The Toronto Wolfpack is a professional rugby league club based in Toronto, Canada, which competed in the British rugby league system's top-tier, the Super League; the club withdrew from the 2020 Super League season and Challenge Cup due to "overwhelming financial challenges", and has stated that it intends to field a team in 2021.
|Full name||Toronto Wolfpack Rugby League Football Club|
|Colours||Black and White|
|2019 season||1st in RFL Championship|
|League 1||1st (2017)|
|Championship||1st (2018, 2019)|
|Most capped||73 - Adam Sidlow|
|Highest points scorer||436 - 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.[note 1]
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 27 April 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 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.
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 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. 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 4 March, 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, 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.
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 with a win against Doncaster in front of 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  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.
In June 2019, a group of 19 "older" Rugby League players and 2 supporters made up from around the world, toured to Toronto in Canada to introduce "Masters Rugby League" to the Canadians. Masters is a modified version of the game of Rugby League and players must be over 35 years of age to play. With no upper age limit, older and players of any ability are all welcome. The Masters format was first played in New Zealand in 1992. By 2004 it was introduced to Australia and to the UK in 2008, France in 2017 and Ireland in early 2019).
Masters players from traditional Rugby League areas such as Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire joined with players from the less traditional Rugby League areas, such as London, South East and the North East of England. With two players Joining from the Southern Hemisphere, (New Zealand and Australia) the tour party was a truly International mix of players from ages 36 to 77, touring under the name “South London Silverbacks Masters”. So with support from The Toronto WolfPack, and some very hardworking and dedicated Rugby League volunteers in Canada, who managed to form two teams as opposition (Toronto Wolfpack Masters and the Ontario Greybeards Masters), the tour went ahead.
Two Masters games were played at the Lamport Stadium in Toronto and the tourists were also guests at Barrie High School, spending the day helping Toronto Wolfpack staff with a Rugby League skills day. This tour has “Sown the seeds of Masters RL” in Canada and thanks go to all who volunteered, helped and sponsored the three teams involved. Hopefully Rugby League, Masters and all the other variants of Rugby League will be introduced and/or continue to grow in popularity in Toronto, Canada and North America.
In November 2019, the Wolfpack made international headlines when they signed dual-code international Sonny Bill Williams on a two-year deal. The signing came in the wake of Williams' third appearance in a Rugby Union World Cup and saw him return to Rugby League, the sport where his career began.
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 hosted soccer and lacrosse. The team signed a three-year lease to play at the stadium. The Toronto Wolfpack supporters group can be found in Section 35.
Lamport Stadium has been used by the team for nearly all their home games in Canada. However, during their 2018 season, the Wolfpack relocated one of their home games to Fletcher's Fields in Markham, as Lamport Stadium was undergoing field resurfacing work. In addition to home games played in Greater Toronto Area, the team played a "home game" at New River Stadium in London for the 2018, and 2019 seasons. The Wolfpack played at these venues in an effort to boost the popularity of the team, and sport in London.
In their debut Super League campaign in 2020, the Wolfpack hosted scheduled "home" games on the road at neutral venues, this was due to the weather conditions not being suitable in Canada for rugby league until April. Toronto played scheduled "home" games at: Headingley Stadium, Leeds as a double header with Leeds Rhinos; the Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington; and Bootham Crescent, York as a double header with York City Knights. The York game was originally scheduled to be at the new York Community Stadium, as the grounds' inaugural game, however the stadium was not ready in time.
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 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 continued 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, UK, 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, with the Club training at Hopwood Hall College.
Media & PromotionEdit
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.
In December 2019, Toronto Wolfpack signed Toronto-headquartered agency LP/AD as agency of record for the 2020 season to help promote the team's commercial activities during the inaugural Super League season.
Kit sponsors and manufacturersEdit
|Year||Kit Manufacturer||Main Shirt Sponsor|
|First Team Squad||Coaching staff|
Updated: 16 July 2020
|Sonny Bill Williams||Blues||2 years||November 2019|
|Brad Singleton||Leeds Rhinos||3 years||November 2019|
|James Cunningham||London Broncos||2 years||November 2019|
|Tony Gigot||Catalans Dragons||Trial||February 2020|
|Jack Wells||Wigan Warriors||One Month Loan||February 2020|
|Ben Kilner||Wigan Warriors||One Month Loan||February 2020|
|Quinn Ngawati||-||N/A||March 2020|
|Kallum Watkins||Gold Coast Titans||3 years||May 2020|
|Ashton Sims||Retired||n/a||August 2019|
|Nick Rawsthorne||Hull Kingston Rovers||2 years||October 2019|
|Bob Beswick||Newcastle Thunder||1 year||October 2019|
|Ryan Brierley||Hull Kingston Rovers||1 year||December 2019|
|Gary Wheeler||Mutual consent||n/a||March 2020|
|Andy Ackers||Salford Red Devils||3 years||June 2020|
|Director of Rugby||Vacant|
|Head coach||Brian McDermott|
|Assistant coach||Chris Plume|
|Assistant coach||Kurt Haggerty|
|Head of strength and conditioning||Jon Kelly|
List of head coachesEdit
|Owner||David Argyle et al.|
|Chairman and CEO||Bob Hunter|
|UK General Manager||Martin Vickers|
|Vice-President, Commercial||Jon Pallett|
- Most tries in a match:
- Most goals in a match:
- Most points in a match:
- Most drop goals in a season:
- Most goals in a season:
- Most tries in a season:
- Most points in a season:
- Biggest win:
- 82–6 v. Doncaster (April 9, 2017)
- Biggest loss:
- 66-10 v. Warrington Wolves (May 13, 2018)
- Highest home attendance:
|Division||P||W||D||L||F||A||Dif||Pts||Pos||Top try scorer||Top point scorer|
|2017||League 1||22||20||1||1||1164||243||+921||41||1st||Promoted as champions||R5||Liam Kay||27||Craig Hall||436|
|2018||Championship||23||20||1||2||866||374||+492||41||1st||Lost in Million Pound Game||R6||Liam Kay||26||Ryan Brierley||214|
|2019||Championship||27||26||0||1||1010||356||+654||52||1st||Won in Million Pound Game - Promoted||Did not participate||Matty Russell||27||Gareth O'Brien||278|
|2020||Super League||Withdrew from competition; all results expunged.[a]|
- Season Champions (1): 2017
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- 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
- Yuen, Jenny (April 27, 2016). "Toronto to be first transatlantic team in Rugby Football League". Toronto Sun. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
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- "Toronto Wolfpack return to capital". skolarsrl.com. London Skolars. February 15, 2019. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
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- 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.
- Rittenhouse, Lindsay (December 6, 2019). "Wins of the Week". AdAge.
- Dallaire, Justin (December 9, 2019). "Toronto Wolfpack selects LP/AD as AOR". StrategyOnline.
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