Ahead of Toronto Wolfpack’s debut season in Kingstone Press League 1, we take a more in depth look at the Canadian side.

1. They are ground-breaking – Toronto are Canada’s first professional Rugby League team and are the world’s first major professional transatlantic sports side. The club will play their inaugural season in Kingstone Press League One in 2017 and are aiming to gain promotion through to the Betfred Super League in the future.

2. They will enter the 2017 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup – The Wolfpack will also compete in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup this season and will enter with the rest of the League 1 clubs at the third-round stage. They will play all their Challenge Cup games in the UK, whether drawn home or away. Interestingly, should Toronto progress and draw either Catalans Dragons or Toulouse Olympique it would be the first all non-British fixture in British Rugby League history.
Toronto wolfpack
3. Their CEO is Rugby League through and through – The club was started by Toronto-born businessman Eric Perez who fell in love with Rugby League when he previously lived in Birmingham. Perez used to watch Super League games on television and dreamed of having the sport being played in Toronto and Canada. He says the game is the “most Canadian sport that never came to Canada” and has been working since 2010 to have a professional Canadian side play in the Rugby Football League. Toronto are backed financially by Australian businessman David Argyle with former Rugby League player turned actor Adam Fogerty also on the board.

4. Paul Rowley and Brian Noble are at the helm – Toronto are led by former Leigh Centurions player and coach Paul Rowley who has known CEO Eric Perez for a number of years. Former Bradford and Wigan coach Brian Noble is also the Wolfpack’s Director of Rugby and is a highly-experienced figure to have around the club.

5. They boast an exciting squad – Toronto’s recruitment drive has been impressive and eight players with previous Super League experience have joined the Canadian team. Former Hull and Wakefield full-back Craig Hall will captain the side which also boasts the likes of Fuifui Moimoi, Richard Whiting and Andrew Dixon.

6. The Wolfpack will also have North American players – The club’s long-term ambition is to develop a wide selection of North American players in the squad and the Wolfpack have recruited a few promising talents ahead of this season. Trials took place in Toronto, Tampa, Philadelphia, Kingston and Vancouver to find the best 18 candidates for three spots at the club for 2017. The 18 hopefuls then undertook training in the UK last December which culminated in a narrow 28-26 trial match victory over amateur club Brighouse Rangers. Ontario-born prop Chad Bain was offered a contract following the trials as well as Quinn Ngawati, Jake Eicher and Nathan Campbell all staying with the Wolfpack this season. The process of selecting the players was filmed for an upcoming reality television series called ‘Last Tackle’.

7. They will play their home and away matches in blocks – The Wolfpack will play their matches in blocks of home and away fixtures with the club being based at Brighouse during their time in the UK.
The club’s first League 1 fixture was away to London Skolars on Saturday March 4 and their first home match at the Lamport Stadium will be against Oxford in round six. Toronto will play eight of their 15 regular season games in the UK and four of their seven Super 8s matches on British soil. Backed financially by sponsorship deals, including a partnership with airline Air Transat, the club will fund travel and accommodation expenses for all visiting teams to make the 7,000 mile-round trip to Toronto.
Teams are expected to fly out to Canada on a Thursday, play on the Saturday and return to the UK the following day.

8. They are looking to sell-out their home games – Toronto will play their home matches at the city’s 9,600 capacity Lamport Stadium which is nicknamed “The Den”. The stadium has hosted Canada’s international Rugby League fixtures since 2013 and attracted over 7,000 fans for a 36-20 win over the USA in July that year. It is hoped there will be similar attendances initially for Toronto’s home games with the aspiration of selling-out the stadium once the sport’s popularity and the Wolfpack’s brand increases.

9. Toronto city loves sport – The appetite for sport in Toronto is huge and Eric Perez believes Canadians will have no difficulty in being enthused by Rugby League once the Wolfpack begin their season. The city is home to basketball’s Raptors who compete in the NBA, ice hockey’s Maple Leafs who play in the NHL and football’s Toronto FC who participate in the MLS. Perez is optimistic that with a population of six million and a further ten million within a one-hour radius of the city, the Wolfpack will be well supported on their journey.

10. They are very ambitious – Toronto have not shied away from their vision of competing in Super League and Eric Perez believes the club can get to the elite competition within five years. Expanding the game in North America is another priority and Perez anticipates four or five transatlantic clubs to be competing in the Rugby Football League in the not too distant future. With the USA and Canada set to host the Rugby League World Cup in 2025, expanding the game across the Atlantic is crucial and Toronto are hoping to set a precedent for more North American franchises to follow.