Toronto Wolfpack: Top Six Road Games in Franchise History

The Toronto Wolfpack has had numerous road games in its short history. The Wolfpack, which originated in 2016 thanks to Eric Perez and David Argyle has had a successful run on the road from 2017-20.

Raheem Bashir, who has long covered Toronto for Last Word on Rugby, picks out some of the best moments in Wolfpack history. Remember that this is an opinion piece. Everyone has a different top six and some Wolfpack and rugby league fans will disagree with this list. You can let us know what you think on LWOS Boards.

Top Six Road Games in Toronto Wolfpack History

  1. London Broncos – Challenge Cup Fourth Round (2017)

The Toronto Wolfpack, which was in League 1 at the time, was facing the London Broncos. The Wolfpack were underdogs in this game as the Broncos was one of the top Championship teams that year. As Paul Rowley, Wolfpack coach said to the Toronto Star:

“We’re huge underdogs, but we’ll go as confident as ever.”

The Wolfpack shocked the Broncos, and as a result, took a 12-30 lead late in the game. Despite a late surge by the Broncos where they had three tries in 10 minutes, it was too little and too late. The Wolfpack won 26-30 as the Rhys Jacks try ended up being the game-winner.

  1. Leigh Centurions – First-ever Championship Game (2018)

The Toronto Wolfpack’s first-ever game in the Championship was against promotion-favourite the Leigh Centurions. There was a rivalry between the Toronto Wolfpack and the Leigh Centurions in 2018; Wolfpack head coach at the time Paul Rowley was a former Centurions head coach. Furthermore, some of the players at the time playing for the Wolfpack like Ryan Brierley and Liam Kay were former Centurions players.

Yes, the Centurions had a disappointing 2018 Championship season. However, at the start of the 2018 Championship season, many people saw the Centurions as the favourite to get promoted to Super League.

The Wolfpack beat the Centurions at Leigh Sports Village 12-34, a big win for the Toronto club at the time. Liam Kay was the player of the game as he scored three of Toronto’s six tries.

  1. Toronto Wolfpack vs. Toulouse Olympique XIII – Championship Game (2018)

Toulouse Olympique XIII is a top-level Championship team and were also in 2018. Toulouse never lost a home game in 2018 before facing the Toronto Wolfpack. Toronto was the underdogs in this game. The Toronto Wolfpack though started off the game well leading 20-6 over Toulouse Olympique XIII.

Toronto had a 24-12 lead with 19 minutes to go, but Toulouse made it a competitive game. Toulouse, with a strong second-half, made it a tightly-contested game 24-22 affair. However, the Wolfpack with their incredible first half was a big reason why the Wolfpack won the game. More remarkably was their ability to win in France. At that point in the season, Toulouse had never lost a home game. This is a testament to the Toronto Wolfpack and how good they became in only their second season in club history.

  1. Toronto Wolfpack vs. Huddersfield Giants – Challenge Cup Fifth Round (2020)

The last game the Toronto Wolfpack played was against the Huddersfield Giants. The Wolfpack has had trouble winning against Super League teams in the past. They started their inaugural Super League season with six losses while the Giants at that time had four wins and a loss. The Wolfpack was the heavy underdogs in this match.

Ricky Leutele played a big role in scoring those two tries. Furthermore, the other 10 points were scored by Gareth O’Brien. More importantly, the Wolfpack did not allow any points against the Huddersfield Giants.  This allowed the Wolfpack to move on to the sixth round of the Challenge Cup.

It would have been the second time the Wolfpack reached this stage of the Challenge Cup. However, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Wolfpack were forced to withdraw from the 2020 Super League season. This also meant the Wolfpack withdrew from the 2020 Challenge Cup.

  1. Toronto Wolfpack vs. Leeds Rhinos – Super 8’s: The Qualifiers (2018)

For many people, this might be the biggest road game in Toronto Wolfpack history. The defending Super League champions at the time, the Rhinos, struggled in 2018. As a result, they finished in the bottom four of the Super League. They had to then play in the Super 8’s: The Qualifiers to avoid relegation.

For the Wolfpack, this was their first season in the Championship and they had by far the most points. They along with the other three top Championship teams also made it to the Super 8’s: The Qualifiers looking for promotion.

However, the Wolfpack was still the underdogs. They lost to both Super League sides the Salford Red Devils and the Hull Kingston Rovers before facing the Leeds Rhinos. The Rhinos also lost to Hull KR but was able to beat the Red Devils. The Red Devils defeated the Wolfpack by 12 points.

The Wolfpack had a terrific first-half as Rawsthorne scored the go-ahead try in the final few seconds of the first half. Gareth O’Brien converted the kick and the Wolfpack had a 10-12 lead. Both teams had a try each and the game was tied at 16-16. A drop goal was going to determine which team would win the game.

Richie Myler tried to get that game-winning drop goal for the Rhinos but was unable to convert. Gareth O’Brien of the Toronto Wolfpack though got his chance and converted the drop goal. The Wolfpack won 16-17 against the defending Super League champions.

This is what Rowley said about the victory:

“To come to Leeds and win is fantastic, so we are very proud to come to this arena against such quality opposition. This was a monumental day and certainly our biggest victory.”

  1. Toronto Wolfpack vs. Hull FC – First-Ever Game for the Toronto Wolfpack (2017)

Significance of the Game

This is probably the most significant game in Toronto Wolfpack history. It was not the game itself that was important as it was an exhibition game. It was the occasion of the game. On 22 January 2017, the Wolfpack played their first-ever competitive game in club history. This is what Dave Wood said just before the game started:

“Eric Perez, the chief executive of the Toronto Wolfpack had a dream. And today the dream begins to come true. How it plays out over the next few years remains to be seen.”

The game was symbolic as it showed that the dream of Perez having a transatlantic team can come true. However, it was much more than that. Wood also said:

“Not only talking about Toronto, he is talking about Montreal, Chicago, and maybe even New York down the years.”

Three years on and the Ottawa Aces XIII have been established and will play in 2022 in League 1. New York City wants to join in 2022 and Montreal and Vancouver are rumoured to join the RFL (Rugby Football League). It is important to note that all of this would not have happened if not for the Wolfpack.

The Game Itself

The game between the Toronto Wolfpack and Hull FC was quite competitive. In this game, Blake Wallace scored the first try in Toronto Wolfpack history. Craig Hall would convert the kick to take an early 0-6 lead.

However, Hull FC scored 16 straight points to take a 16-6 lead. Hull as a result would never give up a lead. The Wolfpack made the game competitive as Fui Fui Moi Moi scored the second try for the Wolfpack. The score was 20-12 at the end of the first half in favour of Hull FC.

The Wolfpack then tied the game at 20-20. Then Nick Rawsthorne, who at the time was with Hull FC, scored the game-winning try of the game. Rawsthorne would also play for the Wolfpack scoring 27 tries and had 108 points in 34 games played.

Overview of the Top Six Games in Club History

The Toronto Wolfpack has only been around since 2016. However, all clubs start with zero or limited history. With the birth of the Aces this year, the legacy of the Toronto Wolfpack should continue. Unfortunately, the Wolfpack was not accepted back into Super League for 2021. This has made the future of the club uncertain. It is important though to remember their accomplishments. In many of these games, the Wolfpack were the underdogs and were not expected to win.

If the Wolfpack survive, Canada would be the only country outside of the United Kingdom (London) to have its capital city (Ottawa) and financial centre (Toronto) represented with professional rugby league teams in the northern hemisphere. The last time this happened was in the mid-t0-late 1990s when Paris, France had a professional rugby league team. This would be a huge step forward in growing the game of rugby league.

Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images