By Mark Sleightholm

BOLTON Rugby Union Club are putting together a women’s side, with a view to competing in the 2019/20 season.

With several players and a coach already lined up for the new venture, director of rugby Dave Crouch is keen for women to turn up to Avenue Street on March 2, when the men’s first XV take on Sefton in Lancs/Cheshire Division One.

Like Bolton’s array of junior teams, the new women’s side will welcome players of any abilities, and is being established with support from the Rugby Football Union.

The men’s side, currently suffering from injuries and other absences, fell to a 38-7 defeat at Altrincham Kersal on Saturday.

Gaz Pritchard scored their only try midway through the first half, converted by Mike Mills, but they could not stop Kersal chalking up a 15th win from 17 league games.

The loss leaves them 15 points behind table-topping Kersal, but Crouch is optimistic he will have a full squad back for their next game against 10th-placed Sefton.

“We didn’t have a strong side but I thought the spirit and the way the lads played was fantastic,” he said. “It was only in the last 20 minutes they walked away with the game.”

A series of injuries left the side with just two substitutes, with vice-captain Louis Critchlow offering to play despite his broken hand.

Crouch added: “You have to be realistic and with the players out I think the team’s played very well. Everybody gives 100 per cent.”

After back-to-back defeats against the top two, Altrincham and Bowdon, Bolton now have a two-week gap, giving them some much-needed recovery time before their final six games of the season.

With the likes of Critchlow, Ryan McCluskey and James Singleton all expected to return by that point, Crouch is feeling confident about a strong finish to the campaign for the Cherry and Whites.

“We are where we expect to be. We’ve got six games and we’re hoping to win all six,” he said.