As he prepares for his final game in an Ospreys shirt, the region this week said thanks to the Swans for giving them one of their biggest heroes.
Shane Williams will bring down the curtain on his long and illustrious rugby career when he makes his 141st and final appearance for the region in Sunday’s RaboDirect PRO12 Final against Leinster at the RDS Showground, and as he reaches his finale he has revealed that if circumstances had been different he could have ended up tearing down the wing at the Liberty Stadium in the white of Swansea City instead of the black of the Ospreys.
“Not a lot of people know it but long before I was an Osprey, even before I played for Neath, I had some time on trial with the Swans Centre of Excellence and things could have worked out very differently” said the legendary wing wizard.
“Life is all about ‘ifs and ands’. Who knows how it would have gone for me, but the reality is, I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy a wonderfully successful rugby career with so many highs. The Ospreys have been a massive part of my life over the last nine years and although I want to go out with a bang in Dublin it makes me sad to realise that come 6pm on Sunday that’s it, it’ll all be over for me.”
Ahead of his last ever Ospreys game, to commemorate his time with the Swans, and as a ‘thank you’ from the region for helping in his sporting development as a teenager, Shane and Ospreys Chief Operations Officer Andrew Hore met up with Leigh Dineen, Vice Chairman of Swansea City, at Llandarcy Academy of Sport, to present the Swans with an Ospreys shirt personally signed by the player, which will be hung in their boardroom at the Liberty Stadium, the £27m home shared by the two sporting teams.
Andrew Hore commented:
“Given all that Shane has achieved over the years for the Ospreys, ahead of his final game for the region we felt it only fitting that we say thank you to Swansea City FC for the ‘one that got away’ as far as they were concerned!
“It’s very fitting that we mark it in this way, as the relationship between the Ospreys and the Swans has never been stronger. We have two successful sporting organisations that continue to lead the way in Wales operating out of the Liberty Stadium and representing the communities south-west Wales, and that is something that we should take great pride in. We are in a position where working together we can help to make Swansea a true sporting capital of Wales, recognised internationally as a centre of sporting excellence.
“We’ve enjoyed watching the success of the Swans in the Premiership, it’s been fantastic for the area and can only inspire more people to take an interest in sport which is a good thing all round. I think that when the Swans got promoted last year, a lot of people looking from the outside expected Premiership football to drive a wedge between the two organisations. The reality is we are working closer together than ever.
“Ultimately, this region is big enough to sustain two professional sporting entities, and at the end of the day, we exist to encourage young people to become more active. All we can do is give them the opportunities and let them decide which ball they want to play with. The more young people we have actively participating in sport the more chance we have of discovering the next Shane Williams or Joe Allen.”
Leigh Dineen echoed Hore’s words, adding:
“As Andrew said, Shane really is ‘the one that got away’! Regardless of the shape of ball, he is a true Welsh sporting legend and although we never got to see him in a Swans shirt every sports fan in the region can be proud of what he has achieved throughout his career.
“We’ve enjoyed an incredible first season in the Premiership, with memorable wins over the league winners Manchester City, third placed Arsenal, and the victory against Liverpool earlier this month. Now it’s the Ospreys turn and we wish them the very best of luck in Leinster.
“The whole city, and for that matter the wider area as well, can take great pride in having two successful sports teams playing at the Liberty Stadium. It’s fantastic for the local community to see the Swans and the Ospreys doing so well and the spin-offs to the area it brings in terms of things like advertising, additional business and simply generating a feelgood factor around the city, is immeasurable. We have a great working relationship at boardroom level and I know that the players also share that relationship. It’s a great example of how two sports can thrive operating side-by-side with such a fantastic home at the Liberty Stadium.”