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Toronto Wolfpack planning Super League ascention

RoosTah

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You guys here about this?

Toronto Wolfpack to enter League One next season, RFL announces

The Rugby Football League has confirmed that a Canadian side will be introduced into English rugby league from next season. Toronto Wolfpack will enter League One – the sport’s third tier – and will play home and away fixtures in blocks of four or five, staying in Yorkshire while playing away and training in Bradford.

The Wolfpack will play their home games at Toronto’s Lamport Stadium, home of the Canada national side, and have already confirmed an impressive off-field team to head up the organisation. The former Great Britain coach Brian Noble will join as director of rugby with the former Leigh coach Paul Rowley working as head coach. “It’s brand new – I’ve done a lot of things in the game but to be involved in this and to take something from nowhere is exciting,” Noble said.

The Guardian revealed last year that talks were taking place about the RFL admitting a side from across the Atlantic, and the Wolfpack will fund the expenses of the other 15 League One sides, 12 of which are part-time, when they travel to Toronto.

“Toronto is a city ready to embrace the first transatlantic sports team, and we’re proud to be behind it,” said Eric Perez, the club’s CEO. “We have a consortium of very successful businessmen and we’ve set up platforms of exposure for sponsorship that will ensure the team is well-backed and well-funded.”

With the infrastructure and launch of the club confirmed, attention will now turn to recruiting the players for the inaugural season in 2017. Rowley and Noble both confirmed that they will conduct a wide search for talent, but the former insisted it is vital there is a Canadian presence in the squad – an area of the world in which rugby league is relatively unknown at the moment.

“It’s important to have homegrown flavour,” Noble said. “The immediate goal is winning but we’ll be spending a month here to ensure we find the top athletes this country is producing: there will be north American roots.”

Noble also said he sees no reason why the club cannot aim for the highest level in the shortest space of time. “If you have a dream you’ve got to dream as big as you can,” he said. “If you speak to everyone involved their goal is Super League – and once you’re in there, you’ve a chance of winning it. We want to be right up there.”
http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/apr/27/toronto-wolfpack-rugby-league-one-2017-brian-noble

Pretty interesting and out of the blue, but it certainly goes to show that there are benefits to a promotion-relegation system.

It'll be a hard slog with that amount of travel, but it still won't be anywhere near as bad as the Super Rugby set up, so it could definitely work. Interesting how they've managed to get such high level backing and interest over there. Apparently they already have 3000 people on their season ticket waiting list Rugby League games have been getting crowd numbers similar to Union despite League having only reorganised itself over there back in 2010.
 

themole25

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this is going to last one year... going to be way to expensive
 

jeffb

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Its bad enough going to Hull, never mind Toronto.
 

RoosTah

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this is going to last one year... going to be way to expensive

I'd have thought so too, but they've obviously thought this through and done the sums. Otherwise they wouldn't have offered to pay the opposition's air fares.

With a billionaire owner, they are clearly willing to suffer some multi-million dollar losses for a few years, so I don't see it folding in a huge hurry.
 

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Who's behind the club that they are so well-funded to cover all other clubs' travel expanses (over a year ?!)
When they do get promoted, what happens then ?
Do they cover away fans expanses, too ? (surely, they won't, I know)...
I like the idea of teams from other countries joining different leagues. We do have that in football and ice hockey in Germany, e.g.
But just when it makes sense, "geographic-wise"...
Few away fans will be able to join their team on a trip to Toronto and other way around. I'd call that a huge disadvantage...
 

RoosTah

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Who's behind the club that they are so well-funded to cover all other clubs' travel expanses (over a year ?!)
When they do get promoted, what happens then ?
Do they cover away fans expanses, too ? (surely, they won't, I know)...
I like the idea of teams from other countries joining different leagues. We do have that in football and ice hockey in Germany, e.g.
But just when it makes sense, "geographic-wise"...
Few away fans will be able to join their team on a trip to Toronto and other way around. I'd call that a huge disadvantage...

When compared to other teams in the League I suppose, but then again in Super Rugby that's more or less the scenario facing every team travelling outside of their conference.

I'm not sure how detailed their business plan is, but supposedly the ownership isn't something they're willing to divulge, but includes a consortium consisting of 10 businessmen who "all made their money in mining and resources." "Some Canadian, a couple Australians, mostly Canadians though."

According to one page.
 

jonny24

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Few away fans will be able to join their team on a trip to Toronto and other way around. I'd call that a huge disadvantage...

I keep seeing this comment, and I don't get it. None of the major sports here have very many away fans. That's what happens when teams are hundreds of km away from each other. It's just a non issue. Disadvantage to who? Home field is supposed to be an advantage.
 

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I keep seeing this comment, and I don't get it. None of the major sports here have very many away fans. That's what happens when teams are hundreds of km away from each other. It's just a non issue. Disadvantage to who? Home field is supposed to be an advantage.

Disadvantage to the fans who want to support their team away.
 

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Disadvantage to the fans who want to support their team away.

I only think that it is a possibility in Europe anyway (maybe New Zealand, but I don't think they travel around the country much to watch their team play). In SA you maybe have the Lions and Bulls clashes getting both home and away fans attending because the cities are 20 to 30 minutes away. Apart from that, you won't be travelling. In North America, they already travel large distances for the NHL, NFL and NBA. I really don't think that the whole away fan thing really matters and shouldn't be a reason not to do something like this.

However, this is league one rugby. I am sure the players would love the opportunity to play overseas, but the point raised about the cost of teams in league one covering the cost of getting their players across the ocean is an interesting one. Is it being covered by England's Rugby Union or Canada's or no subsidy at all? Would be interesting to know.
 

