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The General 'Toronto Wolfpack' Discussion Thread


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3 minutes ago, Harry Stottle said:

Simple answer Tommy, I don't know when you first went to a Community club, most are nowhere near as popular as they once were or as well subscribed to, suggesting it is doing OK is tantamount to culpable ignorance.

Last thursday I went to pick my brother up from Eastmoor and I commented saying they should be a prime candidate for Government funding due to their location and outreach. 

All community clubs in virtually all once popular sports are doing worse now than they ever were in terms of numbers. Kids and adults do different things now. 

Rugby League is hit even harder as our relevance is smaller because our reach is smaller.

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I am devastated by todays decision.Obviously I think its wrong but I think it shows the narrow minded thinking of most super league clubs.I very much doubt the Wolfpack will ever be back as I don't se

Rugby League as a sport - fans, owners, administrators, the lot - gets what it deserves. There was an opportunity here, an owner who's spent £10m, a growing fanbase and a very attractive market,

To avoid the forum being swamped with dozens of individual threads about Toronto which generally all end up heading down the same rabbit hole eventually anyway, we're opening this general discussion t

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2 hours ago, Tommygilf said:

I think you're being more than a tad generous there Dave. I don't want to say it sounds naïve but its coming across a little that way. 

I can see the view that Canadian expansion is crazy, totally. If you'd asked me 5 years ago I doubt it would have been in my top 20 places I would aim for professional RL to be played. The problem I have with the "focus on the heartlands" is that it is a flawed mentality that sees the RL towns and cities as a static homogenous blob separated from everything else. The heartlands is a nice mental comfort blanket of a few towns and urban areas. The reason the junior game in the heartlands is declining is partly the same reason most sports are seeing a decrease in boys participation and is not solvable on a heartlands only policy. We don't have the money or the interest and both of those are connected to the fact we are focussed on the heartlands that aren't for the most part leaders in their own geographical areas. The reason we can't expand into Bolton or Burnley is the same reason we can't get another club in Castleford or Hull. Its the same reason why London find it so difficult. It's why Toronto's popularity in Canada was such a shock.

Focus on the heartlands means we offer a club game that you'll only be interested in long term if you dislike the team over't hill, no international game to speak of (even when we do all the games are in the "heartlands" anyway where we get bad to average crowds except in Leeds and decide it was a bit pointless and don't do it again).

There's also the big shock coming for some second division fans who are proponents of this reductive idea will get when the SL bosses and the RFL decide that in their reductive logic that Super League covers all the heartlands already, so why harm those teams "lets look after our own". 

On the World cup I think its an interesting point. Clearly the Northern Powerhouse funding has seen a lot of games played in the the North. However, the focus on less "heartlandy" places is notable, even within that "Northern Powerhouse" bracket. Doncaster, York, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Sheffield, Liverpool, Bolton, Preston and London feature quite prominently across the tournament as hosts and most people would argue they aren't "heartlands" in the way that Wigan or Wakefield are.

The beer festivals with free tickets were popular not rugby league. 

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50 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

So why this focus on the heartlands mantra from some then? Clearly it already is focussed on?

It is, and I make this point often, that the vast vast majority of any funds and effort is routed into existing markets. And we still need more investment, and more effort.

I don't see a contradiction when people say we should be spending money and effort there and not on expansion. 

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52 minutes ago, Davo5 said:

Who are the WE,if it's the handful of Superleague clubs who do contribute to community clubs efforts that's fair,but the bigger picture is that the majority of pro clubs make little or no effort to help grassroots RL,hence the huge fall in participation numbers.

If the majority of clubs make no effort with local clubs fair enough, it's not the perception I have, but then I am based well outside of the heartlands. 

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26 minutes ago, The Rocket said:

Perhaps these other sports witness the success of their code elsewhere and do not suffer from the same sense of being undervalued and certainly not under threat so much as ours.

Your second paragraph there. Totally agree, but if someone is willing to fund it, such an exciting addition to your competition and perhaps more likely to let League tap into that "crossover" that you mentioned previously. More `cred` basically.

 

I think we need to avoid overstating some points, I'm sure most feel under-valued, and I'm not sure the threat is as great as we often suggest. But if the threat is there, maybe doing more and more in the UK is the answer?

