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The Ospreys Supporters Club- Clwb Cefnogwyr y Gweilch

It is hard to believe that we are writing this article to celebrate 10 years of the Ospreys Supporters Club! We seem to have come a long way since our initial attempts to get the whole concept off the ground, but that said there remains a lot to accomplish, as we contemplate the future of the Ospreys and discover further ways to give our team and their wonderful supporters  the support that they deserve! To begin with though, let’s reflect on the evolution of the OSC and consider its achievements to date!

On Saturday April 10th 2010, the Ospreys faced Biarritz, away deep in the Basque country. The final result was a 29-28 victory to the home side, following a rather controversial decision at the very end of the game. Perhaps it is for the best, that the details of this decision, by one of Limerick’s finest, be left for discussion at a later date; however, the fact that remains that this game was to have a lasting effect for supporters who made the trip and those who watched events develop on the television, here in the Region!

The welcome shown to visiting Ospreys that weekend, proved to be the final motivational factor in the desire to establish an active supporters club! Shortly after returning from Biarritz, momentum came from the supporters themselves, and  a post appeared on the Ospreys Fans Forum from a passionate Ospreys supporter named Mike Phippen, asking for five supporters to accompany him to a meeting with a representative of Ospreys Rugby; with a view to establishing a supporters club. The meeting duly went ahead, and the stage was set for the subsequent development of an official Ospreys Supporters Club, or OSC as it soon became known! Shortly afterwards, this fledgling group met for the very first time at Starbucks Coffee Shop, opposite the Liberty Stadium. Until recently, Starbucks displayed a plaque on the wall duly noting that the OSC had been founded there, sadly, following building work it disappeared never to return! So, a fledgling OSC took flight with Mike Phippen elected as chair, Paul Harris Secretary, Nathan Johns treasurer and Ray Morgan vice chair; all supported by an enthusiastic and dedicated committee.

Through consultation with Ospreys Rugby it was decided that OSC membership would be free of charge and be an inherent element of season membership. Thankfully, this practice endures and it would appear is valued by the members themselves! From the outset OSC produced a pin badge for its members, updated annually to reflect the team colours and delivered as part of the season ticket package. More recently, we have asked for a small donation of £1 for the pin badge, with profits donated to charity. They remain very popular and are proudly sported by the Ospreys faithful both at home and away from the Liberty Stadium!

For home games, the OSC organises bus transport to and from the Liberty Stadium from the Neath area and we are fortunate enough to have the support of a group of supporters in the Port Talbot area, who  organise bus transport on our behalf. The committee would like to record our thanks to Julie Davies, a dedicated Ospreys supporter, for her tireless efforts with this bus service! Buses are also organised to venues within England and Wales, with many members availing themselves of this service. In terms of European travel, the Supporters Club tends not to organise official trips, but will share meeting points and any event invites from the opposition supporters groups.  We hope to extend our travel advice further in the future!

When visiting clubs in European competitions, the OSC presents a plaque or a pennant commemorating the occasion; it is felt that it is beneficial to mark the visit and further emphasise the nature of the, “rugby family!” In addition, OSC organises meeting points for supporters to congregate and benefit from the whole experience of following the team!

An early priority for the Supporters Club was to spread the word regarding events, news and activities on offer to members. From the earliest days OSC has contributed to the Ospreys match day programme. In recent years, we have also produced and managed a highly successful Facebook and Twitter Page, together with our own Ospreys Supporters Club website! Why not join us on these media and keep up to date with what is happening down at Wales` most successful regional rugby team!

You might also be interested in keeping up to date with another exclusive OSC activity, the awarding of the OSCA (Ospreys Supporters Club Award) each month to the player selected by the supporters themselves. The award is in fact a “grogg,” crafted at the world famous “Grogg Shop,” in Pontypridd. However, unlike the famous caricatures of rugby players, footballers and other stars, this particular grogg cannot be purchased off the shelf! They are in fact made under license for OSC and are unique to the club. The grogg is an osprey running with a rugby ball and painted in the home strip of the season. The player`s number is displayed on the back and the name at the bottom of the statue. A larger grogg, mounted on a wooden plinth, is presented to the winner of the supporters, “Player of the Year.” Feedback has indicated that the players are enthusiastic at the prospect of adding the OSCA to their collection; a job well done one would like to think!

Probably the most significant and the writer would suggest, most successful project that the OSC has initiated, is the creation of a traditional rugby clubhouse, in the Riverside Lounge under the East Stand. Along the wall above the bar the visitor will find a rugby shirt from the 77 clubs that constitute the Ospreys Region. The collection is certainly impressive and is complimented by various artefacts collected from visiting supporters and from our travels. All visiting supporters are cordially invited to join the Ospreys faithful, both pre and post match, be it independently, or as part of their official supporters club and a warm, Welsh welcome is always assured!

The Riverside is also the setting for the presentation of the previously discussed, monthly OSCA awards and on occasions when an award is not being made, for interviews with the players. The Supporters Club remain grateful to both the players and Ospreys Rugby for facilitating and attending these post match events, which have proved to be so popular with supporters of all ages. To celebrate such events an OSC Player of the Month/ Season board has been placed on the wall behind the stage. This board lists the winners of the OSCA month by month and year by year accordingly. In addition, a signature board for all players who make the visit to our clubhouse is also available and is, it has to be said, rapidly filling up!

