After a successful five year run with Canada’s senior women’s team, Maria Samson has called time on her international career.
With 21 caps to her name, a 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup final appearance and a 2013 Nations Cup title, the 33-year-old lock has decided to step away from the international limelight.
“It’s hard to think about representing Canada and pulling on the maple leaf without getting a little emotional,” Samson said. “I tear up at every jersey presentation pre-game and every national anthem. All the women I pulled on the jersey with will have a special place in my heart.”
Over her career, Samson collected a number of accolades including being named Rugby Canada’s 2012 Female Player of the Year and the Canadian Rugby Foundation’s Colette McAuley Award in 2013. She’s also suited up for a number of clubs across the country during her career including SABRFC, Windsor Rogues, Fort McMurray Knights, Calgary Saints, CCIAC, Calgary Hornets as well as the Alberta and Wolf Pack senior squads.
“She has always been involved in the community and was a great role model for young women and an inspiration to them,” senior women’s head coach Francois Ratier said. “She has been an example of work ethic, leadership and determination for all her teammates and deserves a ton of respect.”
While her international career might be over, Samson still has plenty of plans to remain busy through her career as well as in the community.
“I know at some point I will get into more consistent coaching,” Samson said. “I love doing guest coaching sessions throughout Calgary. I also hope I can stay involved with the senior women’s team by continuing to advocate on their behalf. There are also a lot of clubs that helped me along the way and I would like try to repay all the support those programs have given to me.
“I would also like to continue giving back to Right to Play, Fast and Female and KidSport Calgary – I know how much sport has brought to my life and added to my character, so I hope I can pay that forward.”
In a career that featured many highs, Canada’s 18-16 Women’s Rugby World Cup semi-final victory over France will always rank as Samson’s personal high. Samson started all five games for Canada during their run to the final.
“It was such a crazy atmosphere,” Samson said. “The moment that whistle went, we knew we had made history. It really took a community effort to get us there. We had folks contributing to our fees, club teammates pushing us in practice, the list goes on. And then of course, the friends and family that made it to the World Cup in person. ”
But it hasn’t always been an easy road for the Calgary native. Injuries threatened to derail her career numerous times but Samson came back every time. Over the course of her career, Samson has had back surgery, six knee surgeries, three of which were full ACL reconstructions, and two shoulder surgeries. If it wasn’t without the support of her husband Mozac, a member of Canada’s senior men’s team, she’s not so sure she would have had the motivation to return each time.
“He is incredibly supportive and has always believed in me,” Samson said. “My husband, mom and two sisters have travelled to watch me play numerous times, including the World Cup, taking a hiatus from their own day jobs to support me.
“With all the injuries I’ve had there are a huge amount of medical and support staff that have kept me together and I owe a thank you to Dr. Laurie Hiemstra, Nicole Ainsworth, Morgan Alexander, Dr. Mike Caione, Dr. Chris Reich, Dr. Roehl Lopez and Leah Oreel for all they’ve done for me.
“Every single person I’ve met along my rugby journey has contributed somehow to my career and I could never express how much that means to me.”