Overseas Ospreys prepare for Heineken Cup

The Ospreys will be backed by fans who have travelled from right across Europe when they face Biarritz at San Sebastian's Estadio Anoeta in next month's Heineken Cup quarter-final.

With a thousand tickets snapped up for the game, supporters will be flying to the Basque region from places such as France, Germany, Switzerland, southern Spain and Holland, and for one Swedish Osprey in particular, it will be a particularly special occasion as she watches the region live for the very first time.

30-year old Elin Hermansson from Malmo has followed the region from afar for a number of years, and will be making the trip south in anticipation after booking tickets for the game.

Elin said:

"I have never been to a live Ospreys game although I try to catch most of the games online or in the pub. When the draw was made this year for the Ospreys to go to San Sebastian I thought it would be really cool to go. It is quite easily accessible, and I have a sister living near to San Sebastian. I spoke to a friend about it, and he was keen on going as well - even though he is a Munster fan. He says he can always scout the opposition out. We plan to make a long weekend out of it and play the tourists for a couple of days. We will fly to Bilbao on the Thursday, perhaps stay a night or two in the city and then head for San Sebastian and the game! I really hope I will be able to meet some of the Ospreys supporters coming over from Wales. Until now I have never sat in the stand with them cheering our team on, and I am looking forward to the experience."

So, how does a Swedish woman come to support the Ospreys? Elin explained:

"To understand how I came to support the Ospreys you have to understand rugby in its Swedish context. For the first 23 years of my life I had little or no contact with rugby. It was just one of these weird games the British were fond of, like horse polo and cricket. Once every blue moon there would be a short report in the sports news, usually when there was a World Cup going on. Then I went abroad to study and followed a new flat mate to rugby training. I was instantly hooked. I especially like the open and friendly atmosphere between the supporters of different teams, and the third half.

"Rugby in Sweden is a close knit and social affair. There are less than 4000 registered players, and only just over 400 women playing. As our own national team is not that great we like to follow the big guns - we usually watch the Six Nations and the World Cup in the club house or the pub. It is always more fun to have a team to follow, adding some spice to the game. I ended up cheering for Wales - they played an exciting type of game and I remember watching them almost beat England in the RWC2003 (one of the first games I watched) when Shane Williams juggled the ball just before a try. Having followed Wales for some years I started watching the Heineken Cup - and supporting the Ospreys came quite naturally as they supplied the lions share of the Welsh team, and I knew of many of the players."

Ospreys Managing Director, Roger Blyth welcomed Elin to the Ospreys family, saying that he hoped her first match was a winning one:

"It's fantastic to hear about the ever growing Ospreys support, and that we will have fans travelling from so many different countries to be part of what will be a special occasion in San Sebastian next month. In particular, it's great to hear Elin's story, and that she is making the trip down to see the Ospreys in the flesh for the first time. I'm sure that she'll have a memorable trip and will be warmly welcomed into the fold by her fellow Ospreys supporters. Hopefully the players will be able to make it an extra special occasion for her and secure the result that will leave all our fans in San Sebastian partying for the weekend."

Tickets for the game remain on sale at the Liberty Stadium Ticket Office, and via the Ticket Hotline on 08700 400 004. Places remain available on the special Ospreys Charter Flight, for further information please call Richard Crane on 01792 616514/07817 264485.