Comprehensive schools from across the region came together in Port Talbot to mark the start of the new academic year with the help of the Ospreys community team.
Two events were held at the Western Avenue playing fields in Sandfields to provide opportunities for Year 9 and Year 11 teams to have a run-out ahead of the start of the new schools version of the Ospreys Cup, which acts as a qualifying vehicle for the Welsh Cup.
The competitions new format see's regional mini leagues replace the existing district school boundary format. The new regional concept allows for a distinct improvement in the qualification process for the national knockout competition post Christmas, enhances the standard of competition and increases the participation of Schools within the region.
There was representation from the length and breadth of Ospreylia, with hundreds of teenagers enjoying two afternoon’s of rugby action in the late summer sunshine.
Schools represented were Cwmtawe, Llangatwg, Cefn Saeson, Sandfields, Glan Afan, St Josephs, Duffryn, Cymmer Afan, Pencoed, Porthcawl, Brynteg, Bryntirion, Llangynwyd, Gwyr, Penyrheol, Bishopston, Birchgrove, Gowerton and Pentrehafod.
Pupils also had an opportunity to test their skills and endurance by utilising the new WRU Cage Rugby and Street Stars equipment
Ben Rose, WRU Development Manager for the Ospreys region, said:
“To have so many schools involved in these festivals in the first week of the new term was a fantastic way to start the season with a bang. It was fantastic to see that there is a real appetite for rugby in the schools of Ospreylia, and it was good that there was representation from Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend giving the festivals a full flavour of the region.
“This is a big season for schools rugby in our region, with the Ospreys Cup being extended to included a schools version for the first time. The sole aim of the Ospreys Cup is to encourage and sustain participation in the game at an age where statistics have traditionally shown a drop-off in playing numbers across Wales. Since 2010 we have seen participation numbers in age-grade rugby in Ospreylia rise by almost 50 per cent, and the Ospreys Cup is one of the key factors in that.
“It’s important that we provide as many opportunities for youngsters to play the game in their local community. The more people we have actively engaged at all levels of the game, the stronger the Ospreys will be in the long term, and that is at the heart of everything the region does.”