Ahead of this weekend’s third round of the Celtic Cup, we spoke to Head Coach of the Ospreys Development Team, Richard Fussell, to hear his views on the competition so far.
“It’s been a really good opportunity for the boys to be exposed to a higher level of rugby. We’ve had new combinations and new mixes of players coming in and we’ve put a really good plan in place for the boys to have the opportunity to train and travel as a group, and deliver as a team on the field.”
The side travelled to Cork to face Munster A for round one. The young Ospreys were quick out of the blocks with Chay Smith scoring a try in the opening two minutes. Josh Thomas slotting the conversion gave the Ospreys the early lead. Munster A answered back in the closing stages of the first half with a converted try to level the scores.
Ben Cambriani and George Gasson added to the scoreboard in the second half with Thomas adding the extras. Despite a valiant effort from the young side, Munster were able to hold on to level the game at the full-time whistle.
Speaking about the opening fixture, Fussell said: “We spoke about it prior to the game that we needed to ensure we stuck together and backed ourselves with our effort. Our principles took us through that game and I don’t think the boys quite realised that they had a chance there at the time and when we reflect on it we did leave one out there.”
He added: “It’s all ifs and buts but for these boys it was a good starting point for them to show what they are capable of. Now it’s a case of can we go and back up these performances and keep progressing through the tournament.”
In the second round, the Ospreys returned home to face Connacht Eagles at the Morganstone Brewery Field. Joe Grabham, George Gasson and Brandon Wood all crossed the whitewash with Gwyn Parks and Phil Jones kicking the conversions. Despite a strong effort from the young side, the Irish side proved too strong, running in five tries to clinch the 19-40 win.
“The plan we put in place was to help develop these guys through preseason and again as we progress into the performance block. Putting that pressure on these boys to see if they can get stuck in an improve and perform as this competition goes on. It is all about development and opportunity for these lads and for them to be able to put their hands up and progress.”
This weekend, sees the Ospreys Development travel to face local rivals Scarlets A at Parc Y Scarlets with the action kicking off at 2:30pm.
“It’s another great opportunity for these boys to play as a group and take what they’ve learnt in the past two games and put that into practice against the Scarlets.
It’s always a big occasion when you play against the Scarlets in a local derby game. This young group of players have shown a lot of progression and a lot of tightness during this competition. We’re hoping they can apply themselves with the effort and the principles that we’ve put in place and put in a performance on the weekend.”
Scarlets A v Ospreys Development Team - Parc Y Scarlets, Saturday 7th September, K.O 2:30pm
Ospreys Development Team v Cardiff Blues A, Morganstone Brewery Field, Friday 13th September, K.O 7.15pm
Ospreys Development Team v Leinster A, St Helen's, Friday 20th September, K.O 7.15pm
Ulster Ravens v Ospreys Development Team, Gibson Park, Belfast, Friday 27th September, K.O 5pm
Dragons XV v Ospreys Development Team, TBC, 4/5/6th October.