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Champions desperate to defend title

Guinness PRO12 Editor

16 Dec 2010

Reigning Magners League Champions the Ospreys are desperate to defend their title next May.

The Liberty Stadium outfit became the first Magners League Grand Final winners six and a half months ago and now they want more of the same in 2011.

The 17-12 victory over Leinster at the RDS at the end of last season gave the Ospreys a hat-trick of Celtic League titles but the league’s most successful side won’t be resting on their laurels.

Last term’s spectacular finish in the Irish capital added a little something extra to the sweet taste of success and assistant coach Jonathan Humphreys admits that Grand Final feeling has left a lasting impression.

“It was a fantastic finale in front of a packed house in Dublin for what was a particularly good game,” said Humphreys, whose men currently hold the fourth and final Play-Off spot going into the festive fixtures.

“Everybody goes into this competition now desperate to win it. That was shown in the run up to the Grand Final and we were overjoyed to win it for a third time.

“It was a great day for the club and the Grand Final win added a lot to our season ticket sales. One of our main goals is to defend our title. Hopefully, we can do that better than we have done when we’ve won the league before.”


Jonathan Humphreys (l) talks to the press after the Grand Final triumph

The road to this season’s Grand Final is slightly longer than last season’s journey.

With the Celtic Rugby family having been extended to include Italian outfits Aironi Rugby and Benetton Treviso, the Ospreys and the other 11 clubs will play an extra two games prior to the Play-Offs.

And with fixtures this term scheduled for the Six Nations period when teams will be without their international stars, there is an even greater emphasis on strength in depth for those sides hoping for a top-four finish.

But instead of seeing that challenge in a negative light, Humphreys and the Ospreys have already embraced the change.

The champions won both Magners League matches during the November internationals, thanks in no small part to an impressive development process that has seen a number of youngsters stepping up to first-team level with impressive results.

“We’re very proud of our development process,” added Humphreys.

“We develop a lot of players from the region for the Welsh team and the results is that a lot of our players go away.

“We’re hoping to get a large majority of our squad into the World Cup next year and we’re hoping a large number go away for the Six Nations. So we have to carry a heavier squad than most…we have to facilitate a lot of young players who have ambitions.

“We have to develop youngsters and we have to develop them quickly. Hopefully, we’ll see more youngsters come through and fulfilling their potential. There’s an extra two Magners League games to fit in during the international windows so there’s a lot of game time for a lot of our kids here.

“The Ospreys is a good place to be. We’re always trying to drive our standards forward.”