U20 squad returns for second season

Following the successful reintroduction of an U20 team last season, the Ospreys will once again be running a team at that age-grade level this year, with two fixtures already confirmed for the coming weeks.

First up for the team is a game against an Army Development XV at Llandarcy Academy of Sport on Sunday 13th November at 11am, before they face a new Scarlets U20 team at the same venue on Monday 5th December at 7.15pm.

The U20 fixtures are an part of an enhanced development pathway which sees the Ospreys working closely in conjunction with the three District set-ups in the region, Afan Nedd, Bridgend and Swansea, aimed at increasing the number of teenagers and young adults actively involved in the game, and therefore, increasing the talent pool available to the Ospreys.

In addition to the introduction of an Ospreys U20 team, the three Districts also introduced U17 and U19 teams for the first time last year, with the latter feeding into the Ospreys U20 set-up.

The higher age-grade set-up allows Ospreys development staff to work with late developing players, who under the previous system may have been lost to the region as they move out of age-grade rugby, benefiting the rugby community right across the region.

More than 10 players have stepped up from last season’s newly launched U20 team to play Premiership rugby this time around, including the likes of Jackson Szabo, Lewis Harry and Lewis Chance at Swansea RFC.

As was the case last year, the team will be led by Head Coach Richard Lancaster from Swansea University, who believes that the exercise will again prove to be a successful one:

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for boys who may have fallen out of the system, or bypassed it because of their age entering rugby in the region, to show what they can do and to be seen by regional and national coaches. As we’ve seen from last season’s squad, they have a chance to really impress and hopefully, make the next step up.

“It’s about ensuring that players who miss out on regional rugby don’t become disillusioned, so we don’t lose them forever. The system creates the double benefit of producing better players at U20 level, and also, creating a bigger pool of quality players to come through at senior level. If they don’t develop to become Ospreys players in the long term, then clubs in the Premiership or Division One will still be benefitting, making the whole rugby community in Ospreylia stronger. It’s an excellent example of the forward thinking being done to make the region better across the board.”

Chief Operations Officer, Andrew Hore, added:

“The biggest challenge facing the Ospreys in the long term is low playing numbers, we need people playing rugby in the community. While we put a lot of time and effort into developing the junior game, it’s important that we don’t overlook this age-grade, where there a host of players who could be lost to the system if we don’t have a safety net in place.

“Boys normally identified at age-grade level will be playing Premiership or even regional rugby by this age, but where does that leave the late developer? This system allows us to cast our net wider, increasing the pool of players we have coming through and giving hope to players who otherwise would have none. The fact is there are a host of players in our senior squad, including the likes of Richard Hibbard and Shane Williams, who never played representative age-grade rugby. We want to make sure we don’t miss out on the next Richard or Shane.”

The squad for the game against the Army team has been named. Click here for details.