King Of The North: Week 17
The final week of the MLR season was once again filled with plenty of drama. Rugby United New York earned a try bonus point and made sure the NOLA Gold didn’t beat them by 20 points to secure the final available spot in the MLR Championship Series. NOLA did win the game though, ultimately meaning that 3 of the 4 playoff teams are heading to the postseason on a losing note.
RUNY’s Eastern Conference opponent Rugby ATL fell to the New England Free Jacks and the LA Giltinis lost their Western Final preview to the Utah Warriors. Will Utah be able to pull it off again? We will find out on Sunday.
RUNY, Rugby ATL, LA, and Utah’s season all continue for at least one more week, but for 8 other clubs, the season has come to an end. Week 18 not only marked the end of the 2021 campaign for 8 clubs, but the end of a historic career.
Ciaran Hearn left the pitch in the 48th minute of Old Glory DC’s win over Austin Gilgronis. As he left the pitch, reporter Briana Kim informed everyone watching the broadcast that Hearn would be retiring. Hearn himself posted a retirement announcement on social media following the match.
Hearn had a remarkable career. He has been a cornerstone of not only Canada’s national xv squad, but the sevens team as well. Hearn last wore the maple leaf when Canada took on the eventual Rugby World Cup Champion Springboks in 2019. Over his career Hearn earned 73 caps for Canada (3 Rugby World Cups) and scored 8 tries.
Those 73 caps are the most by any Canadian back and only Al Charon and Aaron Carpenter have earned more. He added an additional 172 appearances for the sevens squad where he scored 56 tries and added 12 conversions. His 304 points on the World Rugby Sevens Series places him 13th among Canadians.
Hearn’s career is highlighted by the fact that he was able to be one of Canada’s best players on both the sevens and fifteen aside squads. Hearn had a stint with the London Irish before returning to North America to play with Old Glory DC. Hearn played in 13 games for OGDC over the 2020 and 2021 seasons, scoring one try. That try came last week against the San Diego Legion.
Ultimately, as it played out, that try was not just the final try of Hearn’s career, but the final try scored by any Canadian during the 2021 regular season.
In a career full of well-deserved awards and accolades, Ciaran Hearn gets one more. The King of the North crown for week 18 goes to one of the best Canadians to ever lace up a pair of rugby boots as a brilliant career comes to a close.
Honourable mentions this week will go out to Rugby ATL’s Matt Heaton and Conor Keys, Rugby United New York’s Quinn Ngawati, LA Glitinis’ DTH van der Merwe, Corey Thomas, and Lindsey Stevens, and Utah Warriors’ Fraser Hurst for all helping their clubs reach the playoffs (although Hurst will not be playing after getting red card against LA last week).
There were no Canadian try scorers in week 18, so why not just show Hearn’s final try one last time.
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 Week 18- Ciaran Hearn (OGDC)