The OSC is a non profit making organisation, but since the earliest days, it has placed great emphasis on making a charitable contribution to the rugby community. Over the years, we have supported numerous charities and worthwhile causes. The funds to support these bodies, comes as a result of raffles and the proceeds of the sale of OSC badges.  The generosity of the Ospreys supporters never ceases to amaze us and has meant that we have been able to support a range of good causes throughout the Region.

 

Among the charities and worthy causes that OSC have supported are:

Season Cause £
2010/11 Christchurch Earthquake Appeal 250
2011/12 Stepping Stones 800
2011/12 Gleision Miners’ Appeal 1000
2011/12 St. David’s Hospice 531
2012/13 Cwmtawe Youth Brass band 250
2012/13 Stepping Stones 600
2013/14 Cwmtawe Youth Brass Band 250
2013/14 Maesteg RFC Fire Reparation Fund 400
2014/15 Wales Deaf Rugby 400
2014/15 Wales Wheelchair Rugby 400
2014/15 Matavesi XV : Marie Therese House 400
2015/16 Macmillan (Marathon Des Sables – Paul Harries) 242
2015/16 Jerry Collins Memorial Fund 638
2015/16 Bowel Cancer Bike Ride 212
2015/16 Aberavon Green Stars RFC Clubhouse conversion 280
2016/17 Ospreys Wheelchair Rugby OSC Badge Sales 1000
2016/17 Interburns 200
2017/18 AWJ’s Testimonial Charities 2132
2017/18 Paul James’s Testimonial Charities 500
  TOTAL £10735

The charity we supported in the 2019/20 season is The Swansea Gladiators Rugby Team. This is a group of players, some with additional needs, that enjoy playing the game of rugby together! A very worthy cause and we hope to make a presentation to them in the near future!

From time, the OSC have arranged social events and Q&A sessions, with a range of players, officials and personalities from the world of rugby. They have proved to be very popular to date and these are definitely events that we hope to repeat in the future!

It is fair to say that the OSC has evolved in to a successful group and that evolution is very much ongoing. There have been changes to both the officers and the committee along the way, with everyone involved playing their part to make OSC a significant factor of the success of the Ospreys as a whole. Today the Supporters Club is still served by a committee of hard working Ospreys fans; committed to the Region and indeed the great game of rugby football as whole! We have planned a range of events for our 10th season and we will be in position to share these with you in the near future.

Before we finish though, we would like to share a couple of things with you. All members of the committee carry out their duties without any reward, financial or otherwise. Within the last 3 years, we have introduced a system of election for all committee members, based on a 3 year cycle. If you feel that you would like to become a committee member, please contact secretary@ospreyssupportersclub.com. If this is not for you, but you feel that you would like to help out on match days, events etc, again we would greatly value your assistance. Finally, we would like to stress that the OSC committee is not the OSC! You the members are the OSC and your feedback, suggestions and participation
are always welcome!

Gair i orffen. Mae pwyllgor CCG yn dal i’w fod yn ddiolchgar i chi, y gefnogwyr, sy wed
Dewch ymlaen y Gweilch! Come on the Ospreys

#OSC10

We don’t JUST sell badges and arrange buses (but we’re proud that we do), we do a lot more…..

Social Media

 

 

OSCAs

  • 74 player of the month or season OSCAs awarded since 2010
  • Exclusive design from the Grogg Shop – you can’t buy one from them!
  • 38 different players have the awards
  • Dan Biggar leads the way with 5 player of the month and 2 player of the season OSCAs

 

 

Riverside Bar

  • About 200 players have visited the Riverside bar (our clubhouse) to be interviewed by the OSC in the past 10 years
  • 20 plaques presented to visiting Euro teams supporters clubs (some of these might have been presented at away games with some gifts given back to us at the Riverside)
  • Many many visiting Supporters Clubs have called in to join in with a song or a beer or with some bagpipes or with a few gifts!
  • The OSC fund the live entertainment in the Riverside for some of our bigger games
  • We also support the 2003 Lounge and run a pre-match quiz there

 

Website

  • Started in November 2015
  • 52k hits
  • 102k pages read
  • Our most popular pages are latest news, travel and the OSCA honours board
  • Busiest day on 7th March 2019 when nearly 2000 users visited the site after we made WalesOnline with the headline “Ospreys Supporters Club accuse Scarlets”…(nearly) all publicity is good publicity!

 

Charities

 

Events

  • We’ve organised pre-season meet the coaches and new players at the Pavillion for the past 4 seasons – look out for how we’re going to do that for 2020/21!
  • We’ve organised quiz nights in the Pavillion for the past 3 years – again – look out for how we’re going to manage in 2020/21!
  • We’ve hosted Q&A sessions with Ospreys management
  • We’ve organised Q&A’s to support Alun Wyn Jones’ and Paul James’ testimonial years

 

Committee Members

  • More than 20 supporters have given their time to help run the OSC committee over the first 10 years – thanks to everyone who has helped out over the years
  • Our committee officers represent the Ospreys as part of the Joint Supporters Group with regular meetings with the WRU,Pro Rugby Wales and sometimes even the Pro14! 
  • We’ve only got one life president to date and that’s OSC co-founder Mike Phippen!

