Ospreys coach, Tom Smith, has praised the effort and endeavour of the young Ospreys squad at the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s finals day at the Ricoh Arena.
Having progressed from the group stages for the first time ever two weeks ago, the Ospreys saw off Newcastle Falcons in the quarter-final, 28-17, before a tough semi-final against Wasps went to the wire, an Ospreys yellow card proving crucial at the death as the Coventry based hosts managed to pinch it 24-14 with two late tries.
Reflecting on the sevens experience, and on finals day itself, Smith said that the reaction from the squad showed how far they’d come in a short period of time.
“The most pleasing thing, as a coach, is that it was a disappointed changing room at the end” said Smith.
“We’re disappointed losing to a Wasps side, at home in front of their supporters, who went on to win the competition. With the talent and experience they had in their team, to push them all the way and, maybe, be a little unlucky at the end, was fantastic. The effort we put in was first class.
“We took it up a level as a group from the Welsh leg in Cardiff. That’s what we’ve come to expect from anyone who pulls on the Ospreys jersey and they showed that spirit”
Sunday’s performance was even more satisfying when the enforced changes from Cardiff were taken into account, with Wales U18 call-ups, injury and senior squad duty meaning there were six new faces on duty, players who have shone at club level and could feature in this season’s British & Irish Cup for the Premiership Select.
“It’s a challenge” Smith acknowledged.
“It can be frustrating if you allow it to be. We had a very good evening at the Arms Park with some good performances, and we wanted to give that group a chance to go again but circumstances dictated otherwise.
“But, saying that, the boys who we did have available for this weekend were a credit to the region and to their clubs. They are a good bunch with the right attitude and they’ve slotted into our environment, into the squad well.
“In a short period of time, with limited prep, they’ve taken on board our messages and put them into practice on the field. You’ve only got to look at the performances out there, the way we defeated Newcastle and pushed Wasps all the way, to see how well we did.
“It was an excellent occasion today, an opportunity for these boys to play on a big stage, in front of the cameras, against unfamiliar opposition, boys that they don’t play against week in, week out. It was a test for them and, despite losing in the semi-final, they can hold their heads up high.
“We’ll keep looking at these boys and, no doubt, will work with some of them again over the course of the season.”