The Neath-Swansea Ospreys today announced they had reached an agreement with Welsh international and Ospreys second-row Gareth Llewellyn, to allow him to explore new career options by signing on to the transfer list.
Llewellyn is Wales' most capped forward with 83 caps, seven of which were earned as captain of the Welsh team. He played over 300 games for Neath before joining the Ospreys and captained Neath for a record 7 seasons from his debut at the club as a 19 year old in the 1988/89 season.
It is unlikely that, with Six Nations training set to start soon, Llewellyn will be making any decisions soon on the new direction he wants to take, but it is understood this will involve remaining as an active player of rugby for the foreseeable future.
In other news, the Ospreys also announced today they are releasing flanker Gavin Thomas onto the transfer market, as the club begins a process of redefining its squad ahead of next season.
Speaking today Ospreys joint managing director, Roger Blyth, said:
"The club had reached agreement with Gareth Llewellyn to allow him to explore new career opportunities. I think given the commitment he has given to Wales, the Ospreys and before that Neath, it is only right and proper that we give him every assistance as he decides what course he now wants his career to take. There will be no hasty decisions and the important thing is that Gareth is given every respect, the room and the time to make the choices he now wants to make."
"We have also taken the difficult decision to release Gavin Thomas onto the transfer list which, despite a good win on Saturday, signals the beginning of tough choices we are now taking in a process which amounts to a redefining of the squad. This is a programme that will continueuntil the
end of the season and we expect to considerably modify and strengthen the squad in a process that will not just be about playing ability but about cultural fit too."
"The style of rugby the Ospreys can and have delivered, and want to continue delivering, is fast, open and attractive - a style of rugby that not only wins games but does so in a gripping way. This is what we are striving for and the full weight of the Ospreys management team and board will be behind
Lyn Jones as the necessary changes are now made to keep the team moving forwards to achieve these goals."
Speaking on Gareth Llewellyn, Ospreys joint managing director Mike Cuddy said:
"Gareth has been an exceptional servant of Welsh rugby throughout his career, which has seen him receive more Welsh caps than any other second row before him. We are grateful to him for his effort not only at the Ospreys but for his tremendous input at Neath RFC before that, where he captained the team over so many seasons. I know everyone at the Ospreys and supporters old and new will throw their weight behind Gareth as he considers the direction he now wishes his career to take."
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Wales U20 face a tough group in the Junior World Championship with France, England and Japan lying in wait but Attack coach Jason Strange and back rower Tom Phillips are looking forward to the campaign ahead.
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All roads lead to Cardiff on Sunday for the SSE SWALEC Finals Day at the Millennium Stadium. Cambrian Welfare tackle Ystradgynlais in the Bowl final, Ystrad Rhondda play Newcastle Emlyn in the Plate final while defending champions Pontypridd face Bridgend in the Cup final.
WRU Chief Executive Roger Lewis, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Ken Skates and WRU Chairman Gareth Davies earlier this week launched a new competition in conjunction with the WRU unveiling its archive room.
Welsh players and management joined Deputy Minister for Sport Ken Skates at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay earlier this week to reveal the Union's pioneering school-club hub initiative has been so successful the project will now almost double the scale of the original project.
The Scarlets, Newport Gwent Dragons, Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys look ahead to Judgement Day III which sees the Blues take on the Ospreys (2.30) and the Dragons tackle the Scarlets (4.45pm) at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
Ystradgynlais and Ynysddu played out a titanic struggle at Taffs Well in the SSE SWALEC Bowl semi-final. At the end of the game neither team could be separated after a 15-15 stalemate but Ystradgynlais go through on try count.