The successful Welsh Guards rugby team received a helping hand from Wales captain Ryan Jones and his Ospreys colleagues as they prepare for their Army Rugby Cup Final in Aldershot later this month.
The Ospreys already enjoy a close relationship with the Welsh Guards, who were guests of the region at the Liberty Stadium for the game against Zebre earlier this year.
Ryan has nominated the Welsh Guards Afghanistan Appeal as the official charity of his Testimonial Year, which was launched in January while current Ospreys player Matthew Dwyer is a serving soldier with the Welsh Guards and has featured for his regiment during their current cup campaign.
The Welsh Guards will face 39 Engineer Regiment, who are currently based in Scotland, in the final on Wednesday 20th March at the Army Rugby Stadium in Aldershot, having defeated the 1st Bn Royal Welsh 9-6 in the semi-final.
In preparation for their big game, the 26 man Welsh Guards squad have been put through their paces by the Ospreys coaching team in a rigorous morning of training at their Llandarcy HQ, with Ryan, Justin Tipuric, Ryan Bevington and Kahn Fotuali’i lending a helping hand.
Ospreys Forwards Coach and former Wales captain, Jonathan Humphreys, is one of the coaches who lent a hand on his day off from regional coaching duty, and he said:
“It’s an honour to be able to assist the Welsh Guards in their preparation for the cup final. Everyone of these boys has the utmost admiration of everybody involved at the Ospreys for the work that they do, so if we can help in any way with their preparation for the big game then fantastic.
“Hopefully they enjoyed their morning with us and will take some things away that will help them next week.”
Speaking about the training day, Ryan Jones commented:
“I’ve grown very close to the Welsh Guards over the last 12 months or so and have been fortunate to get to know some of these boys and their families personally. Knowing what they’ve been through on behalf of the country, it's a real privilege to be able to invite the team down to Llandarcy for the day and, hopefully, pass on some tips that will help them in the final.
“Since nominating the Welsh Guards Afghanistan Appeal as the official charity of my testimonial year I’ve been overwhelmed by how the public feel towards the regiment, so to help organise something like this with the support of the Ospreys is the absolute least we can do.”
Captain Darren Pridmore, Rugby Officer, 1st BN Welsh Guards, said:
“On behalf of the Regiment I’d like to say a huge thank you to the Ospreys for this fantastic gesture. Everybody in the team is really looking forward to the game next week and will go into it buoyed by what they have picked up today.
“We’ve got an excellent relationship with Ryan and the Ospreys, which we are extremely grateful for. A lot of the boys in the regiment are from the Ospreys region, and our very own Lance Sergeant Matthew Dwyer has done the regiment proud with his efforts in an Ospreys shirt this season, so you can imagine how much it means to get this kind of support from the coaches and the players of their team.
“We hope that this relationship continues to go from strength to strength over the coming years.”
On 21 January 1907, the English Rugby Union (RFU) donated a cup to the Army for an inter-unit competition. Twelve teams responded to the call for entries to the first competition. The final took place on 6 April 1907 at Aldershot between the 2nd Bn West Riding Regiment DWR and the Training Battalion, Royal Engineers; the Yorkshire men won 5-0 points. Since that day, with the exception of the durations of the First and Second World Wars, the cup has been competed for annually.
The Welsh Guards have been finalist 22 times in its history and have won the trophy 12 times in the past, most recently in 2011. They were unable to defend their crown last year as they were on operational duty in Afghanistan, but will keen to lift the silverware for a 13th time later this month, with the help of the Ospreys.
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