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Toronto Wolfpack pull out of remainder of rugby’ Super League season

The Toronto Wolfpack won’t be taking the pitch when the Super League season restarts Aug. 2 in England, citing “unexpected and overwhelming financial challenges” due to the global pandemic.

In a statement Monday, the transatlantic club said it won’t compete in the remainder of the 2020 Coral Challenge Cup as “greatly reduced ticket, sponsorship, merchandise and game day revenue streams have resulted from the loss of all 11 of the team’s home Super League games in Toronto.”

Toronto played all of its previous matches this year in England. And it had planned to continue playing games there this season because of travel and other restrictions. The club said it intends to field a team in 2021 and will be working with Super League Europe and the Rugby Football League to understand the process moving into next season.

“This decision has not been taken lightly,” read the Wolfpack statement. “The Wolfpack would be left covering significant additional costs simply to complete a season of games in the U.K. including COVID testing, stadium rentals, medical costs and player pay increases to align with the rest of the league.”

Rugby league authorities, with Super League now down to 10 English clubs and France’s Catalan Dragons and needing to redo a revamped schedule announced just last Thursday, seemed less certain about the future.

Last week, The Canadian Press reported rugby league authorities were working with the Wolfpack to resolve a visa issue that could derail the team’s attempt to resume play in England this summer.

At issue are the visas that permits New Zealand star Sonny Bill Williams and six other imports — Australia’s Josh McCrone, Darcy Lussick and Blake Wallace, Australian-born Samoan international Ricky Leutele and New Zealand’s Chase Stanley and Bodene Thompson — to play in England.

The visas allow for six months in England over a year, which is not a problem when the Wolfpack are spending part of the campaign in Canada.

But the global pandemic has kept the players in England and the visas are slated to expire at the end of the month.

The Wolfpack (0-6-0) hadn’t played since March 11 with play suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. Those games were contested in England, where Toronto had planned to continue playing because of travel and other restrictions.

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