Preparations for the weekend trip to Clermont Auvergne stepped up a gear when the squad took part in a training run at the Liberty Stadium.
It was the first time in almost two whole weeks that the Ospreys have been able to take to a full size pitch to run through their moves with the arctic conditions making pitches across the region, and beyond, unplayable.
Players and coaches have been fortunate enough to have access to the indoor barn at Llandarcy during this time, as well as enjoying the indoor facilities during a visit to the WRU’s base at the Vale Hotel earlier this week, but with the two biggest games of the season coming up on the next two Saturday’s, it was important that the players got back onto grass to prepare properly.
Enquiries by management at the region established that the stadium boasted the only playable surface in Ospreylia this week, thanks to the state of the art undersoil heating system that consists of 248 special pipes that run length ways along the 120 metre playing surface, covering a total of almost 30km, the distance from Swansea to Porthcawl.
With the £27million venue also being home to Swansea City FC, who themselves have a big game at the weekend when they host fellow play-off candidates Leicester City, the priority for ground staff at the stadium has been to ensure a playable pitch for Saturday. However with the need for the Ospreys to find a suitable training venue, the focus switched from football to rugby, thanks to the co-operation of Swans management.
Ospreys Elite Performance Director, Andrew Hore, explained:
“We are extremely grateful to both the Swans and the Stadium Management Company for their co-operation that enabled the squad to get out onto the grass for the first time since we played the Blues on New Year’s Day when the snow started coming down.
“We’ve been extremely fortunate to be able to call on our indoor barn at Llandarcy, but sometimes, you need to actually get outdoors on to a proper pitch to be able run through a full session, particularly for things like kicking practice. With the Swans at home this weekend, we realised that the ground staff would be busy preparing the pitch for an important game so we tried to find an alternative, but because of the weather, we inevitably found ourselves back looking at the Liberty.
“The Swans, and their manager Paulo Sousa in particular, were appreciative of our position and fully understood the importance of our game against Clermont Auvergne. The discussion between myself, Paulo, Roger Blyth and the Swans Directors were very productive, and thanks to their co-operation we have been able to get a good, meaningful session in out on the pitch that will be an enormous help ahead of the weekend. Groundsman Dan Duffy and his team do a great job and we are extremely grateful for their assistance.
“We are not alone in facing up to this problem, it’s a something that clubs right around Europe are having to deal with this week, so we realise how fortunate we are to have such a fantastic facility available to us. The co-operation seen between all three partners at the Liberty Stadium this week is an excellent example of how we can work together to benefit all parties.”