The return of the Ospreys to Neath this Friday evening will hand a welcome boost to the town, with political leaders celebrating the historic return of regional rugby to the Gnoll.
The LV= Cup game against Saracens marks a return for the Ospreys to the scene of their first ever competitive fixture in 2003, and the venue of the first of their four league title successes two years later, and a healthy crowd is expected to welcome the region back to familiar territory.
Speaking ahead of the big match, Neath Port Talbot Council Leader Cllr Ali Thomas, said:
“I am delighted to be welcoming the Ospreys back to Neath Port Talbot and to a ground which witnessed many of their early successes. The town of Neath, and indeed the entire county borough, has a long and very proud rugby history and in the Castle Hotel, Neath boasts the cradle of the WRU itself.
“Neath is known as a passionate rugby town and one which will provide a warm welcome to both sets of fans. Sporting occasions like this provide a huge boost to local businesses and the return of first class regional rugby benefits the Council’s regeneration aims for the town centre. The Council is working alongside many partner organisations for the benefit of our town centres and is looking forward to building on the good relationship we have with the Ospreys.”
Andrew Hore, Chief Executive, Ospreys Rugby added:
“Friday night is building up to be a special occasion, one that everybody involved with the Ospreys is looking forward to and that should be savoured by the whole town. We played at the Gnoll in pre-season for a special regional challenge against our four senior community clubs. That evening drew a great response from the local rugby community so this should be even bigger and better.
“Although this is the first time we’ve been back to the Gnoll for a competitive fixture for a few years, there is no escaping the connection between Neath and the Ospreys, and the major part that the club, the town and the community has played in our successes. On Friday night there’ll be a number of boys from the local area running out at their local Premiership club ground to represent their region, in front of their family and friends. That is what bringing this game to the Gnoll is all about.
“The game will also have a positive impact on town centre trading, with visitors coming into the town for the evening and spending money in local shops, bars and restaurants, which is something that benefits the whole community regardless of their interest in rugby. I’ve no doubt that the evening is going to be a huge success on and off the field, with the Neath rugby public getting behind the Ospreys.”
Tickets for the match are available to buy direct from Neath RFC as well as the usual Ospreys outlets, priced at £15 (seating) and £10 (terrace) for adults, with concessions £5.
Fans visiting the town centre on Friday evening will be able to make use of Neath multi-storey car park which will be offering parking free of charge from 6pm to 10.30pm.