BRADFORD, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: The Toronto Wolfpack team pose for a photograph with their fans after the Betfred Championship match between Bradford Bulls and Toronto Wolfpack at Odsal Stadium on August 04, 2019 in Bradford, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Saturday, October 5 is a day no Wolfpack fan will ever forget. It was the day that saw the Toronto Wolfpack promoted to the Super League. A day that the Wolfpack achieved their key ambition; of achieving tier-one Super League elevation within their short four-year history.

According to ESPN, Eric Perez’s main goal was to be in Super League by year one. However, in 2014 Super League went from a franchise-model to a promotion-relegation system. This meant that the Wolfpack had to start at third tier League 1 in 2017 and earn their way to Super League.

2019 Championship Grand Final: Toronto Wolfpack promoted

It was a tasty affair, where there were snippets of the Million Pound Game loss last year against the London Broncos. This was when he Wolfpack were once again going to be denied entry to Super League. In fact, the Wolfpack were losing 4-6 to the Featherstone Rovers at half time.

However, a Jack Bussey turnover gave Blake Wallace the chance to shine as he scored the try that gave the Wolfpack the lead.

The Wolfpack would never look back and won 24-6 against the Featherstone Rovers. This secured the Toronto Wolfpack’s spot into Super League. This marks the first time in history that a team in the Americas is playing in the topflight division of rugby league.

Toronto, A Pro Rugby City

Toronto has also become a special city for high-level rugby for the Americas as they are the only city in the continent to have a topflight professional rugby team in both codes of league and union. The Toronto Arrows are currently playing in the topflight of American-based Major League Rugby.

Most importantly, this result means the Wolfpack gets promoted to Super League. There are several opportunities with being in Super League like TV rights, exposure, money and developing players.

TV Coverage growing for Canadian Rugby League fans

Sky Sports RL

Eric Perez, founder of the Toronto Wolfpack stated on a Tim and Sid show that Super League is:

“the second most watched league in the UK behind Premier League”

Furthermore, these attendances seem to be going up. The attendances and viewership numbers of Super League were up by 25% in August of this year compared to August 2018.

Although the Wolfpack are going to benefit from increased exposure with television, they will not be getting the Sky money of £2 – 2.4million that the other 11 clubs in Super League will be getting.

A way to make up that money is to have Sportsnet broadcast Super League on their main channels.

Sportsnet

In Canada, Sportsnet is one of the two main sportscast networks in English Canada along with TSN. Most importantly, Sportsnet owns the Super League license and regularly show games on Sportsnet World, a specialty channel of Sportsnet.

Sportsnet can create a broadcast for Super League just like they did with the Barclays Premier League before being purchased by DAZN. Sportsnet would do the pre-game, halftime, and post-game analysis of many Premier League games in England. This is while the commentary of the games would be done by Sky Sports.

With the loss of the Premier League, Sportsnet has been eager to show new sports leagues on their networks. Examples of this include showing US-based women leagues like the National Women’s Soccer League and the Women’s National Basketball Association on TV. So, there should be no reason why the Wolfpack cannot work on Sportsnet.

Obviously, TV rights are not the only thing that the Wolfpack could do. Being in Super League could mean the Wolfpack looking at ways to create a reserve/academy team in Toronto.

A ‘Reserve team’ to be developed in Toronto

In 2020, all the 10 based English-based Super League teams are mandated to create a reserve team for their squad. This is something the Wolfpack should look at and have mainly Canadian-based players playing for the team against other English-based teams. There are small competitions in Ontario and USA for developing rugby league players, but they are not on the same level as the English-based reserve teams.

A possible Wolfpack reserve team may get very few wins against superior English competition at the start. However, it will help the Wolfpack develop Canadian players very similar to how the Sunwolves have made Japan a tier one rugby union nation.

The Sunwolves only have a few wins per year, but the Japanese rugby union team has come a long way. They have gone from being last in the 2011 Rugby World Cup group stage to beating former number one Ireland in the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The Wolfpack can also create an academy team for the same reasons.

Academy team in Toronto will bring huge rewards

An academy team would benefit Toronto. The Wolfpack can create an under 19 academy team mostly of Canadian players to compete against other English-based academies (seen in the London Broncos website). Also, these academy and reserve teams do not have to play in Toronto. The Wolfpack can make these academy and reserve teams play in England in order to make it easier for academy/reserve teams to face the Wolfpack’s academy and reserve teams.

Some people might also want a women’s super league team in Toronto. Admittedly that would be nice but, the Wolfpack should aim to develop local content on the men’s side first.

Also, the Super League clubs might find it weird that Toronto is trying to get a woman’s pro rugby league team. Especially, when the Leeds Rhinos chief, who is in favour of Wolfpack in Super League, says one of the Wolfpack’s goal should be to develop local talent.

The Toronto Wolfpack are also going to make renovations to Lamport Stadium to make it Super League standard.

Lamport Stadium improvements scheduled

There is no doubt that Lamport Stadium is the greatest beneficiary with the formation and existence of the Toronto Wolfpack. As a result of the establishment of this side as a competing team in the UK Rugby League, this stadium (which was seldom used before the Wolfpack came into existence) has become the Wolfpack’s home ground.

Capacity for Lamport Stadium currently sits at 9,700. On Sportsnet’s Prime Time Sports, CEO interim Bob Hunter talks about improvements to Lamport Stadium.

These items will probably include renovating scoreboards, washrooms, locker rooms, and seat expansion. Improvements that will be needed as the Wolfpack have ambitions to sign high-profile players like Sonny Bill Williams.

Signing high-profile Players the next KPI

The Wolfpack are looking at getting a ‘David Beckham type player’ into North America. This is according to Dejan Kalinic of Sporting News.

David Beckham is a famous English soccer player who took his talents and skill to Los Angeles to play with the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer. He won many championships with the Galaxy and single-highhandedly changed the world’s perception of Major League Soccer.

According to 1newsnow, the Wolfpack see a marquee signing [like Sonny Bill Williams] as that guy. He is reportedly being offered $5 million for one year.

The Wolfpack are looking at Sonny Bill from the New Zealand All Blacks. He is playing in the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan currently and is regarded as one of the best footy players in the world. With an NRL Premiership history in league, although he is playing union right now, his profile in both codes is not questioned.

What Toronto Wolfpack promotion proved to the World

Toronto shows that with commitment, and support a non-traditional rugby league market can become a traditional rugby league market.

However, there is a lot of money needed for having a transatlantic team in North America. As CEO Bob Hunter talked about the financial commitment needed for the team.

“It is not for the fainted hearted.”

While that fact is not questioned, the results on the field have given stakeholders the belief to continue with their objectives. Success is the one true register, that will impress supporters, investors, and sponsors. In 2019, Toronto are a league team that have driven a pathway to the top – and they do not look like stopping until they claim the top trophy in Super League.

 

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