Super League 8s - Toronto Wolfpack Set For History Against London Broncos, Oct 7

  • Toronto Wolfpack Rugby League side can create history
  • London Broncos desperate to save face and fate
Wolfpack in white vs London Broncos in red

Some Australian corporates such as Sportsbet, Ladbrokes and Beteasy will operate markets for the biggest Rugby League match ever played in Canada this weekend.


And it's the most significant as well.

In the Toronto city suburb of Exhibition, at Lamport Stadium to be precise, a cultural, physical and athletic paradigm shift is about to occur on appropriately....Thanksgiving day.

October 7 at 2pm (Canada Time - but on at 4am Monday Australian time), again precision of fact is important.

For on that day, the newly formed, the unlikely heroes of Canadian sport, the Toronto Wolfpack, the sole architects of this pending tipping point, will battle for a place in sporting history. 

Meaning, they are but one game, or 80mins away from changing the landscape of sport in Canada.

Simply put - if the Toronto Wolfpack Rugby League side win their match at Lamport against the visiting London Broncos of England, they earn the right to play in the English Super League for season 2019.

Blue Jays fans, even Leafs and Argo lovers, might see that as just a trite statement, "Ok so what?" But it's not.

It's singularly a greater achievement than the Raptors making the NBA or the Jays being included into the MLB.

Maybe not more significant, but certainly more Herculian. Why?

Because the game of Rugby League (unlike baseball and basketball) was never ever even a consideration, or a possibility on a large scale in the lives of every North American dating back to 1895. Never.

Oh, 1895 is when the birth of Rugby League, the game of finesse and in equal share brutality which the Wolfpack play so well, was first played in England. 

It's one of two games with the word rugby in its coding. Rugby Union is the other. 

It was the father of the game, but Rugby League was formed when in 1895, a break away group thought it only fair to start paying its players.

Because of the split, its rules were then gradually changed in order to produce a more entertaining game that would appeal to spectators. And it certainly has done that.

Rugby League has always been considered the toughest, most physically demanding of all team sports, because of its man on man collisions with no padding or helmets or protection.

The game holds a significant place in the culture and heritage of the areas where it is mostly played. 

And premier among these are the The English Super League and the big daddy of them all, the Australian National Rugby League (NRL). Just last weekend in Australia they held their Grand Final - the Grey Cup of their NRL season in front of 72,000 fans on hand and a TV audience of 8 million.

As Rugby league fans know, the game is played internationally, predominantly by European, Australasian and Pacific countries, and is governed by the Rugby League International Federation. The current World Cup holders are Australia.

So for a team to spring up from a North American base is as unlikely as an NHL team arising from say Bermuda, or Gibraltar or Monaco...you get the gist.

It was never in the cards, never meant to be, never even contemplated....until a Canadian sat down in 2016 with a cashed up Australian rugby loving mining magnate and over a beer asked that one most important of all questions: "why not?"

Plans were drawn up, sponsors were sought, then negotiations with the city of Ontario took place, players from Australia and England were sounded out, and well, the improbable became probable, a team in Toronto was created.

And even then, in the plush offices of those who run the NRL and the English Super League, the thought of a North American team ever being creative, talented, skilled enough to compete at the highest club levels, was frowned upon.

The Wolfpack were 'allowed' to compete in a lowly ranked 3rd tier competition, only because lurking in the souls of those who run Rugby League globally is this innate desire to have the game go global - much like soccer now is.

What followed was completely unexpected.

The Wolfpack, with it's renowned English coach, Paul Rowlings and its Australian captain Josh McCrone guiding this newly formed band of battle-hardened Aussies and Poms, they beat up on everyone in that 3rd Division competition, forcing their way into the higher 2nd Division comp this year. That would be in baseball parlance...a Triple A league. And they did the same thing.

That brought them to the door step of the Super 8s, a Rugby League elevation/relegation competition with the ultimate prize: admission into the Super league for the following year.

The bottom 4 finishing teams of the regular 2018 Super League season, joined forces in this Super 8s comp with the top 4 sides from the 2nd Division competition.

Are you still following?

The Toronto Wolfpack were one of those sides and now, after all 7 games in the Super 8s concluded last weekend, the Wolfpack sit on the precipice of history.

"We win, we're in," smiled Scott Lidbury CEO of Football Operations at the Wolfpack. "This was always a 5-year plan but now we are only one win away just two years into our evolution. Just one win, and that game is in Toronto."

So, can they beat the London Broncos?

Well, they played them at Lamport just 4 weeks ago and kinda thrashed them. Put 30 points on them in the first half alone! London finished 5th in the Super 8s, so yes - the 'Pack can win.

And as we've seen from the demise of the Blue Jays and Argos this year, Torontonians need a team to cheer. A good team.

Rising from nothing and making the Super League may not be considered one of humanities' greatest achievements to the masses, but to some it would be.

Certainly when looked at in perspective, Gutenberg's creation of the printing press -- probably the most important invention in history, with language itself, writing, and the alphabet, being bigger.

Actually if we look at paradigm shifts or other achievements of global significance, we think of Handel writing the Messiah in 23 days in 1742.

Milton's Paradise Lost.

Sir Isaac Newton's Principia.

Paul's epistle to the Romans.

Tim Berners-Lee inventing the internet.

Einstein's Annus Mirabilis Papers which in 1905 were published on four different subjects that changed our understanding of the universe forever.

Michelangelo's David.

Leonardo's Sketchbook.

The unnamed Neanderthal man who looked at a wild wheat field and saw a loaf of bread in his mind, and did all the complicated things necessary to realize his vision. His colleague who had the idea to deliberately put a seed into the ground and wait for something to grow.

The NHL records of Canada's immortal hockey star Wayne Gretzky - all of these changed lives more profoundly than what the Wolfpack will do this weekend.

But in 75 years, when Canada is a global powerhouse of Rugby League, and kids in all Canadian schools are playing the game as readily as hockey, this paradigm shift at Lamport Stadium this Thanksgiving Day weekend will be honoured a little more fervently.

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Super League 8s - Toronto Wolfpack Set For History Against London Broncos, Oct 7

Ric Chapman previews the ENORMOUS Super 8s match between the London Broncos and the Toronto Wolfpack.

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