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After 15 years as an Eagle, captain Todd Clever will retire from international rugby following the July 1st match with Canada in San Diego, he announced Wednesday. Clever has earned a record 74 caps for the national team since making his debut in 2003, 50 of them coming as captain.
It's fitting that Clever ends his career after back-to-back matches against Canada, as he's played the Canadians more than any other side. If he plays in both World Cup qualifiers, he'll have done battle with Canada 19 times in his career, and he has the chance to go out on a personal five-game winning streak against the North American rivals.
"It has been a great 15 years with the National Team. I have had six Eagle coaches and have captained the team under four of them," said Clever in a release.
"There have been many ups and downs in those 15 years representing the United States of America. I've left everything on the field and did everything for my teammates, which makes this process a bit easier. But leaving on my own terms, on home soil, in front of friends and family; a lot of players aren't able to do that either because of injury, selection or whatever the case may be."
"For the last 15 years, fans have only known our Men's National Team with Todd Clever as a part of it," added USA Rugby CEO Dan Payne. "I know how much pulling the USA jersey over his head means to Todd every time he has the opportunity to represent his country, and it could be the 76th time he does it when the Eagles are in San Diego. On behalf of American rugby fans at home and abroad, I want to thank Todd for his effort and commitment to the jersey and to the Union."
Clever was the first Eagle to be centrally contracted by USA Rugby, the first American to play Super Rugby, the first to break the 70-cap threshold and the first to be featured in the ESPN the Body Issue, really making him American rugby's first true celebrity athlete. He will remain involved in the game as a partial owner of the Austin Huns and a member of USA Rugby's board of directors.