As a region we struggle hard to find the right balance between developing the Young Osprey player"â¬â¢s and ensuring success in the Reebok Competition.
The difficulty in balancing Development and Competition
As a region we struggle hard to find the right balance between developing the Young Osprey player's and ensuring success in the Reebok Competition. Players do not merely want to train with a squad but want the opportunity to play in a match situation to show their worth to the coaches. Over 35 players in each of the under 20 and 16 squads have been exposed to Regional rugby as part of that development process this season and both have achieved their pre-season goals of reaching the play off Final. However, cometh the hour, cometh the difficult decisions that have to be made in selecting what is considered to be your best team with which to achieve your ultimate goal. That hour has come for both the squads this weekend (29th and 30th April) with the selection of their respective teams for the Reebok Finals.
Up first on Saturday are the under 20's, with Garin Jenkins's team playing the Scarlets in their own backyard (Stradey Park). Jenkins's job in selecting a winning team was made a little more difficult because of the non availability of a number of Premiership players, however, his foresight in exposing players to the Reebok Championships in earlier rounds ensures that it is a confident and experienced group of players who will take the field on Saturday. The team topped the league standings after only losing to the Scarlets at Stradey in September, however, if they are to be crowned Reebok Champions they will need to erase both the memory of that fixture and the ghost of losing with the last play of the match in last years Final.
Maybe if you are only 16 years of age disappointment is a little more difficult to take and Head Coach Alex Evans and his management group will be well aware of the difficult process that they've just been through. Nevertheless, those who are disappointed will need to get over such feelings quickly and look positively towards the new season and the challenges that will be on offer. The squad face a number of similar challenges that are posed to the under 20's in that they need to go to Rodney Parade to play the Dragons in their home backyard and, although they topped the league standings they similarly lost their away fixture with the Dragons in September, before reversing the result at Swansea RFC in March. The team is littered with experience at this level as eight of them played for the Welsh team and four for the Wales A squad, however, a failure to win at this final hurdle would certainly put a dampener on what has been such a successful season.