The Toronto Wolfpack are a Canadian professional rugby league club, based in Toronto, which competes in the Betfred Championship. The team began playing in 2017 in League 1 and won a promotion in its inaugural season. In 2018 the club competed in the Championship and The Qualifiers, where it was one win away from promotion to the top-tier Super League. Wolfpack will return to the Championship in 2019. The club is the first North American team to play in the Rugby Football League system, the first fully professional rugby league team in Canada and the first transatlantic rugby league team.[note 1]
|Full name||Toronto Wolfpack Rugby League Football Club|
|Short name||Toronto Wolfpack|
|Colours||Black and White|
|2018 season||1st (champions)|
|League 1||1st (2017)|
|Most capped||56 - Adam Sidlow|
|Highest points scorer||436 - Craig Hall|
2014–2016: Origins and foundationEdit
The Rugby Football League first received an application from a Canadian consortium based in Toronto, led by the Chairman of the national governing body Canada Rugby League Eric Perez, in 2014 to compete in the United Kingdom's third tier of professional rugby league. Perez was denied permission to join the first-tier Super League directly, and instead attempted to build the club up to the point where it can be promoted. A press conference was held on April 27, 2016 at which details on the franchise, which began to play in 2017, were revealed. The team will be the first professional rugby league team to be based in Canada. A group of 10 businessmen, consisting of mostly Canadians and an Australian mining millionaire David Argyle, own the club, having paid around $500,000 to be granted admission to the league. A condition for the team to join the British rugby league system was that they would be responsible for covering travel and accommodation expenses incurred for all visiting teams outside of the first division Super League.
It was suggested that it was an attractive market as Canada has the largest amount of rugby league followers outside of Australia, France, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The club plans to play in blocks of four home matches, four away matches, and cover all expenses for visiting teams throughout the season.
The Wolfpack held tryouts in five cities across North America starting September 24; those were: Philadelphia, Tampa, Kingston, Vancouver, and Toronto itself. From these tryouts 18 athletes were selected to take part in a tour in England, culminating in a victorious game against an amateur club, the Brighouse Rangers. Three players won professional contracts with the Wolfpack following the tour, with another round of tryouts to be held in Toronto in the following few months for the unsuccessful trialists.
The Toronto Wolfpack owns rights to all broadcasts of their matches. In Canada games are broadcast on CBC Live and on Game TV, in the USA games are broadcast on Eleven Sports, and in the UK and Ireland Premier Sports broadcasts through the Sky Network.
2017–present: First seasonsEdit
On January 22, 2017, The Wolfpack played their first professional game, a pre-season friendly against Hull F.C. at the KCOM Stadium. The final score was 26–20 in favour of Hull. The club played its first competitive match on February 25, 2017, resulting in a 14–6 victory in the third round of the Challenge Cup against the amateur NCL champions: Siddal.
On March 4, 2017, Toronto played its first League 1 match, away at London Skolars. They won the match 76–0. Their first home match was played on May 6, 2017, where they defeated Oxford in front of 6,281 fans at Lamport Stadium.
The Wolfpack would go on to have a successful campaign, winning all fifteen of their regular season matches and five out of seven playoff games. The Wolfpack finished the season with 41 points from 22 games and points difference of +921.
They closed the season on September 16, 2017 with a win against Doncaster. This game also drew a record attendance of 8,456.
The following season saw continued success by the Wolfpack; winning the league leaders shield in the championship competition, and a season that has seen an 18 game winning streak as of July 21. However, London Broncos beat the Wolfpack 4-2 at Lamport Stadium in the MPG, condemning the Wolfpack to another season in the Championship at significant financial cost to the franchise.
The team's home stadium is Lamport Stadium in Toronto, which is known as The Den for Toronto matches. The stadium seats 9,600. The stadium was opened in 1975 and has an artificial field. In addition to rugby, it has also hosted soccer and lacrosse. The team signed a three-year lease.
As most players on the roster are not from Toronto, the team stays at the George Brown College residence in West Don Lands that is the former site of the 2015 Pan American Games Athletes' Village and trains at Lamport Stadium. Away teams stay at York University residence and train on York University athletic facilities. Through a sponsorship deal with Air Transat, the team covers the travel and accommodation cost for all of the away teams. Toronto Wolfpack continues to cover expenses for the visiting teams in the 2018 season.
Toronto signed an agreement with Brighouse Rangers to share their training ground for pre-seasons and while the Wolfpack are in the UK for away fixtures for 2017. At the end of the 2017 season the Wolfpack confirmed their intention to switch to a base in Manchester, England, during the 2018 season, and in 2018 announced the deepening of their partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University and its community. Manchester now serves as the Wolfpack's home in the United Kingdom.
Toronto Wolfpack games are broadcast on Canadian specialty channel GameTV, with further digital rights extended to CBC Sports with games streamed on the CBC Sports website. Matches are also archived on the Toronto Wolfpack YouTube Channel.
All Toronto Wolfpack games are broadcast live in the UK on Premier Sports which reaches 11 million homes across the Sky Network. In the USA Eleven Sports send broadcasts into 50 million homes.
There are agreements in place to broadcast the 2018 season in China, Brazil and Australia.
