When London Broncos stunned Toronto Wolfpack to nab a coveted promotion spot to the Super League last season, they had defied the odds – and ruined the party somewhat. A Toronto win would have taken the Super League across the pond for the first time, establishing rugby league’s grip on North America with a team that had competed professionally only since 2017.
But the Broncos would argue that their surprise return to the top flight after a five-year hiatus offers a renewed chance to tap into a pool of potential in another market – England’s neglected South. In a sport predominantly played in the North, the Broncos are the only British team competing in England’s two top leagues that heralds from south of Sheffield.
Head coach Danny Ward says a Super League presence in London offers an opportunity to grow the sport’s profile in the South.
“It’s great for the club to be back and for the game as a whole down in London, for the junior game,” he says. “Fifty per cent of the [Broncos] squad last year came from junior clubs in London and you can’t forget that, the grass roots. We need to work on it and make it strong because it’s just such a big area to cover, it’s not like up North where you’re just covering a city. The amount of travelling these junior clubs take to play games and get to training, it’s a different gravy here, and that’s where the next generation of rugby league players are coming from, so we’ve got a duty as coaches and players to help promote and support it.”