Tickets have gone on sale for this season"â¬â¢s curtain raiser, the Liberty Stadium fixture against Leeds Carnegie on Saturday 22nd August (KO 2.30pm).
Ahead of the match the Ospreys Kids Club are hosting their Fun Day for members, who will round off their day by watching their heroes take on the Guinness Premiership side.
Leeds make their first visit to the home of the Ospreys, having faced the region twice previously, during the inaugural 2003/04 season in the Heineken Cup. Honours were even during the two fixtures, with Leeds recording a 29-20 win at home, despite Ospreys tries from Shane Williams and Scott Gibbs, before Lyn Jones' side came out on top in the return at St Helen's, an Andy Williams try and the boot of Gavin Henson ensuring a 10-3 win.
Coached by Rugby World Cup winner and three time British & Irish Lion, Neil Back, Leeds step up their pre-season preparations this week, competing in the Issoire Tournament in France. Their first fixture on Tuesday night saw Leeds defeat French second division side Aurrilac 19-14, and then on Friday evening they face T14 outfit Montauban, meaning they will be in full flow by the time they arrive in Ospreylia.
Leeds return to the English top flight in the coming season after a one year absence, securing the 2008/09 English National Division One championship by an overwhelming margin, finishing 14 points clear of second place Exeter Chiefs as they won 28 of their 30 league fixtures during the season, losing just two. They open their league campaign with a home game against Newcastle Falcons a fortnight after their visit to the Liberty Stadium, and will be looking to get off to a flying start when they face the Ospreys with their new look squad that has been considerably strengthened ahead of their return to the Guinness Premiership.
Familiar faces in the Leeds ranks include former England rugby union and New Zealand rugby league cap Henry Paul and former Natal Sharks and Blue Bulls scrum half Scott Mathie, along with ex Pontypridd, Ebbw Vale, Newport and Bristol outside half Jason Strange and Rhys Oakley, who signed from Newport Gwent Dragons. The Welsh link at Leeds was strengthened with the signing this summer of Scarlets outside half Ceiron Thomas, who joins a host of new faces at the club as they prepare for their return to the Guinness Premiership. Other signings confirmed so far this summer include Western Force and Australia A prop Gareth Hardy, Bristol and Samoa back rower Alfie To'oala, Biarritz and Samoa winger Henry Fa'afili and Leicester's Springbok second row Marco Wentzel.
In what promises to be an intriguing fixture, Ospreys fans will get their first opportunity to see this summer's new signings in the black shirt as well as providing supporters with the chance to see for themselves how Director of Coaching Scott Johnson has been able to stamp his own coaching style on the squad since the players returned for pre-season.
Ospreys Managing Director, Roger Blyth, commented:
"This first fixture will be an important step-up in our preparations for the new season, against tough opposition who will already have two matches under their belts by the time they face us. This time of the year always sees optimism high and a good buzz in the camp and this season is no different. We have strengthened the squad with some exciting signings, we have a number of players returning from long-term injury, and with the excitement of the British & Irish Lions endeavours fresh in our minds, I'm sure I' not alone when I say that I can't wait to see the Ospreys back in action again. Current season-ticket sales levels are already up considerably on the final figure for last season, so clearly, our fans appetite has been whetted.
"Leeds will provide a real test as we build up towards the opening Magners League fixture in Connacht just two weeks later. With the game being a traditional Saturday afternoon kick-off, the Kids Club enjoying their fun day at the stadium, and it being the first opportunity to see our new signings in action, we're hoping that there will be a good crowd present for what will, I'm sure, be an exciting afternoon's rugby."
Season-ticket holders are reminded that the game is included in their allocated matches. Match day tickets can now be purchased in person at the Liberty Stadium Ticket Office, online at www.ospreysrugby.com or via the Ticket Hotline on 08700 400 004, with prices starting at just £3 for juveniles.