Title: The Toronto Wolfpack are back, one division higher and no less a force
Date: June 7, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the ascendant Toronto Wolfpack, a jump to Rugby League’s second division, and a return home after months playing on the road.
It is difficult to imagine a better start for a franchise. The expansion Toronto Wolfpack ran roughshod over the Rugby League third division last year, securing the league title, and earning a promotion to the second-division Betfred Championship in the process. Their attendance figures were strong, they quickly developed a foundation of supporters in a city largely foreign to professional rugby, and what was initially a five-year plan to reach Super League — the premier division — looked almost conservative.
The question became, then, how do you follow up on that much success in what would be a far more challenging sophomore season?
Through 15 games, the Wolfpack have provided a rousing answer, getting out to a 13-1-1 start and sitting atop the Championship table. They have the division’s best defence, have outscored opponents by 204 points, and have a five-point cushion ahead of second-place Toulouse — a team they have defeated twice this year. The Wolfpack are also yet to play a true home game.
As the division’s only transatlantic club, the Wolfpack operate under a unique schedule that sees them play the bulk of their away schedule early in the year, then return home as the weather gets better in Toronto. Adding to the quirky schedule this year were renovations taking place at the team’s home, Lamport Stadium, which precluded them not only from hosting a game until now but also from practising there until Wednesday. There are players new to the team who hadn’t stepped foot on their home field until earlier this week. A staff member was physically helping re-install the goal posts so the team could have a few practice days to acclimate to their new (literally) turf before Saturday’s opener.