Former Wales Sevens Captain, Barbarian and Wales U21s star Chris Davies has been named as the new U18s head coach for the upcoming season.
Davies first joined the Ospreys U18s last season as forwards coach after spending the previous two years with the U16s sides. The flanker hung up his playing boots at the end of the 2016/17 season after spending the last ten years at Aberavon RFC, where he notched up 228 appearances and 43 tries for the club as well as captaining the side.
Speaking after being appointed new coach, Davies said: “Having the opportunity to head up the U18s team this season is a fantastic opportunity and I cannot wait to get training started and begin the campaign. I feel privileged to be able to help develop the next generation of potential Osprey players. Working with elite athletes is a passion of mine and if I can offer any of my experience and knowledge to these players on and off the field then I hope that will help them in their future.”
The Aberavon legend takes over the head coach role from Kevin James, who steered the age-grade side to two RAG championship victories in his time as a coach.
Davies praised his predecessor, saying: “In terms of taking over from Kevin, he has left us in a good place. I have played with him and against him as a player and it was great to work with him as a coach. Kevin gave a lot of time to the Ospreys Regional Age Grade teams and I want to apply the same work ethic.”
Looking ahead to the new season, the new coach has a clear focus and spoke of his goals going forward: “The main aim this season is to develop the players within the squad. Development in the sense of increasing their tactical knowledge of the game and increasing their technical ability. Ultimately assisting in creating better players for the next stage of their rugby careers. However, winning is important. We need to create winners in rugby. Not just winning in the vision of results, but winning everything in that 70 minutes of rugby, that tackle contest, that kick compete, that bouncing loose ball. Winning everything.”
He added: “The imaginary line called the 'gain line' is everything in rugby and how can we compete to win there. So, dealing with the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation of winning is vital. Wanting to win as a team is important, so I hope, along with the other coaches, that we can create a positive and confident team culture. Whatever we face, we will grow as a team. Together.”
Joining Davies on the coaching front and taking over as forwards coach, is fellow Aberavon player and former Osprey youngster Sam Williams.
“Sam Williams will look after the forwards and he is the right man for that role. His experience and knowledge at the set piece, especially the lineout, is invaluable. The forwards in the squad will thrive off his knowledge and technical ability which can only benefit the players and the team. Sam is still playing making him very current.”
Former Osprey youngster, Nathan Edwards completes the coaching setup as backs coach, Davies added:
“Likewise, with the backs, Nathan will head that up and he is also currently playing. I am looking forward to working with Nathan as he shares the same ideas and philosophies as I do. That should form a great partnership. His attention to detail and delivery will surely benefit these elite players.”
Ospars nominee Michael Dyer comes in for his third season as team manager for the U18s after spending the previous two with the U16s.
With the initial training squad already announced, the new coach is looking forward to the new season ahead with the young squad: “The squad has a very good look and feel to it, with a decent blend of first year U18s and second year U18s players. We have some experience in the squad in the shape of players like Morgan Strong, Travis Huntley and Bradley Roderick. I will be looking to those players to help develop the younger players in the squad. I have known the older U18 boys having worked with them for two seasons and have strong expectations of them and for them. I watched all of the U16 games from last season and there is some serious talent coming through. As a coaching group we just need to channel their skill set, blend as a team and hopefully watch them all grow into mature players.”
The Ospreys U18s will begin their season with a friendly against the Scarlets U18s on Wednesday 15th August, K.O venue and time TBC.