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The Toronto Wolfpack are a professional rugby league club based in Toronto, Canada, which competes in the England-based top-level Super League. The team began playing in 2017 in third-tier League 1 and finished first, winning promotion to the second-tier RFL Championship at the end of its inaugural season.[1] The Wolfpack were the regular season champions in both its first and second season in the RFL Championship. In 2018, the club competed in The Qualifiers, where it was one win away (the Million Pound Game) from promotion to the top-tier Super League. At the end of the 2019 season, Wolfpack won promotion to the top tier Super League with a win in the Million Pound Game.[2]

Toronto Wolfpack
Toronto Wolfpack RLFC logo.svg
Club information
Full nameToronto Wolfpack Rugby League Football Club
Nickname(s)The Pack
Short nameToronto Wolfpack
ColoursNew Zealand Kiwis colours.svg Black and White
Founded2016; 3 years ago (2016)
Websitetorontowolfpack.com
Current details
Ground(s)
CoachBrian McDermott
CaptainJosh McCrone
CompetitionSuper League
2019 season1st
Rugby football current event.png Current season
Records
League 11st (2017)
Championship1st (2018, 2019)
Most capped65 - Adam Sidlow
Highest points scorer436 - Craig Hall

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.[3][4][5][6][note 1]

HistoryEdit

 
The Toronto Wolfpack taking the field against the London Broncos in the Challenge Cup at the Trailfinders Sports Ground in Ealing in March 2017

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.[13] 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.[14][15] A press conference was held on 27 April 2016 at which details on the franchise, which began to play in 2017, were revealed.[16][17] The team will be the first professional rugby league team to be based in Canada.[17] A group of 10 businessmen, consisting of mostly Canadians and an Australian mining millionaire David Argyle, own the club,[18][19] having paid around $500,000 to be granted admission to the league.[20] 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.[20]

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.[21][22] The club plans to play in blocks of four home matches, four away matches, and cover all expenses for visiting teams throughout the season.[23]

The Wolfpack held tryouts in five cities across North America starting 24 September; 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.[24]

The Toronto Wolfpack owns rights to all broadcasts of their matches. In Canada games are broadcast on CBC Live and on Game TV,[25] 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 22 January 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.[26] 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.[27]

On 4 March 2017, Toronto played its first League 1 match, away at London Skolars. They won the match 76–0.[28] Their first home match was played on May 6, 2017, where they defeated Oxford in front of 6,281 fans at Lamport Stadium.[29]

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.

Promotion to the Championship, and the Kingston Press League 1 Title, was secured on 9 September 2017 with the Wolfpack defeating Barrow Raiders 26–2 in front of 7,972 spectators.

They closed the season on 16 September 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. Following a round 4 defeat to London Broncos they put together an 18 game winning streak from March 2018 [30] which was eventually broken with a home defeat to Featherstone Rovers in late July. They performed creditably in the Super 8s with five wins from seven games, defeating Super League sides Widnes Vikings and Leeds Rhinos. However, they fell short of automatic promotion on points difference and London Broncos beat the Wolfpack 4-2 at Lamport Stadium in the Million Pound Game, condemning the Wolfpack to another season in the Championship at significant financial cost to the franchise.[citation needed]

On October 5, 2019 the Wolfpack were promoted to Super League for the first time in club history after their 24-6 victory over Featherstone Rovers in the 2019 Million Pound Game.

StadiumEdit

 
Lamport Stadium based in the Liberty Village neighbourhood of Toronto.

The team's home stadium is Lamport Stadium in Toronto, which is known as The Den for Toronto matches. The stadium seats 9,600.[17] The stadium was opened in 1975 and has an artificial field. In addition to rugby, it has also hosted soccer and lacrosse.[13] The team signed a three-year lease.[31]

The Toronto Wolfpack supporters group can be found in Section 35.

Home games have also been held at Fletcher's Fields in Markham, Ontario and New River Stadium in London, England.

LogisticsEdit

As none of the players on the roster are from Toronto or Canada, 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[32] 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.[33] Toronto Wolfpack continues to cover expenses for the visiting teams in the 2018 season.[34]

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.[35] At the end of the 2017 season the Wolfpack confirmed their intention to switch to a base in Manchester, UK, during the 2018 season, and in 2018 announced the deepening of their partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University and its community.[36] Manchester now serves as the Wolfpack's home in the United Kingdom.

MediaEdit

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 Sky Sports - Arena which reaches 11 million homes across the Sky Network. In the USA Eleven Sports send broadcasts into 50 million homes.


Kit sponsors and manufacturersEdit

Year Kit Manufacturer Main Shirt Sponsor
2017–2018 Kappa Air Transat
2019-2021 ISC

2019 SquadEdit

* Announced on 24 January 2019:

2019 Toronto Wolfpack
First Team Squad Coaching staff

Head coach

Assistant coaches


Legend:
  • (c) Captain(s)
  • (vc) Vice captain(s)

Updated: 24 January 2019
Source(s): 2019 Squad Numbers

TransfersEdit

Gains

Player Club Contract Date
  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
  Hakim Miloudi Hull F.C. UNTIL END OF SEASON April 2019

Losses

Player Club Contract Date
  Jack Bussey Featherstone Rovers 1 year November 2018
  Johnny Pownall Leigh Centurions N/A November 2018
  Cory Paterson Retired NA October 2018
  Ryan Burroughs Old Glory DC N/A November 2018
  Sam Hopkins Workington Town 1 year January 2019
  Jack Buchanan Burleigh Bears 1 year January 2019
  Jake Emmitt Leigh Centurions N/A March 2019
  Olsi Krasniqi London Broncos Until end of Season May 2019

