffee and go hang out with the boys.”
Living in the South has been an adjustment for Albert, but he doesn’t miss the cold weather of Minnesota.
“It’s great,” Albert said. “I definitely miss my family up north, but I enjoy the weather here. It’s not cold eight months out of the year. I enjoy being able to get outside on a nice day and go out for walks. I can’t really complain. Being in Houston the last three years, what’s not to like?”
For the past two seasons, the SaberCats have qualified for the playoffs.
As the only undefeated team in Major League Rugby, the SaberCats have big ambitions.
“Yes, that’s correct,” Albert said. “We’re trying to get the shield this year. With this team, this year’s atmosphere, everyone is very driven to be the ones at the end of the season lifting the shield.”