Ospreys can take pride in Davies' IRB award

Award is recognition of our development pathway say Ospreys

Just days after Sam Davies was crowned IRB Junior Player of the Year Ospreys management have hailed the achievement, saying that it is recognition of not only Sam’s progress this season but of the development work being done day in, day out at the region.

Davies became the first Welsh player since 2001, and only the second ever, to pick up the prestigious award after playing a major part in Wales U20’s progress to their first Junior World Championship Final, and he has been challenged to follow-up the award by establishing himself in senior rugby over the coming seasons.

Andrew Millward, WRU Performance Manager at the Ospreys, said:

“Sam should be congratulated on winning this award which is something that he, and everybody involved in his development from the community game right through the pathway, should take enormous pride in.

“As with any award like this it offers up a new challenge to the player. He doesn’t want to be known forever as Sam Davies, 2013 Junior Player of the Year. He has to continue working hard to continue developing so that he can give himself a really good chance of a prolonged career in the professional game. He knows what he needs to do to achieve that goal and it’s up to him to make the right choices to enable him do that, with the support of everyone at the Ospreys.”

Millward’s views were echoed by Mefin Davies, C Group Coach at the Ospreys and Davies’ Head Coach in the Premiership at Swansea RFC last season, who said that the ability to blood youngsters at that level was a key part of the development pathway.

“There’s no doubt that a Premiership without the threat of relegation has certainly helped the likes of Sam and others in the Wales U20 squad to develop this season. It’s common sense that it allows you to blood players and focus on development instead of focusing solely on survival. If you have relegation then it changes your entire outlook as a coaching team and it means that young up and coming players may miss out on vital experience and opportunities to learn at that level.

“Sam has definitely benefited from being involved with Swansea and that experience has helped him towards this success. The same goes for a number of other players who were involved out in France, like Rhodri Hughes and Nicky Thomas with Swansea and Daniel Suter and Ashley Evans at Bridgend, and then you had the likes of Dan Baker going to Japan after playing for Swansea last season.

“A Premiership without relegation has been a vital stepping stone for these boys towards their aim of becoming fully fledged Ospreys and has contributed enormously towards Welsh success at the Junior World Championships.”

Reflecting on a development programme that contributed seven players to the Junior World Championship squad and another eight to the senior national squad that traveled to Japan, in addition to the five members of the Lions squad, Chief Operations Officer Andrew Hore said it was great to see the region’s investment in youth bearing fruit:

“The development pathway here at the Ospreys is firmly established now” he said.

“There has been a huge increase in our development budget, by 600 per cent, and we are seeing the results coming through. We were incredibly proud to see 20 players selected for international duty this summer, and in particular, so many local youngsters being picked to not only represent their country but the Ospreys, the community clubs where they started out and the Premiership clubs who they have represented over the last 12 to 18 months.

“Players don’t just turn up at national camp ready made. Their selection is a result of hard work and investment at the regions, not only from the players themselves but from coaches, conditioners, nutritionists, and importantly their families.

“The investment into development in recent years has allowed us to put in place systems and structures that afford young players every opportunity to become professional rugby players. The success of our players at the Junior World Championships, and of Sam in winning this award, is a vindication of our commitment to development from within and is recognition of the quality of the development programme we have in place at the Ospreys. To be able to say that this programme is responsible for developing a world player of the year is some achievement.

“Sam is no doubt very proud of this award, as we all are, and I’m delighted to congratulate him on behalf of the Ospreys. He has to keep his feet very firmly on the ground now and realise that he still has a lot of hard work ahead of him if he is to kick on from here. He’s in the right environment to allow him to reach his full potential, but it’s important that he is allowed to continue his development in the right way, without any undue expectations on his shoulders.”