Canadian rugby legend John Moonlight has announced his retirement from rugby, effective immediately.

The Pickering, Ontario native has called time on a stellar career to pursue a fire-fighting position in his home town.

Known for his charging runs, brute strength and explosive power, the 187cm, 103kg back-row has had rugby fans from around the world on the edge of their seats throughout his career. Without question, ‘Mooner’ would be one of the first names on any roster for any coach and leaves a tough gap to fill for Canada, after establishing himself as one of the top players in the world early in his career.

The 30-year-old has been an integral part of Canada’s Sevens and Fifteens Teams for nearly the past decade, helping the team lift their first-ever Cup Title in 2017 in Singapore and being named Canada’s Sevens Player of the Year on four consecutive occasions.

Moonlight made his sevens debut in Hong Kong in 2009 and is Canada’s all-time tournament leader with 65 appearances on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. He was named in the World Sevens Series ‘Dream Team’ in 2013/14 along with Phil Mack after helping his side tie their best-ever series finish in 6th place, which included their first-ever cup final appearance in Scotland against New Zealand. His 318 total matches on the World Series, a Canadian record, is 14th highest all-time.

His 116 tries is good for second on the all-time list for Canadians, three ahead of Nate Hirayama and only eight behind flyer Sean Duke for the record. Moonlight sits third on Canada’s points scoring list this season, having scored 16 tries and racked up 80 points through eight tournaments so far.

Moonlight made his debut for Canada’s Fifteens against Georgia in 2009 after climbing through the provincial ranks within Rugby Ontario and picked up a further 23 test caps for Canada’s National Team, including three at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England. His three international tries came against Japan, Samoa and USA.

Moonlight was also pivotal in Canada’s historic back-to-back Gold Medal performances at the 2011 & 2015 Pan American Games in Mexico and Toronto. He also represented Canada in the 2010, 2014 & 2018 editions of the Commonwealth Games in India, Scotland and Australia, along with the 2013 Rugby World Cup 7s in Russia and two Olympic qualifiers in USA and Monaco in 2015 and 2016.

Moonlight also picked up three MacTier Cup Title as National Champions with the Ontario Blues of the Canadian Rugby Championship.

Rugby Canada Chairman, Tim Powers:

“On behalf of the Board of Directors I’d like to wish John all the best as he starts the next chapter of his life as a firefighter in his hometown of Pickering, ON. John has been a dedicated servant to the game of rugby in Canada and will be remembered as one of the greatest to ever wear the Maple Leaf.”

Rugby Canada CEO, Allen Vansen:

“John’s dedication, commitment and passion for the game of rugby has been unrivalled over the last decade and there’s very few places in the rugby world where the name “Moonlight” isn’t well known and respected. The Canadian Rugby community is forever grateful for your contribution and I wish you all the best in your new career!”

Message from John Moonlight:
“You are only a custodian to the jersey. You are given it to wear with pride. You don’t know if this could be your last chance to pull it on. Play as if you may never get a chance to pull it on again and when you’re done hand it back in. Know when you give it back that you have given everything.” – Kieran Crowley

The time has come for me to hand the jersey back for good. I’ve had the pleasure of playing in front of 80,000 screaming fans in Twickenham, facing a sea of green at Millinneum Stadium in a World Cup, and playing in front of 43,000 Canadian fans on home soil. Rugby has allowed me to travel across the world playing in countries like Hong Kong, Australia, and even India. I am forever grateful for everything it has given me in life and leave knowing that I gave it all I had.

I want to thank my family who have been the biggest supporters throughout my career. They supported me when I packed up my life and moved across the country to chase a dream. Then, they showed up all across Canada, USA and the world continuing to show that support. My cousin David told me to this sport out, and then convinced me to move across Canada and have a crack at making it. Without him, I never would have experienced any of this.

Thank you to my friends; I don’t know how many hours of sleep were lost staring at a computer screen in support but it never went unnoticed.

To everyone I pulled the red jersey on with- thank you. The relationships we’ve built and the memories we’ve created will last a lifetime. We have experienced some of the biggest highs in Canadian rugby and it was a pleasure getting to do so with you all.

Thank you to the coaching staff that have helped me get to where I am. Your influence made me into the best player I could be.

Thank you to the medical and physio staff that have kept me healthy over the years.

Thank you to Under Armour. Your support over the last 5 years has given me all the tool necessary to make a difference on and off the field.

Finally, thank you to all the fans. Without you, the sport wouldn’t exist. You have been behind the team and I since day one and we appreciate the continued support.

I look forward to starting my career as a firefighter in my home town of Pickering, Ontario. They have supported my career for so many years and I can’t wait to give back to the community that has given so much to me.