Dual governance is hurting rugby league, claims Toronto Wolfpack coach Brian McDermott

Toronto coach Brian McDermott says his club are the victims of a civil war in rugby league.

The former Leeds Grand Final-winning boss made the claim during a media briefing the club called to launch a hardship fund for players and staff who have not been paid for seven months and are now out of work.

The Wolfpack’s bid to gain re-admission to Super League for 2021 was rejected by the Super League board two weeks ago.

The Canadian club had the support of the Rugby Football League and three clubs but were blocked by Super League itself and seven of its teams.

And McDermott says Toronto were caught up in the crossfire between the rival governing bodies.

“This isn’t about Toronto Wolfpack,” McDermott said. “It’s almost like we’ve got a civil war going on and Toronto Wolfpack is the stick that each governing body is trying to beat each other with.

“This really highlights how the dual governance is hurting the game. They don’t seem to be speaking to each other.”


Martin Vickers, the Wolfpack’s UK business manager, told the briefing that several clubs – enough to sway the vote – had offered to back Toronto’s re-application if they agreed to take half the central funding instead of insisting on a full allocation.

The clubs are also thought to have been swayed by an independent report into the viability of rugby league in Canada commissioned by Super League, but that report has been condemned by former St Helens and England forward Jon Wilkin – whose career was ended prematurely by Toronto’s withdrawal from Super League in July.

“The game became obsessed with proving that Toronto Wolfpack maybe wasn’t viable and therefore any report you commission would be to prove that point,” Wilkin said.

“You find the evidence that suits the way you view the world. If there’s ever a time to produce such a report, that’s before they get entered into the league. Once you are in the league, you’re part of the family.”

McDermott, Vickers, Wilkin and Toronto chairman Bob Hunter are behind a GoFundMe campaign that aims to initially raise £30,000 which will be shared between the club’s 50 players and staff based in the UK and Canada.

READ: Toronto launch GoFundMe campaign to support Wolfpack players and staff

Vickers says the club received a one-off payment of £30,000 jointly made by the RFL and Super League which was shared out among the players but also revealed Toronto were excluded from a £25,000 dividend distributed to each of the other 11 clubs from pay cuts taken by executive chairman Robert Elstone and the rest of the Super League executives.

“Threequarters of the clubs said no and we’re very grateful to the three clubs who did share it with us,” Vickers said.

“It would have meant a difference of £2,000 per club and probably set the tone for how this developed.”

Vickers says the club will continue to push owner David Argyle to meet his personal obligations on unpaid wages and has not ruled out taking legal proceedings, although the RFL says it is confident that will not be necessary.

“David Argyle is not off the hook,” Vickers said. “Alongside the RFL, we will be pursuing David Argyle with as much passion as we are launching this fund.”

A statement from the governing body said: “The RFL have been in dialogue with both the club and David Argyle, setting out the outstanding sums that are due and reserving the right to take legal action, in the event that such sums are not paid.

“There has been an acknowledgement from Mr Argyle that the sums are due and, therefore, it is hoped that such legal action will not be necessary.”

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  1. The Rfl should be in charge of both the super league and clubs registered to the rfl if super league do not want to follow the rules then withdraw their membership You can not have it both ways any monies should be dealt with by the governing body not the super league There appears to be certain owners who are looking at their own interest not for the good of the game Total disgrace yes Toronto should have had some sanctions points deducted but not flatly refused What about other clubs that have not been able to complete games because of Covid they have still received central funding Toronto have had to take it on the chin with no central funding Now is the time for the Rfl to take overhaul charge from super league and get rid of elastonebr you are either a member of the Rfl or not

  2. Your a victim of a poorly run club , making rotten deals with the RFL and super league , poor owner , poor chairman poor committee and badly financed by the old owner , buying to many players , buying to many over priced players , lack of common sense , no business common sense , running out of money going bust . That’s some of reasons you were kicked out the game . Until you can except your responsibility for what happened your going nowhere . Unless you can except your responsibility fix them and but them right you’ll never get the problems sorted . So you can have another crack at the sport even starting in div 1 . You have ruined the sport for your fans and supporters of this great game because of your greed and short cuts to reach the higher levels of our sport in the shortest possible time and it’s blown up in your faces . You can’t buy success, you earn it by experience, building up slowly , with passion, loyalty, pride you build you club base on solid foundation like concrete and not on a foundation of sand so it topples over at first sign of trouble . If any Toronto fans or rugby fans can’t agree with anything I’ve written here then that’s your opinion keep safe everybody

  3. It’s all true you just can’t accept it that’s the problem and. They’ll never sort it unless they accept their part in the situation and you know fine well I’m not talking rubbish , so the old chairman never said he couldn’t afford to put any more into the team them and the man who wanted to be the new owner never said super league or bust then guess what BUSTED .

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