Top Five Retired Eagles

Posted: February 19, 2014 at 5:09 am

Dan Lyle of the USA against England in 1999

Dan Lyle of the USA against England in 1999

With the news of Mike MacDonald retiring we thought it was time to look back at the top five retired Eagles.

5. Alex Parker: It’s easy to forget that Parker has the third most caps in Eagles history. He was never fancy but he always put everything he had on the field. His ability to stay healthy and fit was his hallmark as a player. It says a lot that he was still on the fringes of making the team for the 2011 World Cup. Of course, fitting for Parker, we was a key part of Taku Ngwenya’s try of the World Cup in 2007.

4. Luke Gross: Until MacDonald passed him at the 2011 World Cup Luke Gross was the most capped Eagle of all time with 62. After transferring from basketball Gross went on to have a stellar international career representing the U.S. at two World Cups. Professionally he was also a pioneer for Americans by spending time with Harlequins, Scarlets, Newcastle, and others.

3. Paul Emerick: Tied for number five on the all-time cap list with Dave Hodges at 53, Emerick embodied what it meant to be an Eagle. From an unheralded small university in Iowa he made his impact felt everywhere he went. Three World Cups, numerous professional clubs, and a tireless work rate. Sure, he would pick up a red card now and then but he was too valuable not to have on the team.

2. Mike MacDonald: Without question MacDonald will go down as the greatest prop in American history. The guy was simply a force on the rugby field. Even from his early days at Cal right up until his last match with the Eagles he always gave his best performance. Another veteran of three World Cups he arguably saved his best performance for the last when he was the Eagles player of the tournament. To top it off he earned the praise of many overseas and was named the captain of Leeds.

1. Dan Lyle: Crazy to think that Lyle didn’t take up rugby until he was 23 years old. Had he taken up the sport earlier there is no question he would have racked up more caps and more accolades. During his time as captain of the Eagles there was no one better. You aren’t named captain of Bath without earning it.

Curtis Reed is the founder and editor of This Is American Rugby. He can be found on Twitter @ThisIsAmerRugby, on Facebook, and at

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  • Ian Goodnow

    Is this just for caps?Because your leaving out guys like Gary Lambert and Vaea Anitoni.

  • http://ThisisAmericanRugby Mike Traynor

    I find it hard to accept that you left Kevin Swords off your list of the top five retired Eagles.
    Kevin was the best Eagle of his generation and would maintain that status today.

  • Marnie

    Lucky for those five you are only naming American born retired players. Lucky for the Eagles they had and have those players.

  • Jamie

    Why no women on this list? I think that Kathy Flores who played in the first Women’s World Cup, that the women won and then went on to coach the Eagle women through two World Cups. Or Patty Jervey who is the number 2 leading cap winner and played in 5 World Cups including the very first one in 1991 both are in the top 5.

  • Bo Howard

    I played 14 years (mid 70’s to mid 90’s) for the Atlanta Renegades. One year at the Eagle trials in Chicago, the selectors suggested each of us to pick the toughest opposing player at our position. There was only one person that was picked by every one of his opposite numbers. Larry Menyhart (Dirt) A fellow Renegade…I played college football and grew up around many great athletics in Atlanta, but never saw a person like Dirt. He never stopped. At 6’1″ and 230 lbs flanker, he was a beast. He could out run most backs. A Springbok coach saw him in a club match and said you have to tell him he is tired..he does not know how to quit. Yet he was not selected as an Eagle…ever…It was a shame..he would have been a great one.

  • Tyrus Gerlach, Old BATS

    Alex Parker took no guff..! Unlike any other Eagle (save for Emerick), a true lightning rod.

  • Rugby Wrap Up

    Nice work, Curtis.

  • Chuck Moore

    Solid list but I would clarify that this is the top 5 Retired Men since 2000. The US had some great players in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s as well. Clarence “Mad Dog” Culpepper as well as a few named above come to mind. But overall since 2000 I believe you got this list correct.

  • Dave McFadden

    Gary Lambert certainly earned a spot on this list.