The new Toronto Wolfpack is back

Toronto, home of the Toronto Wolfpack

The new Toronto Wolfpack began to play on August 12 as the first of many Canada Cup games to be played at Lamport Stadium.. This was the first of eight-nine games announced for Toronto’s well-known rugby league team. There will be many things to discuss with this news, including reasons why they might have left the North American Rugby League.

The new Toronto Wolfpack has returned

Note: The Wolfpack’s first two games in July were postponed. The game on July 22 has not been re-scheduled as of right now, but the game that was supposed to take place on July 8 against the Copperheads RLFC has been rescheduled for September 30, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. ET at Lamport Stadium.

Disregarding that missed opportunity, this new Toronto Wolfpack are planning to be a professional rugby league organisation.

When reading the below statement out of Canada Rugby League, it is clear from that body that this new version of the Wolfpack wants to be seen as a professional rugby league team.

It is important though not to expect the same kind of salaries then the Wolfpack had from 2016-21, when they were part of the RFL [with that organisations budgeted player salaries]; as hinted by the Toronto Wolfpack:

“We are not the same Wolfpack you previously knew. In 2021, we bought the image and branding from the previous owner. While we maintained the team name and logo, we are a completely different club–logistically, financially, and operationally–than the one that was under the former ownership. We are not associated with that era of the Wolfpack in any way. We are your new Toronto Wolfpack.”

The salaries are probably going to be less than at the time the Wolfpack was in the RFL – this is a reality now, as the Toronto team does not have a league to play in as of right now. It is probably fair to call this a Toronto Wolfpack 2.0 organisation, as it is going to be remarkably different than the former Toronto Wolfpack franchise. They are two entirely different entities.

While that may be true, it is the opinion of this writer that this new Wolfpack team has kept the history of the old Wolfpack team, since the new ownership group bought the team’s name and logo from the previous ownership group.

The Toronto Wolfpack has left the North American Rugby League

The North American Rugby League had their own problems and stakeholders are well aware of those. This is what the Atlanta Rhinos owner Nick Newlin said on the Rugby League in America podcast about the NARL:

“And, you know, we had trust in them at the beginning. And I think by you know, by mid-last year, mid-2022, a lot of that was gone. And certainly, now it’s a lot of that trust is gone.”

It is unknown why the Toronto Wolfpack left the NARL, but it is clear that there were problems with the NARL. The Wolfpack themselves kind of hinted at that last year when talking about the NARL business model. It is unfortunate, however, when a league that started off with 14 teams ends up with only four teams and is now likely defunct. Little of the blame for that should be placed at the feet of the Wolfpack though. This is one of the reasons why this writer thinks that giving the Wolfpack ‘another chance’ is important, as the Toronto team is no longer part of the NARL league.

Also, some credit should be given to The Cycling Rugby League Fan, who played a role in the Wolfpack opening up on social media.

Macron and the new Toronto Wolfpack kit

Macron is an Italian sporting apparel company. Rugby league fans may not know this, but Macron has a notable history in Canadian sports right now. They provide the kits for the eight teams in the Canadian Premier League. The logos of all eight teams are provided by this link from the Footy Headlines. It is known as the “European leader in the production of active apparel,” (source: The Bolton News).

They also provide kits for Canada Rugby League and Rugby Canada (rugby union) national teams as well as other Super League teams like the Catalan Dragons and the Wakefield Trinity. Macron also does kits in other sports like cricket and handball.

What does the new Toronto Wolfpack return mean for the Greater Toronto Area?

It means that two of three sports in the second wave of Canadian sports are making a return in 2023. The GT20 Canada league, which started in 2018, has not played a match in Canada since 2019. It is ironic that both the Wolfpack and the GT20 Canada league are coming back for a significant amount of games in 2023.

Also, looking at the Canada Rugby League rugby statement, Toronto will once again have both a professional rugby league and a professional rugby union team. The Arrows have done a fabulous job and have created a fantastic atmosphere at York Lions Stadium.

‘New Toronto Wolfpack’ has a new head coach and player roster

With the departure of Matt Wyles, the Wolfpack had to find themselves a new head coach. That head coach ended up being Robin Legault. Legault is known as a teacher and coach at Chaminade College. Legault plans to use his experience as a coach for both football and rugby as a way to help him with coaching the Toronto rugby league team:

“In order to get the best out of an athlete, you have to get to know them on a personal level and build a relationship. This will shape the way I run the team by understanding what a Wolfpack represents: Friendship, Family, and Loyalty.”

In addition, the Wolfpack has two assistant head coaches, both Steve Piatek and Henry Miers. Some Canadian rugby league fans might be familiar with Miers, who was the assistant coach for the Canada Wolverines in the World Cup qualifiers. Lastly, there is Piatek, who has experience in rugby league coaching the U6 team with the Haldimand Wolfpack.

There is a lot to be excited for as the Wolfpack makes a triumphant return to Lamport Stadium this year. Yes, the Wolfpack will need to regain the trust of fans, who have been burned way too many times with both the Toronto team and especially the NARL. However, the Wolfpack might be the most well-known club brand in either rugby league or union in North America and there is huge potential for this team and club.

A player Arrows fans might be familiar is Matt Fish. Fish is a 6’3″ is a graduate of the Arrows Academy program and was a consistent member of the 2022 Arrows Academy team. Another player to watch is Jason Park. Park scored in the first half of Saturday’s game against the Whistler Wolves and also in 2021 against DC Cavalry.

There is also Canada national team player (nicknamed the Canada Wolverines) of the rugby league team, Scyler Dumas, who is also part of the team.

The new Toronto Wolfpack returning overview

The Wolfpack and Canada Rugby League fans have been through a lot. First, the Ottawa Aces XIII was no more when they relocated to Cornwall, England because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, the silence from the Wolfpack and the NARL in the last few years has made some fans give up on the return of the team.

Now though, it seems like the Wolfpack 2.0 is getting ready to come back.

With the recent social media posts made by the Wolfpack recently, and the game coming on July 8, it is fair to say now that the team has returned.

The first game for the Wolfpack was played at 6:00 p.m. ET against the Whistler Wolves on August 12. Their next game will be against the Atlanta Rhinos, also a former NARL team. That game will take place at 6:00 p.m. ET. These two teams will meet again on September 16 at the same time. Additionally, the Wolfpack will get to face the DC Cavalry team, another former NARL team, who the Wolfpack faced in 2021. That game will be on September 2.

All games will be at 6:00 p.m. ET and every single Wolfpack game this year will take place at Lamport Stadium. It will be broadcast by Wiistream and it will be shown on Howl TV. The schedule for the rest of the games can be seen near the top of the article.


Photo Credit: Nigel, CC BY 2.0