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).
We’ve had the kind invite from the Dubh Linn Irish Pub at the centre of Parma that includes the offer of 10% off your food bill.
Parma is a beautiful, compact city offering something for historians, lovers of art, lovers of food, lovers of beer and lovers of rugby! The welcome any travelling supporters will get from Zebre Rugby Club and it’s crazy supporters is second to none, so make sure you say “ciao”.
The 5000-seater Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi opened in 2008 and sits on the northern outskirts of Parma, 3km (two miles) from the centre. It can be reached in a five-minute taxi ride from Parma train station and the centre of the city, a 40-minute walk, or a short bus journey.
If you’ve never been in a car with an Italian driver, its worth the short taxi journey to the ground just for the full Italian experience! (but the buses or the walk are fine if you’re not a thrill seeker).
This is what Roberto from the Dubh Linn has to say:
we are The “Dubh Linn Irish Pub” in Parma and we will like to welcome you for this 2020 season to our small but warm crossroad between Italian and Irish culture.
It will be a pleasure having your supporters to watch your favourite competition with a good old Guinness in their hands.We would like to offer your members, along with our specialities, 10% discount on dinners, if you’ll like to choose our Pub for this season. We look forward to receiving a response from you and we wish you the best of luck.
This year, our vice-chair, Grant Berni will be taking part in the inaugural OitC Judgement Day charity bike ride.
He’s a keen cyclist and just as keen to watch the game so he says “this is a perfect day out for me- cycling, rugby and maybe a beer or two – all whilst raising money for Ospreys in the community!”
To help Grant hit is fundraising target, please click the button below:
Each rider must raise a minimum of £250, so to see who else is raising money for OiTC on the ride and help them on their way, click the button below and then click on “Fundraisers”
Here’s what OitC have to say about the event:
Ospreys in the Community have teamed up with White Rock Events to launch our first charity bike ride. On Saturday 18th April 2020, Ospreys will take on the Dragons at the Principality Stadium for Judgement Day. All tracks lead to Cardiff, as the same day we will be holding our first charity bike ride from the Liberty Stadium to the home of Welsh Rugby in time for the big derby! Riders over the age of 14 of all abilities can get involved in supporting the cause in this unique cycling experience
How the funding will be spent
All Finances will go towards sustaining the great work done in our local communities by Ospreys in the Community. Supporting people to make positive life changes through the power of sport and conversation. We work to improve lives by working with others to create a range of programmes that sit within our four core values: education, health, sport, and inclusion
How this will benefit the community
Ospreys in the Community is a not-for-profit foundation working in close partnership with Ospreys Rugby. We share a strong relationship and form a key part of the Ospreys’ Strategy. We operate independently to the professional rugby organisation. Our aim is to create a vibrant and sustainable foundation and harness the power of the Ospreys to make a positive difference in our communities. We hope to encourage boys and girls of all ages and abilities to make positive life choices.
Here’s some more about OiTC
For anyone interested in joining up and supporting this event, please click the link below to email Tom Sloan
If anyone wants to know a bit more about the ride, here are some Q&A’s from the launch event last week.
Questions & Answers
What is The Judgement Day Ride?
The Judgement Day Ride is a cycle ride from The Liberty Stadium to The Principality Stadium in time to watch the double header Judgement Day. How fit do I need to be? The event involves exercise and so a basic level of fitness is required. If in doubt check with your GP before confirming your entry. We will be running a training day in the build up to the Ride.
Will going you off be road or using roads?
We use mostly roads and cycle paths.
What type of bike will I need?
We strongly recommend a road bike serviced shortly before departure.
Can I use a mountain bike or hybrid?
Yes but your fitness and ability will need to be of a much higher standard. It is very difficult for the best cyclist on a hybrid to keep up with a novice on a road bike. Not impossible but you will be at a disadvantage.
How fast will we be riding?
We are anticipating 3 groups (based on a party of 50). Target speed will be 12mph, 14 mph and 16mph. We will know more once we know the final make up of the party. How far will we by cycling It is 45 miles to the Stadium.
How many hills are there?
Most of the climbs are around the Cowbridge area. It isn’t flat but nothing too testing.
Have I enough time to train?
We will help you with training tips and will be organising a training day before we go. With the right equipment it should be within the range of most people.
Do I ride alone?
No this is a fully supported Ride. You will ride as part of a group of approximately 15 riders. Each group will have a Ride Captain and Vice Captain. All are very experienced and are fully trained in first aid and have good cycle mechanic skills.
We will be teaching riders how to ride in a peloton. This enables the ride to move along using 30% less energy than riding alone. The effect is that even inexperienced riders with basic preparation can complete the challenge.
What if I get lost?
You will be with a team cycling all day – we leave no one behind. We also give you access to our GPS app for your phone.
What time will we leave? What time will we get there?
We leave the Liberty at 8:00am and aim to be at the Principality by 12:30pm. Kick off is at 2:15pm
What happens to my bike?
At the end of the ride we will load your bike onto a truck and it will be delivered back to Swansea in time for collection on the Sunday?
What about repairs / punctures? Do I need to bring spares?
We will have staff to repair punctures and any other faults. We will have some spare bikes in case of a more serious failure. We ask you to bring along 2 inner tubes.
How do we get back to Swansea?
A coach will be provided with an agreed departure time. Alternatively you may wish to stay longer in Cardiff.
What happens to my luggage?
You will load your change of clothes on to the van at The Liberty Stadium and you will have access to this in Cardiff. Will we get fed along the way? Yes we have included a stop near halfway. You will also receive a food voucher for the Stadium.
Can I get a shower when we arrive?
Yes arrangements are being made for you to shower.
Can you recommend anywhere I can get a new bike?
Cycle Solutions have a store in the Uplands, Swansea and can meet all your needs.
bike or get my bike serviced.
Will I need insurance?
We recommend everyone has cycle insurance.
Apart from the bike what other equipment would I need?
Weather conditions in April can be changeable and, as with any Welsh day, we could have all seasons in one day. The essential kit list is as follows:-
Pair 8 panel shorts
Transmission base layer
Road bike helmet (compulsory)
Good waterproof/ warm glove
Mid layer long sleeve cycle shirt
Clear glasses for peloton cycling
Water bottles/ cages x 2
Will my bike get damaged in transition?
We will take great care with your bike when transporting in our vehicles. We strongly recommend you bring along a bike box. If you do not have a bike box bring a blanket and pipe lagging from a local plumbing centre will protect your frame.
This is compulsory and you will not be covered by insurance if you are not wearing a helmet.
How much experience do the organisers have?
Combined there is over 50 years of experience in organising charity cycle rides and cycle tours.
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.