Yes. The title of this article is somewhat snarky but I just couldn’t resist, sorry about that. It does imply however, that there is a cost to being perfect and that price may be too much for the Toronto Wolfpack to pay, considering they are now a perfect 10-0 in League One. Trust me, I am not here to make you feel sorry for them. I’d rather have the Wolfpack suffer the slings and arrows of a perfect record, than gain any form of sympathy that this “problem” might evoke. Nonetheless, it might still be fun discussing.
Win number 10 came at the hands of the South Wales Ironmen at Merthyr Tydfil (pronounced mər-thər-ˈtid-ˌvil\ ) this past weekend. Side Note: One of the best things about the Toronto Wolfpack is that they play teams from places I most likely have not heard of. So it is refreshing to hear names such as Merthyr Tydfil as compared to places around here that I am accustomed too. End of the side note and now back to the game.
The 66-0 score may seem one sided, and with all due respect, it is. But for those who watched the full 80 minutes, you came away with more respect for the Ironmen then when you started. How could you not? Yes, the weather was atrocious and responsible for some sloppy play by Toronto, but the weather also impacted South Wales. The fact that the Ironmen were able to keep the Wolfpack scoreless for the first 16 minutes was quite the accomplishment, not to mention almost opening the scoring themselves. The Wolfpack had to earn their victory as their opponents kept on fighting.
If you take a step back you might stop to wonder, “Wait a second, did I feel this exact same way about the Coventry Bears just last week?” The answer would be yes; yes you did. Based on their records alone, that contest as well should have been a cakewalk for the North American team. Thirty minutes into that game it was still only 8-4 for the Wolfpack, very much anyone’s game. The Bears and the Ironmen both came ready to play, but they weren’t the only ones. The Barrow Raiders also came out strong against Toronto and they even managed to open the scoring themselves.
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The problem with being perfect therefore, is that everyone at every moment is gunning for you. Everyone wants to be the team that breaks your record and in doing so, make a name for themselves. It is a fantastic opportunity for the opponents and as a fan, quite exciting to know that they will give you their very best game.
I mean, why wouldn’t they? They have nothing to fear. If they lose, well, they were supposed to lose. If they lose badly, well, they were supposed to lose badly. Anything else however becomes the unexpected; and the unexpected, is an opportunity for greatness. In essence, the Toronto Wolfpack by virtue of being perfect, are providing players and teams the opportunity to showcase themselves.
We have already seen it these past three games in how hard the opponents come out firing. It takes the Wolfpack some time to adjust to it, but adjust they do and then begin to exert their will. But as each victory increases the streak, it also increases the pressure, making it even harder to get the next victory.
Last year the Toulouse Olympique did not lose during the season but they were in a slightly different situation as they had tied one game (vs the Rochdale Hornets) early on. They didn’t have the pressure of being perfect but they did carry the weight of being undefeated. Having said that, it would be wise for the Wolfpack to learn from their history and be forewarned not to repeat it. Toulouse did eventually get promoted last year, but they had to play a couple of extra games to get there. The only game they lost was to that very same Hornets team right after the Super 8s and that forced them into a more difficult route to promotion. Toronto, I’m sure, would like to avoid that and quite simply take the shorter path to the Championship League. To do this though, they too must match the intensity of their opponents and will also need to get better week after week as their competition chases them.
As the season moves forward, the Toronto Wolfpack will have to understand that they have bigger challenges and bigger obstacles to overcome. Mind you, I don’t think Coach Rowley or the rest of the team would have it any other way. The strongest steel is made from the hottest fires and therefore they see this as an opportunity for the team to get even better. So yes, despite the score lines the Wolfpack continue to amass, the games are getting harder and harder. As arduous and demanding as that is, I believe the team and the fans relish the challenge.
Afterall, we don’t have a problem with being perfect. (wink, wink)