Globe & Mail Runs Insightful Article on Toronto Wolfpack Rugby League Team - Can Toronto Qualify for UK Tier 1 Super League Next Season
It's fair to say that Rugby League not Rugby Union own the professional rugby sports market in Toronto right now. It may explain why the Toronto Arrows and Rugby Canada are so eager to get the MLR running in Toronto, sooner rather than later.
The Globe ran a good article today on the unlikely story of how the Wolfpack started, the characters involved and what lies ahead this summer.
The best part was the story of how it started.
Noble was approached a few years ago by an eclectic group. There was Torontonian Eric Perez, who discovered rugby league on TV while in England and wanted to put a team in Toronto with the help of Australian mining billionaire David Argyle. They were working with one of Noble’s old pals, rugby player turned actor Adam Fogerty, who played the hulking boxer Gorgeous George in the film Snatch.
“We met in a coffee shop in England and they asked me, ‘Do you fancy helping build an expansion team in Canada?’ and I nearly choked on this Cornish pasty I was eating,” Noble said during a lengthy interview inside the Wolfpack’s home, Toronto’s 10,000-seat Lamport Stadium. “I said ‘I wouldn’t know where to start.’ But I’ve got good contacts, I can sell a story and I’m a good planner. So yeah, maybe I could be good at this.”
It's a common theme for starting programs of various sizes. You need the dreamer, the Eric Perez in this story, he didn't know enough about the situation to know it was impossible, at least to conventional thinking. He brought the energy and the drive to the project. You need the backer, the money man, the David Argyle in the story, especially if it's a big project. You need the champion, the guy who will be opening doors and getting others on board due to his reputation, Brian Noble was that person.
It's the most improbable of rugby stories, starting a pro rugby team in Toronto in a game that didn't have much local support. Rugby Union has infrastructure in the area but Rugby League not so much. Now two years in they seem to be doing quite well, getting sustainable attendance figures, bigger than rugby union and getting write ups in the mainstream media.
They started in 3rd tier, won their way up to 2nd tier and now are in a battle to achieve their ultimate goal, 1st tier rugby in the UK, while playing in Toronto. It's just crazy enough to work as they would say.
They're currently leading the Tier 2 Championship League by 7 points with 4 rounds left. That would be an amazing accomplishment winning the league after promotion from Tier 3 but the big prize is gaining promotion to the Super League.
That competition takes place in August and September and involves the top 4 Championship teams and bottom 4 Super League teams. Toronto have already booked their place in that competition called the Middle 8s. The top 4 teams from the Middle 8s get promoted to the Super League, the bottom 4 get relegated to the Championship League. Bottom line, Toronto Wolfpack have a decent chance of making the Tier 1 Super League next year.Full Article from Globe & Mail