1. Other sports are interested in trans-Atlantic teams
Although rugby league is very much an innovative game, Toronto Wolfpack isn’t the first mention of a trans-Atlantic side in professional sport. The NFL have long harboured plans to have a side based in London, travelling over to the United States on a regular basis to play games. There are logistical issues of course, but they’ve been aided by the fixtures being clumped together into blocks. If American Football are open to the idea, then surely it can’t be that bad?
2. The clubs won’t pay a penny to travel to Toronto
It’s important to point out that there is an underlying issue with part-time players needing to take time off work to travel to Toronto, but the fact that each and every club heading to Toronto will get all their travel expenses paid is a huge feather in the cap of the concept. It means an all-expenses-paid trip to Canada for a few days, with the added bonus of playing in front of a few thousand people in the middle of a sports-mad city. What’s not to like?
3. They’re completely self-sufficient
Perhaps the most important factor of the whole concept is that Toronto are 100% self-sufficient, meaning they will not take any central funding from the RFL for this project. That means they’ll pay for every single thing out of their own pocket, largely thanks to the array of sponsors and backers the Wolfpack have lined up. But that essentially means it’s costing the RFL and the sport nothing, with the potential of tapping into a major new area in the process.
4. The burgeoning appetite for the sport in Canada
It’s easy to point to the recent crowds Canada have been drawing for international games, and that is a major factor in why it’s possible to get excited about all this. Well in advance of 6,000 people watching their Colonial Cup games backs up the belief that Toronto is crazy about its sport – and they will also be exposed to a fairly new concept. It’s not just rugby league that will be new to them, but the promotion and relegation system that is fairly alien to North American sport. Intrigue equals interest, and interest hopefully equals bums on seats inside Lamport Stadium. Also, the infectious personality of Eric Perez – a born and bred Torontonian who is now a rugby league nut – suggests it could catch on across the city.
5. The Paul Rowley factor
There’s no doubting Paul Rowley could have had his pick of a few jobs in the UK – and although cynics will point to the fact that he gets to spend three months a year in Toronto as an undoubted bonus, it’s difficult to imagine why Rowley would take this job for that reason alone. He must see the potential and the growth Toronto Wolfpack could undergo in the coming years – and with the stewardship of Brian Noble to help him out along the way, the Wolfpack’s coaching team look to have all the credentials to back up the off-field capabilities the club possess, too.