The Canadians are coming

The decision to bring a Canadian team in to League One is an absolute nonsense. There, I’ve said it.

Billed as a pioneering first for sport, a trans-atlantic competition, further details are set to be announced this week. It’s pioneering because no other sport is stupid enough to do it.


There might well be a rich backer in Toronto willing to make it happen, but it’s a completely absurd move and embarrassing for the game.

This is nothing against Canada or the development of rugby league in Canada. It’s not their fault if they’ve asked and ended up with a positive answer from the powers that be.

Nor is it anything against Paul Rowley and the players already signed up – I’m sure they’ll prove to be competitive on the pitch.

But are we really that clueless and we really lacking that much of a plan that we will just say yes to anyone who waves a cheque book?

It’s barely fathomable that we’ve got a French team playing in League One, where an early season match between Oxford and Newcastle attracted just 120 spectators.

The sheer cost of travel is absurd for this level of interest.

While the end goal for Toulouse and Canada ultimately must be Super League, even Super League can barely sustain such travel costs and logistics. The only winners here are the airlines.

What about France? At least Toulouse are on the same continent. But after 10 years of Catalans in Super League, just how much has rugby league developed in France during that time? Answers on a postcard.

What about Wales? You might remember a certain businessman by the name of Leighton Samuel, who bankrolled Celtic Crusaders rise up the leagues and ultimately in to Super League via the licensing system.

After that didn’t go as smoothly as hoped, they moved to Wrexham and pulled out of the top flight in the eleventh hour in 2011. Out of the ashes North Wales Crusaders were born, and they have managed to keep a hard core of around 500 fans. Yet they find themselves again in financial difficulty, cutting players on the eve of the season.

What about Scotland? Steve McCormack has done wonders with the national team, yet we seem no closer to having a semi-professional team north of the border. The country has even been snubbed on the list of Four Nations venues, despite Scotland having the chance to go up against the best in the world. If you can’t sell that, then what hope have you got for the future?

What about Oxford? And Hemel and Gloucestershire. They entered League One in 2013, and seem to be plodding along at the bottom end of a division that is slightly imbalanced by the presence of more and more so-called heartlands clubs. It would be interesting to hear from them whether the experience has been what they thought it would be when they were sold the dream three or so years ago.

What about Bradford? No one has a right to be in Super League, but the Bulls are hardly an advert for what happens to a club when it falls out of the top flight at the moment. Nor are Workington, Oldham, Halifax or others who’ve experienced the so called “Super League dream” and then departed. If a Canada or a France makes it to the top flight, what happens to those that lose out?

The list goes on. Cumbria. Ireland. Other French teams. South Wales Scorpions. London Broncos. A second London team. Newcastle – heck isn’t that what the Magic Weekend is meant to be? Or has that now just become a charity fundraiser?

All the while, the biggest nation in the rugby league world, and the home of the most cash rich league on the planet seems to be doing everything in its power to make a mockery of the international game.

So while part-time players scramble to get a long weekend off work for the 16-hour round trip to Toronto next season, forgive me for scratching my head as to just what the plan is for all this.

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