Wolfpack’s big plans for SBW

first_imgRugby Union Sonny Bill Williams’ number is in – and the Toronto Wolfpack plan to use it to ensure the number is up for staid English rugby league officials. Williams will at this stage wear the No. 21 (teammate Bodene Thompson wants to keep 12 out of superstition) after agreeing to join Super League’s newest club on a deal worth up to $10 million, which gives him a share of the club and a starring role in a Netflix series which the Wolfpack hope will run over three seasons. Sonny Bill Williams’ number is in – and the Toronto Wolfpack plan to use it to ensure the number is up for staid English rugby league officials. Williams will at this stage wear the No 21 (teammate Bodene Thompson wants to keep 12 out of superstition) after agreeing to join Super League’s newest club on a deal worth up to $10 million, which gives him a share of the club and a starring role in a Netflix series which the Wolfpack hope will run over three seasons. But Wolfpack owner David Argyle says he plans to turn Williams’ number into a call-to-arms hashtag: #rugbydisrupters21. This week his CEO Bob Hunter will meet with Super League’s administration and rival club bosses in a combative mood after snaring SBW, and having flagged the pursuit of other rugby union and league stars, understood to be headed by Ben Te’o and Manu Tuilagi. Hunter will ask for the competition’s salary cap to be dramatically altered, for extreme transparency to be introduced and for a rethink on the central distribution of funds. The Canadian franchise also wants the Rugby Football League to positively represent them on the issue of immigration with the UK Home Office. Williams, at the moment, could be refused re-entry to the UK the same way prop Darcy Lussick was last season. Toronto’s players are based in northern England for long stretches of the season, making it a grey area from an immigration perspective. This is especially the case if their families join them – or even seek work. The club believes other sports’ governing bodies in Britain are firm with the Home Office in such situations but the RFL is meek. A declaration that the Wolfpack is a tier-two affiliated company would resolve many of the issues, they believe. Rather than ask for the £2 million ($4m) they voluntarily forgo from TV money, the Wolfpack will ask for where it and other funds are going to be made public. Argyle argues Williams will also help bolster the coffers of each club that hosts matches against the Wolfpack next year – including ‘home’ games transferred to London, York and Leeds – and he is unconvinced those funds will be used wisely. “Fans everywhere need to know the people who are taking a cut of their gate money, their TV subscriptions and merchandise sales are doing what they are charged with doing – growing the game,” he told the Herald from Toronto. “I want this to be grassroots. This is in the interests of all fans that there is greater transparency and those with ambition are not held back. “With this hashtag we want to signal that the fans will hold people accountable from now on – all over the world.” The owner has plans to produce replica Williams jerseys with the hashtag emblazoned across the back. In British rugby league circles, the handing of the Bradford Bulls’ licence to a consortium which went on to almost double the club’s debt has brought the issue of governance and central decision making into sharp focus. Having removed himself from official duties after a racism row, Argyle believes he can utilise the global publicity generated by his signing of Williams to agitate for positive change within the sport. – Sydney Morning Heraldlast_img