“A Perfect Scenario” – Third-Round Pick Sam Mace Reflects on a Memorable Draft Night
“I’m sure every guy who declares for the draft is in a position where they just want to get drafted. Sure, you want to have an opportunity with any team, but in the back of your mind, there’s always one team where you say to yourself, ‘It’ll be nice if I ended up there.’ For me, Toronto was that team.”
“If someone asked me ‘What’s your perfect scenario?’, it was always to end up with the Toronto Arrows.”
When University of Ottawa hooker Sam Mace was selected by the Arrows in the third round (35th overall) of the 2021 Major League Rugby Collegiate Draft last month, he became the first Ontarian to be drafted by the league’s lone Canadian franchise.
“For me, I’d have been happy to have gone anywhere, but it meant the world to me that my home team saw something in me and took a chance. When I got the call I was shaking. It couldn’t have worked out better, it was incredible.”
Born in England, Mace and his family moved to Canada when he was 11.
“I started playing when I was quite young, back when I was six or seven years old for Biggleswade RFC in England.”
He picked the sport back up while playing for Eastern Ontario rugby juggernaut La Salle Secondary School in Kingston, Ontario, while also joining the junior program at his hometown club Kingston Panthers.
After moving to the nation’s capital to study human kinetics at the University of Ottawa in 2018, Mace played football with the Gee-Gees before switching his focus back to rugby. He counts his favourite rugby memory as “playing against Bishop’s University at their homecoming match – with a really hostile crowd that was loud and rowdy – back in 2019, when our team got a red card early on in the match and we still managed to win.”
The 5’11”, 230lb forward also joined Ottawa club Bytown Blues.
“I love Canadian rugby. As much as I’m very proud of my English background, I’m a Canadian boy through and through, and I really believe in Canadian rugby and the pathway.”
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The Gee-Gees product lists Maro Otoje, Michael Hooper, and Luke Cowan-Dickie as his favourite players.
“Maro is incredible. With the combination of athleticism and rugby knowledge, he’s got a bit of everything, I think he’s fantastic.”
“Hooper is so underrated; he’s playing some of the best rugby in the world right now. As for Cowan-Dickie, he’s aggressive, and I try to play a similar style: a hard ball carrier that prioritizes strong tackling.”
Looking ahead, the 23-year-old aims to finish his post-secondary career strongly, and to use his time at the University of Ottawa as a springboard towards entering his professional career.
“I want to be the best version of myself, and I want to keep on improving. I want to be a professional, but I understand it’s a slow cook, and I don’t expect everything at once. I just want to be learning and contributing to the team in any way I can.”
“I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity, and I don’t want to waste a moment. I’m willing to put the work in and we’ll see where it takes me.”
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