OBETZ, OH – I had heard his name before. I had the opportunity to play against him. I had heard stories of his older brother Phil being an incredible player with pace to burn and skills to shine. All the while, I was asking “Who is this kid and… wait… he’s how old?” To say that I have been a fan of JP Eloff for a while, would be an exaggerated understatement.
Eloff has been making a name for himself since before even coming to The States. Having dreamed of playing rugby and looking up to and comparing himself against his older, achieved brother, JP had been apart of the Blue Bulls U13, 16, and 18 competitions. And again to mirror the steps of his brother before him, he had taken his abilities and smooth demeanor to Davenport University where he was an All-American at both the 15 and 7 a side rugby union codes. With the impressive resume young Eloff was compiling, he was sure to gain notice from formidable the Midwest’s powerhouse, Chicago Lions.
The first summer I had played 7 a side rugby was 2012 with the Cleveland CARPS, a Midwest club compromised of a conglomerate of Northeast Ohio clubs; Akron RFC, East Side Rugby Football Club, and the Westside Cleveland Rovers. JP was playing with Chicago that summer, and it was one to remember for the Lions as they had clinched the Midwest competition along with the Youngbloodz, out of Minneapolis and lead by former WRO/IRB Player of the Year Uale Mai. The way he ran and saw the field with backfield partner Rocco Mauer, left a lot of teams bowing their heads as the duo paired up to be one of the most lethal combos I have seen on the club 7’s circuit.
Throughout the next several years, JP had debuted for the highly touted domestic 7’s club, Tiger Rugby, with several international tours beneath coach and creator, Paul Holmes. JP had also taken a step back from the club 7’s scene, spending more time on completing his Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Marketing and playing collegiate rugby with fellow Ohio Aviator teammates Angus McClellan, Mason Baum, and DeMeecus Beech.
Currently, JP has experienced another role on the rugby field; supporter and motivator for his fellow Aviator teammates. He experienced a season-ending lower body injury in May while playing against the San Diego Breakers in the PRO season. Before that, he earned his first international cap for the USA Eagles in the ARC (Americas Rugby Championship) series against Canada, and has since added three more caps to his name.
While this season has not ended the way that he had anticipated during those first few weeks of grueling pre-season training at Resolute Athletic Complex in Columbus, I know I speak for all of his fans, followers, and teammates when I say that I cannot wait to see him put the boots back on and take the pitch.
And hopefully with his former hairstyle.
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