Bolton RFC recently opened new facilities at Avenue Street to rival any club in the North West all thanks to an £125,000 grant from the National lottery and Sport England. RFU Vice-President Malcolm Phillips was there to officially perform the opening ceremony and take a look at the improvements.
Over the last decade the club has grown in capacity beyond recognition and the seniors, ladies and junior sections all desperately needed more changing facilities and better surfaces to play on. Following the grant the club now boasts dedicated facilities for the girls and ladies, disabled access to the upstairs clubrooms, additional catering and bar areas plus a weights/fitness room, extra changing accommodation and better pitches.
“It’s lifted the whole standard of the club,” says spokesman Paul Fernside. “As well as a big increase in the Junior section membership we are also back to four senior sides now. On top of that the clubhouse takings have been unbelievable and the club is in a very healthy state.”
At the same time they also appointed former Wigan rugby league star Ged Byrne as their first full time rugby development officer. One of his first duties was to organise and prepare the area’s Year 8 secondary schools teams for a competition at the club. Eight schools took part with St. Joseph’s RC School, Horwich, the outright winners.
Later in the season there will be a similar competition for the older Year 6 teams and, with only two of the town’s 16 secondary schools actually playing rugby at present, he’s got his hands full getting around to them all. On top of that he’s been holding tag rugby coaching courses for local primary school teachers.
With a playing membership of 100+ and rising hopes that the Bolton 1st XV, led by No. 8 Nick Milnes, can improve on their current North Lancashire Division 1 league position the clubs future, with over 250 minis, juniors and colts all playing regularly, this looks assured.