Rugby league chief executive says Wolfpack have been an ‘absolute success’

Rugby league CEO applauds the Wolfpack

TORONTO — As CEO of the Rugby Football League, Nigel Wood was in Toronto last spring to attend the launch of the Wolfpack.

And he has liked what he’s seen in the months since.

“I think they’ve had a very exciting baptism. They’ve certainly been very competitive on the field,” Wood told The Canadian Press. “And we’re looking forward to seeing the reaction of the Toronto sports public to their first game this weekend.”

Wood, who is also chairman of the Rugby League International Federation, was speaking from Australia where he was attending meetings and taking in the Australia-New Zealand test match.

The Wolfpack, who have won all five of their league matches in England, debut at home Saturday against Oxford RLFC (2-2-0) at Lamport Stadium.

Toronto, the sport’s first transatlantic team, has started life in the third tier of English rugby league — the Kingstone Press League 1. Its goal is to win promotion first to the second-tier Championship and then the elite Super League.

Wood says he always had confidence in the Wolfpack’s ownership and believed putting a team in Toronto was a “terrific opportunity” for rugby league to get ahead of other sports looking at transatlantic play.

“That’s not to say that there aren’t still things to prove, because there are,” he said. “I will say that fundamentally the first 12 months of this club’s existence have been an absolute success.”

The Wolfpack have drawn worldwide attention both to the sport and England’s third tier, with rival teams benefiting at the box office when Toronto comes to town. But pitting the fully professional Wolfpack against semi-pro opposition has resulted in some lopsided scores — Toronto’s last two league wins were 80-0 over the North Wales Crusaders and 82-6 over Doncaster RLFC.

The Wolfpack, who top the table, have outscored their opposition 310-37.

Toulouse Olympique XIII had a similar rampaging run last year when it entered the same league as Toronto. The French team won promotion after a 13-0-1 season that saw it outscore its opposition 702-184.

Wood says there is an expectation in British sports that when teams join “the professional pyramid,” they do so at the bottom level and have to earn their spurs.

Starting at the bottom also allows teams “to knock any teething problems out of their operation” before moving up. And while he says the Wolfpack came out of the blocks as favourites to win League 1, that won’t necessarily be the case in the Championship. 

Wood’s schedule hasn’t allowed him to attend the Toronto home debut but he says the RFL has officials in town.

“We want to see firsthand the size of the crowd, the reaction of the public, just how much excitement it creates in the Toronto market.”

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Watch for high winds today and tomorrow

A wind warning is in effect for Greater Victoria. According to Environment… Continue reading

Victoria Harbour most polluted on B.C. coast: study

City’s industrial past and more recently, pharmaceuticals, create high levels of pollutants

Experts to capture and collar 20 female deer in Oak Bay starting this month

Does sedated, examined, collared and ear tagged in latest phase of deer management plan

Beauty Day at Our Place a chance to rise above daily struggles

Annual pampering event draws women of all ages and circumstances

Victoria dog attacked by otters off Dallas Road

Off-leash dogs and wildlife can make for a poor mix, veterinary staffer says

WATCH: Vancouver Island man catches dashcam video of near head-on crash

Video shows oncoming van cross over centre line

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Snow expected to subside Sunday morning

Environment Canada issued a snowfall warning for east Vancouver Island between Duncan and Nanaimo

Canucks came out hot, beat Bruins 6-1

Loui Eriksson scores twice, catapulting Vancouver to a lopsided victory over Boston

B.C. man brings dog to court as ‘best witness’

Man is defending himself on charges of uttering threats, possessing weapon for dangerous purposes

Vancouver artist’s cartoon of Florida school shooting resonates

Cartoon shows football coach, one of the victims, meeting others killed in school shootings

Trudeau family arrives in India for state visit

Seven-day visit includes meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Military seeks DNA experts to help ID missing war dead

Federal program recovers, identifies and arranges burials for Canada’s nearly 28,000 missing war dead

B.C. files new legal action against TransMountain pipeline

Province tries to uphold City of Burnaby bylaws, provoking Alberta

Most Read