Young lock set for Italian loan

Teenager Jack Jones will look to follow in the footsteps of Scott Baldwin by using a loan spell in Italy as the springboard to establishing himself at the Ospreys.

Baldwin enjoyed time with Serie A1 club ASR Milano last season, one of the regions’ official partner clubs in Italy, before returning to Ospreylia earlier this year to force his way into first team reckoning at the Liberty Stadium.

19-year old lock Jones will also make the trip to Italy to join another partner of the Ospreys, Rugby Rovigo Rugby Delta FEMI-CZ, on a season long loan to gain valuable experience on and off the field.

The Ospreys and Rovigo formalised their relationship with Rovigo in 2011, the region teaming up with one of the leading Italian clubs and 11 times winner of Super 10, the domestic championship in Italy, to share and exchange technical expertise and resources with a view to improving the organisational, commercial and competitive capabilities of the two organisations.

A product of the Ospreys Player Development Pathway, Jones played his early rugby at Tonmawr and was schooled at Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera and Llandovery College. Now a student at Neath Port Talbot College, he is an age-grade international and captained the Eyasses at U18 level. Son of former Swansea and Neath back-rower Robin Jones and grandson of the late Neath and Wales legend Brian Thomas, Jones captained Swansea last season at just 18-years old.

Andrew Hore, Chief Operations Officer, commented:

“The game in Italy is making huge strides and through our relationships with Milano and Rovigo we are able to really take advantage of the many opportunities that are available for the Ospreys in a country that is continuing to grow in rugby terms.

“We have already seen from Scott Baldwin’s loan to Milano how it can benefit a young player to be taken out of their comfort zone to gain rugby and life experiences that otherwise wouldn’t be available to them, something which allowed him to grow as both a person and a player.

“There are many other benefits to the relationships though, with players and coaches at both Milano and Rovigo enjoying Ospreys hosted coaching clinics in Italy, young players such as Simone Ragussi and Marco Ferrari from Milano spending time with the Ospreys last season, and the business gaining a commercial partner in Italian construction firm Stabili who featured on the jersey last season and will be on our shorts for 2012/13.

“We hope that Jack will use this opportunity to grow in the right ways. This is a wonderful chance for him to gain some life experience and to become more self reliant, something that will benefit him on and off the pitch as he pursues his goal of becoming a senior Osprey.”

Based in Veneto in Northern Italy and playing at the 5,000 capacity Stadio Comunale Mario Battaglini, Rovigo were founded in 1935 by a medical student named Dino Lanzoni. They have won the top flight in Italian rugby on 11 occasions, with only two clubs (Milano and Benetton Treviso) winning more, the most recent success coming in 1990. Amongst the famous faces linked to Rovigo during their long history is former British & Irish Lions Head Coach, Carwyn James, who enjoyed a spell in charge of the club during the late seventies. Rovigo have participated in Europe’s second tier club competition, the Challenge Cup, on nine separate occasions including the current campaign, facing Welsh opposition in the form of Caerphilly, Ebbw Vale and Newport in the pre-regional era.