The Neath-Swansea Ospreys today made clear the playing arrangements agreed
in light of the regional side's move to the Morfa stadium next season.
Ospreys joint managing director, Mike Cuddy, had already made clear at last
week's supporters consultation meeting that the regional side are committed
to playing at least 13 games at Morfa during next yearÂ¹s season, with the
balance to be played at NeathÂ¹s Gnoll ground. The arrangement emulates the
likes of leading Irish rugby team Munster and French side Toulouse, who both
operate dual playing venues.
With 18 home games anticipated for the Ospreys during season 2005/2006, the
decision should see around five games played at NeathÂ¹s historic Gnoll
Speaking today Ospreys joint managing director Mike Cuddy said:
"When reaching initial agreement over the playing arrangements for next
season, it seemed clear that we needed to strike the right balance between
the commercial interests of the Ospreys and the use of the new Morfa
"In order for the stadium, commercially, to be a resounding success, we
obviously needed to ensure that the majority of our games, would be played
at what will be a truly world class facility. Equally, we were aware that
there were games in the rugby calendar that would be inappropriate to be
played at Morfa due to the size of the anticipated crowd and the resultant
costs of manning the stadium.
"By splitting games between Morfa and the Gnoll, the Ospreys will be able to
effectively manage commercial pressures and interests, whilst keeping a
strong element of regional rugby at the Gnoll which, on current projections,
will see around five games played in Neath next season."
Ospreys chief executive Andrew Donald added:
"With a year to go before the new Morfa Stadium is up and running the
Ospreys are now talking to potential sponsors in preparation for the
2005/2006 season. As part of these negotiations, the biggest question
coming back at us was how many games would the Ospreys be playing at the
stadium and our position now answers this question.
"By operating a dual stadium system, emulating the likes of Munster and
Toulouse, we will be making the most of Morfa, its facilities and commercial
opportunities, whilst also making the most appropriate use of the Gnoll. As
a result, redevelopment will continue at the Gnoll over the next season, to
ensure a crowd capacity of around 12,000.
"With our supporters consultation exercise now well underway and with the
opening of the stadium so close at hand, we will keep a watching brief on
the policy and are prepared to make changes, where necessary, in the
interests of both the Ospreys and regional rugby. Commercial interests will
ultimately and logically determine the level of matches to be played at each
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.
The WRU officially unveiled the new pitch today in time for Wales to take on Australia in the first of the Dove Men Series autumn international matches this Saturday. Head Groundsman Lee Evans and colleague Craig Campbell reflect on the 15-week project and look ahead to a pitch perfect future at Millennium Stadium.