 

 

Transport

  • We’ve run buses to home games from Neath since our inception and from Port Talbot for 8 years (this bus is now run by the enthusiastic bus regulars)
  • We’ve run 20 bus trips to European games
  • We’ve run bus trips to our derby games in Llanelli, Cardiff and Newport – the annual trip to Parc y Scarlets has definitely seen its ups and downs

 

 

OSC Badges

  • We’ve produced a new OSC badge each year since formation
  • When we have OSCA sponsorship, all profits go to charity

 

 

 

Funding

  • We’ve done all of this without receiving any funding from the Ospreys
  • OSCA sponsorship from South Wales Wood Recycling, Recycle Direct, Gower Brewery and PB Garage Services has allowed us to put on additional events and entertainment in the past – thank you all
  • If you’re interested in sponsoring the OSCAs, please contact us by clicking here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Chair’s Report

 The 2019-20 season has been one like no other on and off the field – and not just for the Ospreys and the supporters club.  The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has hit world rugby hard, and for us that started with the announcement in February of the cancellation of our away trip to Zebre, before emptying the remaining Pro14 fixture calendar and finishing off the season behind closed doors, with little bubbles of supporters gathering together in garden pubs, living rooms and wherever else they could to cheer on the team in our two local derbies to close off a disappointing season.

I’d like to give thanks to all the committee members for the hard work put in throughout the season.  Two of our officers have stepped down in the past few weeks and I’d like to note the contribution  our former chair Nigel Jones and our former treasurer Geoff Jones (who has been with the OSC from the very start) in not only taking the OSC to the place we are now at but also to their contribution to the Joint Supporters Group – our platform for discussions between pro rugby supporters and the WRU.

In a season where our usual efforts to contribute to supporters’ matchday experience where severely impacted, before lockdown we still managed to put on live music both in the Riverside and also in Neath RFC for our 2 home games at the Gnoll, we held a Q&A with our new players in September and with members of the coaches and management team in October.  This season’s mid-season quiz never happened due to covid – during a period where online or virtual quizzes seemed to be on offer every night of the week if you wanted one!

We recognise that times are very different and it may be a while before we get to return to grounds to watch live rugby, however this has not stopped us putting together an improvement plan intended to improve what the OSC offer and how we function as a committee.  Effectively – we want to improve and be the best supporters club we can be.  The plan will be to implement this over the coming season & whilst the coming season is still a reasonably significant unknown in terms of supporters, we will do our best to implement changes to improve what we do and how we do it.

We need to highlight that as the 2019/20 season drew to a close, this brought about the 10th anniversary of the formation of the Ospreys Supporters Club (thanks to Mike Phippen and the other early volunteers who started all of this and helped bring us to this historic landmark.   Whilst our 10 year celebrations will be lot more “virtual” than we first imagined when we started planning how to celebrate 10 years, it is still a great achievement and I would like to thank all of the committee volunteers over the years, the Ospreys for backing the initial idea and also to our OSCA sponsors – but most of all, I’d like to thank the Ospreys season ticket holders/supporters/fans (call yourself what you like) for giving the OSC committee a reason to be.  Here’s to the coming season – lets support the Ospreys in whatever way we are allowed under the latest covid guidelines!

Grant Berni

 

2. Secretary’s Report

This is not the first time that I have delivered the Secretary’s report for the OSC, but I can say without fear of contradiction, that I have never delivered this report in anything like the circumstances , that I find myself now! Covid 19 certainly has had a dramatic effect on all aspects of everyday life and the world of rugby is certainly no exception to this. Opportunities to watch the team have indeed been very limited and I am sure that we are all hoping for an improvement in that area in the near future! In that vain, I would like to recognise all of those people in the NHS, Care and emergency services, commercial outlets etc, that have worked so hard to support us at this difficult time! Our heart goes out to all those who have lost someone as a result of the pandemic, be they staff, patients or residents. A special mention to all Ospreys supporters, who fall in to any of these categories!

Part of the OSC’s role has always been to support charities that have a connection in some way to the game of rugby. Our traditional methods have been through the sale of the annual OSC badge and by organising raffles, at certain home games. Obviously, the limitations of the season have severely impacted on both of these activities! Despite this, I am delighted to report that we have been able to make a cash donation to Swansea Gladiators, a team of youngsters with additional learning needs, within the Swansea area. We have also donated to the Neuro Injury Department, at Morriston Hospital. The connection here is that one of the East Stand regulars Leighton Edwards, annually organises sponsorship to grows his grey beard, to make donation to the unit. In addition to this, we have been able to support James Hook’s charities, nominated as part of his testimonial year. Notable achievements, given the complexity of the situation.

This season we bade farewell to two of the OSC officers, Chair Nigel Jones and Treasurer Geoff Jones. On behalf of the committee and the OSC membership, I would like to thank both individuals for their devotion and service, going backer a number of years! We wish
them all the very best for the future.

Hoffwn i ddweued diolch i bob aelod y pwyllgor, sy wedi gweithio mor galed yn ystod y tymor! Heb eich cyfraniad chi, byddai Clwb y cefnogwyr yn methu cario mas ei gwaith. Diolch o galon i chi igyd!

Similarly, I would like to thank all of the committee members for their efforts throughout the season. Without your tireless efforts we would not be able to function as a supporters club. Thanks again to you all! Ac yn deyrfynol, diolch yn fawr i chi, y cefnogwyr am eich cefnogaeth dros y tymor! Dwi’n hallol siwr fod cefnogwyr y Gweilch, yw’r gorau sydd ar gael! Rydyn ni gyd yn edrych ymlaen at y tymor newydd gyda gobaith yn ein calon a ffydd yn y tim!

