Richard Fussell has been named as head coach of the Ospreys Development team that will participate in the new Celtic Cup this season.
He will be assisted by Duncan Jones and Andrew Bishop, with the team’s first game this Saturday afternoon against the Dragons at Ystrad Mynach (2.30pm KO), a warm-up match before their campaign begins in earnest next weekend.
The Ospreys centurion will oversee a youthful line-up for the competition and he was in agreement that the new set-up provided a huge opportunity for the next generation.
“I think that is going to be the word for this competition, opportunity” said Fussell.
“Opportunity for people to play, opportunity for youngsters to experience senior rugby, opportunity for players to be in a professional environment as a collective for a prolonged period of training and games, and opportunity for a young coaching team to work together with a consistent squad of players.
“It’ll be great for everyone involved if this competition can grow and get more teams involved year on year. We want to develop as a group of coaches and we want to develop as a group of players, collectively, to help take us all to the next level.”
After a pre-season that saw a number of youngsters go head to head with their more experienced colleagues at Llandarcy, and Fussell believes that they will be ‘game ready’ when needed by the senior team after learning the Ospreys way.
“A lot of these boys have been fortunate enough to have been involved with the senior squad this pre-season” he said.
“Some of them have first team experience, and they understand the principles of how the Ospreys want to play.
“What we’re doing as a group of development coaches is take those principles and implement them in the way we are coaching. We want these boys to develop and become Ospreys and by instilling the right culture and understanding in them at a young age will, hopefully, allow them to make a bigger impact when they do break through as they’ll have a greater understanding of what is required.
“There is a gap underneath Guinness PRO14 and the level below and having these boys in the environment regularly, playing and training as a team, getting to see the senior coaches and players, the intensity of the sessions that they aspire to be in, can only benefit them, and the Ospreys. It’s good for the growth of rugby in this region.”
Although the Celtic Cup window is a small one, Fussell is backing those involved to make a bigger impression across the campaign:
“It’s a long season and we always aspire to have a substantial senior international representation so there will be times across the year when opportunities open up for players.
“I’m not going to say that winning isn’t important because it is, but first and foremost this competition is about developing players and giving them opportunities. If we can get them to develop as a team, develop as individuals, get those little things right, when they do have the opportunity to slot into the senior environment, they have the tools to make the most of it.”
Ospreys Development Fixtures
Sat 1 Sept – Dragons – Ystrad Mynach – 2.30pm (Friendly)
Fri 7 Sept - Scarlets A – Morganstone Brewery Field – 7.00pm
Sat 15 Sept – Munster A – St Helen’s – 2.00pm
Fri 21 Sept – Connacht Eagles – Corinthian Park – 3.00pm
Fri 28 Sept – Leinster A – Donnybrook – 7.30pm
Fri 5 Oct – Ulster Ravens – St Helen’s – 7.00pm
Sat 13 Oct – Cardiff Blues A - TBC