Rugby fans are being urged to turn up and pay tribute to "â¬Ëtrue legend of the Welsh game"â¬â¢ when the Ospreys face Leicester Tigers at the Liberty Stadium next week in a testimonial match for winger Shane Williams (Saturday 23rd August, KO 3.00pm)...
OSPREYS FANS URGED TO PAY TRIBUTE TO WELSH LEGEND
Rugby fans are being urged to turn up and pay tribute to a 'true legend of the Welsh game' when the Ospreys face Leicester Tigers at the Liberty Stadium next week in a testimonial match for winger Shane Williams (Saturday 23rd August, KO 3.00pm).
The Wales and British Lions flier was granted a testimonial year in January to mark a decade of service to rugby in the region, and after an intensive pre-season training regime, the Ospreys will be using the game as the next vital step in the build-up to the kick-off the new Magners League campaign which kicks off in Connacht just two weeks later.
Ospreys Managing Director Mike Cuddy, who first signed the young Williams for Neath ten years ago, says that the record Welsh try scorer deserves to have a bumper crowd turnout for the match:"Over the last 10 years Shane has been an excellent servant to rugby, not just in Ospreylia or Wales, but to the world game. The term legend gets used too often in sport these days, but there are occasions where it is the only word that can be used to describe a player, and that is the case with Shane, who is a true legend of the Welsh game. "It's been a pleasure to have seen Shane's transformation from the shy, inexperienced scrum-half that we first signed for Neath from Amman Utd, taking his first steps in the game, into one of the greatest players of his generation. I remember the first time I saw him play, Lyn Jones and I were interested observers on the touchline during a midweek match against Pembrokeshire County and Shane was playing as a trialist. Coming on as a replacement, his first contribution was to pick the ball up on halfway and he ended up scoring under the posts after beating a host of defenders. We couldn't believe what we had just seen; it was clear that he had talent and we knew there and then that we had to sign him. "He was very shy as a youngster, and when he first started training with Neath he would struggle to and from training as he didn't have transport but would never say a thing about it. We managed to sort him out a Ford Escort and I don't think he's looked back since, so that car may have been the best purchase Neath RFC ever made! I'm delighted to say that he more than lived up to that early potential, since that day, we've seen him develop into a player that can make something out of absolutely nothing and he is a pleasure to watch. If ever there was a player that the term 'worth the admission fee just to watch him play' was invented for, then it's Shane. "When you look back at what has been a phenomenal career, first with Neath and then the Ospreys, as well as all his record breaking achievements in international rugby with Wales and the Lions, it seems incredible that he just keeps getting better and better and this year has been his most successful yet. He has given the fans so much pleasure over the years that I would expect that they would want to come out in numbers for the game and pay tribute to a truly special player."
Williams' achievements in the game to date have already carved him a place in any list of all-time greats. The leading Ospreys try scorer with 39, earlier this year he set a new record for the Welsh national side, scoring eight tries in just seven internationals in 2008 so far to take his overall his tally to 43, leapfrogging Gareth Thomas to top the list. With two Grand Slams to his credit, and the eighth top try scorer in Test history, Williams also jointly hold the British Lions record for most tries in a single match after touching down five times against Manawatu. In February, he signed a new three-year deal to stay at the Ospreys until summer 2011.
His Ospreys teammate, Wales skipper Ryan Jones also paid credit to Williams for the service he has given to rugby over the last ten years:
"Shane's record speaks for itself, he has been one of the leading players in the world game for a number of years. I've been fortunate to play alongside him for the Ospreys, Wales and the Lions, and I have to say that I'm glad I play with him and not against him as I wouldn't want to have to try and stop him. He is a player who I would pay money to watch as every time he gets hold of the ball he is looking to do something and he gets supporters excited."As well as being a great player, he is a great person who is incredibly modest despite all he has achieved in his career so far, and perhaps that is the secret, he refuses to get carried away with the hype. The game against Leicester Tigers is an important one for us coming so close to the start of the season and we'll be taking it seriously as it's the next step in our preparation for the new campaign, but it's important to remember that the game is actually a testimonial in honour of someone who has been a tremendous servant to the game and I hope that he gets a good turn-out for his match." Tickets for the game are currently available from the Liberty Stadium Ticket Office, online at http://www.ospreysrugby.com/admin/includes/scripts/www.ospreysrugby.com or via the Ticket Hotline on 08700 400 004, with adult prices starting at £20.
Concessions are available and children's prices (in the family section) start at just £4.