Steve Tandy will step up his coaching development next season after accepting the role of Head Coach at Bridgend RFC.
30-year old Tandy, who recently passed the century mark of appearances for the Ospreys will combine his coaching duties at the Swalec League One West side with his ongoing playing commitments to the region, where he remains contracted until 2012.
The back-rower has been a part of the Ospreys set-up since the inception of regional rugby, his debut coming in September 2003 against Leinster at Donnybrook. In total, he has played 102 times for the Ospreys, scoring 10 tries. Keen to develop a future in coaching, this season has seen Tandy operating as forwards coach for the Ospreys Under-16 squad, assisting them on their way to success in the WRU Regional Age Grade Championship, where they defeated the Scarlets 29-28 in the final at St Helen's.
Tandy will work alongside Gareth Nicholas who will take the post of Technical Advisor. Craig Warlow will continue as Backs Coach, and he will be periodically assisted by Ospreys Skills Coach Gruff Rees, a sign of the Ospreys commitment to the development of coaches within the region.
Speaking about his new role at Bridgend, Tandy said:
"This is an excellent opportunity for me to continue my development and to get some great experience under my belt at a higher level of senior rugby. Bridgend may have struggled a bit over the last couple of seasons, but they are still a big club with aspirations.
"I'll still be part of the Ospreys squad, training during the week and competing for game time, but it's important that I start to build for the future, I realise that I'm getting older and won't be playing forever. I'm keen to have a long term future in coaching, I'm finishing off my Level Three in the next few weeks, and I've had a great experience with the Ospreys Under-16's.
"This is the next step for me now. I'm grateful to Bridgend RFC for giving me this opportunity, and also to Andrew Hore who has supported me all the way with my wish to get more coaching experience. The Ospreys talk about developing from within, I suppose I'm an example of how it works."
Andrew Hore, Ospreys Elite Performance Director, added:
"It's great news for both Bridgend RFC and for Steve personally, and is further evidence of the region's commitment to Bridgend. I think that with this appointment, and the commitment we have made for Gruff to assist Craig Warlow will further strengthen our relationship, and allow Bridgend to truly say that they are Ospreylian.
"Development from within is at the heart of everything we are doing at the Ospreys, and is essential if we are to achieve long term, sustainable success. That doesn't just mean developing playing talent, we also have to ensure that we are producing quality young coaches who will inspire and provide the building blocks for future players. In addition, we are currently looking to develop further our existing relationship with Pencoed College, which will ensure that there is a clear pathway for young players, from schools and college rugby through to the Ospreys, via Bridgend RFC.
"Steve is a true stalwart of the region, who epitomises everything about the culture we are building at the Ospreys, on and off the field. He is a natural leader who is respected by his peers, and as he is coming towards the latter stages of his playing career he has given a great deal of thought towards his next move, which will be to take up coaching.
"He has already displayed the right characteristics to be a successful coach, as those involved with the Eyasses alongside him this season will testify. For Steve now, this move into the coaching team in Bridgend is an important step-up for him along the development pathway, but we believe that he will continue to grow in the role. We wish him the best of luck and will ensure he has the full support of the Ospreys as he looks to help Bridgend back into the Premiership."
WRU International Skills Coach Jason Strange is a busy man, combining the new role with that of Wales Under 20 attack coach, Ebbw Vale head coach and continuing to teach at Ebbw Fawr Learning Community.
Warren Gatland and Sam Warburton look ahead to this week's crunch RBS 6 Nations tie against France, where the Wales skipper in particular is keen to make his mark, as Paris has proved a bleak place for him in the past.
Following their historic win over England, Wales Under 20 suffered a narrow, 36-34 loss to their Scottish counterparts last weekend, despite outscoring them by five tries to three. Watch the match highlights and reaction.
WRU TV go behind the scenes with the Wales squad as they put the final touches in place ahead of the clash against Scotland at Murrayfield. Follow the squad on their captain's run, the kickers visit to Murrayfield and Neil Jenkins' press conference