George North bursts through the Worcester defence. Pic: Getty Images.

Ospreys Set For Scarlets Switch And Another Away Day Mission

By Alun Bishop

The Ospreys will face another tough away day task on Boxing Day – just a week after their stunning weekend comeback victory at Worcester Warriors.

The region made it three successive victories for the first time since April 2019 as they came from 29-18 behind to win 38-29 in their European Challenge Cup tie at Sixways.

Now, though, they are poised to lose home advantage for their crunch Boxing Day clash against the Scarlets with the game now set to be played in Llanelli.

Welsh rugby’s Christmas derbies are the highlight of the calendar. Under normal circumstances they attract huge crowds, although those won’t be possible this year because of Covid-19.

Toby Booth’s side were set to host their west Wales rivals at the Liberty Stadium for the traditional derby fixture this year, but the venue for the match has been thrown into chaos.

Liberty Stadium owners Swansea City will begin relaying the substandard surface at the ground this week after it fell into a poor state of disrepair.

It means the Ospreys – who are tenants at the Liberty – and Scarlets can’t play there on Boxing Day.

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It’s understood the Ospreys have looked at other options within the region for the Scarlets game including Neath, Bridgend and Swansea’s St Helen’s – the ground where they now train.

The Ospreys faced defending Guinness PRO14 champions Leinster at The Gnoll in Neath last season and have already played at St Helen’s this term.

But those venues – plus Bridgend’s Brewery Field – have been deemed unsuitable by the production company used by PRO14 broadcasters Premier Sports.

They believe the three Welsh Premiership grounds do not have the required facilities for broadcasting despite the fact they managed at the ground for the Leinster match on February 21.

There are also concerns over whether the floodlights at Neath, Swansea and Bridgend are of a good enough standard with the Ospreys and Scarlets game scheduled to begin at 5.15pm.

The Ospreys clash with Leinster in Neath earlier this year was also an evening kick-off.

Neath declined to comment when contacted.


The Welsh All Blacks were hopeful of being considered as potential hosts, but the game will now be played at Parc y Scarlets and out of the Ospreys’ region altogether.

There is understood to be disappointment that the decision – which is yet to be officially confirmed – has been driven by the broadcasters.

Playing the match at a Premiership ground would also have given the chosen club the chance to raise some much-needed revenue after a brutal year.

Swansea City hope the new Liberty Stadium pitch will be ready for their Championship game with Reading on December 30.

It means the Ospreys could be able to return to their usual surroundings for their next home game after Boxing Day – the European Challenge Cup clash with Worcester Warriors on January 15.

That said, other venues are understood to be being considered for that match with The Gnoll the frontrunner.

After tries from Sam Parry, a penalty try, Morgan Morris and George North had secured the Ospreys’ victory over Worcester, captain Justin Tipuric told S4C: “I can’t speak high enough of the boys to keep digging in because it looked like it was getting away from us but to sneak it at the end is a great result for us.


“When you play against English teams it’s all about the up front battle. We knew if we could get the better of them up front then we’d be half way there to winning a game.

“We’re taking one game at a time and we’re not looking too far ahead. It was nice to get back playing and having some fans at the game, which was a different experience which we’ve missed.”


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