And finally, thank you to you the supporters for your support over this difficult season! I am sure that the Ospreys supporters are the best there is! We are all looking forward to next season, with hope in our hearts and faith in our team!

Dewch ymlaen y Gweilch! Come on the Ospreys!

Keith Collins

 

3. Vice-Chair’s Report

There’s not a massive amount left for me to say as I think Grant and Keith have already covered everything. However, I just wanted to take this opportunity to say that it is an honour to be your Vice-Chair and I believe that the future is bright for us as a Supporters Club.

During our discussions for our 10 year anniversary celebrations, we asked ourselves ‘what does good look like?’ and this is a question that we must keep asking ourselves as we move forward. We must strive to be the best supporters club in Wales and constantly look to improve. Just like the guys on the pitch, we, as a committee need to work together as a team in order to provide our supporters with the best possible experience.

We want to further expand our relationship with the Ospreys, offer more transparency and guidance for our supporters and to try and enhance the match day experience for everyone. Obviously, not forgetting our excellent charity work for which we are mightily proud of! As Grant has already alluded to, this season we are celebrating 10 years of the OSC and we’ve got plenty to look forward to, with our first event happening this Thursday with our virtual ‘Meet the Coaches’ Q&A with Toby Booth and Brock James. There will be other events planned throughout the season with Player Q&As, Quizzes and other celebrations planned! We may not be celebrating as we
initially planned, but we will celebrate nonetheless.

This just leaves me to thank those who have left the OSC committee this year for all their hard work over the years. Their time, graft and guidance has been truly appreciated.

Sarah Davies

 

4. Treasurer’s Report

The OSC account closed at the end of our financial year (dated 31 st of May 2020), with a positive
balance of £1,515.
Without being in a position to circulate hard copies of the income and expenditure account, I will
just run through some of the main items that have resulted in us reporting that amount. If anyone
would like to see the full account, let me know and I can arrange for the information to be
circulated.

  • We brought forward a surplus of £2,087 from the previous year ending May 2019
  • We received a total of £250 sponsorship income in the year, from PB Garage Services. This funding is linked to the POTM awards
  • Our badge sales totalled £1,279
  • With raffle monies totalling £443
  • As regards the badge sales and raffle monies, we would like to thank our supporters for their ongoing generosity and support in this way.
  • We made a small profit of £90 on the Scarlets bus for our away fixture last season. This more or less offset the loss made on the buses run to Rodney Parade and the Neath bus for home fixtures.
  • In terms of expenditure the key items to note would be:
    The initial purchasing of pin badges at £503
  • Entertainment and expenditure on match day experience £220
  • Groggs £1,150 – it is worth noting here that this expenditure has been covered in previous seasons by sponsorship income received. With PB Garage Service no longer operating, this will be an area for us to look at going forward
  • Payment to Paul James’ testimonial year and charity of £600

That is a quick summary of the main items that resulted in the balance of £1,515. From our badge sale profits, we will be making donations to  the Swansea Gladiators and James Hook’s testimonial charity.

Just one final point to note in terms of finances. We have once again delivered the functions of the OSC without calling down any funding from the Ospreys themselves. Given the current climate and financial uncertainties facing sporting entities across the country, this is something we are particularly pleased to be able to highlight again this year.

Lousie Collins

 

5. Election of committee members

Two places were available after the resignations from NJ and GJ. CG, who was a coopted committee member plus Annette Thomas were the only applicants. The vote confirmed both as committee members.

6. Changes to Constitution

GB stated that amendments to the constitution could only be made at the AGM or a specially convened meeting. In view of that GB proposed a few changes:
1) Committee members would be expected to attend 75% of meetings per season, instead of 75% every 3 months.
2) In the event of a dispute re interpretation of the constitution, change from the Chairman will determine the
intended meaning to the majority of officers plus Vice Presidents. In the event of a split vote, the Chairman
will have the casting vote.

7. Officer Change

GB proposed that a new officer role be set up in response to the increase in Social Media and digital presence.  MP said that he hoped that whoever took it on, did as good a job as LC and SD. GB proposed CG, nomination was carried.

8. AOB

  • Angela Collins thanked the committee for their work during the season. She also extended thanks to NJ and GJ for their work.
  • MP thanked NJ and GJ for their work over the past years and contribution in creating a good working relationship with the Ospreys.
  • LC extended thanks to NJ and GJ
  • CG extended thanks to NJ and GJ
  • Christine James thanked the committee for their work during the season
  • DP extended thanks to NJ and GJ. DP also pointed to the fact that the constitution should include the use of Zoom and Digital platforms for committee meetings and the AGM.
  • KC closed the AGM

 

Present:

GB, SD, LC, KC, JW, MP, CG, AT, IT, DP, LJ, Angela Collins, Nicholas Williams, Christine James, Karen Walters, Annette Thomas

In attendance:

Name Representing
Steve Phillips, Julie Paterson, Mark Killingley WRU
Neil Bathgate, Barrie Jones, Gareth Storey Crys 16
Dan Hallett, Ryan Price Dragons Official Supporters Club
Grant Berni, Keith Collins, Sarah Davies Ospreys Supporters Club
David Elsmere Cardiff Blues Supporters Club
Huw Jones CF10 Supporters Trust

 

Introductions:

MK introduced JP and SP, representing the WRU and stated that Martyn Phillips has started hand over to SP yesterday (14/9).

