Article by Colin Mackintosh
At the end of the fall season, Assistant Head Coach Coach Ben Wells announced that he would be turning his focus away from coaching Middlebury Rugby. Coach Wells originally was given an opportunity to coach with the MCRC by Ward Patterson in 2007. Since that time, the MCRC has grown as a club and has had much success. With Wells and Head Coach John Phillips at the helm, the MCRC captured a D-II National Championship in 2009. Shortly thereafter, the club moved up to D-I AA, an amazing accomplishment for a small school in Vermont, and advanced to the American Collegiate Rugby Championship Semi-Final game against Penn State in 2013.
Coach Wells first gained experience in rugby as a backline player on the Bowdoin College Rugby Club, but he first witnessed rugby at Middlebury in 1989. At Bowdoin, Coach Wells said he “just fell in love with the game.” He loved “tackling, playing defense, and that everyone on the pitch has to do everything.” In addition, he loved the brotherhood of the rugby club, and that sense of brotherhood within the MCRC was what really struck Wells when he started coaching here.
At Bowdoin and while coaching at Middlebury Coach Wells developed a great passion and understanding for the game of rugby. That passion translated to every practice with the MCRC. He not only pushed the players hard during fitness sessions at practice, but he was also a great teacher of the game to new players, who did not know much about rugby. Behind the scenes, Ben put in countless hours in the office, completing tasks that had to be done for the MCRC to have any success. This work minimized distractions for players, which in turn maximized players’ enjoyment of the game.
Ben was, and still is, a role model for everyone in the club, bringing out the best in players, and driving us to give all we could in practices and games. Although Coach Wells may not be present every day at practice moving forward, he will not be far away. With the extra time off, Ben will be spending more time with his family, in addition to running the recently reopened Marquis Theater in Middlebury, which now boasts a Southwestern Café, and shows a fantastic selection of movies. Everyone should stop in at the Marquis to grab some great food and watch a movie, but also to see MCRC legend Ben Wells.