Toronto Wolfpack Achieve Super League Dream
Toronto Wolfpack will be playing in the Northern Hemisphere’s premier Rugby League competition next year after defeating Featherstone Rovers 24-6 at Lamport Stadium in the Betfred Championship Grand Final, spurred on by a record crowd of 9,974.
The world’s first professional transatlantic sporting team will become the first Club outside of Europe to compete in the Super League when the 2020 season gets underway in February. An extremely ambitious venture since day one, the Wolfpack organization has achieved its five year plan, built on progressing through the ranks to reach the top division, in just three seasons.
The Wolfpack’s Grand Final win is the latest chapter in a remarkable story that has captured the imaginations of one of the greatest sporting cities in the world. The city of Toronto itself is enjoying a Championship summer after Toronto Raptors brought the NBA Championship to Canada for the first time in June, followed by 19 year old Canadian tennis sensation Bianca Andreescu’s winning the US Open in September. The Wolfpack will now represent Toronto in the top division with some of the best teams in the world traveling to Canada in 2020, bringing an expected 10,000 visiting fans with them.
Earlier this week, the Rugby Football League (RFL) approved the Toronto expansion Club’s eligibility for Super League and today’s on-field result at Lamport Stadium has completed the Wolfpack’s meteoric rise to the Super League. A record attendance of 9,974 packed the Den for the ferocious battle with promotion on the line, a number that saw the 2019 overall attendance come close to passing the 100,000 mark.
Growing the game of rugby in North America and beyond is one of the Wolfpack’s core values and a foundation that the Club aims to strongly build upon with each passing year. Now occupying a place in one of the world’s premier Rugby competitions, the Wolfpack’s local and international exposure will only increase, something that will delight both existing and new sponsors and partners.
In a major market that is home to over six million residents in the Greater Toronto Area and five much-loved major professional sports teams, the Wolfpack have still managed to receive over 700 million total media impressions in 2019. The Betfred Championship Grand Final was seen around the globe, reaching into over 500 million homes throughout major markets including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, France, Asia, India, Singapore and Hong Kong. Thanks to several exciting broadcast agreements, including with Canadian powerhouses Rogers Sportsnet and CBC, the Wolfpack are continuing to expand and the jump to Super League will serve to build their brand exponentially.
Promotion also means that Wolfpack Head Coach Brian McDermott will be returning to the Super League, a competition that he has won seven times as a player and coach. Renowned for his record in big games, McDermott has further built upon his reputation during his first year with the Wolfpack. Toronto dropped just one game in 2019, finishing the season with a remarkable 28-1 record. There is no one better qualified than McDermott to lead the Wolfpack into their maiden Super League season thanks to his incredible record that now includes coaching over 400 games.
On a day when feel-good stories were not difficult to find, perhaps the most heart-warming of all was the successful end to the playing career of Ashton Sims, a 17-year love letter to the sport of Rugby League. While Sims himself would never admit it, the desire to send one of the most team-oriented players in world sport off on a high note undoubtedly added extra motivation to the Wolfpack squad as they took the field on Saturday afternoon. After raising the League Leaders Shield in 2018 but falling agonizingly short of promotion just weeks later, Sims’ pure joy was on display for all to see when the referee’s whistle ended the 2019 Season and confirmed the Wolfpack’s promotion.
Several players on the Wolfpack list will be returning to Super League action in 2020, with players including Gareth O’Brien, Matty Russell, Jon Wilkin and Anthony Mullally all well-experienced in the top division. Stars with NRL experience including Josh McCrone, Ricky Leutele, Darcy Lussick and Chase Stanley will also get their first taste of the Super League. With a slew of player re-signings imminent, a large majority of the successful Wolfpack squad are likely to continue their journey with the Club’s step into Super League.