Written by Callum Walker
Photo by Mathew Tsang
Canadian side Toronto Wolfpack have been making waves in Rugby League recently; founded in 2016, they were promoted from League 1 at the first time of asking in 2017 and finished top of the Championship in 2018, only to falter in the final game play-off.
That 4-2 defeat to London Broncos still haunts all those involved at the club, not least because the Wolfpack ended 2018 eight points clear of second-placed London. The gap is even wider this season with nine points separating Toronto from their nearest challengers York.
Toronto’s dominance has been such that they were presented with the League Leaders’ Shield with five games still left to play. But, the top five play-off will be far from easy for the Canadian side.
Every team wants to beat them and anything can happen in a one-off game – as runaway Super League leaders St Helens found out last season too.
The only plus side of finishing top is a later entry into the play-off system and a more favourable draw. Toronto will play the winner of 2nd versus 3rd and will then still have to face another side in the final to earn promotion to the top tier. It is a harsh route for a side that has lost just once all season yet has won 21 games.
The Widnes fans made themselves heard as Toronto lifted the Shield, booing throughout a side that has finished top in their three seasons as a professional club. The onus – like any side that ends a season as league leaders – is very much on Toronto.
The Wolfpack have a massive points difference of +465 with no other side breaching the +400 mark and only third-placed Toulouse boasting a plus points difference of over 300. This dominance speaks volumes, but they failed to win where it mattered last year and, with perhaps the most competitive Championship season yet – just seven points separate York in second and Sheffield in seventh – Toronto will need to find that extra gear necessary to win finals.
The consequences of failing to do so could be catastrophic for the Canadian side. Owner David Argyle already quit in June of this year due to “racist remarks” which, if failing to earn promotion the previous year hadn’t, gave a glimpse of the wheels falling off the Toronto bandwagon.
With the club’s future up in the air – indeed Argyle has bankrolled them since their creation – promotion is even more key than it was in 2018.
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