The Ospreys will prepare for Friday's RaboDirect PRO12 game against Connacht with a special training session at Swansea University to help launch a new partnership aimed at encouraging closer ties between the region and students.
The new strategic alliance with the University’s Athletics Union (AU) is targeting a substantial rise in the number of students supporting the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.
To help kick-off the initiative, the first team squad will visit the University Playing Fields on Sketty Lane on Thursday morning, with the confirmed team to face Connacht taking part in the captain’s run, the final training session ahead of the game at the Liberty Stadium the following day.
Following on from that run-out, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Mark Bennett, himself a former student at Swansea University, will take the non-playing members of the squad through a session, with all students invited to come along and watch the players being put through their paces from 11.00am.
With the new academic year getting underway this week, and almost 20,000 students enrolled to study at the University, the special training session will mark a new partnership that will see AU members benefiting from a special ticket and transport initiative aimed at encouraging them to make the trip to the Liberty Stadium on a regular basis throughout the season, with the Ospreys providing support to help promote the deal on campus.
Ospreys Chief Operations Officer, Andrew Hore, said:
“We have an excellent relationship with Swansea University, and this initiative will help to take it to another level. The two teams are closely linked, with members of the University’s coaching set-up active at different levels on the Ospreys pathway, while they have received support from the Ospreys in their preparations for the big Varsity fixture, and the Sports Science team at Swansea University has assisted the coaching department at the region.
“You cannot underestimate the role that Swansea University plays within Ospreylia, with almost 20,000 students enrolled for this academic year. This is a major, untapped source of potential support and the new initiative will bring us closer.
“We want AU members to feel a part of the Ospreylian community, and to really look forward to supporting their region, be it by birth or through moving here. This initiative ensures that supporting the Ospreys is an attractive, affordable option for the local student community, and we hope to see plenty of AU members at the Liberty Stadium.”
As well as Mark Bennett, links between the University and the current Ospreys squad include the likes of skipper Alun Wyn Jones and his Wales RWC team-mate Huw Bennett amongst the alumni, along with young players such as Jamie Kaijaks and Sam Davies currently studying there.
Ospreys Director of Coaching, Scott Johnson, said:
“We are delighted to work closely with the University on many different levels. We recognise the importance of education to delivering educated, more rounded rugby players, which is why we encourage our youngsters to continue their studies through Swansea Uni, helping to grow ties.
“Schemes like this, encouraging students to follow the Ospreys will bring the two institutions even closer.”
Richard Lancaster, General Manager at Swansea University AU and Ospreys U20 Head Coach, added:
“This partnership will benefit both parties enormously, encouraging students to support their local rugby team and become a part of the wider community of South West Wales. It’s fantastic for Swansea University as a body to have a strong association with such a high profile and successful sporting organisation as the Ospreys. I’ve no doubt that the many national and international students that we have amongst our members will be keen to take advantage of this initiative and will follow the Ospreys at Liberty Stadium.
“To welcome the team to Swansea University Playing Fields on Thursday, ahead of their big game against Connacht is a good way to launch the partnership and will no doubt help to really generate interest among our students, new and old.”