PlayersEdit

CaptainsEdit

StaffEdit

Coaching staffEdit

Position Staff
Head coach   Brian McDermott
Assistant coach   Chris Plume
Assistant coach   Kurt Haggerty
Head of strength and conditioning   Jon Kelly

Management StaffEdit

Position Staff
Owner  David Argyle et al
Director of Rugby   Brian Noble
Founder   Eric Perez
General Manager - Commercial N/A vacant

Coaching registerEdit

RecordsEdit

Individual RecordsEdit

  • Drop Goals In A Match: 1 on five occasions, Ryan Brierley vs Dewsbury Rams, April 19, 2018 and vs Toulouse Olympique, May 19, 2018; Gareth O’Brien vs Toulouse Olympique, September 15, 2018 and vs Leeds Rhinos, 28 September 2018; Joshua McCrone vs Featherstone Rovers, 22 April 2019
  • 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: 2, Ryan Brierley and Gareth O’Brien, 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

Team RecordsEdit

  • Biggest win:
82–6 v.   Doncaster (April 9, 2017)
  • Biggest loss:
66-10 v.   Warrington Wolves (May 13, 2018)

Attendance RecordsEdit

  • Highest home attendance:
9,974 v.   Featherstone Rovers (at Lamport Stadium, 5 October, 2019)

HonoursEdit

Season Champions (2): 2018, 2019
Playoff Champions (1): 2019
Season Champions (1): 2017

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ While they have been described as the world's first trans-Atlantic professional sports team,[7][8][9] there are earlier examples of teams participating in trans-Atlantic competitions such as the World League of American Football,[10] and Super Rugby.[11][12]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Bower, Aaron (April 27, 2016). "Toronto Wolfpack to enter League One next season, RFL announces". The Guardian. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  2. ^ Davidson, Neil (October 5, 2019). "Toronto Wolfpack win Million Pound Game to secure a birth in the Super League". CBC Sports.
  3. ^ "Toronto Wolfpack: Meet the first transatlantic rugby league team". BBC Sport. February 24, 2017. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  4. ^ "Toronto Wolfpack cross the Atlantic for rugby league home opener". CBC Sports. May 7, 2016. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  5. ^ "New boys Toronto Wolfpack are in for the long term". Yorkshire Evening Post. December 21, 2016. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  6. ^ "Can Toronto's English rugby league club teach NFL to cross Atlantic?". EPSN. April 27, 2017. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  7. ^ "About the Team". Toronto Wolfpack. Archived from the original on March 13, 2017. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  8. ^ "Meet the Toronto Wolfpack, Canada's first professional rugby team". CBC. February 25, 2017. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  9. ^ "Trans-Atlantic rugby league trailblazers Toronto Wolfpack seek beauty in the Halifax beast". The Telegraph. February 24, 2017. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  10. ^ Stellino, Vito (April 7, 1991). "WLAF attendance surpassing early hopes in Europe and Canada". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
  11. ^ "¡Bienvenidos a Super Rugby Jaguares" (Press release). SANZAR. December 17, 2015. Archived from the original on March 13, 2017. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  12. ^ "Jaguares start with historic win". SANZAAR. February 27, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2016.
  13. ^ a b "Canadians seek to join League One in 2016". October 13, 2014. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
  14. ^ "Canadian team to join English rugby league setup". ESPN. April 24, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ "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.
  17. ^ a b c "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.
  18. ^ "New Toronto Wolfpack rugby league team won't divulge its ownership". Winnipeg Free Press. April 28, 2016. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ a b Dixon, Ryan. "Running with the Wolves". Sportsnet.
  21. ^ Bower, Aaron (May 7, 2015). "Toronto-based rugby league team in talks to join England's League 1". The Guardian. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
  22. ^ "Canadians confident of being competitive in League One". October 16, 2014. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
  23. ^ "Barrie McDermott: Canadian team would boost League One". Sky Sports. May 6, 2015. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
  24. ^ "Tryouts". Toronto Wolfpack. January 8, 2017.
  25. ^ Toronto Wolfpack sign TV deals in Canada and UK
  26. ^ Toronto Wolfpack impress in pre-season loss to Hull FC
  27. ^ Toronto Wolfpack win Challenge Cup tie at Siddal in first-ever match
  28. ^ Wolfpack dominate in their first league match
  29. ^ Toronto Wolfpack win ill-tempered home debut
  30. ^ [1][dead link]
  31. ^ Yuen, Jenny (April 27, 2016). "Toronto to be first transatlantic team in Rugby Football League". Toronto Sun. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  32. ^ Davidson, Neil (July 9, 2017). "Toronto Wolfpack foes enjoying free trips to Canada, but rugby league journeys taking their toll". Toronto Star.
  33. ^ Davidson, Neil (May 6, 2017). "Toronto Wolfpack win ill-tempered home debut". The Canadian Press.
  34. ^ Campbell, Morgan (June 8, 2018). "Wolfpack have eyes on promotion to Super League as home season begins". Toronto Star.
  35. ^ Rangers welcome Wolfpack
  36. ^ "Aspiring rugby league talent nurtured by new Toronto Wolfpack player development system". .mmu.ac.uk. Retrieved January 17, 2019.

External linksEdit