Mike MacDonald (67): Big Mac was everything you wanted in a player: steady, a leader, and ferocious in all aspects of the game. MacDonald earned his first cap while still at Cal all the way back in 2000. Over the next decade plus he went on to play professionally in England with Worcester and Leeds, where he was captain. He also played for the U.S. in three World Cups—2003, 2007, and 2011. It was the last World Cup where he showed just how much he means to the team with a Man of the Match performance against Russia. MacDonald is now back in California playing a bit for Olympic Club while coaching at Cal.
Luke Gross: Although he spent much of his professional career bouncing from club to club throughout Europe, he was extremely consistent for the Eagles. Gross held the all-time caps record for several years until MacDonald broke his record in 2011. Originally a basketball player at Marshall University he made the transition to rugby late, at age 24. Gross is now sharing his experience as High Performance Player Development Manager for U.S.A. Rugby.
Alec Parker: Much of Parker’s career was spent paired with Gross in the locks. Together they created an outstanding duo in the lineout. Parker played on the Eagles 2003 and 2007 World Cup squads. In 2007 he was part of the infamous Try of the World Cup in which Taku Ngwenya blew past Bryan Habana.
Paul Emerick: Not many would dispute that Emerick embodied everything you’d want in an Eagle. He showed up every match ready to compete and gave everything he had on the pitch. Emerick had his fair share of controversy, namely his spear tackled against Olly Barkley that put him out of the 2007 World Cup, but that was part of his passion. Like many of the top U.S. players, Emerick emerged from relative obscurity at the University of Northern Iowa, but went on to have a long pro career in Italy, Wales, Ireland, and England.
Dave Hodges: Hodges, along with Dan Lyle, deserves credit for opening up professional opportunities to Americans overseas. Shortly after rugby professionalized Hodges found an opportunity at Scarlets and did well. His natural leadership abilities found an outlet as he captained the team for 27 matches. Since retiring he has stayed around the Eagles as an assistant coach at times and is now involved with the U.S.A. Sevens.
Todd Clever: The current U.S. captain is the only active player with 50 plus caps. As long as he stays healthy over the next few years Clever has a very realistic chance of catching MacDonald for the all-time record. Clever already has a long list of accolades including being the first American to score in Super Rugby. He’s played in New Zealand, South Africa, and currently in Japan with the NTT Shining Arcs. He has also played for the U.S. 7’s team over a dozen times.