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Mike Petri



Mike Petri began his rugby career at 14 years old and quickly rose through the rugby ranks. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Petri attended Xavier High School where he served as the captain of the nationally ranked #3 Xavier High School Rugby team. He played in two Junior World Championships with the USA Under 19 team in 2002 in Italy and was captain of the team in 2003 in France, which all helped launch his career as a senior level international rugby player.

Petri spent one season with Philadelphia Whitemarsh in the fall of 2002 after graduating high school before transferring to Penn State University, leading the Nittany Lions to the collegiate national final four in 2006. During his tenure at Penn State, he was a four-time Collegiate All-American first team selection and four-time Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union All-Star. In 2006, he was selected as the National Collegiate All-Star Tournament MVP and was also the recipient of the Doug Edwards Award for the most outstanding player on the College All-American tour.

After graduating from Penn State with a degree in Life Science as a member of the Pre-Health National Honors Society, he spent a month in early 2007 in New Zealand training at the International Rugby Academy with many former New Zealand All Blacks and high-level coaches, including Murray Mexted and Rugby World Cup-winning coach, Steve Hansen. After a month at IRANZ, he moved to Southern California to play for Belmont Shore. That year he won the Super League National Championship with them as their starting scrumhalf. Petri's play at Belmont Shore in 2007 earned him an opportunity for a summer trial with the USA Eagles through the North America 4 Series, playing with the US Falcons. He was invited to the pre-World Cup training camp and a few weeks later was one of two scrum-halves named to the USA Eagles squad for the 2007 Rugby World Cup. 

Petri moved home after playing in the 2007 Rugby World Cup to play for the New York Athletic Club from 2008 to 2015. While playing for NYAC, he served as captain from 2009 to 2015, leading the club to four National Championship Titles. He was MVP of the Super League Final in 2010 and MVP of the Final again in 2015. He was also named the NYAC Male Athlete of the Year in 2011. Overall, Mike won five national championship titles in eight years of top-level senior rugby in the USA.

A stalwart of the USA Eagles National team during the time period from 2007-2015, he earned his first cap against South Africa at the World Cup in Montpellier, France. He went on to earn 57 caps and currently is the most capped scrumhalf and backline player in the history of USA Rugby. During his nine-year international career, he represented the United States at three Rugby World Cups: 2007 in France, 2011 in New Zealand serving as Vice-Captain, and 2015 in England. 

During his time with the USA Eagles, he was one of just a handful of American players to have ever been named to the Barbarians invitational side. He started for the team at scrumhalf in 2009, facing off against the Llanelli Scarlets. He also played professionally in the Premiership in England with Sale Sharks and for Newport Dragons in Wales in the Pro 12. 

After the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Mike briefly stepped away from rugby to focus on time with family and his career as a high school teacher and coach. Then, in 2018 Rugby United New York started a new franchise to prepare to play in Major League Rugby. Mike was named captain of the team during their first professional MLR season in 2019 and helped lead them to the MLR Conference finals. In total, Mike played 22 MLR games before transitioning into a different role with the organization as the head coach of their academy team, The Foundry, and their home game color commentator for TV broadcasts. 

Outside of playing, Mike is the author of a rugby children's book called R is for Rugby: An Alphabet Book, which was published just before the 2015 Rugby World Cup. It has sold thousands of copies globally and has helped many rugby families across the globe share and celebrate the sport.

Throughout most of his international rugby career, Mike juggled his responsibilities as a high school teacher and coach with playing test-level rugby for the USA. Therefore, he was not only a player, but he has been actively involved in coaching since 2012. His first role was helping his alma mater, Xavier High School, achieve national rankings while he worked there as a teacher. He was also the head coach of his former club, New York Athletic Club, from 2018 to 2021 in the American Rugby Premiership. Mike left Xavier in 2018 and is now the Director of Athletics as well as a soccer, basketball, and baseball coach and science and math teacher at Bay Ridge Prep, a K-12 school in his home community in Brooklyn. He also stepped away from coaching NYAC in 2021 to become more actively involved in sports broadcasting and his academy coaching role with Rugby NY. 

Mike has always been and continues to be involved in rugby in a multitude of ways since he was first introduced to the sport in 1999. He is now in his third season as a color commentator for MLR broadcasts on TV, serving as the lead color commentator for the 2022 Major League Rugby Championship Final on Fox. He has also worked at the international level and served as the color commentator for the 2022 Rugby World Cup Qualifiers between the USA and Chile. He also founded his own after-school rugby program, Empire Youth Sports, and runs his own annual summer camp called The NYC Summer Rugby Camp, introducing rugby to hundreds of kids across NYC from as young as 3 years old. In 2022, he took his passion for youth rugby one step further and helped found a non-profit, Rugby For All, which collaborates with the NYC Department of Education to bring flag rugby to public schools in grades K-8 throughout the five boroughs.