Ospreys bosses are calling on supporters to join them as they pay tribute to a group of players they describe as being "â¬Ëlegends in the making' this weekend, when they present them with special commemorative shirts to mark their 50th or 100th appearance.
Ospreys bosses are calling on supporters to join them as they pay tribute to a group of players they describe as being 'legends in the making' this weekend, when they present them with special commemorative shirts to mark their 50th or 100th appearance for the region.
The presentation to Paul James, Duncan Jones, Ian Evans, James Hook, Lee Byrne, Nikki Walker and Filo Tiatia, will take place on the Liberty Stadium turf immediately after the Ospreys crucial Heineken Cup tie against Perpignan on Saturday afternoon (KO 3.30pm), and supporters are being invited to stay in their seats once the final whistle has blown to pay their own tribute to the seven, who have hit the landmark figure during the opening weeks of the current season.
The players will be presented with special one-off versions of the Ospreys jersey, which will bear their names, along with the milestone figure they have reached and the name of the opposition embroidered onto the chest.
Ospreys Managing Director Mike Cuddy explained:
"Capping a player who has played a particular number of games has always been the traditional way of honouring the achievement, and it is something that has always been done behind the scenes away from the public eye. We want to change this; to make 50 or 100 appearances for the Ospreys, or in the case of some players looking forward, 150 or 200, is a huge achievement and we want to ensure as many people in the Ospreys family as possible get to share in the celebrations.
"The players and the coaching team have talked about the value of the Ospreys shirt, it is something which every member of the squad wants to be in possession of, and it is something that everybody playing rugby throughout the region, young or old should aspire to. To wear the Ospreys jersey is the ultimate rugby achievement in Ospreylia, and it is for that reason we have initiated the commemorative jersey to recognise the players who have excelled in the region's colours, passing the landmark figure of 50 or 100 appearances."
Ian Evans was the first to reach a landmark this season when he made his 50th appearances in an Ospreys shirt in the opening game of the new campaign in Connacht, before Filo Tiatia achieved the same figure the following week when the region entertained Cardiff Blues, the same day that Paul James became only the third Ospreys centurion.
Nikki Walker reached his half-century in the bonus-point defeat at Leinster, with James Hook and Lee Byrne making their 50th appearance in the win over Ulster. Duncan Jones became the fourth to reach the hundred mark in the win over Harlequins at the start of October.
Mike Cuddy added:
"Five of these players are local lads and are role models who schoolchildren picking up a rugby ball for the first time can aspire to as they begin their rugby careers, while in Filo and Nikki, we have two quality players who have been welcomed into the nest and who live and breath the core values that are at the heart of the Ospreys.
"By taking the presentation of these shirts out on the pitch, the supporters can show their appreciation for the effort and commitment of these guys over the last few seasons, and in return, the players can also say a big thank you to the fans for the tremendous support they receive week-in, week-out. The magnificent seven are all future Ospreys legends, and we believe it is only right to give their achievements the recognition they deserve. We decided to make the presentation post-match instead of doing it ahead of kick-off so that the special occasion wouldn't be overshadowed by the pre-match build up, and also, so that it wouldn't interfere with the players preparations for such an important game. This in itself will help to make it a unique occasion that will be witnessed by the thousands of fans who will be in attendance on Saturday."
Tickets for the game are selling well, with the highest crowd of the season to date already confirmed. Supporters taking advantage of the South Stand Special Offer announced last week, which allows them to get adult tickets for both the Perpignan fixture and December's game against Benetton Treviso for just £20, have boosted sales to the 10,000 level, and the Ospreys are hopeful that figure will rise still further in the days building up to the vital clash. To take advantage of this deal, supporters must purchase their tickets in person at the Liberty Stadium or via the Ticket Hotline on 08700 400 004. Full price tickets are also available through these outlets as well as online at http://ospreysrugby.com/admin/includes/scripts/www.ospreysrugby.com.