Published: Wednesday, 8th Mar 2023

Organisations responsible for bringing the Rugby League World Cup to Bolton celebrated it's success in boosting participation in the game at the new Westhoughton Lions clubhouse on Tuesday, 7 March.

Westhoughton Lions eventThe event marked the end of a hugely exciting and memorable tournament and the beginning of a wave of new enthusiasm for the game that’s inspiring young people across Bolton to take up the sport.

On Saturday 22nd October 2022, rugby league took over the University of Bolton Stadium as England battled France as part of the group stages of the men’s tournament. England secured a stunning 42-18 victory over ‘Les Bleus’, with Dom Young scoring one of the tries of the tournament, striding almost the entire length of the pitch to put down the ball in front of a packed South Stand.

Almost six months on from the Rugby League Word Cup, on 7 March, the tournament Chief Executive Jon Dutton visited Bolton to thank Sue Johnson, Chief Executive of Bolton Council, and Neil Hart, Chief Executive of Bolton Wanderers Football Club, and other local stakeholders for their support, commitment, and hard work in helping to deliver the ‘biggest, best and most inclusive Rugby League World Cup ever’.

Attendance at the University of Bolton Stadium on 22nd October was almost 24,000, the fourth highest attendance of the entire tournament, of which total attendance was almost 500,000, showing the strength of the market for top-flight rugby league.

"Today was a fantastic opportunity to look back on our Rugby League World Cup experience"

Bolton’s Rugby League World Cup wasn’t all about matchday though, as Bolton hosted the French Men’s Team throughout their time in the tournament. With base camp at The Last Drop Inn; pitch training at Bolton School; gym and pool training at Horwich Leisure Centre; and specialist support through a new Sport and Physical Activity Rehabilitation Centre at the University, the team utilised the very best of the town’s sporting facilities.

On his return to Bolton, Jon Dutton was welcomed at Westhoughton Lions new clubhouse, built with a grant of almost £300,000 awarded through the Rugby League World Cup. With over 200 junior members, and ambition to develop this further, the Lions are a shining example of all that is great about grassroots sport in Bolton.

Sue Johnson, Chief Executive of Bolton Council said: “Today was a fantastic opportunity to look back on our Rugby League World Cup experience. Being here at Westhoughton Lions new clubhouse is clear evidence of the legacy of the tournament in Bolton and the benefits of hosting high-profile sporting events in our town.” 

Jon Dutton, Chief Executive of the Rugby League World Cup said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to come back to Bolton today. The new facilities created here in Westhoughton through our ground-breaking social impact programme are the real legacy of the Rugby League World Cup and will be an amazing resource for generations to come.”

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