Olly Cracknell Run 001

Q&A with Olly Cracknell

Here's this issue's Q&A with Ospreys back row, Olly Cracknell.

Q&A with Olly Cracknell

Your route to playing for the Ospreys took in South Africa, an email from a Scarlet Rupert Moon and a stint with RGC in North Wales, can you explain your journey to signing for the Ospreys?

My school went to South Africa on tour and I played quite well in the games out there and I got offered a contract to stay out there and play by Border Bulldogs U19s Academy. They had just got promoted and were playing against the Bulls, the Sharks and all the big South African academy teams like that. I played for a year out there but when I came back, I had signed for the Welsh Exiles because I had Welsh grandparents but had never played for them. Rupert Moon had seen I played in South Africa at quite a good standard and he emailed me when I was out there to come and have a look at RGC. I had some options, lower leagues in England or with RGC Academy. So I went to RGC.

Did the Welsh Exiles played a significant part in your decision to come to Wales?

The Welsh Exiles trained against the Wales U20s and I trained really well against them.  I was then called up by the Wales U20s to play in the final game of that Six Nations campaign at RGC. I had a good game and I was selected for the U20s World Cup with Wales, and through that I was picked up by the Ospreys and I have been here ever since.

Why did you choose Wales and what is the story behind signing for the Ospreys?

In my teenage years Wales became important to me and I started looking at what I could do down that route. I just found myself drawn to it because of the family connections.  I had couple of trials with England but I didn’t really enjoy it that much. When I went to RGC after South Africa, I really enjoyed the whole experience. I just remember watching games on TV and the Ospreys were always one of the big teams and the biggest region in Wales. So when I heard they were interested in offering me a contract, I was really excited about that. I didn’t really know anyone here, apart from Scott Otten from the Wales U20s.

When I drove down I rang Scott because he was the only player I properly knew at the Ospreys.

Can you remember how you felt about signing for and pulling on the jersey for the Ospreys the first time?

I can remember how excited I was to join the Ospreys.  The first few years I was here I really felt I developed and kept developing as a player then we kind of got stuck in a rut, but now it feels like we are really starting to develop again. And, I mean, as individuals and as a team, it’s just an exciting time to be a part of the Ospreys right now.

It took me a while to break through here. I can still remember my first game was Gloucester away in the LV Cup and the week after we played Bath away in the same competition and we beat them, and they put a really strong side out, with Matt Banaham and Sam Burgess in the centres. I always remember that because they were a massive centre partnership. It was my second game and I remember it being a really big moment for me. Then my third game was Leinster 9-9 and that was it for my first season, but that was the start for me.

There is really healthy competition for a backrow spot at the Ospreys, how important is that for you?

There is so much competition for places here now. I know I have to train and play the best I can to stand a chance to get in the side. That’s just how it should be. Everyone knows we have to play well if you are going to get selected or stay in the team. Nobody is guaranteed a place in this team anymore. Having that competition just drives the team and the player’s performances. I am sure every player says the same thing, but we all want to win a trophy with the Ospreys and do well in Europe.