Canada Rugby League president Bob Jowitt has welcomed the news that the country will have a second professional rugby league side after it was announced earlier this week that Ottawa Aces will take their place in Betfred League 1 in 2021, joining Toronto Wolfpack who play in Betfred Super League and last night qualified for the quarter finals of the Coral Challenge Cup.
“The CRLA is delighted to welcome the Aces,” he said. “Having a second professional rugby league team in Ontario further raises the profile of the sport in Canada. Eric Perez, founder of the Ottawa Aces, has been in communication with the CRLA with respect to potential collaborative ventures which are anticipated to see the growth of the domestic game.
“With the Canada Ravens women’s team scheduled to compete in the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, the Wolfpack making further strides including signing an agreement with the Pro-X Rugby Academy in Calgary, and the strengthening of the America’s Championship it is an exciting time for supporters of Canadian rugby league.” Jowitt added.
RLEF General Manager Chris Thair said "There is a vibrancy coming out of the Americas at the moment that all rugby league fans should be very excited about. Each area has their own strength however it is important to games continued development that the bonds between grassroots, professional clubs and the international game get stronger each year. The admission of Ottawa into the professional ranks is another huge step forward for the Canada and the Americas."
Three of the country’s ten provinces - Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia - have rugby league competitions run by their own boards. In Ontario in 2019, Toronto City Saints beat Brantford Broncos to be crowned provincial champions, new junior sides, Georgina Griffins and Haldimand Wolfpack are now active, and a Masters tournament for over 35s was recently held.
Ontario Rugby League recently appointed a new board of directors and has plans to introduce two new women’s teams in 2020. They are also active in four junior schools, have interest from two high schools and in September ran level one and two coaching courses in Brampton led by the RLEF head of coaching, Martin Crick.
In Alberta, BC Bulldogs defeated Alberta Broncos in the men’s provincial final, whilst the women’s teams battled to a 26-26 draw in theirs.
The most grassroots rugby league takes place in British Columbia. In a five team men’s competition, Coastal Cougars recently defeated Grey Point Thunder in their Grand Final. Last year saw a successful period of growth for BCRL as the sport was introduced into a university environment, UBC, for the first time and an inaugural high school tournament was run, with McMath Secondary School crowned champions.
Internationally, the Ravens recently came back from a successful joint tour to Serbia with the men’s team, on which they beat the hosts twice. The men’s team are set to play in this autumn’s Americas Championship alongside Jamaica, USA and Chile.
Toronto hosted the Americas 9s last year at the Wolfpack’s Lamport Stadium alongside junior and Masters activities on the day, the event live-streamed.
The Canada Rugby League Association is planning a second East v West trial game for national team after the first was successfully held under canvas in Toronto at the start of this year.
CRLA annual turnover increased from $50k to $116k in the last year; player registration fees, sponsorship and a deal with the Watch NRL streaming service making up their core income.
Should you wish to support rugby league in Canada in any way then please contact CRLA President Bob Jowett. firstname.lastname@example.org
Canada now has two professional rugby league clubs in Toronto Wolfpack who play in the Super League competition and Ottawa Aces who join the RFL’s League 1 from 2021.
World Cup winner and rugby superstar Sonny Bill Williams plays for Toronto Wolfpack.
Toronto Wolfpack RLC play out of the 9600 capacity Lamport Stadium in Canada’s largest city, Toronto, home to 5.5m people and a host of major professional sports clubs.
Ottawa Aces RLC will play out of the 24,000 capacity TD Place Stadium in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa-Gatineua with 1m people.
The two professional rugby league clubs are based in the province called Ontario which is situated in the east of Canada and holds 40% of nations population with 14.6 million people and ample commercial opportunities.
Canada’s national women’s team, the Ravens will play in the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
Canada’s national men’s team, the Wolverines, will play in the 2020 Americas Championships in Jamaica and recently toured Serbia.
Canada has a population of 37 million people spread over a huge land mass. Three out of its ten provinces, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia have rugby league competitions.
Men’s Provincial Champions:
Ontario - Toronto City Saints RLC.
Alberta – BC Bulldogs RLC
British Columbia - Coastal Cougars RLC
Ottawa in Ontario is also only 200km from the nations second biggest city with 3.5m people, Montreal, which is on the southern tip of the French speaking Quebec province. So the links with Europe only get stronger.
The Western provinces of Canada hold the nations other big population areas, namely the nations third, fourth and fifth largest cities. Vancouver, population 2.3m, is in the British Columbia province. Calgary 1.2m and Edmonton 1.1m are in the province of Alberta which also holds the registered office of the Canada Rugby League Association.