Eagle Alumni Network Spotlight: Mike Palefau

A seasoned rugger domestically and internationally, Mike Palefau experienced a storied rugby career with the Eagles, capping in both 7s and XVs for the national team. During the 2011-12 IRB Sevens World Series where he played alongside the likes of Blaine Scully, Matt Hawkins and Zack Test, Palefau was the Eagles’ leading try scorer and points scorer.

Now living in Seattle, Washington, Palefau remains connected to the rugby community on the pitch and even in his office.

USA Rugby Trust:When and where did you play rugby?
Mike Palefau: I started playing touch rugby in 2000 in Kahuku/Laie, Hawaii. From there, I played for the SLC Crusaders, Provo Steelers, Gentlemen of Aspen, Park City Haggis, Las Vegas Black Jacks, Utah Warriors, Seattle Old Puget Sound Beach/Saracens and Washington Athletic Club. I also played internationally for RCNM (Narbonne, France) and Petrarca Rugby (Padova, Italy).

USART: When did you play for the Eagles?
MP: I played for the Eagles from 2002 to 2014.

USART: What is your favorite rugby memory?
MP: My favorite memories are getting my first international caps, earning my first contract and playing with my various clubs.

USART: Where are you now?
MP: I work at USI, Kibble & Prentice in Seattle, Washington, as an employee benefits consultant. I’ve been there for five years along with former Eagles Kevin Swiryn and Miles Craigwell. Chris Prentice (huge rugby guy and co-founder of Atavus) is our regional CEO and has done a great job of mentoring us and building an amazing culture.

I played 7s this past summer with the newly formed Washington Athletic Club 7s and had a blast. They’ve been big supporters of rugby and created/hosted the MA Sorenson and Rudy Sholz Awards (Collegiate Men’s and Women’s Player of the Year) for the past two years.

Moving forward, I’d like to play with the Seattle Seawolves in the inaugural MLR season. We’ll see what happens!

USART: What do you believe is the most important factor in growing the sport of rugby in the US?
MP: There are several key components: start athletes playing at a younger age, increase quality refereeing and coaches, expand varsity programs and establish a well-recognized domestic professional league.