On the 2nd point, this is where my head is - I personally think the approach of getting somebody else to pay for a Club like TWP is perfect. I would personally have an expansion fund of x% of the central funding that we route to expansion projects, but I'm not sure TWP would get any of that, I'd be aiming more around the UK and France. But any self-funded expansion is 100% welcome by me. But this has been very controversial and is often used as a stick to beat those 'luddites', accused of wanting to keep the game to themselves.

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10 minutes ago, MEXICO WILL PAY said:

The beer festivals with free tickets were popular not rugby league. 

If you want a place to make comments like that which are unsubstantiated, been done to death and fly in the face of reality, go to facebook.

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8 minutes ago, Dave T said:

It is, and I make this point often, that the vast vast majority of any funds and effort is routed into existing markets. And we still need more investment, and more effort.

I don't see a contradiction when people say we should be spending money and effort there and not on expansion. 

I agree, I think that the way to get more investment is to increase the games popularity.

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3 hours ago, Tommygilf said:

I think you're being more than a tad generous there Dave. I don't want to say it sounds naïve but its coming across a little that way. 

I can see the view that Canadian expansion is crazy, totally. If you'd asked me 5 years ago I doubt it would have been in my top 20 places I would aim for professional RL to be played. The problem I have with the "focus on the heartlands" is that it is a flawed mentality that sees the RL towns and cities as a static homogenous blob separated from everything else. The heartlands is a nice mental comfort blanket of a few towns and urban areas. The reason the junior game in the heartlands is declining is partly the same reason most sports are seeing a decrease in boys participation and is not solvable on a heartlands only policy. We don't have the money or the interest and both of those are connected to the fact we are focussed on the heartlands that aren't for the most part leaders in their own geographical areas. The reason we can't expand into Bolton or Burnley is the same reason we can't get another club in Castleford or Hull. Its the same reason why London find it so difficult. It's why Toronto's popularity in Canada was such a shock.

Focus on the heartlands means we offer a club game that you'll only be interested in long term if you dislike the team over't hill, no international game to speak of (even when we do all the games are in the "heartlands" anyway where we get bad to average crowds except in Leeds and decide it was a bit pointless and don't do it again).

There's also the big shock coming for some second division fans who are proponents of this reductive idea will get when the SL bosses and the RFL decide that in their reductive logic that Super League covers all the heartlands already, so why harm those teams "lets look after our own". 

On the World cup I think its an interesting point. Clearly the Northern Powerhouse funding has seen a lot of games played in the the North. However, the focus on less "heartlandy" places is notable, even within that "Northern Powerhouse" bracket. Doncaster, York, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Sheffield, Liverpool, Bolton, Preston and London feature quite prominently across the tournament as hosts and most people would argue they aren't "heartlands" in the way that Wigan or Wakefield are.

The problem is Tommy that we end up having a debate about a point that people aren't really making. 

Do you honestly think there would be controversy around development work in Newcastle, or Liverpool, or Sheffield, or Preston? It is happening and isn't controversial. 

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Just now, Dave T said:

The problem is Tommy that we end up having a debate about a point that people aren't really making. 

Do you honestly think there would be controversy around development work in Newcastle, or Liverpool, or Sheffield, or Preston? It is happening and isn't controversial. 

There is about London. I personally think with Sheffield and Newcastle, its because those clubs aren't trodding on anyone's toes or flying up the league.

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Just now, Tommygilf said:

I agree, I think that the way to get more investment is to increase the games popularity.

And I think that ultimately comes back to having an expansion strategy, including a plan of areas you are going to focus on. Before North America I would be focusing on Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, South Wales, London, Toulouse plus a few others with less effort.  In reality, these are all existing markets (I hate the word heartland) - but would all benefit from investment of time, effort and funds.

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2 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

There is about London. I personally think with Sheffield and Newcastle, its because those clubs aren't trodding on anyone's toes or flying up the league.

I agree to an extent on London, but I think much of the negativity around London now is based on frustration that on the surface a top flight club is not a success in London - they were surprisingly welcome in SL last season where a heartland club playing with those crowds in that ground would be dragged over the coals.

