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Monday, February 17, 2014

Mike MacDonald Officially Retires


All-time U.S. cap leader Mike MacDonald has officially retired. He broke the news on the website of his long-time club side Leeds. With 67 caps to his name MacDonald suppressed previous record holder Luke Gross (62) during the 2011 World Cup, his third time at the tournament. First capped in 2000 at age 19 and while still with Cal, MacDonald went on to not only have a long international career but also a long professional career beginning with Worcester. He most of his time with Leeds, however, playing nearly 130 times for the club and captaining them on several occasions.

Injuries took their toll later in in his career. He continued to play for the Eagles after the 2011 World Cup with his last appearance being the U.S. match against Italy in Houston. Although he tried to gain full fitness on several occasions he was never able to fully recover. Recently married and settled back in the Bay Area, MacDonald told the Leeds Carnegie website that it was time for him to call it quits. He is now an assistant coach at Cal.

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MacDonald will go down as the greatest prop in U.S. history. His athleticism for the position was ahead of his time and his leadership off and on the field was top notch. Coaches loved having him around for his work rate and teammates loved to play with him. He set the bar for future props and will be missed. However, don't look for MacDonald to stay away from Eagles camps entirely. Our guess is that sooner or later he is brought in to help out.

Our own favorite personal memory of MacDonald comes from the 2011 World Cup. He had dealt with some injuries prior to the tournament and it was unclear how fit he was going to be. Plus, he was on the older side of his career so there were some calls for other players to be used. Putting aside all of those doubts he was absolutely massive at the tournament. In particular he put in huge hits against Ireland and Russia. He was named Man of the Match in the Eagles win over Russia. Rugby is definitely a team sport but without MacDonald at that tournament it's safe to say that the Eagles would not have put in the type of solid performance against Ireland and Russia.

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