Phil Mack is a small man who has made a big contribution to Canadian rugby – and not just as a star of both formats of the game.
Mack, who won his 21st cap at Fifteens against border rivals USA in the Pacific Nations Cup in Sacramento last night, is also an eight-year veteran of the Rugby Sevens circuit.
Last season he was named in the HSBC Sevens World Series Dream Team and remains his country’s all-time record points scorer with just shy of 900 points from a half-century of appearances, a total that surely would have been more had he not undergone knee surgery two years ago.
Amid all his international success, the 1.70m scrum half has not forgotten his Aboriginal roots. And as head coach of The Thunder, an Aboriginal Youth Rugby Programme in British Columbia, he is hoping to encourage youngsters from the same background as him to take up the sport.
“I think it’s going to grow. I hope we get off to right foot this year,” Mack told Total Rugby. “You know the long term vision would be something that kind of spreads across the country and have initiatives in each province pushing aboriginal youth to get into rugby.”
Rugby is not one of the sports aboriginal kids traditionally play, with football and basketball commanding much more attention. However Mack is confident that once they become engaged with rugby they will see what fun – and how simple – it can be to play.
“My High School coach kind of plucked me out of gym class and told me two rules: if you don’t have the ball, go get it and if you do, go put it over that line. Rugby’s taken me a long way and I use it as a pretty good vehicle. I’m hoping I can pass that on to some other kids,” he said.