Rugby·Analysis

Wolfpack chasing its own slice of Canadian sports history

The Wolfpack are home and ready to entertain for the most of the rest of the summer. It is a team of highly-skilled players, motivated to climb the next ladder of the sport and join the elite Super League next year. As Nigel Reed writes, their perfect record at home will be put to the test on Saturday when they host Toulouse - the only team to have beaten them this season.

Toronto aiming to be 1st Canadian franchise to earn Super League promotion

Liam Kay, shown at left in this file photo, helped lead a drubbing of the Toronto Wolfpack's competition last weekend. He and his teammates may face a stiffer challenge when they host Toulouse on Saturday. (File/Getty Images)

It is finally over.

Champions have been crowned and victory parades have been celebrated.

In a couple of days it will be summer. Time to kick back, relax, and forget about sports for a while.

It is hard work being a sports fan. Those endless winter months riding up and down on the emotional rollercoaster. Lucky we've got the long, dog days of summer ahead to recharge and rest up for next season.

Enjoy the break but don't forget about this season. The one that's on right now. 

There's just no escaping the responsibility of being a fan. The calendar is seemingly full 12 months of the year. The sports may change but our devotion to the cause endures.

Everyone wants a piece of us. Baseball, Canadian football, and soccer are just a few of the pro sports trying to tempt us out to the stadium. If that's not doable they will settle for us watching from the sofa.

In Toronto, you can add Rugby League to the list. A relatively inexpensive ticket gets you into a Wolfpack game with the added attraction of an extensive beer garden ready and willing to quench your thirst.

The Wolfpack is home and ready to entertain for the most of the rest of the summer. It is a team of highly-skilled players, motivated to climb the next ladder of the sport and join the elite Super League next year.

'Defend the Den'

The team has built a modest but loyal army of supporters over the last couple of years. They certainly contribute to a vibrant gameday atmosphere at Lamport Stadium which has become a home fortress.

The Wolfpack has yet to lose a home game this year. That proud record may well be put to the test this weekend when it hosts its chief promotion rival. Toulouse — the only team to beat the Wolfpack this season — is coming to Toronto on Saturday (CBCSports.ca, 1 p.m. ET).

The Frenchmen used home advantage to hammer the Wolfpack in early March. Toronto returned the favour when the two met on neutral territory in the U.K. last month. This is the final regular season head to head and possibly a full dress rehearsal for the promotion showdown itself.

The Wolfpack is primed for the challenge. It has won 11 straight games and currently sits on a very comfortable eight-point cushion atop the Betfred Championship. It is virtually a one-horse race for first place. 

But that's only half the battle. If, as seems almost certain, Toronto finishes top of the standings its reward is a bye in the first round of the revived page playoff system. The Wolfpack would also get a second chance if it was to lose its first semifinal.

For now, the mental and physical focus is on beating Toulouse again. Wolfpack head coach Brian McDermott knows how much of a psychological advantage that might prove to be if these two meet again in the Championship Grand Final.

Toulouse, of course, has its own agenda. The French team will want to keep it close in Toronto to show the Wolfpack it cannot expect to stroll into Super League at the end of the season. If Toulouse can sow a seed of doubt, its weekend excursion will be deemed a success.

Toronto has already witnessed one giant victory parade. The Raptors became Canada's team in a fairytale run to the NBA Championship. In some way, albeit on a much smaller scale, the Wolfpack is chasing its own slice of Canadian sports history.

Perhaps it's time to jump on a new bandwagon while there is still space available.

About the Author

Nigel Reed

Analyst

Nigel has spent more than 30 years covering a wide variety of sports in both Canada and Europe. He has worked on multiple Olympic Games and World Cups, specializing in soccer, rugby and golf. In recent years he has broadcast Major League Soccer, Rugby Canada, Toronto Wolfpack and the 2015 Pan Am Games.