The Quadrant Shopping Centre in Swansea went Ospreys crazy on Saturday afternoon when hundreds of fans turned out to get a first glimpse of the new 2011 home jersey.
It was the first time in the region’s history that the jersey launch had taken place in public, with star names like Shane Williams, Alun Wyn Jones and Ryan Jones rubbing shoulders with up and coming youngsters such as Justin Tipuric, Ashley Beck and James King as they modelled the new black and steel blue shirt on stage in front of their supporters, who had travelled from the length and breadth of Ospreylia and beyond to be part of a special afternoon.
The event was hosted by 102.1 Bay Radio's award winning breakfast presenter Tommo, who whipped the crowd up into a frenzy ahead of the appearance by the entire senior squad, who met with fans, signing autographs and posing for pictures before, during and after the unveiling.
Ospreys skipper Alun Wyn Jones said that the whole event had been a huge success:
“It’s been fantastic for the Ospreys, allowing players, management and fans to really connect. To be able to bring the jersey launch right into the heart of the community meant that everybody in Ospreylia could be a part of it and it’s been awesome.
“We’ve really enjoyed ourselves. Our fans are always brilliant and the buzz about the place today really gave everyone a real lift ahead of the new season. The majority of the squad are local boys who are representing our community, and we take real pride in doing so.
“To see so many fans turning up today to celebrate the launch of the new shirt is special and really shows what the jersey means to people. It’s important that we respect that and always wear the jersey with real honour.”
Ospreys Managing Director, Roger Blyth, said he was overwhelmed by the reaction from the fans:
“The Ospreys jersey has always been something of a phenomenon, but the success of today’s event has blown everyone away. Having always held the jersey launch in private we made the decision this year to take it to our fans, so that all Ospreylians could be a part of it.
“To be honest, I’m overwhelmed by how it went. To see so many supporters here, and to experience the real feeling of excitement that the launch has generated is fantastic. With three weeks to go until our first home game, the pre-season fixture against Russia at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday 21st August, the success of today’s launch has really put a spring in everyone’s step and I’m sure that preparations will now kick on another gear.”
Since the launch of the region in 2003, the Ospreys jersey has firmly established itself as one of the most popular in northern hemisphere rugby. More than 42,000 Ospreys jerseys were sold across the UK and beyond over the last 12 months, the fifth successive season that sales exceeded 40,000, and the 2011 version is expected to prove just as popular.
Ospreys season-ticket holder Nigel Screen was one of the supporters at the jersey launch and he said it had been an afternoon to remember:
“I always look forward to the launch of a new jersey at the start of the season and I love to get mine before the first game. To be able to be part of the launch the year, and to experience an afternoon to remember at the Quadrant is incredible. To see all the players and fans together like this shows what a close-knit family the Ospreys are, and it’s made everyone really excited for the new season.
“The new kit is brilliant. The steel blue and black looks great, it’s possibly the best kit yet.”
The new Ospreys 2011 home jersey is available to buy now exclusively from the Club Shop at the Liberty Stadium and online here, for a period of one week after which it will go on general release at sports retailers UK-wide.
A video of the launch event will be available online later this week, and keep your eyes peeled for a gallery on our Facebook page this afternoon.