NB offered thanks to WRU representatives for giving up time to meet with the JSG. Supporters trusts/ clubs introduced themselves to WRU and their links with the relevant clubs.

 

Loans to the regions and pay cuts – What is the current situation and the approach to repayments?

SP – we are getting a loan from NatWest. This is via the CL Bills programme, which is a government scheme to support businesses during the COVID crisis. Credit approval expected tomorrow (16/9), with everything finalised by the end of September. Details of the loan will be announced to the media on Thursday (17.9.20).

NB – Is this replacing WRU money to the regions? Will WRU contribute to the repayments?

SP – Out and out loan to the regions. This links to what regions would expect to receive as part of the PRA. Repayment sits at a regional level but WRU taking it on as they have a balance sheet able to manage the loan amount, the regions may not have this.

NB – If WRU income picks up, will there be a contribution from WRU?

SP – If we were to get crowds in autumn, full crowds in 6n or concerts in 2021, then we would contribute towards the loan. For example, if we received 5 million by year end 2021, in addition to the current income that we have modelled, this would reduce burden on regions. However, this is only until the end of 2021.

MK – PRA is based on a risk/ reward basis for pro game income – More concerts more rewards, COVID pandemic, no income therefore PRB wear the pain of the losses, which is very unfortunate in the first year of the agreement.

HJ – 3 independent teams carrying huge risk in this situation, what will happen for the union owned region?

SP – This was a combined PRB decision of how to solve the crisis.

HJ – Role of the WRU is not only to safeguard the company but to act as the Governing Body to safeguard various sectors of the sport. Could the regions be further protected?

SP – Our assets, as in the stadium, give us the ability to take out the loan and this is what NatWest need to secure the loan. If we don’t secure the company, there will be no sport.

NB –What are the lessons learned in case of a similar crisis in the future? Regions have tried to reduce costs where possible but not much more can be done.

SP – We need to replenish Welsh rugby reserves in case of another crisis. We have gone into those reserves this time, which has helped reduce the impact.

HJ – How do you envisage regions being able to repay the loan – Could be in excess of £1m per annum for 5 years, which is a huge ask.

SP – CL bills has a 3 year life (government rule), we needed to make sure repayments were over 5 years to be more manageable. We had a plan to grow our income pre-COVID and still hope that will be the case when we come out the other side, which will reduce the burden on repayments for the regions.

NB – At the Scarlets and Ospreys all staff have taken 25% cut, Blues pay cut still pending, Dragons have said playing staff only. Why is this? Bearing in mind the relationship between the WRU and Dragons.

MK – Some non-playing staff have sadly lost their jobs at the Dragons.

JP – All playing staff have taken 25% at all 4 regions. Other non-playing staff have taken cuts, but this is variable depending on role roughly between 10% and 25%.

MK – Off field the staffing model for back office staff across regions is inconsistent. PRB did some phenomenal work to bring it all together and agree cuts but fundamentally they are all different businesses.

HJ – Any additional conditions from WRU imposed on regions?

SP – CL bills agreement is standard and will be passed on to regions. Not currently inclined to add any additional conditions other than what has been agreed at PRB.

HJ – Rumour of shared services requirement to be added to the conditions?

SP – On the table but not agreed at this time. For example, things like marketing, ticket sales.

JP – if its non-performance related, can it be streamlined is the question to the regions.

 

What is the anticipated impact of additional autumn fixtures on international squad size, knock on effect to regional squads?

JP – The additional fixtures are hugely important to recoup lost income. NZ tour cancelled, as has been the Celtic Cup, JRWC 2020 and likely 2021 will be cancelled. 7s cancelled until at least April 2021. Autumn campaign squad size will remain at 38, possibly with a couple of additional players for training only purposes. Not taking additional players out but not guaranteeing release of players within 38. Last option before 2021 6N to test combinations, cap players and try out youngsters. No formal rotation policy but take each game on its merits. Important players get game time after so long without rugby.

GB – France friendly before nations cup, will this mean players released early for this fixture and has the Autumn window increased in length, allowing the extra fixtures?

JP – All players in 38 and identified “watch players” will have an individualised player plans, that are player specific to ensure they get appropriate game time. Reg 9 window – this has increased by World Rugby for 1 year only. Even English clubs on board with release of players during that extended window. Important to mitigate losses and drive revenue, as well as getting game back into public spotlight.

 

What is the hope for the return of crowds to international and domestic rugby?

GB – Not sure if we will get crowds in the autumn but what is liability of using other grounds outside of wales if they cannot have crowds? Any consideration for using regional grounds?

JP – We would look to place in agreement that we can recall games back to Wales. Working with Pro 14 and working around planned league game days. Lots of spinning plates but lots of options explored to ensure we can maximise income and limit any liabilities.

SP – For example Scotland game is planned to be in London, however, we have the option of pulling it and moving game if no crowds allowed. Realistically, it is unlikely we will have a crowd for Scotland, so we may well pull game before an agreed deadline to reduce risk. Time and cost to brand stadiums will also impact on the decision that for example RFU wouldn’t have at Twickenham, if there was no crowd allowed.

JP – On rugby side we want to make an early call, so players know where they are playing, whilst giving ourselves the best chance of getting a crowd in if we are allowed.

MK – We have explored more than 2 options on most grounds, explored lots of options around ground availability, ticket systems, groundsman issues, branding. Will likely stagger announcements to maximise opportunity to get income in through ticket sales.

