Young Ospreys fans will get the chance to get up close and personal to watch their heroes in a full training session next week when the team goes on the road for two special 'off-site' days in the build up to the big derby match against Newport Gwent Dragons later this month.
The two-day mini-tour will see the entire the squad hitting the road, with open training sessions held at local comprehensive schools and attended not only by pupils of the host school, but also those from the local primary schools, who will also take part in specially arranged tag rugby festivals organised by the WRU/Ospreys Community Rugby team aimed at maximising participation in rugby.
There will also be ‘meet the players’ sessions at the end of training, allowing the youngsters to get the players autographs and even capture a quick photograph to remember the day by.
The team will visit Bishopston School in Swansea on Tuesday 12th March, before heading off to Cwmtawe Community School in Pontardawe on Friday 15th March, where they will be put through their paces by the coaching team as they prepare for the big end of season push for the play-offs.
The big game against the Dragons will be marked at half-time by a parade around pitchside by visiting school parties, with the pupils being encouraged to create their own banners to illustrate what the Ospreys mean to them.
Andy Lloyd, Rugby Operations Manager at the Ospreys, said:
“We are taking the whole operation out on the road for these two days, coaches, players, physios and conditioners. The children attending the events at the participating schools will get a unique chance to enjoy a close-up look at all the work that goes in to putting a team out on a matchday.
“With the community team inviting along the feeder primary schools for special tag events, and the opportunity for the children to meet the players afterwards, they should be two very special days for everyone.
“We all understand that we would be nothing without the fans, and are always looking at opportunities to give something back to them for their continued support. The youngsters in particular are the lifeblood of the club, and we want them to feel that they really are an important part of the Ospreys, and doing things like this will bring them closer to the team.
“Off the back of these visits, we hope to see as many of these children with us at the Liberty Stadium on the 22nd for the Dragons game, taking advantage of the Schools Ticketing Initiative to support their region with their home made banners.”
For one of the Ospreys players who will be part of the tour, it will be a trip down memory lane. Prop Joe Rees, currently rehabbing after a neck operation but hoping to return to action before the end of the season, will be returning to his former school having been a pupil at Bishopston and he said he’s looking forward to going back.
“It’ll be a little bit strange to go there as an Osprey and not as a pupil, but I’m looking forward to it”he said.
“It’s brilliant to be part of a squad that is so close to the local community. To be taking our training session and preparation for such a massive game out into the heart of the community is brilliant and shows just how highly we value our young supporters. By supporting the local community like this, it makes them really feel a part of the Ospreys and encourages even closer links.”
In addition to these two visits, the team will also be heading to Bridgend early next month for a similar event at Maesteg Comprehensive School as part of their preparations for the final regular home game of the PRO12 season against Benetton Treviso.
For more details of the Ospreys Clubs and Schools Ticketing Initiative and how your school can access fantastic value tickets for the two remaining home games, and participate in the parade at the Dragons game, please visit the following address: http://www.ospreysrugby.com/community/initiative