A satirical look at the secrets driving Toronto’s success in the Rugby League Championship
In some countries, you’ll hear of things running more smoothly if a little ‘baksheesh’ is used. In Toronto, one of the words you’ll hear used instead is ‘poutine’, and it’s just as pervasive.
Long suspected of violating the salary cap or providing other secret incentives to circumvent the limitations on player pay that applies equally to all teams, diligent research has revealed a shady process that is fattening the Wolfpack.
Getting their regular wage and these additional bonuses is known as getting a ‘double-double’. It’s facilitated by a Mr. T. Horton, who will provide this to any player who simply asks. “Some players just want a small double-double, but others have big appetites and demand that it’s large, or extra-large. They walk right in and tell us what they want,” said a representative of Mr. Horton. “We always sweeten it for them, and they love that cream,” he continued, euphemistically. Mr. Horton himself could not be reached for comment.
When asked about getting this ‘poutine’, one player was quite forthright about it. “Of course I love the poutine, mate. I want my cheese, and who doesn’t like getting gravy?” he said. When asked if he felt this opportunity was fair he responded “Blokes can do what they want, but it puts food on my plate.” The brazen acceptance of the process was astonishing.
To supplement their wages, players looking for something ‘sweet’ have been known to frequent meeting places known as “Nanaimo Bars”. They have to be careful, however, as abusing it could lead to reprimands from the team. “You can’t be caught in the Nanaimo Bars too often, because coach Rowley would have a fit when you’re pinched,” revealed one of the more solid front-rowers.
If the process of determining pay and extras is done in the winter, prior to the season starting, this is known as “ice fishing”. Done furtively in huts, away from the prying eyes of the media or fans, players will meet with the team representatives, break the ice, and see what they can get. Sometimes negotiations are simply hours of sitting silently, waiting.
Families as well
The perqs and bonuses aren’t just limited to the players. Family members of key Wolfpack team members have been provided jobs in high places, and are cleaning up, with the added income going to the family. Despite the need to keep the scheme secret, the families would prefer transparency. “We need it see-through. It shouldn’t be dirty at all,” said one player’s wife, who was barely hanging on.
With that in mind, is it that players feel entitled to the extras due to all they put in? Are the demands such that they feel more is owed?
“It’s 24 hours a day we’re giving to the team. Two-four. Even when I’ve been injured I’ve kept working out, building up my Molson muscle for the team. I’m committed to this two-four, Mickey too” slurred a clearly exhausted player, who was having trouble standing straight, his friend Mickey nowhere in sight. “Working this hard is a lost craft, I approach a red line every day.”
Payment in product
Using a unique reward system to Canada, players have been able to supplement their earnings with items rather than money. They’d be a loonie not to.
The fur trade is famously part of Canada’s history, and that is evident today as players can receive payment in a stack of beaver tails. Strangely, these never manage to leave the country, as an entire family can use them all up in no time.
Clothing is also popular, as who wouldn’t want some nice winter footwear, or ‘snowshoes’. Formalwear is included with players being offered a Canadian tuxedo. Taking home a large number of tuques is another popular choice, and the rugby league authorities have yet to crack the spine of a Canadian dictionary to figure what these are. Toboggans can be used to carry all the items.
A clear conclusion
All teams allegedly have their own process for accomplishing the same goal of surreptitiously adding to the pay of players, going back to the days of ‘boot money’. The keeners at the Toronto Wolfpack have hit upon a new approach to deke out the RFL bosses, but if they’re caught it will cause quite a kerfuffle. Fortunately, this seems unlikely due to the ongoing gong show at the league offices. Time will tell, eh?