SP – If we don’t take games to London with crowds we lose opportunity to recoup losses and reduce burden of the loan, so want to hold off on decision as long as possible.

HJ – How can fans be expected to take out season tickets when most of their high profile players will be with team Wales for most of the season?

MK – Regions have approached season tickets in different ways but we have cooperated to support them and advised as best we can to shape the product they are offering.

JP – Regions have been fully aware of nations cup plan and involved in how this will work and understand the need for it. Barely any conflict, lots of joined up thinking around new season approach and regional coaches understand bigger picture.

MK – We feel we have worked brilliantly with the regions on this.

 

What are the long-term plans for the international and global calendar?

JP – World Rugby discussions are ongoing. My opinion is that windows will stay the same but an autumn competition will be formed.

SP – Countries working well together, 6N and SANZAR aligned in the debate. Not sure best time of when to bring it in around RWC. Still some issues between FFR and LNR.

NB – As fans, we would like to see competitions more aligned so they flow better in blocks.

JP – Not just pro and international but development competitions needed as well. We won’t just restart all competitions as they were, we would like to dovetail competitions to ensure development players aren’t all lost to regions at same time.

SP – What would supporters preference for the window be, summer or autumn?

NB – As long as it’s one and not both I don’t think they’d mind which.

DE – Need to keep new and existing fans engaged through a block of rugby.

JP – A lot of work being done to block league and cup competitions. Light at end of the tunnel from 2022 onwards.

MK – Would you prefer self-contained competitions?

NB – Teams lose momentum with 4 week breaks, for supporters we prefer week in, week out domestic rugby in the same competition rather than Pro14, Europe, internationals and back to Europe etc.

JP – Players would prefer blocked competitions to ramp up to major games. Opportunity to have development competition for regions when internationals happening to give supporters week in, week out rugby, whilst not diminishing other competitions.

 

How has the situation of CVC Investment in the Pro 14 developed in recent months?

RP – Has the situation of the investment changed since COVID? What is the flow of revenue from CVC to the regions?

SP – When we did the deal there was protection for payments, however the risk profile changed slightly due to COVID. Therefore, some future payments are now contingent. We believe CVC have the ability to deliver, however there are some commercial challenges which has set back the timeline for seeing CVC impact. Still optimistic and discussions with 6N ongoing about investment there.

RP – Commercial inventory for the professional game or is there some money that’s planned for the recreational game?

SP – Allowance for one off payment to recreational game but investment weighted to pro game. Income streams will benefit the pro game hugely and be contingent on progress of the product.

JP – Regions were keen to give a contribution to the community game and this was agreed with PRB.

 

With the addition of Amazon Video to cover the Autumn Nations Cup, are streaming services likely to be a part of future TV deals?

RP – Amazon TV deal is welcome in current climate. Is this the direction of travel for streaming services to be a part of future deals?

SP – Amazon deal for the Autumn was done through the 6N, not via CVC. Great to have new entrant to the market other than Sky and BT. We have ensured S4C have Welsh Language rights as part of the contract. Always likely to get criticism for paywall coverage but pleased that FTA is retained through S4C.

GB – Are we likely to see a joined-up approach to future broadcast deals, or is it likely to be fragmented?

SP – Always likely to be fragmented – For example Pro 14 rights are sold by Pro 14. SP and JP sit on Pro 14 board and try to influence direction of travel. Sold by competition Pro 14, Europe, 6N and Autumn Cup sold as separate bundles. Work between unions to maximise value of UK rights.

JP – When we get to better place of competitions dovetailing, rather than overlapping this will influence what coverage looks like. Whilst there is an overlap, there will be a challenge of fragmented coverage for different competitions.

MK – If we could wave a magic wand, we would like one pay partner and one FTA partner. Currently the competition structure is too complicated and too many people involved to negotiate better TV deals in the opinion of the broadcasters.

JP – We also have the added complication of 2 of our regions dictated by football league fixtures.

 

What is the timeline for the appointment of a new Chair and CEO? How has this affected SP’s role as CFO?
SP – Chair appointed post AGM in the board meeting planned for late October. Just doing CEO duties and handover has started from Martyn Phillips, CFO promoted internally whilst I am interim CEO. I will be Interim until told otherwise by the board, likely to be into 2021.

NB – What was the rationale for going through the process of looking for a permanent CEO knowing the chair is likely to change and want to have an input?

SP – Can’t answer that one, would need to ask the board.

 

What is the short, medium and long term plan for Pro 14 and regional rugby? What are the contingencies in place considering potential travel issues?

JP – SA teams cannot travel in 2020. Their involvement would be 2021 onwards subject to SA government agreement on travel. That is mapped, as are scenarios for teams not joining, or if they join in February for instance. First 11 rounds are set and as we creep towards later rounds, we will understand if January/ February looks doable from SA teams/ SA government point of view. I chair rugby committee for Pro 14, regions fully aware of scenarios and contingency planning.

DE – What about the medium/ long term plan for Pro 14 and the regions?

JP – Make the best of it and maximise potential. CVC coming in have a headline plan for the future of the competition and meetings to look at detail start next week. Understanding the need for European competition and other good quality competitions. We need to make sure we are involved in those discussions around competitions and have the ability to compete in the latter stages of these competitions. 2022 will be a watershed year for rugby as broadcasting deals, future calendars and competition plans come together. I represent the views of regions on the Pro 14, have done for 8 years as a neutral, taking forward views of regional shareholders.

