The Ospreys have confirmed the make-up of a new-look management team responsible for developing the next generation of regional rugby players.
Following the signing of the new Rugby Services Agreement (RSA) in August, the management and responsibility of the development structure was passed on fully from the governing body to the four Welsh regions for the first time.
The new appointments confirmed today will allow the Elite Youth Development department at the Ospreys to face up to the new challenges with confidence and a renewed energy.
Heading up the new look team is Tom Smith, who takes up his first management role after making 94 appearances for the Ospreys since making his debut against Connacht in February 2007.
The back-rower moves into his new post after suffering a serious knee ligament injury in a Liberty Stadium win over Edinburgh in September 2013. He has been involved within the development pathway for a number of seasons already, coaching at regional age-grade level and at his community club, Neath Athletic, and holds a UKCC Level 3 coaching badge.
Joining Smith in the new-look team as Skills Coach is ex-Aberavon, Bristol and Newport fly-half, Mike Hook. A former Pontypool Head Coach, Hook was appointed Backs Coach at Bridgend Ravens ahead of this season, a role he will continue with alongside his Ospreys work.
Strength and Conditioning Coach, Josh Robinson, returns to Wales to join the Ospreys having previously worked as part of the Harvard University Sports Department, looking after athletes from 42 different sports teams at the world renowned institution, while Physiotherapist, Miles Warren, joins the Ospreys after three years with Newport Gwent Dragons. Meanwhile a second Strength and Conditioning Coach, Will Rees, becomes a full-time employee having worked within the department part-time for the last two years.
The quintet join two full-time members of staff already working on the Ospreys development pathway, Development Manager, Dan Griffiths, and Physiotherapist, Neil Poulton.
Discussing the appointments, Rugby General Manager, Andrew Millward, said:
“These appointments are crucial to the future of Ospreys Rugby and the long-term success of our development pathway. The changes to the system under the new RSA mean that, for the first time, we have sole responsibility for development within our region. That makes it absolutely crucial that we get the right people in position, who understand what we are trying to do and have the desire and the commitment to really make a difference.
“The key driver has very much been the character of the individuals concerned. They are a good fit with who we are and what we stand for, and our ethos and values around development from within as a long-term strategy for the organisation
“It’s an area of the business that we have increased our investment in by 600 per cent over the last few years and with an average age of just 23 on the field against Leinster last weekend, you can see that the investment is bearing fruit already. The challenge for the new team is to build on that work to help ensure long-term sustainable success for the region. With Tom and Mike taking key roles within the department, it’s a great example of our ongoing commitment to development from within.”
Reflecting on his new role as Elite Youth Performance Manager, Tom Smith said:
“This is a fantastic opportunity for me, a challenging but influential role within my region. I’m really excited about helping to play a part in shaping the future of the Ospreys along with the rest of the team.
“I’m particularly grateful to senior management at the region for giving me this chance and for the ongoing support that will allow me to continue to rehab outside of working hours with the full assistance of the medical and conditioning department and, although I am entirely committed to my new role, the understanding that should I reach a point in the future where I may be fit enough to resume playing, we can make a joint decision based on what is best for Ospreys Rugby at that point.”