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Its League not Union. I believe the owners are forking out the costs for all the away teams.
 

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Its League not Union. I believe the owners are forking out the costs for all the away teams.

Whoops, sorry didn't see that.
 

RoosTah

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Disadvantage to the fans who want to support their team away.

To be honest I think this is a very European perspective... In places like North America, Australia and in major Rugby competitions like Super Rugby, the distances involved are simply too great for fans to support their team 'away' for many or most games.

Even in the NRL in Australia, whilst the concentration of teams in Sydney makes it accessible to watch your team play away some times, half are now either interstate or even overseas (Warriors), so it's just not accessible for most people.
 

Tallshort

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Wouldn't it be better to plough all that money into a professional Canadian league? It would also help grow the game instead of all league roads leading to Australia
 

RoosTah

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Wouldn't it be better to plough all that money into a professional Canadian league? It would also help grow the game instead of all league roads leading to Australia

In this case they're looking for entry to the English Super League, and not the NRL, so it's not really a case of all roads leading to Australia on this one, but I actually agree with you otherwise.

I think ideally they ought to just set up their own tournament, but from a marketing perspective there is some value to being associated with a top flight competition when looking for publicity.

It's definitely a goal that has a case of 'short-termism' and it reminds me an awful lot of Japan's admission to Super Rugby, but it is more likely to generate a media buzz than a local semi-pro comp with no roots. That may be the smarter option long term, and perhaps they're thinking about doing that too, and are just using this Toronto Super League side as a way of getting Rugby League into the public consciousness.

It's hard to know really, but it'll be interesting to follow it all the same and speaking as someone who has followed the Sunwolves' every game this year I can see why they might think this is a good idea. Japan has had a Rugby comp run through the companies for ages, but no one ever seems to know anything about it outside of the employees of those companies and it gets little media interest, but ever since the Sunwolves have been involved in the mighty Super Rugby competition the media over there have been all over it and there kids are now taking an interest in Rugby over there that otherwise would have only ever thought about baseball or soccer.

That said, and I've had this discussion with Japanese colleagues, I think they'd have achieved the same effect if they had torn their current rugby structures down completely and reorganised their entire competition on a full professional city basis like they did with soccer back in the early 90s. The trouble is there were too many vested interests in their Top League for that to happen, and so Super Rugby was the next best thing. Longer term, if Japan can get a team in Osaka and Yokohama, then it'll really make it all worthwile, but that's a way off I suspect.
 
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Car

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To be honest I think this is a very European perspective... In places like North America, Australia and in major Rugby competitions like Super Rugby, the distances involved are simply too great for fans to support their team 'away' for many or most games.
Is following your team to away matches even a thing in English rugby league, especially in the League One?
 

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It's hard to know really, but it'll be interesting to follow it all the same and speaking as someone who has followed the Sunwolves' every game this year I can see why they might think this is a good idea. Japan has had a Rugby comp run through the companies for ages, but no one ever seems to know anything about it outside of the employees of those companies and it gets little media interest, but ever since the Sunwolves have been involved in the mighty Super Rugby competition the media over there have been all over it and there kids are now taking an interest in Rugby over there that otherwise would have only ever thought about baseball or soccer.

I don't think that's completely fair. Their attendance was on average around 6,500 in 2015-16. That's not too bad. Also, it has picked up quite a bit of attention since about 2010 in South Africa. I only followed it a bit, but I can name quite a number of the teams. They are getting there with their league. I think this is quite a different thing entirely with Canada vs Japan.
 

RoosTah

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I don't think that's completely fair. Their attendance was on average around 6,500 in 2015-16. That's not too bad. Also, it has picked up quite a bit of attention since about 2010 in South Africa. I only followed it a bit, but I can name quite a number of the teams. They are getting there with their league. I think this is quite a different thing entirely with Canada vs Japan.

Saulan, we're talking about a tiny island with 127 million people here, so a crowd of 6,500 is very poor when you consider that all the companies participating in it are global heavyweights with huge numbers of staff (and it's mostly only company staff that attend the games). You actually get more passion out of the University system over there; Keio and Waseda have an Oxbridge style rivalry that can draw over 50k to some matches in Rugby.

The Top League system generates neither the passion nor the interest of even the uni-system, and isn't remotely close to as inclusive and engaging for the public as the NPB (Japan's premier Baseball League) which averages crowds of around 30k or their soccer league, which gets crowds of around 17k.

The thing is, soccer used to be organised like Rugby in Japan and was actually lower on the pecking order in the public consciousness until Japanese Soccer restructured itself and organised a new competition on a more traditional private club-city basis. Viewed through that prism, the failure of Rugby in Japan is an example of crusty and visionless vested interests refusing to adapt to the challenges facing them and committing to a broken model until their irrelevance is no longer possible to ignore. Indeed, even despite falling so far beyond, the JRFU couldn't convince the company clubs to release their star players for the Sun-Wolves almost until the last minute because they were worried it would undermine their already almost irrelevant competition.

Apologies for the rant, but having lived in Japan and knowing people heavily involved with the often frustratingly change-resistant JRFU it's hard to be too upbeat about the Top League.

All that said, whilst I appreciate what you're trying to say on how Canada isn't directly comparable to Japan given their long Rugby history, if you'd lived there you'd better appreciate just how peripheral Rugby has been in the public consciousness until last year's RWC. I'd imagine it's a bit like how most South Africans think of Baseball; they're vaguely aware of it, but it's far from front of mind.

The point is though, that the lesson from a marketing standpoint remains relevant; involvement in a high profile league can generate the sort of press a domestic league may take years to develop.
 
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