A billionaire mining magnate is trying to change the Australian rugby competition forever by poaching the best players in the country to crack the American market.
David Argyle, 58, the majority owner of Toronto Wolfpack, has already claimed a huge scalp by signing the code code Sonny Bill Williams for a $ 10 million deal.
The Canadian team is now targeting failed NFL convert Valentine Holmes and would have tried to sign Billy Slater if he hadn't retired last year.
Billionaire Australian mining magnate David Argyle, 58, is trying to change the Australian rugby competition forever by poaching the best players in the country to crack the American market
Toronto achieved the top class European Super League last month, just three years after starting to compete in lower divisions in 2017.
Mr. Argyle's daring attempt to wake up the world rugby competition began at the University of Michigan, where the Perth man earned his MBA and played collegiate rugby union.
But setting up a union team to compete in European competitions was too difficult, so he formed Wolfpack with Canadian businessman Eric Perez in 2014.
Because rugby league is played almost exclusively in Australia, New Zealand, Northern England and Southern France, it was more willing to innovate.
The 40 teams of the competition unanimously approved his first transatlantic team and Mr. Argyle soon entertained fans in the sushi bar he owns in Toronto.
& # 39; We are not shy to say that we want to be a global rugby brand built around a club & # 39 ;, he said last year.
The majority owner of Toronto Wolfpack, has already claimed a huge scalp by signing cross-code star Sonny Bill Williams for a $ 10 million deal
Williams tweeted his enthusiasm for moving his family around the world for his new team
Wolfpack reached the third division in the first season and just missed promotion to the Super League last year, but controversy was not far away.
Earlier this year, he was forced to fire himself & # 39; & # 39; as chairman and chief executive after a racist remark to an opponent of the opponent after a match in April.
Swinton Lions, born in Congo, Jose Kenga, said when he approached Mr. Argyle, the man asked him: & Do they allow black people in Swinton? & # 39;
Kenga said that when he confronted Mr. Argyle with his remark, he just laughed and gave him a drink token.
& # 39; I have never felt so little in my life and I cannot believe that people can still have such a racist spirit & # 39 ;, Kenga said afterwards on Twitter.
Toronto achieved the top class European Super League last month just three years after starting to compete in lower divisions in 2017
Mr. Argyle publicly apologized and received a £ 7,500 fine from the Rugby Football League for his & # 39; unacceptable language & # 39 ;.
& # 39; I understand the ignorant racist connotations of what I said and the suffering that Jose caused, & # 39; he said in his apology.
& # 39; If another member of our Wolfpack family had made that comment that I had made on balance, regardless of context and environment, I would have fired them. So that also applies to me, so I dismiss myself as chairman and CEO.
& # 39; I am leaving with a heavy heart because I have shamed rugby and my family that I love. & # 39;
Although he resigned from his official functions, Mr. Argyle remained the leading force in the club and his main financial support.
His pursuit of Sonny Bill Williams began three years earlier when he and Mr. Perez discussed with a big splash how they could capture the imagination of the Canadian public.
When they heard he was about to leave the rugby federation after the World Cup, they knew it was time to jump up.
Mr. Argyle grew up in Perth, but studied in the US, where he played collegiate rugby union
Acquiring one of the biggest rugby stars in the world, even at the age of 34, had the desired effect this week – it was splashed over the front page of the NZ Herald.
The Toronto star even declared Williams a & # 39; one-man economic stimulus package & # 39; on a full page with reporting.
The deal was soon compared to the Los Angeles Galaxy that David Beckham pulled from Real Madrid in 2007, which did wonders for American football.
Mr. Perez embraced the comparison and said that the deal could be just as important for turning the switch for the entire continent.
& # 39; I think that such a movement helps to come to the United States more easily, because in the United States they respect real money and fame and razzamatazz, and that is what this is, & # 39; he said.
& # 39; If we can get this done, the sport will never be the same again. & # 39;
David Argyle and the then Captain Craig Hall (right) are seen in 2017
To further serve this, the team created reality TV program Last Tackle, where players who have just missed the NFL go through a boot camp to make it in rugby league – all while living together – similar to the NFL & # 39; s Hard Knocks.
Wolfpack's big dreams are bundled by the billions of dollars that the Australian tycoon made as a mining investor around the world.
He managed the Christmas Island phosphate mine in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and helped repair the damage caused by mining on the island.
Other mining, energy and agricultural projects brought him to South America, Africa, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia.
He later joined hedge funds such as Forbes & Manhattan Group and is now executive co-chairman of Brazil Potash, which plans to deliver 30 percent of its fertilization in Brazil.
Mr. Argyle is already planning his next step to buy a financially struggling English team and move to Liverpool and help open more in the US
& # 39; I see expansion Rugby League teams in North America, cities like Philadelphia, in a few years. It is a wonderful sport & # 39 ;, he said in 2017.
As more teams are opened, supported by its deep pockets, Australian NRL teams can increasingly be looted from their best stars.
The pursuit of Sonny Bill Williams (pictured with his family) began three years before he was signed
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