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Just now, Dave T said:

And I think that ultimately comes back to having an expansion strategy, including a plan of areas you are going to focus on. Before North America I would be focusing on Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, South Wales, London, Toulouse plus a few others with less effort.  In reality, these are all existing markets (I hate the word heartland) - but would all benefit from investment of time, effort and funds.

I agree, but these aren't the heartlands those saying "look after your own" are meaning in the general sense. Its a "disgrace Catalans are in the cup" types are the extreme end but are fairly common sadly. 

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2 minutes ago, Dave T said:

I agree to an extent on London, but I think much of the negativity around London now is based on frustration that on the surface a top flight club is not a success in London - they were surprisingly welcome in SL last season where a heartland club playing with those crowds in that ground would be dragged over the coals.

They were given plenty of grief for their "wedding venue" and in any case I think plenty of negativity was less sharp because everyone, club owners, managers and fans, expected them to go down. 

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6 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

I agree, but these aren't the heartlands those saying "look after your own" are meaning in the general sense. Its a "disgrace Catalans are in the cup" types are the extreme end but are fairly common sadly. 

This is where I have an issue with generalisations though Tommy, it makes it difficult to debate the points. There are undoubtedly people with the view you highlight, there are undoubtedly people with views that I highlighted, but there are also a whole range of views in between. I know many expansionists who wouldn't have looked twice at TWP, I know many fans who wouldn't consider anything outside of the M62 range. There are those who are supportive of France, but would turn their nose up at Scotland, think Wales is great, but hate London. 

And then there are the likes of you and I who are probably in the same boat of being supportive of expansion literally anywhere, but probably differ in how we would go about it. 

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3 hours ago, Harry Stottle said:

Hi A.T. thanks for your response, initially that statement you qoute that I made was at the time in a discussion re how the community and subsequently the transition of those good enough will move on and up, so :-

1. "What does getting your house in order actually mean".

Anyone who has been involved with the amatuer game for any number of years will have witnessed that it is steadily on the decline in both participants, administrators and even those who venture out to stand on the touchlines to watch it. Many times on these pages I have brought up concerns that if there is not a concerted effort to address this situation the whole game over here will eventually suffer. The reaction to those comments or lack of from posters on this site actually speaks volumes that they are either unconcerned or have not got a clue that it is in decline, in fact and this may be terribly unfair they may not have ever been or even know where their local community club is. The Governing body and Professional clubs should be giving this area a good dose of looking at to address this situation, it is not all about every club having an academy, it is utilising each and every area to maximise it's potential and by doing so the sport will be in a much healthier place.

2. 'What are the KPI’s that would indicate the ‘house is in order’ 

It is in my opinion basically a follow on from the answer to Q 1. Last year the powers that be deemed that each club in the top flight should have a reserve or as was known an 'A' team but the administration reversed the instruction and through pressure from the club's abandoned it before it really got started, that is a very strong indication that our 'house is very much out of order' even our most successful club since 1995 and dare I say richest, see's it more economical to send player's to a club in the lower tiers than to be in a thriving, competitive division where they can keep on more 'hopefuls' other than jettisoning them because they have reached their age limit, it is also a recuperation aid to returning injured player's and what better to have player's learning, training and playing together in the coaches ethos at the club. The KPI's are therefore looking us right in the face organise, develop and promote our own, there is a very good reason that we employ 90+ overseas player's - enough for 6 teams - in our League system it is because we are just not producing enough of our own, if we can reverse this at grass roots it will firstly benefit those at the top which in turn will improve for all beneath it.

3. "How many years do you think it would take to achieve getting the ‘house in order’ before you would consider overseas expansion".

Firstly, I am not against overseas expansion, but which is the relevant and best way to go about this, "Bottom Up" or "Top Down" I actually think it should be a combination of both, If there is no infrastructure it will always be a case of how I described Toronto 3 years or so ago that they are only interested in "bringing the circus to town" there is no evidence whatsoever that statement can be refuted, and for what it is worth I doubt very much that will change with Ottawa and even NY if it ever comes off never mind all the other 'pipedream' entities some on here insist we need, it will always be a reliance on others to provide players for that market, and as alluded to above we have not got enough for our our own home teams requirements. Again people say if there are teams in exotic places more will have the desire to take up the game, yes they possibly could but we need to "get our house in order" to provide that pathway. France are by far much better equipped to be the expansion area the infrastructure is already in place, but there is 10× the apathy in France than there is in the UK towards the game, desire and impetus has to come from the FFR to get more involved has to start at the grassroots in France and provide a reason for Kids to take up the sport and have the facilities and venues to stay with it, there are some good French players, some very good French players and I don't doubt there are many more but it seems they are using a toothpick to dig for gold. How many years then for an expansion programme, yes we should assist where and when possible but they have to help themselves also, and the stronger we are the more assistance (and player's) we can give them.

