Rugby Q&A: USA & Leeds Prop Mike MacDonald

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RWU: Mike, thanks for being with us.
MM: No problem
RWU: We’ve got a mix of questions from a diverse group to go along with our own. Ready?
MM: Let’s do this.

RWU: Okay. First, Eagle scrumhalf Tim Usasz would like you to define the word “heavy” for us.
MM: Ha, probably refering to the tour a couple years back. He and I would work out in the morning to hold down some of the unwanted weight. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the outcome I had desired. I ended up putting weight during the 7-week tour and the running joke we had was that the plates at the hotel were too big. So during the World Cup I was eating off of small salad plates to try to keep the weight down, and it worked.


RWU: How did you get the nickname “Puck?” That’s courtesy of your Eagle teammate and mustache aficionado, Patrick Danahy.
MM: Another long-lived running joke with some of the team. Let’s just say it was a self-appointed nickname that I had during my time at Cal.


RWU: Scott LaValla, fellow pack member on the Eagles, asks “What is hemoglobin? And how do you get it off you?
MM: And the hits just keep on coming. We were having Story Time with some of the boys before we left for New Zealand. I told a story that happened to me while I was on break from Leeds and had some shenanigans back home. A night out with some friends led to an unfortunate accident where a long shower was needed to wash away the misdeeds of the night. All in all, it was a great night, but ended up in a way that was quite awkward.

RWU: You are the most-capped player in USA Rugby history, having surpassed Luke Gross. How many do you have – that’s a test?
MM: Up to 65 now.

RWU: You have wrestling in your background. Any ideas of the WWF after you hang up the cleats?
MM: I have a feeling that by the time I’m done, my WWF days will have come and gone. But you never know.

RWU: You led the team in rushing against the Irish and, ironically, the Russians. You were a wrecking ball. Are you thinking about a move to inside center?
MM: Ha. People often say I play wing, but i don’t want to show any of our backs up with my lightning pace.
RWU: Follow-up Question from Texas Rugby Lifer, Grant A. Cole: “If you could play any other position than prop, which one would you choose?
MM: I never really thought about it. I’ve always been a prop so it hasn’t really come across my mind. Whenever there have been uncontested scrums, I can see how our flankers get around the field so well, it would be fun to play back row.


RWU: Another of your Eagle mates, Lou Stanfill, forwarded these from “…a good buddy of Mac’s from college.”
1) Have you ever had a legitimate injury during a game or are you just a huge p*$$y?
2) Do you still lure girls into your house by promising them Zimas, Norah Jones music and a chance to chill on your futon?
3) When was the last timed you got your face drawn on with a Sharpie?
MM: I know who those are from and I’ll take the 5th on all accounts. Thanks, Jake.

RWU: Irish Flyhalf Kevin Fegan has three questions:
1) Toughest prop you’ve ever faced?
MM: Would probably say Cobus Visage from South Africa or Dan Cole from England.
2) Are you glad Eddie O’Sullivan is gone?
MM: Not really happy about ever losing a coach. I think everyone in sport accepts the fact that coaches come and go and we just move on with it.
3) Who should be his replacement as U.S. Coach?
MM: I just ask for someone who is dedicated to bringing the team along with a real focus on this next four year cycle.

RWU: Gents Of NY #8, Jimmy “Crazy Legs” Herschlein wants to know if you changed your name from Michael to Mike after leaving The Doobie Brothers and if you’d tour with them if they asked.
MM: This old chestnut. They kicked me out when someone compared me to the Songbird of my generation. Chris Wyles can vouch for me.

RWU: Junoir Blaber, RWU columnist, asks, “What is the biggest difference in going from Amateur to Pro as player?
MM: I would say it’s just the transition to it being your life. You now have the time to put in the effort when it comes to skills, fitness and weights compared to when you are trying to squeeze it into your daily life. In some ways, it makes it easier because its all you have to concentrate on.

RWU: You made your National Team debut while in college, how much did that affect his workload at Cal?
MM: For the most part, our schedules didn’t really conflict. It would maybe be a week in the beginning of the year and a few weeks in May. The professors were great about it as long as you didn’t spring it on them right before you left.

RWU: Mike Delano, former captain of the storied Manhattan Rugby Club, wants to know if you have a brother named Ronald and if you’d ever consider naming your son, Ronald?
MM: I would never put him through that, kids can be cruel. I was asked countless times if I grew up on a farm. I hate farm animals now.

RWU: THAT was funny! Moving along… One of the announcers during your Master Card, Man Of The Match performance at the RWC, wise-cracked during a close-up of you kneeling that you’d be good to go after eating the Snickers Bar in your sock. Was there indeed a Snickers Bar in your sock and/or has Snickers, or any other candy bar company, reached out to you?
MM: First off it was a Milky Way. No, I don’t even remember what happened, probably a protein bar. But if a company did reach out to me, I think all my friends would be hitting me up for some free snacks. Especially lunch and coffee time.

From you fellow props:
RWU: Kevin McManus wants to know how long you can play at this level and is there a certain number of Caps you are after?
MM: I’d like to think I have a few years left, I think I can keep going for a bit. As for the caps, That 63rd was a special goal for me, now everything else is just a bit of icing on the cake.

RWU: Declan Yeats, RWU co-host: “Would your current team beat the Eagles & what’s it like living in Leeds?
MM: I would have to say Leeds [would win] mainly because of the age difference. We’ve got some talented players for the future but they need a little more time to mature. As for living in Leeds, I love it. All of my family and friends say the same thing when they come out to visit.

RWU: Vintage Whine Prop Jim Witter: “I’ve read where your coaches all say you’re out of shape, yet when we watched you play in the world cup you got around pretty well. Even the announcers were amazed at how well you ran. What’s your secret? Is it the Vodka diet? Or a carton of cigarettes and a case of beer before the match? Comment as you see fit.
MM: I don’t know about that. I’d be the first to admit, that at times I havent been the fittest, but there were reasons for that. Not to make any excuses for it, but it happens. I’ve always had a bit of a belly on me, and I think people judge me on how I look. This past couple years, I’ve worked hard on my fitness and luckily it payed off in how I have been playing as of late.

RWU: Plus, the camera adds ten pounds. So screw you, Jim… Do you have your eyes on the 2015 RWC?
MM: Of course I do. I know that there are younger players that are coming through the ranks, but as I see it, I still have a good chance as of right now. I just hope the body holds up over that time.

RWU: We’d welcome you back for another… Thank you, Michael. Much appreciated.
MM: No problem.

About Johnathan Wicklow Barberie 118 Articles
JWB is the contrived Kiwi sports personality who can't go ANYWHERE without being asked for an autograph. He always obliges. Find him on Twitter at: @JWB_RWU