US & Canada

How the world's first transatlantic sports team works

Image copyright Toronto Wolfpack
Image caption The Wolfpack are based in Brighouse, near Leeds, when in the UK

The first transatlantic sports club in history is set to play their first competitive home game, when Canadian rugby league side Toronto Wolfpack play English side Oxford.

It has been a bold - but so far successful - experiment. But how does the transatlantic team work?

The Wolfpack have had an outstanding start to their first ever season.

They are top of League 1 - the third tier of English Rugby League - after winning their first five games, scoring an incredible total of 310 points, averaging 62 points a match.

And what is even more impressive is that they have done it while playing all those matches away from home.

In order to cause the least disruption for players, the Wolfpack switch between periods of time in the UK and Canada. Their first five games have been in the UK, with most of the next five weeks spent in Canada.

When in the UK, the team's training base is Brighouse in the north of England. When in Toronto, they are based in the athletes' village built for the 2015 Pan-Am Games.

For some of the club's players, it will be the first time they will set foot on Canadian soil, despite the season having started in February.

The club is also paying for the travel costs of the League 1 clubs forced to visit Canada, and even subsidising travel for away fans.

According to their CEO Eric Perez, more than 5,000 season tickets had been sold in February - with the Oxford fixture, scheduled for Saturday, close to a sell-out at the 10,000 capacity Lamport Stadium.

"I think we're almost sold out in the first game, close to sold out," he told the club's own podcast Wolfin Around.

"The Barrow game is outselling the first game which will hopefully be close to sell-out as well and hopefully it builds from there."

The game is set to be one of the highest-attended rugby league games in the history of the sport in Canada, with the real possibility of breaking the attendance record of 7,356 that was set when the Canadian international side beat the USA 52-14 in August 2014.

Fans attending will see Tongan international Fuifui Moimoi, alongside established Super League talent such as Craig Hall, Gary Wheeler, James Laithwaite and Richard Whiting.

The Wolfpack have a star-studded backroom staff: ex-Leigh Centurions head-coach Paul Rowley who has the best win ratio of any UK-based coach, was appointed head coach, and the director of Rugby is ex-Bradford Bulls head coach Brian Noble, the first man to coach a club to three Super League Grand Final victories.