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Sports & Play

Rubgy league action at Lamport needs more fan support

Posted by Roger Cullman / September 10, 2012

rugby league torontoIn Canada Rugby League action, the United States Tomahawks prevailed 28-24 over team Canada Wolverines in a hard-fought game at Lamport Stadium on Saturday night in game one of the Colonial Cup series.

This was my third rugby game, having seen the Wolverines take on the Jamaican Reggae Warriors and the Lebanon Cedars recently.

Canada Rugby League United States TomahawksAs I got to the stadium, I heard over the loudspeaker, "Are you ready for rugby league?" in a booming voice. Silence. Then came, "Are you ready for the toughest team sport?" A few cheers. Then, "Are you ready for the Greatest Game of All?" A few more cheers. Then Springsteen's "Born in the USA" began to play.

After raining on and off all day, the lacklustre crowd size -- and resulting barely auditory crowd enthusiasm -- wasn't surprising at the outset. But the rain held off and the audience grew more vocal as the game progressed. As the Star Spangled Banner played before the start of the game, the team just stood in line, kind of stoic but not singing along. I almost wondered if they'd forgotten the words?

Canada Rugby League United States TomahawksThe United States rugby team were a burly bunch, overall much stockier and (except for #5, but more on him later) less pretty than Team Canada Wolverines. I was impressed with their speed and agility, and they got off to an early 12-0 lead -- I began to wonder if the Wolverines had it in them to keep up.

Canada Rugby League vs United States TomahawksThe Tomahawks' player #5 -- with his odd leg-sleeve (pant leg?) tattoo and blonde mullet -- drew lots of jeers from the group of guys sitting to my left. Canada almost caught up, bringing the score to 16-14.

Canada Rugby League vs United States TomahawksBut soon enough, #5 (they don't put their names on their jerseys) put us all in awe after he evaded several Wolverine players to stride across half the field for a try, bringing the score back up to 22-14. "Nice shoes, Number Five!" taunted one of the fans. For the record, his shoes were a bold mix of fuchsia and yellow.

Canada Rugby League vs United States TomahawksThere were lots of heavy smack-downs and I was surprised nobody was seriously injured. A St. John Ambulance truck was parked at the south-west corner of the stadium, just in case.

Canada Rugby League vs United States TomahawksThe Wolverines' #13 seemed to pull his hamstring and was seen given a rubdown by the water boy, but he sprung back into action and the game went on. Same for one US player who appeared to have dislocated his shoulder and winced in pain after a particularly rough tackle.

20120906_Rugby8.jpgThe Wolverines' #3 scored a couple of tries to bring up the score to 28-24 with just over a minute left, making for an exciting endgame. But unfortunately it was too little, too late.

Canada Rugby League vs United States TomahawksTeam Canada Wolverines fans can look forward to their next home game against the England Lions on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. Roger Cullman Photography.



Mike / September 10, 2012 at 09:02 am
Rugby League =/= Rugby Union.

And herein lies the problem.
Foghorn O'Kalashnikov / September 10, 2012 at 09:48 am
Yeah, rugby league is a minority sport in several countries in which union is a major, national one (like my own country, Ireland). Having said that I'm always sad when I see sporting events like this have happened and I had no idea. They should advertise like crazy, you're average sports-mad person on the street would be glad to know it's on. What does a billboard on the Gardiner/Lakeshore cost?
the lemur / September 10, 2012 at 10:20 am
People here barely know that there are two types of rugby to begin with. Or, as the headline calls it, 'rubgy'.
Daniel / September 10, 2012 at 11:30 am
Actually, not a bad turnout of fans, considering how young the sport is in Canada. Judging by the report above, a good match too.
mark / September 10, 2012 at 11:43 am
Good to see a competitive game....shame that the report is written by an inexperienced writer that tries to critize where possible. The actual attendence was reported as 4,500 which for Canada is a strong crowd in RL, in fact it would have been well received by Rugby Canada who could certainly learn from CRL and also the game of Rugby League
Dan / September 10, 2012 at 01:26 pm
I would have gone to this if I had know about it. And as stated above, most people need to learn rugby (union) and rugby league are two different sports, just like baseball and softball are.
rob / September 10, 2012 at 02:01 pm
A minority sports in countries where union is a major sport? Do you mean like in Australia where the National Rugby League have just gained a BILLION dollar tv deal and is a far bigger sport than Union. Or maybe you mean England where club games get about the same average attandance but club Rugby League games get better viewing figures on TV than Union club games do? Even in New Zealand league is on the rise and the New Zealan Warriors get very good attendances dispite not having the best of seasons in the NRL.Not trying to start a League v Union argument but I wish people would get their facts right.
boz / September 10, 2012 at 05:37 pm
Lol at foghorn. Stick to talking about guiness or potatoes because you have no idea about rugby league.
Fraz74 / September 10, 2012 at 06:19 pm
I am surprised League has never took off more in the US, as a game I thought it would be right up American audiences street. Full contact support, fairly structured with plenty of stats, almost similar to gridiron.

Good the gospel is being spread and it would be great for the SL or NRL to do more to boost the game in the US. Perhaps having tour to the States and Canada with development sides, similar to the Churchill Cup in Union.
Mikeb / September 10, 2012 at 07:55 pm
I would be interested to know the paying attendance. I was at the Jamaica game and the stadium was full with people who had receive free tickets.
Joey / September 10, 2012 at 08:54 pm
"Rubgy league action at Lamport needs more fan support"

There was little fan support because rugby league is inferior to rugby union. No one wants to watch rugby league, except for a select group of people who enjoy supporting "the unpopular thing" because it means it's obviously better.
Foghorn O'Kalashnikov replying to a comment from boz / September 10, 2012 at 08:56 pm
I know I have very little idea about rugby league, I said as much in my comment boz, did you read it? But as a general sports fan (and participant) I would be interested to attend events like this if they got a bit more pre-match publicity. Hell I had a great time at a judo tournament recently. And I assume the players would like a bigger audience not just league diehards. Hence what I wrote, what's your point with the stupid guinness crap?
Boris / October 9, 2012 at 09:35 pm
I was there good game. The far support is rising, it will take time but give a honest go you might like it.
Bongo / November 2, 2012 at 11:49 am
Wow didn't even know about this in TO. Thanks for the heads up!
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