Schoey: Toronto are making Rugby League a laughing stock

Farcical, farcical, farcical.

I’m not sure what’s worse, Toronto Wolfpack’s withdrawal from Super League and the Challenge Cup, our two most prestigious and high-profile competitions, or the dithering of the game’s governors – and you often have to use that term loosely – over what happens next.

The timing of Toronto’s announcement, less than a fortnight before the restart, is particularly awful, because the situation they have got themselves into certainly hasn’t arisen overnight.

Why was their pull-out left until this stage, and why did they give Super League assurances they would be able to resume, only to perform their abrupt U-turn?

Toronto say they “fully intend to field a team in the 2021 season”.

Well that’s okay then … not!

You simply can’t have a club pulling out halfway through one season with all the widespread damage that causes, and expecting to compete in the next as if nothing has happened.

They have let down the game itself, their fellow clubs, Sky, whose schedule has been affected, and supporters, both in Canada and this country.

Toronto should be charged with bringing the game into disrepute, with serious consideration over whether they are allowed to compete at any level again.

In my view, we should be saying goodbye, because they have had their chance and blown it.

Yes, the effects of the pandemic have been widespread, and no club has been untouched.

But let’s be honest, having a team-based so far away was always potentially problematic, and there have been question marks about Toronto’s financial situation for a while.

They signed Sonny Bill Williams for big bucks, yet there was already talk of late payments to players, and as recently as May, they announced the signing of Kallum Watkins – on a three-year deal! That won’t have come cheap.

To me, their approach has been shoddy on the field and off it, and the powers that be should have been posing serious questions for some time.

Their presence did nothing to help either League 1 or the Championship, because both were unbalanced as a result, and expecting part-time players to cross the Atlantic and produce a competitive performance without a suitable period of preparation was ridiculous.

Having got into Super League, Toronto filled their squad full of journeymen, and their pre-lockdown record of six defeats in six games says it all.

The whole thing is one big mess, and neither Toronto nor those people running the game have come out it of it well.

Not for the first time, Rugby League has become a bit of a laughing stock.

With Ottawa due to enter League 1 next year, I really hope lessons have been learned and there are measures in place to prevent a repeat of what we have seen at Toronto.