They think it’s all oval... it is now
3:18pm Friday 1st March 2013 in News
BOLTON’S rugby union and league clubs have linked up to boost the oval ball games in the town.
From this season, Bolton Mets RL club will play and train at Bolton RUFC’s Avenue Street.
The aim is to increase the interest and participation in both codes in the traditionally football town.
The town’s rugby union club, whose first team play in Northern Division North Lancs One, is well established with four senior teams and a vibrant junior section playing out of its Avenue Street facilities.
On the other hand, the Mets have one team and have struggled to field a full complement of players on many occasions since they became the town’s first open-age rugby league team 18 years ago.
The fact they have remained in existence is testament to the commitment and determination of their core club members to give adult rugby league a presence in the town and keep their club alive.
The move to Avenue Street, where they will play their first game of the season a week tomorrow, is the biggest boost in Mets’ history which has seen them play at New House Farm for the last 12 years after a few years at Withins School.
But it is a two-way benefit, according to the union club’s senior chairman Jon-Paul Hardman.
“It’s a link-up to benefit the oval game as a whole in Bolton,” he said.
“We’re not looking at it as league and union but as an initiative to promote rugby as a whole in what is predominantly a football town.
“The more people we can get playing the oval ball game the better, and this can only help.
“We are trying to encouraged people to look at rugby as a sport, whether it’s league or union makes no difference.
“We play in the winter and Mets play in the summer, so the seasons don’t overlap which means people can play and watch rugby at Avenue Street all year round.
“Some of our players played league last year and this link-up takes away the need for them to join another club because they’ve got their own.
“I think more will try it this year and that can only be good for Mets and give our lads an opportunity to keep playing and try league.
“It’s mutually beneficial and good for Bolton rugby as a whole. Their previous facilities were nowhere near as good as we can offer them and, from our point of view, people know Avenue Street is the place to play and watch rugby, whatever code, all year round.”
The Mets, who play in Division Four of the North West Men’s RL League, regard the move as a platform for them to finally grow the league code after a decade and a half of struggling.
“It will give us a solid base,” said club secretary Stuart Cooke.
“With Bolton being a predominantly football town it’s been difficult to attract people to play for us.
“One season we’d be booming, the next we’d be struggling.
“But the passion and drive in the core of the side is what has kept us going.
“The rivalry between league and union is not fading, but there is more appreciation of the codes. The move is fantastic for us, and means we’ll be around for a few years yet.
“We did have a season at Avenue Street a few years ago and it was great.”
Mets were Bolton’s only open-age RL team until Westhoughton Lions started an adult team three years ago.
“New House Farm has been a great home for us, it gave us one of the best pitches in the league, but it was five minute’s walk to the ground from the changing rooms and the facilities there are nothing like Avenue Street.
“It’s by far the best option for us and gives us a settled base in the town.”
Comments are closed on this article.