While he hung up the cleats just a few months ago, Rugby Canada legend Phil Mack hopes to continue to grow the sport after retirement. Jeff King sits down with the recently retired Mack in part two of his interview discussing life before, during and after his playing career.
Rugby Canada great Phil Mack has retired from the sport. Mack was known as one of the best 7’s players in the world but he’s also well known for what he’s given back to the sport off the pitch. In this story we look at his career, his family life and his native roots.
On the pitch, Phil Mack is one of the most dynamic, explosive sevens players on the planet. But off of it, he’s just a regular guy.
“Phil is such a likeable guy that everywhere you go, people wanna be with him. He’s easy to be around. We joke, he’s my mom’s favorite, and she doesn’t really fight it. But he is. He’s so relaxed, he’s easy to hang out with with, travel with, have on the field with you playing slow pitch, he’s such a team player.”
But it hasn’t been an easy road to get to where he is today. When he was 10 years old, Phil, his older sister Leah and oldest brother Carlos lost their father.
Throughout that whole experience, Phil’s mom Janine was a rock for her 3 children.
“If I could describe her in one word it would be supportive. She’s always the most positive person, most positive influence on me, my brother and my sister, basically everyone. She’s a big reason that we are who we are today as people, we all have good outlooks and that’s cause she’s drilled that into us.”
Phil’s older brother Carlos had a big infleunce on him growing up, and even though they had their battles, as brothers do, he always had Phil’s back.
“Big bro, he’s always been there, been a big rock for me. Any tough times either of us have, we call each other first, we’ve always been each other sounding boards so it’s always good to have that.”
As for his big sister Leah, she’s a lawyer here in Victoria, and all throughout Phil’s career, she was always his biggest fan.
“As proud as she is of me, I can say the same about her. Doing everything she’s done in her life. And now she’s got a little boy of her own, and I’m fortunate to be the uncle and we’ll see what turns out with little Carter.
“I could like cry, I’m so proud of him, you don’t even realize it.”
All throughout his career, Phil made it a priority to give back to the community, especially to the native community. He started the Thunder Rugby Club, giving aboriginal youth an opportunity to get involved in the sport that was near and dear to his heart.
“I think the coolest thing is to see them gel as a group, come together under one idea that we’re proud to be native and proud of our heritage, a lot of the Facebook comments were from first nations people saying thanks, I was often not proud of my heritage and now i see you and see what you’re doing and it makes me feel proud. So that’s cool.”
Phil has been a great ambassador for the sport of rugby, but also for his Toquaht first nations tribe. For his 50th cap ceremony, he was honored by bringing both his passion and his heritage together.
“It was one to remember, having the family there, the drumming and the songs that were sung, it was pretty special. A unique moment that combined both my culture and everything I’ve done in rugby so I think it’s one to remember for sure.”
So now that he’s stepped away from the pitch, what’s next for Phil Mack?
“Ideally, I’d like to stay in coaching, if the right situation arises, I’ll pursue that. No firm answers right now.
So as he closes the book on what’s been an incredible rugby career, Phil Mack should be proud of everything he’s accomplished. And though they’ll never be another like him, he’s happy to let someone else take the reins.
“He’s done things that a 30 year old couldn’t imagine doing and I’m sure he’s happy to pay that forward and give someone a chance. I think he said that in an interview, I’m going to open a spot up for someone else, and move on. And I hope he’s proud of himself.”
Phil Mack has left his mark on the pitch and off of it. He gave his blood sweat and tears to the game, and he took the sevens rugby world by storm. ‘Phil the Thrill’ will never be forgotten.