Ospreys bosses have paid tribute to the Eyasses for their WRU Age Grade Championship Final success.
The Under-16's defeated the Scarlets by just the one point in a nailbiting final at St Helen's on Wednesday evening, a late Rhys Thomas try securing a 29-28 win against the team who had topped the table at the end of the regular season, and had already beaten the young Ospreys twice during this campaign.
According to Andrew Hore, Elite Performance Director at the region, the win is positive news for the Ospreys, both in the shape of silverware, and also, the long term benefits of the development work being done at that level.
Hore has worked closely with Regional Performance Development Manager Andrew Millward and his age-grade coaching team to help ensure greater alignment with the senior set-up across all aspects of the rugby side of the business, and he says that everybody at the Ospreys can take great pride from what they have achieved this season.
"It's been a great season for the Under-16's and it's great that they've been able to get their just reward with a win on Wednesday evening", said Hore.
"We have great strength in depth at that age level, the competition to to get into the squad was such that we made the decision to actually extend it and have a bigger squad than usual this season. The coaches have done a fantastic job of rotating the squad and exposing a wider number of players, which has often compromised the outcome of matches for the benefit of the individuals within the team, which is to be commended.
"We are delighted for the coaches and the management team who have achieved this success even when the focus has been on player development. Their work this season is not only benefiting the Ospreys now, through the success in the final on Wednedsay, but will continue to benefit the region in future seasons as well through the outstanding development work that they have done."
Director of Coaching, Scott Johnson, echoed Hore's sentiments, saying that the result was one that the youngsters involved and the coaches could take great satisfaction from. Particularly pleasing, he said, was the manner of the success, which has allowed the region to expose a wider selection of young talent to this level of rugby during the course of the season, with regular player rotation allowing the elite development team at the Ospreys to get a detailed picture of the up ands coming talent at their disposal. Johnson added:
"I think that's been a well thought out plan which means that we're now at a point where we can fully understand the depth of talent that we have in our pot, and we get to take a good look at a wider range of quality kids from right across the region. The process has worked really well for us, it gives us a clear indication of who we have coming through. We pride ourselves on our track record of developing players, and that most of our so-called 'stars' are local kids, and this is just an extension of the policy that we have here to ensure long-term, sustainable success for the Ospreys.
"By increasing the number of young kids that we involve at this level, exposing them to better facilities, players and coaching, we are increasing the player pool right across the region. Long term, that will benefit the whole rugby community in the region, not only the Ospreys, as we will have more kids capable of playing at a higher level which obviously has a knock-on effect for our clubs as well.
"I think what we are doing at that level, we have players like Steve Tandy and Andy Lloyd coaching the junior teams, says that not only do we feeding from the top to the bottom, but the bottom gets pushed up quicker as well. I think thats a sign of a great organisation, one that plans for its future, and actually gives us very real hope and prospects for a successful, long term future."