Toby Booth

Press Conference - The Breakdown

We've broken down this week's press conference with Head Coach Toby Booth into bitesize blocks.

Here’s what he had to say about:


Change in France’s travel regulations

  • We were given a sort of indication that it would change. We can only prepare ourselves and that's all we can do, and we've done that. We weren't expecting it to be any different to be honest.
Toby Booth, head coach
"I would say that the last six weeks... has probably been the most challenging of my 20-year career."


Preparing for games during Covid times

  • It's not straightforward, it's not the easiest. Some people asked me this last week. I would say that the last six weeks with all that's gone on off the field that has been out of our control has probably been the most challenging of my 20-year career.
  • Normally, I'd look for the opportunity in it but ultimately it's just that you've got to be flexible, robust… all of those things. You’ve just got to roll your sleeves up and make the best of it.
  • With Covid and the training programs that we have had to put in, we've been probably a bit more limited on time, this is the hidden cost of Covid.
  • You can't do close contact work because you're so paranoid – especially with a massive injury count – of losing that one extra player. Say hooker, for example. Sam Parry – injured, Ifan – we know about. So we've got two hookers, and that's all we've got. So you have to be really careful about how much risk is worth it.
  • We had 3 cases one day, three cases the next day…we've got to get a team out! There's a little bit of hidden cost of Covid and injury that people don't often see, they just see the Saturday. So getting through that, which is why I started with the Covid message in the first place, allows us to train more effectively as well so you limit those risks.


Racing 92 and their publicly-stated ambitions for the European Club

  • It's the battle of the budgets, for sure. They are on record saying how serious they're taking this competition and they’re not afraid to shy away from that.
  • Obviously, we know that traditionally the travelling teams from France have not always been the strongest but we know that it's going to be as good as they've got. From the selection last week, they're all pretty fit, so we're expecting the best team possible.
Video file


Younger players developing and building on the defeat to Glasgow Warriors 

  • We have got a lot of young players, you saw last week and the week before. It doesn't always go your way and it's a learning opportunity and a challenging opportunity for our youngsters, and they'll be better for it – win, lose, or draw.
  • We're confident in what we're doing and we need to improve. There are parts of our game improving, parts of our game that need to improve, and they'll be tested against the very best of, you know, I'm told around a late-20s-million euro budget, and that's going to be very very challenging, but we're going to embrace it. We're looking forward to it.




  • I think that you've got to make sure that your fundamentals of the game are absolutely right so you've got strong building blocks. You know we're very much a work-in-progress. I've said before: we're only scratching the surface.
  • We're in a situation where we need to make sure our set-piece functions and you know the boring stuff is where it should be. And that's what wasn't in place last week. It was okay against the Scarlets. But, you know, defensively if you miss 24 first-up tackles against Glasgow, you're going to pay a price. If you lose 24 first-up tackles against Racing, you're going to pay a bigger price. So from that, point of view, yeah get our fundamentals right and build our way into the game. If we can do that, then we've got a good platform to move and focus. We've seen some opportunities that we're looking forward to.


Getting penalised due to travel restrictions

  • That's very disappointing, for sure. It appears inconsistent. So we'll ask the questions as you'd expect. When things are out of your control and you're trying to do the right thing, to get treated differently is disappointing, let's put it like that, and frustrating. We'll ask the questions like we always do, but that's in the background. We need to worry about what's happening on Saturday.



    Glasgow Warriors game

    • We lost a lot of collisions, and that's basically around getting enough time in the tackle, so that's the first and foremost. We need to create more presence in that area. You can't get presence if you miss first-up tackles and we missed far too many, especially the nature of those tackles where they occurred.  They were straight through the middle of the pitch and straight through you to a three-on-one situation with a fullback. We need to make sure that we are more robust defensively in those particular areas.


    On the Ospreys Attack

    • We haven't scored many tries but I’d be concerned if we weren't creating them. Against the Scarlets, we went up over the line three times. Now, I can't deny the fact that we only entered the opposition 22 three times on Saturday as non-factual. Of course, we want to do that, but going back to the fundamentals, if every time they get the ball and you're put under pressure and you can't get over your half, effectively, you're not going to progress into the attacking zone.
    • The fundamentals massively lead on to the opportunity and if we get them better, we will have more of the ball for longer.


