Friday night’s LV= Cup clash against Saracens at the Gnoll has been hailed as a “historic occasion” by an Ospreys original who also played more than 100 times for Neath.
Andrew Millward, who now oversees day-to-day rugby operations at the region as Rugby General Manager, has happy recollections of the Gnoll having played for Neath from 1999 until 2003 and the inception of regional rugby.
He was then part of the starting line-up in the first ever competitive Ospreys fixture, a 41-30 win over Ulster at the Gnoll in September 2003, as well as the last competitive game that the region played in Neath, when the Ospreys claimed their first Celtic League title, a 29-12 defeat of Edinburgh.
Now, as the Ospreys prepare to return to the town this weekend, Millward said he can’t wait to see the region running out at his old stomping ground once again:
“I’ve got great memories of the Gnoll, from my time with Neath and from our first couple of years as Ospreys” said Millward.
“I was fortunate enough to be a part of some big occasions there as an Osprey, most notably obviously the first match against Ulster and the Edinburgh game where we won our first title.
“To be on that pitch when thousands of supporters poured on at the end to celebrate was something that will always stick in the memory, but these boys involved at the weekend have a chance to create their own history.
“It’s a great opportunity for them to go out and stake a claim for a place in the Ospreys jersey, and to follow in the footsteps of people like James King, Justin Tipuric, Hanno Dirksen, Sam Lewis and Lloyd Peers who used this competition to start to establish themselves in the squad.
“It’s also a chance for some of these youngsters to wear the jersey and represent their region out in the community, in front of their friends and family, and to learn a bit more about the tradition, the history and the culture that the Ospreys shirt represents.
“It’s going to be a pretty special evening for Ospreys Rugby. Playing a competitive game in Neath for the first time in more than nine years makes it a historic occasion that we should all enjoy. There should be a buzz around the whole town on Friday, with the crowd coming in off the train and savouring the match day atmosphere. I’m really looking forward to it, just as any rugby fans in the town should be.”
Ticket for this game are £15 (seating) and £10 (terrace) for adults, with concessions £5. You can buy tickets at either the Liberty Stadium or the Gnoll, online at www.ospreysrugby.com/buytickets or via the Ticket Hotline on 0844 815 6665.
Season members are reminded that they will not be able to use their card to gain access to the venue on the night, and need to collect their match tickets from the Ticket Office at the Liberty Stadium in advance.
Premier Club members should contact Rebecca Gigg at the Liberty Stadium to make arrangements.
Meanwhile, the Ospreys return to the Bridgend Ford Brewery Field next week to face Newport Gwent Dragons on Friday 14th November.
It’s the seventh time that Bridgend Ravens have hosted an Ospreys LV= Cup game since the region first took games on the road in November 2010, with the Ospreys securing four wins from six at the venue.
Last season Bridgend hosted a nail-biting clash with Sale Sharks when the Ospreys overturned a 16 point second half deficit to win 37-36, Aisea Natoga scoring a hat trick as Sam Davies kicked a last minute touchline conversion to win the game.
Tickets for this game are also available from the usual outlets as well as direct from the Bridgend Ford Brewery Field.
Premium season members can claim one seated ticket per membership, and standard members one terrace ticket per membership, by contacting the Ticket Office no later than Friday 7th November, after which their ticket cannot be guaranteed. Season membership cards will not be accepted at the venue on the night.
Non-season members will be able purchase terrace tickets only, priced at £10 adults, £5 concessions.