After a storied career on the rugby pitch one of the best 7’s players in the world hangs them up. Phil Mack sits down with Jeff King for a look back on a historic career.
From his first step, Phil Mack was athletic.
“You know how we all have these intelligences, i think Phil has a physical intelligence.”
His first love was soccer:
“My mom put us in everything, i enjoyed soccer, baseball, basically anything outside of the house.”
“at the end of the game, the coach came up to me and said have you been practicing with him and I said no, he said man that kid, he knows where to be, he could read the field. he’s amazing… he was 5 years old”
Even though he loved soccer, in grade 10, he discovered rugby; and he was a natural. he began at Oak Bay and from there, the rest of the country took notice.
“I remember back then just setting goals, after high school, I wanted the island tide, then it was B.C., then it was Canada. you just keep setting bench marks and keep trying for the next one, then next one.”
“I’m following from Nova Scotia, my mom is following from Whitehorse, he’s this little rugby star. it was crazy.”
“Phil just loves the game, yes he plays to win but it’s more than that for Phil.”
His international career began with the 15’s team, and in 2006, he got his first call up to the national sevens team.
“You can imagine my shock walking into a jam packed stadium in the middle of Hong Kong, it was a bit daunting, but once I got on the field, it was one of those things where I realized I really like this and I wanna see how far I can take it and it had me hooked.”
He’d found his calling. The quiet, humble former soccer player was now a rugby star.
“We joke with our family and friends, no Phil no thrill, you’ll turn on TSN and the broadcaster is naming him as one to watch, and we’re like this is nuts. He’s a celebrity.”
“it’s beautiful thing to witness. For sure.”
Phil battled many injuries throughout his career, but he’d always prevail and in June, he had one last chance to fulfill his life long dream of being an Olympian. But for Phil and his teammates, they came up short.
“Obviously disappointment is the first thing that comes to mind. Thinking about that, knowing that we were on the doorstep of getting into the Olympics and living out that Olympic dream, but nothings a given and winning wouldn’t feel so good if disappointment didn’t feel so bad.”
“Shed a tear?” “I did ya, it was one of my long term goals 4 years ago when they put it into the Olympics so that’s what I set my sights on. So to get that close and fall short, ya it stung.”
And then, on July 29th, after 31 caps with the Canadian 15’s team, and over 50 sevens series tournaments, Phil Mack announced his retirement.
“Walking away from Monaco in pretty reasonable shape, body wise, there’s nothing major around the corner, it’d be a good time to walk away on my terms instead of the other way around. But yeah, there’s no regrets and i feel fortunate to have done what I’ve done.”
A decade long storied career on the pitch, can be summed up with just one word.
“Looking back, I just think we were so proud to put that jersey on, just knowing that we were representing Canada and representing everyone we love at home, that was the biggest drive for us. So I’d sum it up with pride.”
Phil Mack will go down as one of the best ever, but the legacy he leaves goes far beyond the game.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Jeff King’s exclusive interview with Phil Mack tomorrow night on CHEK News at 5PM.