The Ospreys today confirmed that Andrew Millward has been appointed to the role of Regional Performance Development Manager.
36 year-old Millward, who has made 94 appearances in an Ospreys shirt since making his regional debut against Ulster in their first ever Celtic League fixture against Ulster in September 2003, is to call time on his long playing career to focus on his new role, and will also stand down from the position of Forwards Coach at Bridgend RFC, a position he took up in May.
The key aims of the Regional Performance Development Manager will be to identify and manage the development of elite young players within the Ospreys region, leading the WRU's overall Performance Programme to ensure an effective flow of young talent into the regional set-up, and potentially into the international structure. In his new role, Millward will work closely with regional age-group and senior team coaches as well as coaches at the clubs across the region and WRU development staff to ensure the on and off-the-field development of young players.
The veteran front-rower, who has also played for London Welsh, Swansea and Neath and received international recognition with the Welsh Students and Wales A teams, spent three seasons combining his playing career with the role of Forwards Coach with the Ospreys Academy, and he sees his new post as being a natural progression.
Speaking about his appointment, Millward said:
"I'm really excited about taking up this new challenge, it is an important role within the Ospreys set-up and is one where I really believe that I can have an impact. I've always had a keen interest in assisting with the development of young talent, going back to my younger days when I qualified as a PE teacher and combined playing for London Welsh with working in education.
More recently, I was involved with the Ospreys Academy for four seasons, helping to coach the age group teams and I've always worked closely with young props coming through the ranks, helping to pass on my experience. This new role will allow me to take it a step further and to play a more formal part in the development of the next generation of young talent. The Ospreys already have a great track record of developing young talent and I'm looking forward to continuing this good work in this new role.
Of course I'm disappointed to be hanging my boots up, I think every rugby player dreads the day when they have to bring their career to an end, but to be honest about it, I'm 37 next month and I've had a good career so I can't be too disappointed. I've been very lucky with injuries and never really suffered, and most of my friends that I started playing rugby with have all retired before me so I can consider myself fortunate to be in the position that I'm in. I'll miss the day-to-day involvement as a player, but this opportunity is one that I couldn't refuse, it's a fresh challenge that should prove to be just as fulfilling as my playing career."
Ospreys Elite Performance Director, Andrew Hore, commented:
"We're delighted to welcome Andrew into his new role. As a senior member of the playing squad over the last five years, 'Bully' has always impressed with his willingness and desire to pass on his extensive knowledge of the game to his team mates. He has always had a hugely positive influence on the Ospreys environment and will continue to do so as Regional Performance Development Manager.
He is a local boy who has been with us since the inception of the region in 2003 and is very much one of the unsung Ospreys heroes, a great role model for youngsters looking to make their way in the game. He has already shown during his time as an Age Grade Coach that he cares passionately about developing young talent and this new role will now allow him to devote himself full-time to ensuring that the Ospreys conveyor belt continues to turn out high quality regional and international players.
If we are going to deliver long term, sustainable success for the region, we have to make sure that there is a clear pathway for young developing talent, we have to provide local youngsters with the tools to allow them to make their way in the game. In the short time that the Ospreys have been in existence we have a proud record of producing home grown talent that is second to none, and we have a current crop of Academy graduates who look like following in the footsteps of predecessors like James Hook, Alun-wyn Jones and Ian Evans. I'm sure that Andrew Millward, in his role as Regional Performance Development Manager, is looking forward to the challenge of building on the good work already done, to take the Ospreys Academy onto another level again."