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A Bolton rugby club could be on a collision course with the mafia after setting up a controversial new link in Sicily.
The amateur rugby team known as Bolton Rugby Union Football Club, are looking to forge a partnership with a Briganti team in Catania, on the East coast of Sicily, after its clubhouse was destroyed.
The team was set up in a poor suburb of the island, to try and discourage the local youngsters from joining the notorious organised crime syndicate.
The mafia’s bosses were thought to be upset that the team was trying to affect their business, so decided to try and shut them down instead.
The Bolton chairman Mark Brocklehurst said: “This rugby team has an amazing fighting spirit and we have a great opportunity to help out."
The Briganti club, which saw its clubhouse ransacked and torched, not only provided an environment for children to learn rugby, but also assisted them with their education.
It also started an after-school club to help the youth with their homework and was responsible for opening the area’s first library.
After reading about the attacks, Bolton contacted those at the Sicilian club and have offered to buy them a new team bus.
“There were about 20 of us and we didn’t understand each other that well, but we love rugby and wanted to work together,” Bolton’s head of communications Alison Cannon explained.
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Marta Mazzucchelli, a player with Briganti’s women’s team added: “They were really helpful and kind, but we managed to cover the cost of the bus.
“We said what would be stupendous is having a chance to meet them and play them.”
Both Cannon and the Briganti club president Mirko Saraceno hopes both organisations are able to send their club members on a tour of their respective countries.
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The plans that have been supported by England head coach Eddie Joes, and the World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont.
“If we could send over to Bolton some kids who don’t have a chance to travel, that would be fantastic,” Saraceno explained.
Cannon added: “It’s our 150th anniversary next year and we would really like the Sicilians to come over for that.”
- Rugby union
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