Ospreys stars took to the streets today (Monday 17th August) to assist the region's refuse collectors in one of the club's first community initiatives of the new season.
The 'Rubbish Runs', which are taking place all week across the Ospreylia regions of Neath Port Talbot, Swansea and Bridgend, mark the arrival of one of the Ospreys' new high profile signings, All-Black legend and once refuse collector, Jerry Collins.
Eagle-eyed early risers in Neath Port Talbot spotted the unusual sight this morning as the eight Ospreys players and Head Coach Sean Holley, pounded the pavements of the region's domestic rubbish routes. However, those who missed the players will have another chance to catch them in action, as the Runs continue in Bridgend, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, all this week.
Collins, who regularly incorporated his bin collecting duties into his training regime before becoming a professional rugby player, said:
"It was great to get back out there on the bin routes, it brought back some fond memories for me, though I can't say I miss the early mornings. The team spirit that the guys have here is very similar to how we operate on the field, you're part of a group that needs to work together to function and do its job properly, and I think today's activities have really drilled that message home to everyone.
"It's also been an unusual, but very effective way for me to see more of the 'Ospreylia' region that I'll be representing as part of the Ospreys, I've been round communities and routes that I would probably never have come across had it not been for the Rubbish Run, and it's been a fantastic experience. We've had a warm welcome not only from the refuse collection team but also from all the early risers that have come out and given us a wave."
The Rubbish Runs form part of a wider programme of community initiatives from the Ospreys, that will, for example, see 1,000 children participating in coaching clinics during the summer holidays, and follows on from a fundraising partnership with Ty Hafan Children's Hospice earlier this summer.
Ospreys, Wales and British and Irish Lions wing, Shane Williams, took part in the Rubbish Run alongside Collins. He said:
"I wasn't sure what to expect when we were told we'd be spending a week collecting rubbish across the region, but it's been a really good experience and a great way to welcome Jerry to the Ospreys, I hope we've been of use to the refuse collectors and that we haven't slowed them down too much! It's been a really tough but satisfying morning for everyone - I think there may be a few more yawns than usual in training today.
"As a club, we do enjoy giving something back to the community, as we are very aware that we rely on the loyalty and support from local people, and we're hoping that this year we can do our fans proud with some impressive results. It would be great to see the Liberty Stadium packed out this season to put the home crowd pressure on our opponents all year round."
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.