Sorry for the long post, but that statement "getting our house in order" was made in context with the discussion at the time, All my own views of course.

PS I am just reading the excellent book the 'Invincibles' published last year re the  Australian '82 tourists, the first paragraph is devoted to years earlier in the mid to late 60's and specifically the '70 Lions tour, and how there was a concerted effort in Australia to improove playing numbers and to rewrite the coaching manuals, all our administrators and coaches should take note, it was said the GB coach on the '70's tour Johnny Whiteley went along to observe an U'12's coaching session and came away full of trepidation for the GB teams 10 years hence and ongoing, surely he and the Tour Manager Mr Jack Harding must have brought that back in their 'tour report', but to me that just about sums up the attitude if our administration, we won that tour - last one - so everything must be good, so little foresight, not so much different than today in how the grassroots is being allowed to wither away.

Harry, thanks for the response and I agree with a lot of your comments. 

Your point about declining playing numbers and clubs is true of many sports.  My local RL club is no more and the Sunday Football League that I played in for many years has lost half of its number of clubs.  It is difficult to buck the trend.  Does an area like Castleford and Featherstone need Development Officers or does the area need a stronger pyramid approach where the professional clubs have better connections to local clubs?

The influx of overseas players in such numbers is a recent phenomenon post 1996.  If your number of 90+ is for this years SL then that is a massive rise when compared to the last full season pre SL when based on a quick look at the Rothmans year book The 16 teams seemed to have between 3-5 overseas players per team.

So why the increase in overseas numbers?  You would have thought that an increase in salary and a full time job should have led to more local players coming through.  But an increase in a SKY money also meant clubs took the easier approach to sign established overseas players.  This could be down to the increase in SKY money post 1996.  Pre 1996 a relegated club that would be semi pro could keep the majority of its squad as players were not totally reliant on a playing wage.  Post 1996 leading to full time professionals, clubs could see the financial implications if they were relegated so they chose the easier option to sign overseas players than bring youth into a struggling club.

Therefore how do you attract the youngsters?  Youngsters now look for an element of glamour, social media attractiveness to attach themselves to.  Can RL in its present set up become an attractive option to a youngster who can watch other World Class athletes across many sports on their settee.  Does the RL need a radical structure change and embrace new entities to create the impression of a game that is going forward.  That is what fires debate on here.

I agree that a mix of bottom up and top down is a good formula.  But RL cannot dictate where a new club should be located it is down to investors coming forward with their preferred location.  It is the responsibility of the RFL and SL to clearly outline what is required and to ensure new entities are fully aware of their responsibilities. I.e. France should be a location to build on the existing club game but until an investor comes along the French game is unable to grow.

As for your anecdote I recall reading an article that stated the Aussies actually came across a RL Coaching Manual that had been created by someone connected to Hunslet RLFC and used that as the template.  Don’t know if that’s true but you never know.

Anyway thanks for your comments.

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1 minute ago, Dave T said:

This is where I have an issue with generalisations though Tommy, it makes it difficult to debate the points. There are undoubtedly people with the view you highlight, there are undoubtedly people with views that I highlighted, but there are also a whole range of views in between. I know many expansionists who wouldn't have looked twice at TWP, I know many fans who wouldn't consider anything outside of the M62 range. There are those who are supportive of France, but would turn their nose up at Scotland, think Wales is great, but hate London. 

And then there are the likes of you and I who are probably in the same boat of being supportive of expansion literally anywhere, but probably differ in how we would go about it. 

Indeed I think that's fair enough. The nature of this site is that opinions are generally well informed and articulated which tends to filter out a lot of the nonsense you see on facebook or twitter for example. That said its important not to forget those people exist and there are a lot of them, don't want a TRL Bubble haha!