DE – What is the plan for the Dragons in terms of private investment?

JP – Would like to take them back into private ownership, we were nearly there pre-COVID but put on hold. Once a way forward post COVID is clear, the Dragons will put momentum back into the process for agreeing private investment.

HJ – Med/ Long term – do you think there will be a B & I league?

JP – My opinion, if it happens, it will be in the medium term. Needs to be explored in next couple of seasons and it has more legs now than ever before. Good links with PRL, so opportunity is there with CVC influence. English clubs brought a lot of money to the table pre-COVID but their landscape has changed so the door is more open that it was.

MK – English clubs want a quality competition, as we all do. The crisis creates opportunity and if I was CVC representative then I would be pushing hard for that.

 

What is the plan for de-commissioning and handing back the Dragon’s heart hospital and how have you worked with Welsh Government around the return of rugby?

JP – De-commissioning has started, will be handed back week before Christmas into a fully operational stadium. CAP should be ready sooner but part of de-commissioning process. Two groups have been set up with WG to discuss professional and recreational game return. We have been lobbying for return of games with working groups. Provided mitigations around testing, COVID operation procedures and mitigation of other risk factors. We have exemptions for travel in and out of Wales to fulfil fixtures. Weekly call with WG to discuss progress.

JP – Community game is more complex, governed by social distancing guidelines. If social distancing rule is changed to 0 metres, we can get game back on. Other option is an exemption to change laws of the game or how the game will operate, which we are putting together a proposal at the moment. We are the first governing body round the table to discuss this with WG. We are joined up with pro teams and all in it together to see safe return.

HJ – Any compensation for use of the stadium from NHS or Welsh Government?

MK – Covering WRU costs, not paying to loan the stadium. For example, the cost of maintenance and cleaning staff and covering utility bills we would not otherwise have used but we have not made money. Welsh Rugby have done the right thing in supporting Health Boards in the crisis.

HJ – Did you explore option of WG grant prior to going to NatWest?

JP – Yes, but non-starter.

JP – We get more traction to support community game, For example, after Storm Dennis. Push back when we talk to them about support for the professional game.

BJ – Who in WG do you deal with?

JP – Weekly sports group set up, when it came to grants/ loans then that was to Mark Drakeford directly.

 

Do you think PRB structures will be here to stay with a new chair coming in next month and the PRA will remain as it is?

JP – My opinion is we need a professional game board, separate to the community game, so hopefully nothing to change with new chair as those structures are only just establishing and have had big challenges in the last 12 months. As a governance structure it makes sense to have a separate community and professional game board.

JP – We are all in it together as a professional game, we don’t always agree but it’s far from broken.  We are not all at each other’s throats but sometimes that suits journalists’ narratives.

MK – PRB positioning within the media is important going forward. We want to be honest about the conversations that are happening and not point scoring in the background. If we don’t have answers, what’s the harm in saying we don’t know. Amanda Blanc trying to do this positively, but situations have conspired against us in recent months.

HJ – A more open approach is very much needed and would be welcomed. Finally, if there is to be a continued separation of the pro game and the community game, then there needs to be an overarching strategy for rugby in Wales that everyone can buy into.

 

NB – thanked MK, SP and JP for their time and an informative call. Aim to have another call in around 6 months.

The Ospreys Supporters Cub’s Annual General Meeting will take place at 19:00, Monday 28th September via Zoom.

All OSC members (season ticket holders) are invited to attend and to stand for election to the committee should they wish to do so (providing conditions laid out in the constitution are met – see the link below). If you have the energy, commitment and the skills to contribute to the OSC, please email grant@ospreyssupportersclub.com to find out more or to submit an application to join the committee.

Further details about the AGM and committee can be found here in the OSC constitution

As this will be our first virtual AGM there may be limited access. If you would like to attend the Zoom meeting, please email grant@ospreyssupportersclub.com – joining details will be sent out prior to the meeting starting.

 

The OSC note today’s statement released by the Ospreys regarding the options for current Season Ticket holders.

The Region, like many businesses, continues to be adversely affected by the Covid 19 crisis and the detrimental effect on finances due to amongst other factors Supporters being unable to attend matches.

The OSC fully appreciate that many Season Ticket holders have also suffered and continue to suffer financially during lockdown and we commend the Ospreys on the options of credit, refund or donation.

However, we hope that many Supporters will chose the donate option in an effort to assist in ensuring the continued financial viability of the Ospreys.


The following information is taken from the Ospreys website and has also been sent to season ticket holders by email:

First and foremost, we hope you and your family are healthy and safe during this unprecedented time. Thank you to all who have already expressed messages of support to Ospreys – it’s been inspiring to receive your well-wishes and makes us proud to be part of this community.

Along with all professional sports in Wales, rugby has been suspended since 14th March 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19, affecting all Guinness PRO14 and European Cup fixtures. Today it was announced that the Guinness Pro14 will target 22nd August 2020 to recommence the 2019/20 season. Although professional games will return, we will not have fans in the ground until it is safe to do so meaning it’s likely that the remaining 2019/20 fixtures will be played behind closed doors.

Sadly many of you, whether our Season Members or match ticket buyers, will have tickets to games that we can no longer fulfil.

Know that we are working hard behind the scenes with WRU and the other Welsh Regions to come up with the fairest way for our fans to realise the value they’re entitled to whilst considering the long-term sustainability of our region and rugby in Wales. 

