The Ospreys formally launched a new college rugby programme at their Liberty Stadium home this week.
The new initiative is being operated in conjunction with the three further education colleges within the region, Bridgend College, Neath Port Talbot College and Gower College Swansea, with all three establishments working closely with the Ospreys’ Elite Youth Development department to provide an unrivalled rugby programme at each of their campuses, with the aim of ensuring a constant flow of quality young players through the system.
Ospreys Regional Performance Development Manager, Andrew Millward, is overseeing the programme, with Ospreys staff providing support and assistance to the college coaches, who in turn will follow a specially created development plan allowing them to enhance their own skills.
The new programme focuses on coach and player development, following the Ospreys philosophy and system of rugby to create a stronger sense of regional identity.
A core group of age-grade players will be based at their local college where they will continue with their education alongside a newly created rugby programme which has been specially designed to cover all areas of rugby development on and off the field. The Ospreys will make available a conditioning coach, a nutritionist and elite youth development coaches to assist with the delivery of the programme.
The colleges already compete in the Welsh National Colleges League, and the programme will see the introduction of a new Ospreys Colleges competition played at Premiership grounds in the region allowing for further connection with the local communities, with the top two competing for the Cuddy Cup in a one off final.
The colleges will also be supplied with brand new Kooga playing strip that will incorporate Ospreys branding, as well as that of their associates Italian clothing brand Freee – Back to Lifeand Sony UK Technology Centre in Pencoed, both of whom are supporting the initiative. The new strips will be unveiled for the first time at the Liberty Stadium event.
Ospreys Elite Performance Director, Andrew Hore, said:
“We are delighted to formally launch this new initiative in conjunction with Bridgend College, Neath Port Talbot College and Gower College Swansea.
"We already have excellent relationships with the three colleges, but this new programme will take it onto another level. I can’t emphasise enough how important the role that they have in helping us to ensure sustainable success for the Ospreys is. Our region is unique in Wales in that we have three distinct districts across the region with their own identities, and as part of that, there are three separate colleges. We have opted to follow a college based programme of player development that will allow our young players to continue in formal education, which obviously will help to create better people, while continuing their rugby development in a suitable environment which follows the Ospreys ethos, creating a greater understanding of the O.U.R.S. rugby system that we have in place here.
“The Ospreys and the three individual colleges would not be able to run this programme without the support of our associates who are backing the initiative. Freee – Back to Life see the college programme as a natural fit given their youthful sports and urban wear target market, and are delighted to be associated with the Ospreys for the first time, while Sony UK Technology Centre in Pencoed who are already extremely active in the community and have supported the Ospreys in a number of initiatives.
"Ultimately, the programme will create more Welsh players, coaches and administrators, developing rugby people who have a strong community responsibility and greater regional pride which will help us along the road to our aim of creating long term sustainable success for the Ospreys."
Mark Jones, Principal, Bridgend College, said:
“We’re delighted to work with the Ospreys on this project. The development of our students as individuals is an important part of our college’s ethos and that’s what this project is about so we are delighted to be a part of it.”
Nick Bennett, Principal, Gower College Swansea, said:
“We’re a new college in our current form, but we have long standing relationships with the Ospreys and are delighted to be associated with this initiative. We benefit hugely from this relationship, developing not only fine young rugby players, but personal skills across a whole range of young people in Swansea, and this partnership is only going to prove beneficial for all.”
Mark Dacey, Principal, Neath Port Talbot College, said:
“We’ve worked with the Ospreys now for many years. We share facilities at Llandarcy, and we see this as the next step really. It’s an investment by the Ospreys not only in future players but in the community, and we think it’s a very positive initiative with many benefits to all concerned.”