A Canadian team have set their sights on securing a place in Super League after being formally admitted to the third-tier of the British professional game.
Toronto Wolfpack was launched in Leeds via a video link to the Canadian city, where former Bradford, Wigan and Great Britain coach Brian Noble was confirmed as director of rugby working alongside ex-Leigh boss Paul Rowley as head coach.
The team will play in the Kingstone Press League 1 from next March and take part in the 2017 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.
“Rugby league has always had a pioneering philosophy throughout its history and this initiative offers further evidence of the sport’s wide appeal and readiness to embrace innovation,” said Rugby Football League chief executive Nigel Wood on the video link from Toronto.
The initiative came from Toronto-born businessman Eric Perez, who will become the club’s chief executive, and is financed largely by wealthy Australian businessman David Arygle, a 55-year-old mining investor.
Also on the club’s board will be rugby player-turned-actor Adam Fogerty, who made the initial approach to Noble, who remains the most successful coach in Super League following his spell with Bradford from 2000-06.
“I met Adam over a couple of breakfasts, went to see David Argyle in his apartment in London alongside Eric Perez and I thought I’d love to be a part of it,” Noble said.
“It’s brand new – I’ve done a lot of things in the game but to be involved in this and to take something from nowhere is exciting. Old Trafford is our ambition so it’s hugely appealing.
“I’m very ambitious as we all are. We really want to do it the right way and build it the right way. I’m an expansionist at heart and it’s exciting for this sport.”
The club will not receive central funding from the RFL but are likely to get special dispensation to exceed the salary cap to enable them to run a full-time team and have pledged to cover all costs of visiting teams, who will fly out on a Thursday, play on Saturday and return the following day.
The Canadians squad, which is initially expected to comprise largely of English players, will be based at Bradford Bulls’ training base and fly out to Toronto to play fixtures in four or five-match blocks at the Lamport Stadium.