Mike Petri has been at the top of the game since he started playing at Xavier HS.
Captain of a very strong Xavier HS team, Petri went on to captain the USA U19s, Penn State, and the Collegiate All Americans. A smooth passer and an expert defender among scrumhalves, Petri was a winner at every level he played at.
He spent just a short time at the Belmont Shore rugby club, but Shore won a Super League title in 2007 while he was there. he want back to help NYAC win four Super League titles, with Petri becoming captain of that club.
A leader, a very calming influence on the field, Petri was also intense, very fit, and aggressive. He went overseas to try to break into the Sale side, and the story goes that the coach, in lecturing his side on their general lackadaisical attitude said, in essence “If I had 15 guys who worked as hard as Mike Petri we’d win the Premiership and I don’t give Petri the time of day.”
Petri didn’t care about accolades, he just worked very, very hard. He ended up playing 57 times for the USA, including three Rugby World Cups. He was capped 57 times by the USA, more than any other scrumhalf, and captained the Eagles three times during that time.
Petri produced many moments of exceptional play, but two stand out. One was on March 29, 2014. In a World Cup qualifier against Uruguay in which the Eagles were limping through and were in danger of losing, The two teams had tied the first leg of the qualifier in Montevideo, and Uruguay led 13-10 in Atlanta with 20 minutes to go.
Then the Eagles got a penalty about 35 meters out, and Petri alertly quick-tapped and caught pretty much everyone napping as he raced in for a try that turned the game around. In the post-game press conference Petri started talking about how his teammates, especially his tight five, had done all the work—and captain Todd Clever interrupted to disagree and said “Peaches, that was all you.”
(In this video go to 1:45:44 to see the try)
Eight minutes after that try he made a diving tackle that turned the ball over and led to an Andrew Suniula try that sealed the game and a spot in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The other moments was against Russia in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, when Petri scored one of the best tries of the tournament, capping off an impressive team try by getting up off the ground and running a line that put him in place to receive a pass from Andrew Suniula and fend off a tackler to score.
That try would seal the USA’s only win of that World Cup, and in fact that last time the Eagles have won on the sport’s biggest stage.
Those were only a few moments from a superb career that saw Petri earn accolades and respect at every level of rugby.