Sunday evening saw the Ospreys run in the Challenge Cup come to an abrupt end. Knocked out in the quarter-finals despite their record-breaking pool victory, gaining the maximum 30 points on offer, the first team to ever achieve this in Europe.
Since our dismal season last year which put us out of the Champions Cup, every the optimist, I said that the Ospreys would win this Challenge Cup. Albeit, I still have to think twice before saying which cup it is and we’re not at the semi-final stage. Oops.
So finishing the pool stages as number one seed, we couldn’t be in a better position. But, with the Swans scheduled to play a game at the Liberty Stadium the same weekend as the the quarters, it was a little nervy till a definite date was announced.
With Swans taking priority, it left the Ospreys to play at the Principality Stadium, a ground four times bigger than the Liberty which is a struggle to fill at the best of times.
But dealing with the cards we were dealt, the Ospreys loyal turned up with full voices, roof on to keep in the atmosphere, despite the glorious sunshine outside.
Turning up to the stadium for my media intern duties, i’ll admit i was like a child in a sweet shop. Seeing all the pictures of players past and present, all the capped players in Wales painted across the veins of the stadium. The tunnel!! Ahh I had fun in there!
The changing rooms, the press room, the pitch. I almost forgot about the game after being so in awe of where I was and where I was working!
Working the press room, which opens two hours before kick off, I never see the crowds filling up. I always take my seat around five minutes till kick off. So the shock I had when I made my way down the tunnel to find the other end of the pitch open!
Now i know there are those that are slagging off the crowds and asking why on earth did we play such a crucial game there? But it was out of our hands! And the Liberty averages around 9000 a season, so 12,000 that turned up to the game I thought was great. How else are we going to promote the regional game in Wales?! Its a quarter final!
The game itself was….well…a little less exciting. I can argue that the red card should’ve been given twenty minutes earlier, and disagree with an offside till i’m blue in the face, but at the end of the day, we just weren’t good enough.
Despite narrowing the lead to a four point gap, the Ospreys put themselves in a good attacking position in the final five minutes, where a try scoring opportunity looked inevitable. I managed to leg it halfway round the stadium to watch the final two minutes from the tunnel with the rest of the Ospreys staff.
Needless to say, you could cut the tension with a knife. Everyone was scared to breathe and nerves were getting worse by the second. With every pass and metre gained, gasps rang out amongst us all, until the dreaded knock forward left the ref no option than to call time.
The heartbreak! Knocked out at the quarter final stage once more, after a seven year wait! And next up we have Leinster to face at home which is no easy ask.
So ever the optimist, i’ve decided to look at the positives.
I got the experience of working in the Principality Stadium. Behind the scenes! See all the big names, be part of a European quarter final! Nobody can take that away from me.
And now we can look ahead and push for a play-off place! We have some tough games coming up beginning with this weekend. So we dust ourselves off and we go again!