By Darryl G. Smart
Chuck Curran and Greg Wise have been playing rugby together for about 10 years now. And on Saturday night, the pair of local rugby players got to hoist up a trophy at the highest level for their sport.
After a 42-6 victory over the DC Cavalry, Curran, Wise and the Toronto Wolfpack won its inaugural North American Rugby League game. And in the process they captured the first-ever Canada Cup.
“Getting the opportunity to play in the Canada Cup and represent the Toronto Wolfpack was a great experience and an opportunity I would have never thought I would have,” Curran said. “It was an amazing start to building the game more in North America and a showcase of the talent that is here. It was the ultimate reward for all the hard work that has been put in by all the boys over the last 11 months.”
The Wolfpack originally competed in the British rugby league system’s top-tier, the Super League, and were the first team in North America to ever do so. But after the COVID-19 pandemic left the team in financial trouble, new ownership took over and the team now competes in North America, and will begin regular season play in 2022. They are in the NARL Eastern Conference, along with the Atlanta Rhinos, Brooklyn Kings, Boston Thirteens, Cleveland RL, New York Freedom, DC Cavalry, and Ottawa Aces. The Western Conference features the Austin Armadillos, Las Vegas Blackjacks, Phoenix Venom, Portland Loggers, San Diego Swell, and San Francisco Rush.
The Canada Cup game was just another step for the local pair to attempt to snatch a professional contract with the Wolfpack next season.
“We’ve been practicing and trialing for about 11 weeks now and it was great to see the hard work pay off, with a ton of Canadian players,” Wise said. “For me, it’s been a roller coaster with COVID stuff as I’ve been trying to prepare for an opportunity like this since about February 2020.”
And playing in front of the rabid Wolfpack fans, many of which from the Norfolk Harvesters and Iroquois Roots Rugby pushed both players.
“I have played in front of crowds at Lamport Stadium while playing for the Wolverines, but this crowd was just another level,” Curran said. “The dedication of the Wolfpack fans is next level, even after everything that happened under the previous regime, the fans are still loyal.”
Both players said being able to share the moment and experience with each other has made it that much more special.
“We’ve been playing together for about 10 years now and have great chemistry,” Wise said.
“It was an even greater experience being able to do it with Greg,” Curran said. “It was an amazing experience. And to be able to go through the trial together, supporting each other the whole way and then getting the ultimate reward was amazing.”
As for what’s next,
“The league officially starts in may 2022, so for the next eight months we will just continue to train and continue to do what I can to get better and hopefully land a spot with the squad in 2022,” Wise said. ”But for now just really enjoying this moment and the win.”