Johnno says youngsters will take a lot from

Director of Coaching Scott Johnson believes that the youngsters in the Ospreys squad will learn a lot in defeat after Lyon secured a 38-10 win in a 40th anniversary commemorative fixture at Hermance RRC .



The Australian watched as a youthful Ospreys squad, supplemented by a sprinkling of experience from the likes of Cai Griffiths, Ian Evans, Sonny Parker and Barry Davies struggled to get into the game during the first half, trailing 31-0 at the interval, before a more resolute second half showing wasn’t enough to prevent a 38-10 defeat.

Speaking after the game, which was played in the foothills of the Alps close to Lake Geneva, Johnno commented:

“We had a good hit out, it was mature athletes against some good young kids in the main and it was a good opportunity to see how some promising youngsters do when put up against some of the big boys. I’m never pleased to lose any kind of game but we have to contextualise things and we had a young team up against a T14 side that was just about at full strength give or take a player or two.

“It was always going to be a tough one, we knew that before we came here. We had boys away on World Cup duty and chose to leave another 15 at home so that this group could show what they were made of and we’ve all learnt a thing or two which along with fitness is what pre-season is about.”

For all their adventure with ball in hand, the decisive area of the game was at the scrum where a predominantly rookie Ospreys pack found themselves up against a big and experienced Lyon eight who used their dominance of that area as a platform to cross the line on five occasions during the match. Johnno said that was one area in particular where there was a clear difference in the teams:

“It’s hard to play without the ball” he said.

“They showed their age, experience and skill to hold the ball, secure their set-piece and really put us under pressure and we couldn’t do that, particularly in the first half. It’s actually been a good experience and a good lesson for many of the younger guys, they will have learnt that it’s just not good enough to just turn up and think you’ve done your job just by being selected. You’ve got to perform. They’ll certainly realise tonight that the step up in class from Premiership footy is a little bit more than they probably gave it credit for.

“They can learn a lot just from going into combat with such an experienced team, older guys who are physical and intelligent. That’s good for the younger guys here tonight as they wouldn’t have come up against opposition like this before, certainly not as a group without too many experienced guys around them.

“That’s a good thing for us. They are really keen, some of them have stepped up over the summer, others have been involved in the Premiership and we’ve just taken this opportunity to have a closer look at them. We’re trying to see where some of these younger boys are and it’s important for the growth of the Ospreys this season that we have a clear picture of where guys are at.

“Some boys will be rewarded for tonight’s effort, and that’s a good thing, while some maybe will go the other way. Some of the team, it was their first go in our colours, they are young, and they were quite daunted to start with. It didn’t go right for one or two to begin with and that’s all a learning experience for them. We did show some great resolve in the second half after maybe they started to believe in themselves and learnt not to be overawed but I’m not going to get too carried away with that, you have to be up for a game from the start.

“Some guys didn’t quite get to where we’d hoped they would tonight, some guys shone, and you have to reward that. We’ve seen some really good qualities from a couple of them and they deserve another hit out because of it.”

Next up for the Ospreys is a home game against Russia who are preparing for the Rugby World Cup next month. The Bears visit the Liberty Stadium on Sunday 21st August (KO 3.00pm), and with plenty of reinforcements set to come into consideration for their first runout, Johnno says that it should be a good afternoon:

“We kept a fair few at home, a lot of the more senior guys if you like, and they’ll have a physical hit-out next week which is exactly what we need” he insisted.

“We have aimed our pre-season at playing teams who would impose their physicality on us so that we can get a real gauge on where we are. Lyon certainly did that tonight for this group and Russia will be a good test of where the remainder of the squad are at the moment.

“The guys from today’s group who step up from the Lyon game will be there on form, because of what they’ve shown us tonight. It has to be that way, not because of any pre-ordained selection procedure. You have to earn the shirt and believe me, no one will get to pull on an Ospreys shirt at the Liberty if they haven’t earned the right to do so.

“The majority of the group that faces Russia will be the 15 who we didn’t bring. That’s always how we’ve planned it, and we wanted to keep something up our sleeves in terms of seeing what we did out here. I think a couple of the boys deserve to be rewarded while the others will all learn from this experience as they continue to grow. We need another hit-out next week and after another week in training I think the players stepping in, which will be the majority, will be ready to go and impress our fans 

“It’s going to be a big occasion, international rugby at the Liberty, and I’d like to think that it’ll be an afternoon for families in the region to show their colours and get behind a team that represent their communities. We had young boys born and bred in Ospreylia getting the chance to represent their region today and there’ll be plenty more wearing the shirt next week and it’s important that people come out and support them.”