The most likely course of action will be for us to ask anyone with an unused ticket balance to decide between supporting the Ospreys through a donation back into the region, accepting credits to be carried through to next season or redeeming a cash refund. We will reach out directly to those supporters affected with our options in due course.

For any questions, please contact us via email at info@ospreysrugby.com and we will endeavour to respond to all enquiries as soon as possible.

Thank you for your patience, understanding and ongoing support during this challenging time.

My friend Gary Lewis passed away earlier this month as the age of 52 .  Gary was an Ospreys season ticker holder, Riverside regular and often used the Neath/Bryncoch supporters bus to games.  A group of us would regularly sit together on the halfway line and have a great laugh – win or lose, we’d enjoy each others’ company (normally entertaining each other by shouting non sensical comments at the opposition, advice to the ref (and assistant refs) or endless shouts of “Go on Jeff!” aimed to encourage Mr Hassler and also to make the rest of us laugh).  What was funny was Gary would often say he couldn’t remember where his real season ticket seats were as we’d sat as a group for years but never sorted our tickets out to make it official.  The picture here is of us on the most memorable of away trips to Dublin for the Rabo 12 Grand Final – Gary’s wearing the Neath FC top just to be a bit different!

Gary died of cancer and leaves behind his loving wife Janine, as well as three wonderful children Ellie, Jess and Tom.  Gary will be sorely missed by his friends and family but also remembered fondly for the pleasure he brought to the lives of everyone who knew him.  He was the coolest, nicest and one of the funniest and most handsome mates I’ve ever had.

Gary’s friends have set up a bank account to help raise money for a memorial (perhaps a bench, or a new scoreboard) at Bryncoch RFC where Gary coached and refereed the boys from U7 to U16.

If anyone would like to make a donation to Gary’s memorial fund, please can you do so via a bank transfer (a close family friend has set up a new account specifically for this – so the account name is Sarah Gould but I can vouch that this is legitimate).

Account details:

Name: Sarah Gould

Account number: 63280964

Sort Code 07-16-60

 

Grant Berni

Vice-Chair

OSC

As we mentioned in the Saracens programme, this season we will be supporting Swansea Gladiators, as our sponsored charity. Below is a short description of the ethos and function of the Gladiators;  I am sure that once you have read it, you will have nothing but admiration for the work that the volunteers running the club undertake.

Once again, thanks for the generosity that both Ospreys and visiting supporters have shown in supporting our efforts to date!

We will hand over to Matthew Germine, one of the coaches , who will explain why the Gladiators exist and some of the activities they enjoy!

The Swansea Gladiators were formed in 1991 at Fforestfach Day Centre, when a young man who was using the service, saw some of the support staff throwing a rugby ball around on their break, asked a very simple question –

“can I play rugby too?”

Over the next few months, what started out as just passing a ball around at break time, evolved into structured training sessions with tangible benefits for everyone involved.  Our first game against a “Veteran select XV”, in a few short months’ people had gone from being told that they couldn’t play rugby because of their disability to saying I will play rugby because of my ability!

With a strong focus on the social aspect of rugby,  the Gladiators has become a vessel for developing people’s interpersonal skills and physical characteristics. We have been fortunate to have hundreds of people play for us to date – each of them add something different to the club and each of them benefits in a different way too.

During our first 29 years we have we have been based at a few different clubs including Waunarlwydd RFC, Gowerton RFC and, since 2001, Swansea Uplands RFC.  Without this support The Swansea Gladiators may not have had the impact that it has had.

We have been on many tours – something that some of our players may not have had the opportunity to do previously – including biennial trips to Ireland and Scotland during the Six Nations, to Canada in 2010.

In 2017 we  visited the Basque Country and participated in the most recent International Mixed Ability Rugby Tournament (IMART), where we finished 5th!   We will be travelling to Cork, Ireland for the next instalment of IMART in June 2020 where we hope to go four better!

We train twice a week – every Tuesday at Swansea RFC and Thursday at Swansea Uplands RFC with an average of 20 participants who push themselves and challenge preconceptions every time they lace up their boots.

Our club motto is Friendship through sport, and we try and base everything that we do to achieve it.  Many thanks to you, the Ospreys supporters for supporting us this season!

Our friend Liz Mellor passed away suddenly and unexpectedly as just 36 years old.  Liz was a huge Ospreys supporter and was one of the most energetic and happiest people you could meet  – she lit up a rugby stadium, let alone a room with her presence.

Liz collapsed and died after suffering with a bad cough and chest over the Christmas period and leaves behind her husband Mike, as well as three beautiful children.

Liz’s friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help with funeral costs and to support the family financially during this difficult time.

You can donate here.

Representatives of the Ospreys Supporters Club committee and Ospreys Rugby met to discuss various issues that have arisen in recent weeks.

We raised the manner in which the forum was shut down and the Ospreys acknowledge that it could have been handled differently in retrospect.

Going forward, we have agreed that the Ospreys will run 2-3 Q&A sessions each season along with the Q&A sessions run by the OSC committee. This will provide regular opportunities for supporters to engage directly with management and players.

There will also be closer liaison between the Ospreys and the committee going forward to ensure improved lines of communication and open discussion.

The OSC committee will continue to represent all season ticket members and we value any input from members.

To contact the committee, please use the contact form or email address on the link here

 

#ourbloodisblack