Kit sponsors and manufacturersEdit
* Announced on 24 January 2019:
2019 Toronto Wolfpack
|First Team Squad||Coaching staff|
Updated: 24 January 2019
|Ricky Leutele||Cronulla Sharks||3 Years||May 2018|
|Jon Wilkin||St Helens||2 Years||October 2018|
|Joe Mellor||Widnes Vikings||3 Years||October 2018|
|Bodene Thompson||Warrington Wolves||3 Years||October 2018|
|Gadwin Springer||Castleford Tigers||2 Years||October 2018|
|Tom Olbison||Widnes Vikings||2 Years||November 2018|
|Anthony Mullally||Leeds Rhinos||2 years||February 2019|
|Jack Bussey||Featherstone Rovers||1 year||November 2018|
|Jonny Pownall||Leigh Centurions||N/A||November 2018|
|Cory Paterson||Retired||NA||October 2018|
|Ryan Burroughs||Released||N/A||November 2018|
|Sam Hopkins||Workington Town||1 year||January 2019|
|Jack Buchanan||Burleigh Bears||1 year||January 2019|
|Head coach||Brian McDermott|
|Assistant coach||Simon Finnigan|
|Assistant coach||Kurt Haggerty|
|Head of strength and conditioning||Bob Beswick|
|Owner||David Argyle, et al|
|Director of Rugby||Brian Noble|
|General Manager - Commercial||Scott Lidbury|
- Drop Goals In A Match: 1, Ryan Brierley vs Dewsbury Rams, April 15, 2018
- Goals In A Match: 13, Craig Hall vs Donaster RFLC, April 9, 2017
- Tries In A Match: 5, Liam Kay vs York City Knights, July 1, 2017
- Points In A Match: 38, Craig Hall vs Hemel Stags, July 15, 2017
- Drop Goals In A Season: 1, Ryan Brierley, RFL Championship 2018
- Goals In A Season: 170, Craig Hall, League 1 2017
- Tries In A Season: 27, Liam Kay, League 1 2017
- Points In A Season: 436, Craig Hall, League 1 2017
- Biggest win:
- 82–6 v. Doncaster (April 9, 2017)
- Biggest loss:
- 66-10 v. Warrington Wolves (May 13, 2018)
- Highest home attendance:
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- "Toronto Wolfpack: Meet the first transatlantic rugby league team". BBC Sport. February 24, 2017. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
- "Toronto Wolfpack cross the Atlantic for rugby league home opener". CBC Sports. May 7, 2016. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
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- "Trans-Atlantic rugby league trailblazers Toronto Wolfpack seek beauty in the Halifax beast". The Telegraph. February 24, 2017. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
- Stellino, Vito (April 7, 1991). "WLAF attendance surpassing early hopes in Europe and Canada". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
- "¡Bienvenidos a Super Rugby Jaguares" (Press release). SANZAR. December 17, 2015. Archived from the original on March 13, 2017. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
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- "Canadians seek to join League One in 2016". October 13, 2014. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
- "Canadian team to join English rugby league setup". ESPN. April 24, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
- Proszenko, Adrian (April 21, 2016). "Canadian team to play in UK next year as part of Super League bid". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
- "TORONTO ANNOUNCED AS HOME TO WORLD'S FIRST TRANSATLANTIC PROFESSIONAL SPORTS TEAM". Toronto Wolfpack. April 27, 2016. Archived from the original on May 2, 2016. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
- "Rugby Football League officials joined by Mayor John Tory to unveil team brand and league information". April 25, 2016. Archived from the original on April 26, 2016. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
- "New Toronto Wolfpack rugby league team won't divulge its ownership". Winnipeg Free Press. April 28, 2016. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
- Mohdin, Aamna (August 28, 2017). "The future of sport is this Canadian rugby team that flies 3,500 miles to play in England". Quartz (publication). Retrieved August 28, 2017.
- Dixon, Ryan. "Running with the Wolves". Sportsnet.
- Bower, Aaron (May 7, 2015). "Toronto-based rugby league team in talks to join England's League 1". The Guardian. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
- "Canadians confident of being competitive in League One". October 16, 2014. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
- "Barrie McDermott: Canadian team would boost League One". Sky Sports. May 6, 2015. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
- "Tryouts". Toronto Wolfpack. January 8, 2017.
- Toronto Wolfpack sign TV deals in Canada and UK
- Toronto Wolfpack impress in pre-season loss to Hull FC
- Toronto Wolfpack win Challenge Cup tie at Siddal in first-ever match
- Wolfpack dominate in their first league match
- Toronto Wolfpack win ill-tempered home debut
- [dead link]
- Yuen, Jenny (April 27, 2016). "Toronto to be first transatlantic team in Rugby Football League". Toronto Sun. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
- Davidson, Neil (July 9, 2017). "Toronto Wolfpack foes enjoying free trips to Canada, but rugby league journeys taking their toll". Toronto Star.
- Davidson, Neil (May 6, 2017). "Toronto Wolfpack win ill-tempered home debut". The Canadian Press.
- Campbell, Morgan (June 8, 2018). "Wolfpack have eyes on promotion to Super League as home season begins". Toronto Star.
- Rangers welcome Wolfpack
- "Aspiring rugby league talent nurtured by new Toronto Wolfpack player development system". .mmu.ac.uk. Retrieved January 17, 2019.