Former Life Standout Plying His Trade in Ireland

D1A Rugby: Former Life Standout Plying His Trade in Ireland
Photo Credit: Ivan Rakhmanin
College Rugby is something that, for many, is their first introduction to the sport. It is a time when players are able to come together and enjoy a shared experience for the better part of four years. Often in this time it can unlock a talent, that many did not know existed, but unfortunately, as time expires on college careers often it can send the talent into hiding just as quickly as it emerged. In the case of Alexander MacDonald, <a href=”https://www.usarugby.org/2016/07/usa-rugby-names-more-than-130-players-to-2015-16-mens-collegiate-all-americans/”>the former All –American</a>, playing rugby at the collegiate level, has sparked a love affair and helped him to travel to different corners of the world to and continue to participate in the game they play in heaven.<br /> <br />Growing up in Hilton Head South Carolina, MacDonald was exposed to an array of sports from an early age. “We grew up right on the water enjoying the outdoors, playing baseball, basketball, and eventually football.” Rugby was a sport that he had been exposed to from an early age courtesy of his uncle who played in college for St Bonaventure and started a men’s club in Hilton Head. It wasn’t until he was a freshman at the Citadel Military College that Macdonald stepped onto the pitch for the first time: “As I began my cadet career I decided that rugby would also allow me the opportunity to grow and succeed in other aspects of life and school.” It was the purity of the sport that sustained MacDonald’s interest in rugby, “Once I joined the team, I immediately could feel the positive impact of the sport. I felt part of something bigger, surrounded by teammates and coaches, past players” MacDonald noted. <br /><br />Wherever, MacDonald went the culture that bound him to the game seemed to follow. While he was at The Citadel he was able to lead them to the Shield at the D2 7s National Championship. Individual accolades followed him too, as he was named into the All-American squads for both 7s and 15s. Once he graduated from The Citadel he moved to <a href=”http://d1arugby.com/team/life/”>Life University</a> for graduate school. At Life he found himself in a program that had an established winning culture, but also found himself in a lifestyle that was much less regimented: “At The Citadel I lived a rigidly disciplined lifestyle and held rank within the Corps through graduation, while at Life I lived in my own apartment… on one of the biggest and most successful collegiate sides in the United States.” It was while he was at Life it was that he experienced another part of what makes rugby so special to him, the international perspective. While at Life he had two Afrikaans members of the team as roommates, and from there rugby’s international influence grew on him. <br /><br />“During the spring at Life, I…began thinking about what comes next. Coach Colton Cariaga opened the next door, setting me up with Tony Smeeth and Trinity Rugby.” Macdonald said, explaining his move to Ireland. The move was made a whole lot less daunting in large part due to the paces that Life University had put him through: “My experience at Life greatly prepared me for this.” MacDonald expounded. The high level of competition that he faced within the squad at Life prepared him to have to fight for a spot on the starting fifteen with Trinity College. Another uniquely American problem that Life prepared him for was playing with and against people who have played rugby for their whole life: “Life has a foreign flavor to it, with players from all over the world bringing their knowledge and skill for a unique rugby experience.” <br /><br /><pre class=”aLF-aPX-K0-aPE”><img src=”http://d1arugby.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/9c801640-58d8-47f0-828c-2504d98c8bf0.jpg” /></pre><br /><br />MacDonald moved to Dublin in August of 2017, and after the initial growing pains that are associated with moving to a new team, a new city and a new country passed, MacDonald excelled at Trinity College. Part of the growing pains was adjusting to the difference styles of play. “I came here with high expectations for the league and the competition, and that was exactly what I got. The players here grow up playing the game; their field visibility, knowledge of the sport, and experience from a lifetime of playing make them naturals. In the United States, I played with some of the best athletes I have ever met. American rugby is fast and hard and 100 miles an hour. We compensate for our relatively new adoption of the sport with our physicality.” MacDonald noted. <br /><br />MacDonald, despite any perceived challenges in adjusting to the new style of play and coaching schemes, has been selected to the 1st XV in each of Trinity’s 12 games this season. Not only has he been capped twelve times, but he has been making significant impact on the scoreboard, scoring three tries, and through his versatility. MacDonald has appeared in the 4, 5, 6,7 and 8 jerseys for Trinity throughout the season, and such flexibility is invaluable to any team. <br /><br />With two months left in competition play, Trinity currently sits in 8th spot on the Ulster Bank League table. While they are 30 points out of first place, MacDonald is excited about the prospects for the tail end of the season. “Hopefully only good things to come!” <br /><br />While his time in Ireland may be winding up, he has no plans to wind up his playing career. “I am open to any and all opportunities, as long as I can continue playing rugby and contributing to whatever club I am fortunate enough to be a part of.” MacDonald humbly admitted. Wherever he ends up playing his rugby, he will continue to be an asset.