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3 minutes ago, Adelaide Tiger said:

 

RL cannot dictate where a new club should be located

I'd disagree with that point , to me the RFL should have had a strategy and a budget set aside for expending the game , but done on a ' creeping ' system away from the heartlands 

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10 minutes ago, GUBRATS said:

I'd disagree with that point , to me the RFL should have had a strategy and a budget set aside for expending the game , but done on a ' creeping ' system away from the heartlands 

Fair point.  But at the moment the only way that a new entities can be created is by one person, or a consortium, approaching the RFL/SL with a proposal.

I would warmly support such an approach that you outline, but I disagree with your ‘creeping system’.

What I would propose is that the RFL identify up to 5 areas in the UK where based on proper market analysis they see a chance of RL succeeding.  Then they work with Local Authorities to match fund the appointment of Development Officers that links into LA’s strategies around Health and Obesity (this has been done in the past so why not recreate it but with funding ring fenced to the DO positions).

By linking this to a rolling Strategic Plan that is tweaked each year if required it then over a period of time it will have established a grassroots game, open age teams and an overall aim of attempting to attract investors for the creation of a professional club in each of these areas.  Newcastle are a great example that should be copied.  But the investment in both time and funding must be long term.

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18 minutes ago, Adelaide Tiger said:

Fair point.  But at the moment the only way that a new entities can be created is by one person, or a consortium, approaching the RFL/SL with a proposal.

I would warmly support such an approach that you outline, but I disagree with your ‘creeping system’.

What I would propose is that the RFL identify up to 5 areas in the UK where based on proper market analysis they see a chance of RL succeeding.  Then they work with Local Authorities to match fund the appointment of Development Officers that links into LA’s strategies around Health and Obesity (this has been done in the past so why not recreate it but with funding ring fenced to the DO positions).

By linking this to a rolling Strategic Plan that is tweaked each year if required it then over a period of time it will have established a grassroots game, open age teams and an overall aim of attempting to attract investors for the creation of a professional club in each of these areas.  Newcastle are a great example that should be copied.  But the investment in both time and funding must be long term.

My 5 would be South Wales, London, Newcastle, East Midlands, Edinburgh 

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2 hours ago, Tommygilf said:

Rugby League is hit even harder as our relevance is smaller because our reach is smaller.

Then isn't it more obvious to try harder to promote it more in the area's that are already au fait with the sport all the background work has been done, it is not unlike any established sales office, customers fall away from time to time and those companies who do not reasearch and find out why and redress the situation useually follow the same path and fall away, it is no good saying that buisness is down all over (as in all once popular sports) do something to increase your market percentage share.

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2 hours ago, Tommygilf said:

Indeed I think that's fair enough. The nature of this site is that opinions are generally well informed and articulated which tends to filter out a lot of the nonsense you see on facebook or twitter for example. That said its important not to forget those people exist and there are a lot of them, don't want a TRL Bubble haha!

You have the better of me Tommy, this site and the very occasional visit to RL Fans - and then only on my clubs page - is about the limit of my social media expierence, what is it you dislike about those people who you say there are a lot of, is it because of their views and opinions or is it they do not have the abillity to coherently put into words what they are trying to get across, or is it erm...... they are just plain R'soles, of course in your opinion😉

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17 minutes ago, Harry Stottle said:

Then isn't it more obvious to try harder to promote it more in the area's that are already au fait with the sport all the background work has been done, it is not unlike any established sales office, customers fall away from time to time and those companies who do not reasearch and find out why and redress the situation useually follow the same path and fall away, it is no good saying that buisness is down all over (as in all once popular sports) do something to increase your market percentage share.

In an environment of limited resources I'd be in favour of broadening the base. Being overly reliant on areas with diminishing interest anyway is a road to failure and collapse in that regard. How much more is there to actually gain? The kids who are interested in Man United or City or Liverpool aren't going to jump off their Xbox to get excited about amateur teams in a sport they aren't bothered about whether its on their doorstep or not. 

In your point about research and not doing the same again to follow down the same path I absolutely agree with you. You'll be surprised that your logic sees virtually all the money being invested in the heartlands already, so what gives there? Do you start cutting some heartlands to focus on others? Funding for (semi)professional teams cut over amateurs? Do you cut funding to all clubs below the FT professional level and instead invest in development officers and improve facilities?

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