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Rugby League Opinion

From Catalans to Toronto

The decision to bring a Canadian team in to League One is absolute nonsense, heres why.

Toronto is set to become the latest city to have a club in English domestic rugby league. Brian Noble will be confirmed as the club’s new director of rugby, with ex-Leigh boss Paul Rowley becoming the first head coach.

The plans, which have apparently been two years in the making, will be unveiled in Toronto and linked by video to the Centre for Canadian Studies at the University of Leeds on Wednesday.

The whole project, is the brainchild of Canadian entrepreneur Eric Perez. He has had the official backing of the Rugby Football League and received overwhelming support from the clubs. Perez, who produces a weekly rugby league show on Sportsnet World, is thought to be ready to quit his job as a marketing campaign manager to commit to the project.

They say this decision will help broaden the sports horizon and expand the game on a more global scale. Its being promoted as a pioneering first for sport and transatlantic competition. The only reason its pioneering to the sport is because rugby league is the only sport stupid enough to do it.

Now, I have nothing against Canada, nor against the progress and rugby league within Canada. They have asked the question and shown their plan to the powers that be in the RFL and its been given the green light.

However, it just shows the lack of sense within the RFL, when they just say yes to anyone with a big chequebook.

The sheer cost of travel alone is absurd and to think teams like Oxford, Rochdale, Barrow, Hunslet and Keighley just to name a few will have to be making this 16 hour round trip.

These clubs, who don’t have full time players in their squads and barely gathering much of an attendance. Last year in the Kingston League One, the highest attendance was 4,066 and the lowest was 115.

Some are saying that the new club from Toronto will actually help the League and it’s players by gathering more of an attendance and bringing more money to the clubs, but how?

There will be part time players who will be trying to get weekends off work, to make the 16 hour trip around the world to play 80 minutes of rugby…. and for what money?

While I understand that the goal for both French and Canadian teams are to reach the Super League. You only have to look at Catalan Dragons who have been in the Super League for 10 years now, and what have they done for rugby league in France…… answers on a postcard.

There have been other instances when people with big money and an idea to dominate the rugby league and make it to the big leagues, have not gone to plan. Celtic Crusaders being the best example.

However, while talking about a Welsh team, why don’t we try and improve the game within Great Britain first instead of this huge dream of making it a global sport. We don’t have the money nor the right promoters to do that with the sport.

Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Cumbria are places were we should be trying to improve the game and help the teams from these areas to grow. We should be improving rugby league within our own back garden, before even thinking about going abroad.

If more teams from France, Canada and more than likely USA in the future, start to join our leagues, then what happen to those teams that can’t quite make it each year. Teams such as Bradford, London, Leigh, Batley and others. Will they drop further and further away with no chance of coming back.

It just pains me, as a fan of rugby league to see our game, which is played in the biggest rugby league nation in the world, being mocked so much by those who are deemed fit enough to run it.

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