Is Rugby League The New American Dream?

 

The Toronto Wolfpack gather together before a game. Players from all over the world with one goal in mind – to deliver a product of sport to a new market.

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Former Centurions coach Paul Rowley is leading this group into a great uninhabited frontier.

Their first team squad boasts a competitive roster, including experienced Wakefield Trinity Wildcats centre Craig Hall, try-scoring dynamo Liam Kay on the wing, halfback Gary Wheeler, Canadian Rhys Jacks, Illawarra Cutters youngster Blake Wallace, Wales prop Dan Fleming, American national representative Ryan Burroughs, Tongan prop and cult hero Fuifui Moimoi.

Alongside them is Jamaican Nathan Campbell and the Wolfpack’s youngest player, Canadian-born Quinn Ngawati, who played for Toronto a few days after his 17th birthday. Fans pass through the gates- 7,237 in total.

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Established by independent businessmen to gain entry to the English Super League via the lower tiers of the English game, we saw the Toronto Wolfpack emerge.

After winning the third competition in 2017, and moving to the second tier in 2018, we may see this team become a first grade squad in a matter of 12-18 months.

The Rugby League World Cup- the jewel in the crown for our great sport- is co-hosted by Canada and North America in 2025, and it is on the shoulder of these men to continue to spread the message and light the fire of passion for our game throughout this region.

Captains of each team prior to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. Photo Credit: RLWC Official

Three Canadian cities will host games along with North America, but the need for fans to be passionate enough to attend is imperative.

Why has a league not been established, in any way, only seven years out from the World Cup?

In a nation so electrified by a contact sport like the National Football League, how has this not linked into a love for our great game? They both share elements that would interest NFL fans, and even American fans who are not NFL fans.

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If Toronto does not continue to perform and North America still has no knowledge of rugby league before the World Cup, it could be both a financial and public relations disaster.

Recently we saw a website being launched by the consortium seeking approval for a New York-based team. A Boston-based team also has desires to follow New York and Toronto.

The ripple effect could continue into New Jersey, Montreal, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Jacksonville – all viable team locations. We could see a league rival the NFL and see our great game spread internationally.

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Consider the number of college athletes that do not make it professionally: less than two per cent of college players graduate into the NFL.  That leaves an incredible talent pool wanting to become a professional athlete, which American Rugby League can draw from.

To not act now on a league – rather than simply wait to see how the World Cup goes – is a huge risk that may be too large to take on, especially with investors looking to get in now on the new American dream.

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