The Toronto team, the Wolfpack, has been a success on the field, rolling through League One and earning promotion in its first year. Last year, it narrowly missed another promotion that would have sent it to the top level of rugby league, and it leads the second tier this year.
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Last season, the Wolfpack regularly drew crowds of as many as 6, fans in a league where the average attendance for British teams is closer to 2, New York and Ottawa would also have the opportunity to climb up the league pyramid if they perform well, raising the possibility — or at least the odds — of top-flight British rugby league, or even a British rugby championship, coming to North America. The new New York team will play rugby league, a version of the sport that may be less familiar to Americans than rugby union, the game generally played in American colleges and featured in the quadrennial Rugby World Cup.
Rugby league is a faster, more free-flowing game, with 13 players on a side rather than the player teams used in rugby union and rules that encourage tries the rugby equivalent of touchdowns rather than kicking. The rules also mandate that the ball be turned over to the other team after six tackles, a format similar to the downs of American football. In order to join a British league, New York and Ottawa have agreed to help finance the travel costs of teams visiting from Britain, as Toronto has done, probably through sponsorship.
This is especially necessary because League One is decidedly small-time, with crowds of just a few hundred common at some league matches. The British rugby league season runs from February to October, but because of weather, Toronto always starts its season on the road, delaying its first home game until late April. Try Independent Minds free for 1 month. Independent Minds Comments can be posted by members of our membership scheme, Independent Minds. It allows our most engaged readers to debate the big issues, share their own experiences, discuss real-world solutions, and more.
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