Dave Hodges was born in Long Beach, California on September 15, 1968. As a youth, he played American football at the linebacker position at Long Beach Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. It was during this period that Hodges saw his first rugby match as Belmont Shore Rugby Club practiced and played their matches on the same field that Hodges' high school team played football.
Throughout his college years, Hodges player American football at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California and received accolades in each of his four collegiate seasons. Hodges was named a Kodak All-American football player, an award given annually to the best American college football players at their respective positions.
Hodges began playing rugby at 18 as a freshman at Occidental College. Within two years, Hodges was named as a Collegiate All-American in 1990 and 1991. Teammates and opponents speak highly of his leadership and athleticism. Greg Jenkins, a teammate said, "He's (Hodges) a leader--a great athlete with leverage, agility and aggressiveness. No one can match his ability. He's pretty much in a league of his own."
Hodges made 54 appearances for the Eagles, earning 53 caps in the process. He played at lock, flanker and at the #8 position. He made his debut as a substitute against Uruguay in 1996 at Fletcher's Fields in Markham, Ontario, Canada.
Hodges captained the Eagles a total of 28 times, a U.S. record that stood until 2013. Hodges won the USA Rugby Athlete of the Year in 2005.
A match between the USA and France, on July 3, 2004, marked the final game that Hodges represented the United States as a player. After nine years of service to the Eagles, Hodges explained his decision to retire. "I think now is the right time. I’m still playing at a high level and I think I wanted to be a part of the team, as long as I was selected, and of the transition . . . We’re building for the next World Cup and so the more I stay around, that’s one less guy in the XV that coach has experience for the next World Cup."
Hodges played professional rugby with Llanelli Rugby Football Club in Llanelli, Wales from 1997–1999 and 2001–2005. Hodges played for Bridgend Rugby Football Club in 1999–2000. In 2001 and 2002, he was named Player of the Year for the Llanelli Scarlets. Hodges was also the Strength Coach for the Llanelli Scarlets from 2001–2004. When Hodges announced his retirement from playing professional rugby, Llanelli Scarlets chief executive Stuart Gallacher said, "David has been a highly influential member of our squad for seven years. He is a real professional."
In 2009, Hodges was named Player of the Decade (2000–2009) by Rugby Magazine.