Rugby fans in north Wales got a chance to see some of the biggest names in world rugby put through their paces on the training pitch two weeks ago when the Ospreys spread their wings and flew north to take part in the npower renewables Rugby Festival.
The whole of the region's senior squad, including star names like Shane Williams, Gavin Henson, James Hook and Wales skipper Ryan Jones, all travelled from their Liberty Stadium home for the festival, which was held at Rhyl Rugby Club on Saturday August 2nd.
The day comprised of a number of organised events including an open training demonstration by the Ospreys, specially designed coaching clinics for children from local rugby clubs and a sevens tournament for senior players from the area.
Around 240 local children registered with Abergele, Rhyl, Llandudno, Colwyn Bay and Nant Conwy RFC's and were given the chance to apply for a place to train alongside their rugby idols, whilst the clubs also entered senior players into a sevens tournament that took place in the afternoon. Each team taking part was assigned an Ospreys player to act as a coach as they competed to win the npower renewables cup.
Ospreys Coach, Sean Holley, says that the squad really enjoyed the trip:
"We'd been invited to attend the North Wales Rugby Festival by our sponsors npower renewables, and we all had a great time during the day in Rhyl. We ran through our normal training routine first thing and members of the public were invited to come along and watch the session close-up, which was a bit of a special treat as it's not something that rugby fans get to see everyday.
"After that, players and coaches passed on their knowledge to children from clubs in the local area in a series of special coaching clinics and then the senior sides from the clubs took part in a sevens tournament after lunch. It was a great for the north Wales rugby community, and we were delighted to be a part of it. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the great welcome we received and it's clear that our fan base stretches all over Wales"
Ospreys prop Cai Griffiths grew up a short distance along the north Wales coast in Bangor and he says that he' felt proud heading back to the area with the region. He said:
"It was a tremendous honour attending the npower renewables North Wales Rugby Festival with the Ospreys. There is a real passion for rugby in the area, something which maybe south Walians don't fully appreciate, and I think that a few of the lads had a bit of an eye-opener at Rhyl on Saturday.
"Having grown up and played my first rugby in the area, it's fantastic to now be in a position to give something back, via the Ospreys and our sponsors npower renewables who had organised the festival. We had a great welcome and the event was a huge success and hopefully we'll be able to come back next year."