King Of The North: Week 17
Week 17 featured the final 6 game slate of 2021. Many of the matches had massive playoff implications as teams clinched their spots in the Championship Series or put a lot of pressure on themselves for big week 18 matchups. Canadian players were prevalent once again, but I’m going to head in a bit of a different direction with this week’s King of the North crown.
The week 17 Kings of the North are the Toronto Arrows. All of them. Not just the players, but everyone in the organization. Regardless of what the record was or where they finished in the standings, the Toronto Arrows ability to relocate to Atlanta was instrumental in the 2021 Major League Rugby season being as successful as it was.
The squad spent the entire 2021 season located 1500km away from home. They were away from family, friends, and just the general comforts from home the entire year. The world’s longest road trip proved to be mentally challenging.
However, the squad battled through it and created many stellar moments throughout the season. The Arrows’ players and the entire staff sacrificed a lot just to make this season happen. Not just the players and staff that made the initial trip to Atlanta, but those that stayed in Toronto and had to do their jobs while being separated from the rest of the squad.
Ultimately, as the season progressed and the Ontario lockdown persisted, the Toronto Arrows gave their fans something to look forward to. In a time where many people’s schedules were simply wake up, go to work, go home with little opportunity for other activities, seeing the Arrows take the pitch each weekend was the highlight of the week. At that point it never really mattered what the scoreboard said. The entire club offered a brilliant 80-minute escape each and every weekend.
Looking at the on-field results and then looking at the majority of the stats, it is clear that the Arrows are better than a 5-11-0 record would suggest. Ultimately, that should be an indicator of just how challenging this season was for the squad. That being said, the circumstances of the 2021 season make the performances of players like Lucas Rumball, Tomás de la Vega, and Ben LeSage who find themselves at or near the top of the league in multiple major statistical categories.
The work by GM Mark Winokur was exceptional as well. He did whatever it took to put a full squad on the pitch. He brought in players on loan and made numerous late season acquisitions to ensure the Arrows could close out the year during an international window that saw them lose a league high 13 players.
As I said, the Arrows are better than their 5-11-0 record suggests. If the core of the club returns next year, don’t be surprised to see them make a deep run at the Shield in 2022. After all, how sweet would two extra home games be after this season? For making the trip to Atlanta and making the 2021 season happen.
The week 17 King of the North crowns go to all the Arrows players (Rob Brouwer, Gaston Córtes, Alexandre Janlin, Cole Keith, Pat Lynott, Marc-Antoine Ouellet, Tyler Rowland, Chris Atkinson, Jack McRogers, Steven Ng, Andrew Quattrin, Joe Tomlinson, Paul Ciulini, Kolby Francis, Mike Sheppard, Hank Stevenson, Adrian Wadden, Tomás de la Vega, Ollie Nott, Lucas Rumball, Marcello Wainwright, Manuel Diana, Ronan Foley, Siaki Vikilani, Mason Flesch, Ross Braude, Andrew Ferguson, Jason Higgins, Jamie Mackenzie, Reid Watkins, Tayler Adams, Will Kelly, Sam Malcolm, Guiseppe du Toit, Kobe Faust, Spencer Jones, Ben LeSage, Mitch Richardson, Manuel Montero, Leandro Leivas, John Sheridan, Juan Cruz González, Gastón Mieres, Shawn Windsor, Pat Parfrey, Alex Russell, Joaquín Tuculet, and even Liam Murray and Luke Schlotman who were loaned for a game each), the rugby operations staff (Mark Winokur, Chris Silverthorn, Aaron Carpenter, Cory Hector, Peter Smith, Rodin Lozada, David Butcher, Rob Howley, Sean Harrison, Perry Fan, and Scott Shannon), and the front office (Bill Webb, Alex Borthwick, Elliot Devine, Neil MacDougall, Daisy Morris, Rahul Srinivasan, Brock Smith, Robyn Masters, Max McNaughtan, and Amy Hambly).
Thank you for making the 2021 season happen!
As always you can watch every try scored by a Canadian this week in the video below. This week, Ciaran Hearn was the lone Canadian to find his way onto the scoresheet.
Kings of the North 2021:
Week 1- DTH van der Merwe (LA) Week 2- Fraser Hurst (UTAH) Week 3- Lucas Rumball (TOR) Week 4- Corey Thomas (LA) Week 5- Ross Braude (TOR) Week 6 - Ben LeSage (TOR) Week 7- Lachlan Kratz (NOLA) Week 8- Josh Larsen (NEFJ) Week 9 - Michael Smith (SDL) Week 10- Matt Heaton (RATL) Week 11- Matt Heaton (RATL) Week 12- Rumball (TOR) & Smith (SDL) Week 13 - DTH van der Merwe (LA) Week 14- Lucas Rumball (TOR) Week 15- Travis Larsen (SEA) Week 16- Andrew Ferguson (TOR) Week 17- Toronto Arrows