Toronto flying across the Atlantic just to play rugby
Today the top news in Canada: Toronto FC in the MLS final, the first time a Canadian team has won the Eastern Final and will play in the Championship. It’s a fact. There are rumours that Montreal will be re-entering the MLB and Vancouver is set to re-join NBA. Today Toronto is the only Canadian city with a team in MLB, NBA, NHL, and MLS; next year there’s going to be another Toronto: Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto FC will be sitting next to Toronto Wolfpack, the first transatlantic sports team, aka the first sports team that crosses the Atlantic just to play in a league – the RFL (Rugby Football League).
Just south of Queen St, between Bay St. and Dufferin St, Lamport Stadium, The Den, will join BMO Field, Air Canada Centre and Roger’s Centre as home ground for a Toronto team. Rugby is in the vocabulary of many Torontonians but what’s missing? The Laws
Often rugby is compared to Canadian Football – CFL; they have some similarities but rugby is more popular worldwide and often considered more physical and intense.
Soccer/Football laws are governed by FIFA; rugby laws are set by World Rugby. With the exception of golf, the aim of rugby is like any other sport: get a higher number on the score board than the opposing team. To score a point a player has to get a ball across the score line. Like CFL the goal line is behind the goal posts. There are multiple ways to score.
- The Try. Have the ball in your hand and run past the goal line. You get 5 points and your team gets a chance at a Conversion Kick.
- The Conversion Kick is 1 point. It’s taken from a spot on the field that is perpendicular to where the Try was scored and within 90 seconds of the Try. A teammate can hold the ball for the kicker, drop it or leave it on the ground. If a team wants to they can decline the Conversion Kick
- For some penalties the team is awarded a Penalty Kick. They can attempt to score 3 points.
- If a player drops the ball, kicks it as it bounces and gets it through the cross bars the team is awarded 3 points for a Dropped Goal.
Rugby is often compared to American Football. Like CFL rugby allows tackling. Rugby Tackles, when a player is “brought to the ground”, both knees are on the ground, are only allowed on the player holding the ball. If a player is tackled he has to release the ball – drop it, pass it to a teammate, or throw it away. Exception: tackled past the score line or near the score line; if a player is close enough he can score a Try even if he’s tackled – keep the ball in his hand and put his hand past the goal line. Unlike CFL the rugby players are less protected. They are required to wear shin guards and are allowed to wear a mouth guard but they’re not allowed to wear helmets.
On September 20, 2019 the Rugby World Cup will be in Japan. In the Americas Argentina has qualified; Guyana and Mexico have a chance. Canada and USA don’t have a team.
The Toronto Wolfpack’s season-opener of 25 games is on January 22, 2017 at Kingston Communications Stadium in Hull, England. Their home-opener of 14 games at Lamport Stadium is on May 6.
Once upon a time the Blue Jays’ chirps were barely heard outside Toronto. Now their wings are spread. The Raptors were crawling, each year near extinction. Today their roar is known across the NBA. The question now: will the Toronto Wolfpack attack as a pack and howl or just stand and growl?