Ospreys Hoping For Heineken Cup Sell-out

After enjoying a season-high Liberty Stadium crowd on New Year's Eve for the Magners League derby against Cardiff Blues, Ospreys bosses are hoping to go one better next weekend and record a first sell-out of the season.

After enjoying a season-high Liberty Stadium crowd on New Year's Eve for the Magners League derby against Cardiff Blues, Ospreys bosses are hoping to go one better next weekend and record a first sell-out of the season when Guinness Premiership leaders Gloucester arrive for a crunch Heineken Cup clash on Saturday evening (KO 5.30pm).

A crowd of 16,509 was present to watch the Ospreys record a comfortable 22-3 victory over their rivals from the capital, and with 12,000 tickets sold for the must-win clash against the Cherry & Whites by close of business on Saturday and a full week to go until the big match, the prospect of the 'sold out' signs going up at the Liberty Stadium once more is a very real one.

Given the possibility of a third ever capacity crowd at their new home following sell-outs against Llanelli Scarlets and Australia last season, Ospreys bosses are anticipating an electric atmosphere for a game which is crucial to their hopes of Heineken Cup progression this season.

Ospreys Managing Director Roger Blyth said:

"We were absolutely delighted with the crowd that we had for the Cardiff Blues match. We called on our supporters to get behind us in numbers ahead of the game and the reaction was fantastic with us enjoying our highest crowd of the season to date. The atmosphere on New Year's Eve was much improved because of it, and the players responded with a comfortable victory against a Blues side that has been on something of a crest of a wave lately.

"The challenge now for us, players, officials and supporters alike, is to build on New Year's Eve and make both the crowd and atmosphere for the Gloucester match even bigger and better. The nature of the game, which is vitally important to both sides, and the almost derby-like feel to it given their close proximity to Wales, means interest is very high. With a week still to go, ticket sales are very good and it is getting busier each day as anticipation grows ahead of the match.

"We are confident that the crowd will exceed the 16,509 New Year's Eve attendance making it the highest of the season, and we're hopeful that we will achieve, or get very close to, our first sell-out of the season. If we do, it will give everybody at the region a huge boost, and for the players to run out in front of more than 20,000 fans for such a huge match will be fantastic. Undoubtedly, a big crowd and the improved atmosphere that comes with it, has a massive impact on the players and in such a crucial game, every little thing that can make a difference helps. The gap between success and failure can be very narrow indeed so we want our supporters to come from all corners of Ospreylia on Saturday to help roar us to victory."

Lyn Jones' men will be gunning for revenge against a side that handed them their only Heineken Cup defeat so far this season when they met at Kingsholm back in November. Two early Sonny Parker tries put the Ospreys in the driving seat only for the Cherry & Whites to come roaring back to clinch a 26-18 success that handed them the initiative in Pool 2. They sit proudly on top of the Guinness Premiership despite suffering only a second league defeat of the season on Friday night when they lost narrowly to local rivals, against second placed Bath.

According to Blyth, the crunch match on Saturday will be reminiscent of days of old when Welsh sides would regularly face English opposition throughout the season, although he says that the Heineken Cup has given the clash an exciting modern twist. He said:

"Back in the amateur days, before the pressures that leagues and professionalism brought with them, these Anglo-Welsh matches were a regular fixture in the schedules and they were always played out in front of bumper, passionate crowds. When the opposition only had a short trip across the Severn Bridge, such as Gloucester on Saturday, the atmosphere would always be fantastic. Large numbers would travel down the M4 looking to put the Welsh clubs in their place and I'm sure that it won't be any different this weekend.

"These days, such matches are much rarer, and unlike the Anglo-Welsh matches of old, these games have the added spice of silverware being up for grabs. I think it will be another fantastic occasion for Ospreys supporters, whether they are old enough to remember the amateur days or youngsters to whom the concept of regular Anglo-Welsh rugby is unheard of. Gloucester are set to have a large following present judging by the number of tickets being posted out to supporters in their catchment area, which will help to add a bit of spice to the atmosphere and will ensure that our own supporters will have to do their bit to make themselves heard over the travelling support on the night.

"Gloucester are enjoying a great season and sit on top of both the Guinness Premiership and our Heineken Cup Pool, so we know that it will not be easy on Saturday, but this is what top level rugby is all about. I'm sure that it is going to an exciting evening, a fantastic game of rugby between two teams packed with quality players in front of another huge crowd. Exactly what fans want from the Heineken Cup in fact, and a win will set us up for a do-or-die trip to Bourgoin the following weekend, and possible qualification for the knockout stages for the first time in our short history, so I would think that rugby fans from across Ospreylia would want to be part of a potentially historic evening."

The match been graded as a Level 1 fixture under the new match-day pricing structure, with adult tickets available from £16. Tickets for both games are now available to buy, either in person at the Liberty Stadium Ticket Office, via the Ticket Hotline on 08700 400 004, or online at http://www.ospreysrugby.com/tickets. Tickets purchased on a match-day are subject to a £2 surcharge.