    Our defence

    • We can defend but you need to practice what you need to practice. If you don't practice it, you'll lose it, like any skill. We are through that now and hopefully with all those things put together – an awareness of it; a commitment element from the boys; everyone doing their individuals; everyone doing the right sort of training... we can improve and improve quickly.
    Toby Booth, head coach
    "When you're devoid of Lydiate, Tipuric, George North, Cuthbert, Alun Wyn etc, you need people that are going to be leaders"


    Rhys Webb

    • He got injured in the Scarlets game. He got a rib injury in that so it was a week too soon for him last week.
    • He'd been playing well… massively so, and he leads by example. When you're devoid of Lydiate, Tipuric, George North, Cuthbert, Alun Wyn etc, you need people that are going to be leaders and lead by example. Having him in that position is another person we can count on in that respect.


    Gareth Anscombe

    • In gametime I think he's around about 4 games worth of minutes in two years, so I'd be pretty comfortable in calling it a comeback trail for sure. I think the more time he spends in the saddle, the better he gets. I saw elements of his attack last week that were progressing. He's got an eye for challenging the line  so we're excited about that.
    • He's a very very good goal kicker, as you've seen. But as you polish up these things, you are going to get exposed to more and more situations, and the more he's exposed to them, the better he'll get.


    Dewi Lake

    • He's physical and that's the exciting thing about him. He's brave and physical and abrasive, and that's a prerequisite to be a top hooker for sure. He's learning his trade in and around the set-piece, and that's always the thing that takes the longest... it's probably the hardest skill in the game.
    • Throwing in, in such a competitive environment, which is more of a closed skill, will always be the last piece of the jigsaw. The more competitors we have on the pitch, the greater our chances and he certainly is that.


      Dewi Lake


      Throwing in training

      • It's practice, types of practice, honing techniques, throwing under pressure, throwing after coming out of a scrum and then having to throw into a line out after extreme fatigue. There are lots of layers to it.
      • We have a specialist throwing coach come in, Simon Hardy, who's worked with England, Scotland, and Australia. He's a good friend of mine who comes and facilitates all the hookers, as a consultant and that's really important for us because we need to upskill all of our players, especially in a closed skill, and if we haven't got the time or the expertise, it's important that we facilitate our programs in order for us to do that and now we will be the beneficiary of that for sure.


      Jac Morgan

      • He's got leadership in him which is fantastic... That was a little bit more of an unknown, which is good.
      • The biggest compliment that I can give him is that he's done exactly what we thought he could do since he's been here. You know, his pressure on the ball defensively, his work rate. We've internal awards around effort and he has been a recipient of that a number of times, so physically he can live in that arena, which is fantastic.
      • Probably the biggest thing where he's improved is his ball-carrying actually. He takes defenders off when he carries, and if we can add more of the attacking side of the game to complement the defensive side, we'll have a very complete player. That's the exciting thing for him working with, say Dan Lydiate defensively or Justin Tipuric attacking-wise… getting those boys peer-coaching him as well as the coaches coaching him. He's got a bright future for sure.


        Jac Morgan



        • Obviously, I'll love sitting here and going look 'look we've got x, y, and z', but I can't. We have been very surgical in our recruitment as you know. Michael Collins is an example. You know he was a very particular type of player that we're looking for and that continues.
        • We've identified probably two or three that we were interested in, but we need to make sure, with the financial landscape that everyone is talking about, that we are very deliberate on what we're doing.
        • The short answer is that I can't tell you anything, which is disappointing and similarly you can't spend what you haven't got. So from that point of view, we are confident that we are going to make some signings…the nature and who that is is going on as we speak.
        • We have one thing confirmed which is great, and we've probably two more that are just sort of finding their way to see if we can get them to a conclusion.


        The process behind signing a player

        • We want to be as competitive as we can. There are so many things that go into these recruitments – the type of player, the style of player, you have to legislate for international call-ups, so you know, the more second rows we keep contributing, the more second rows we need. Those sort of things… as an example.


        Recruiting and developing young players

        • I think you're probably worked out by now that I spend a lot of time recruiting in that area because they've got growth in them; they're committed; they've got less interference, they haven't got too many marital problems, for example... There's a good focus area for them and we can mould the talent into what we want an Ospreys player to look like. So I spend a lot of time in that area for sure and will continue to do so.
        • It also means that you grow your own, which is really really important. That is a massive area, probably 75% of our recruitment goes into that area because they should grow into becoming the next stars and the next future Ospreys and the next future internationals. So that's definitely a strategy we embrace. Hence, the reason we play young players is because they only grow if you know.
        • But we also need to try and develop the ability to win now. That's about the top of the pyramid, have enough Tom Francis was really important around that, Michael Collins is really important around that. So we've got to fuel the top and the bottom and then the middle takes care of itself.
        • That's the strategy, there's no secret. I'm sure other people do exactly the same thing. So we've got to identify people, as I said earlier that will fit into one of those two things, and that's where we will try and be creative and deliberate in what we do.