The Heineken Cup round one clash against Leinster at the Liberty Stadium this weekend has been described as ‘a titanic battle’ by Chairman, Roger Blyth.
The triple European champions have been defeated by just one team in Heineken Cup battle over the last three seasons, Clermont Auvergne, and with a bumper Liberty crowd set to be the biggest yet this campaign – and the biggest ever for the region against Leinster – anticipation is growing ahead of the game.
“This is one of those special rugby occasions that you look forward to with anticipation” said Blyth.
“Leinster have been the dominant force in European cup rugby over the last five years, with three Heineken Cup wins, a runners-up spot, and an Amlin Cup title in that time. That record is one that has to be admired, whoever you are.
“We’ve built up a huge rivalry with them in terms of the PRO12, enjoying some fantastic matches, in particular our two Grand Final wins at the RDS in 2010 and 2012.
“This is the first time we’ve ever met them in the Heineken Cup though, and with their proud record there is a bit of added spice to the occasion. There are 10 of this summer’s Lions in the two squads, plus so many other quality players, it really is building up to be a titanic battle.”
The two home games in the PRO12 so far this season have both seen substantially larger attendances than in the corresponding fixtures last season, with the Edinburgh crowd up by just under 3,000 year on year and last weekend’s game against Ulster watched by more than 10,000, a rise of almost 1,500 on 2012/13.
Saturday’s crowd again looks set to be an impressive one and Blyth has urged all rugby fans in the region to make sure they get behind the cause:
“There’s no doubt in my mind that over the last 12 to 18 months the Ospreylian public has really identified with what we are doing at this region. Crowds have been rising generally, and areas like hospitality are also seeing an increase.
“I think people are taking pride in what the Ospreys are about, and in seeing local, hard working, talent representing their cause, which is absolutely wonderful.
“To see another five figure crowd at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday night will be fantastic, and everybody here will have a huge part to play. Big teams need big crowds. It’s no coincidence that the likes of Leinster, Munster, Leicester and Touolouse have dominated the Heineken Cup as they are clubs that enjoy the kind of backing, week in week out, that we want to achieve.
“This region is now 10 years old, and in two months time it will be the 10th anniversary of our first ever Heineken Cup fixtures. Our first home game in the competition, in December 2003, was against Edinburgh at St Helen’s, in front of a crowd of 1,822. Our combined attendance for all three home matches in the competition that season, including one against reigning champions Toulouse, was less than we saw inside the Liberty on Friday night alone, and less than will be back there again on Saturday.
“That is a clear indication of how far we have come, and we want fans to get to the Liberty this weekend and celebrate that. Blackout the stadium and get behind the team, helping to create an atmosphere worthy of the occasion. It’s going to be fantastic.”
Tickets for the big game are on sale now at the Liberty Stadium Ticket Office, online at www.ospreysrugby.com/buytickets and via the Ticket Hotline on 0844 815 6665, with adult prices starting at just £20.