Ospreys go Italian again

Members of the Ospreys squad will visit their partner club Rugby Rovigo this weekend, when the region hosts a special coaching day with the Italian club.

The second such event that the Ospreys have held in Italy following a similar day at ASR Milano in May, and the first in the northern Italian town, it will take place on Sunday, the day after the Ospreys face Benetton Treviso at Stadio Comunale di Monigo in the RaboDirect PRO12.

A selection of senior players including the likes of Ian Evans, Jonathan Thomas, Barry Davies and Richard Fussell will stay behind following the match, along with Director of Coaching, Scott Johnson, and Chief Operations Officer, Andrew Hore, to join members of Rugby Rovigo’s senior squad as well as players from the U14 to U18 age groups.

The Ospreys and Rugby Rovigo announced details of a formal relationship and an intention to work together on a series of initiatives last season, with this coaching day the first opportunity that the two outfits have had to collaborate.

During the day, Johnson and his players will get the opportunity to work one-to-one with the Italian players, while Hore will spend time with Rovigo management, sharing ideas with a view to improving the organisational, commercial and competitive capabilities of both organisations.

The event is being supported by Italian construction firm Stabili SRL, who this season feature on the Ospreys jersey for the very first time, and those taking part will be wearing a special Ospreys training jersey which will also be used as a warm-up top when the region plays in Italy and features the Stabili SRL logo in addition to that of primary sponsors RWE npower renewables.

Speaking about the day, Andrew Hore commented:

“It’s good to be able to visit our sister club, Rugby Rovigo, and to spend time working with their players and coaches, from the senior team and their age-grade set-up.

“Having announced our partnership with Rovigo during last season we have held a number of discussions and worked on initiatives behind the scenes, but this is the first time we’ve been able to actively work to promote the relationship and we’re all looking forward to what should be a successful day.

“It follows on from a similar day we held at ASR Milano following our game against Aironi in May, an event which caused a huge stir among the local rugby community and saw the Ospreys brand getting widespread recognition in the Italian media.

“Rugby in Italy is continuing to make huge strides. We’ve already gone on record as saying that the introduction of Treviso and Aironi into the PRO12 is a massive step forward which has opened up new opportunities for a forward thinking organisation such as the Ospreys. Along with our rugby partners, Rugby Rovigo and ASR Milano, and business partners such as Stabili SRL, we will continue to embrace these opportunities and break new ground when it comes to rugby development.”

Based in Veneto in Northern Italy and playing at the 5,000 capacity Stadio Comunale Mario Battaglini, Rovigo were founded in 1935 by a medical student named Dino Lanzoni.

They have won the top flight in Italian rugby on 11 occasions, with only two clubs (Milan and Benetton Treviso) winning more, the most recent success coming in 1990. Amongst the famous faces linked to Rovigo during their long history is former British & Irish Lions Head Coach, Carwyn James, who enjoyed a spell in charge of the club during the late seventies.

Rovigo have participated in Europe’s second tier club competition, the Challenge Cup, on nine separate occasions, facing Welsh opposition in the form of Caerphilly, Ebbw Vale and Newport in the pre-regional era.