Given the usual off field antics and the start to 2017, a title with Interesting Story for Rugby League would hardly be imagined to preceded by Toronto Wolfpack.
Usually interesting is associated with a rugby league player doing something that happened in a toilet, or with an animal or with too much alcohol on the streets. To be fair rugby league hasn’t really kicked off 2017 very well. Not that the previous off season was much better.
This is why we decided to highlight one of rugby league’s new teams – the Toronto Wolfpack.
By the way we mean the Toronto Wolfpack from Canada, not near Newcastle in NSW. The NSW based location already has the Macquarie Scorpions representing their area in the Newcastle League.
Timely too as they are just about to play their first proper competitive game against Hull FC in a friendly this weekend.
The Toronto Wolfpack is an ambitious project, the first team to cross continents to play a regular season of rugby league. They proudly claim to be the first trans Atlantic sporting team. They will play their home games in Toronto too, at The Den or Lamport Stadium, so it is a genuine Canadian based team, although to make it easier they will play in blocks of home and away so the trip across the Atlantic isn’t a weekly exercise for the Toronto based side.
They will play in the third tier of English Rugby League – Kingstone Press League 1 competition. Joining sides from York, Coventry, Newcastle and Doncaster. Below the Super League featuring all the big names like Wigan and Leeds, and the Championship which features team trying to get to the Super League like Hull KR and London. Toronto have ambitions on getting to the Super League, and who could blame them or deny their ambition.
They will need to be ambitious, and have plenty of enthusiasm, as it will be a big job to maintain it all. Even the PNG Hunters, with their 7 million passionate rugby league fans of the only nation where league is the national sport have struggled to cope financially with the stress of travelling and paying for others to travel.
That ambition hasn’t just been restricted to their travel plans, they have tried to acquire some of the best North American talent, even from the various lower NFL system to local rugby league players looking for an opportunity. Their training camps have been held in Toronto, Philadelphia, Tampa, Kingston (Jamaica) and Vancouver. Who knows, one of the best rugby league players of all time could be a gridiron dropout and we would never have known it. Whilst it won’t have the impact or media coverage of the reverse of a rugby league player going to the NFL, it will still be a very interesting thing to watch indeed.
But of the regular players, are there any big names to get the passive person that slightly more interested? Well, yes. How about Fuifui Moimoi, the former fan favourite of Parramatta. That’s a big name and a big player to get the Toronto Wolfpack dream started.
But there are some other names some may know. Especially those who have a keen eye on the Queensland Cup aka Intrust Super Cup.
Quentin Togaga’e aka Q was a mainstay for several clubs in the Queensland Cup for years, and Rhys Jacks has also played in the local Queensland competition. His brother and fellow Canadian International Ryley is a fringe Melbourne Storm player for 2017.
With a scattering of lower division UK players and North Americans, there’s plenty of variety and new faces for the Toronto Wolfpack fan to get to know. Know them more here at the team’s players page.
But all the above is just a taster, and something to keep an eye out for in 2017, a potential good news or interesting story for rugby league.
Will they get promoted to the Championship at the first attempt? Can a trans Atlantic team work? Could Toronto Wolfpack unearth the greatest rugby league player of all time through their extensive search? We say yes to the first two, and would love to see number three happening too.
Their official rugby league life kicks off this weekend when they play Hull FC (Challenge Cup champions) followed by Super League Champions Wigan. This test against two of 2016’s best in the UK Rugby League system will give them a real indication of their first season.
Not long after that there is the third round of the Challenge Cup, then the historic first League One fixture against the London Skolars not far from Tottenham’s White Hart Lane in London. The first home game comes in May as Oxford become the first visitors to The Den.
Their full fixture list is here is you are interested.
We throw our prediction down and say it is promotion first up in 2017, and who knows after that.
The Gurgler has no vested interest in the Toronto Wolfpack, we just love an interesting rugby league story that doesn’t involve piss, poodles or porn. And something different.
So why not jump on their website www.torontowolfpack.com when you need a distraction. or hang around here during the season to keep updated on their progress.