Wednesday, June 19, 2024

United Rugby Championship: How Ospreys defied odds to reach play-offs

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Defying the odds is just what the Ospreys have done this season.

Not many gave them a chance of reaching the United Rugby Championship (URC) play-offs going into the final weekend of regular matches.

Going into round 18, at one point the official league website actually gave Ospreys just a 2% probability, before it rose to 5%, of finishing in the top eight.

You can understand why as as the Welsh side were in 11th place with their destiny firmly in the hands of others.

But after rivals Connacht, Lions and Edinburgh opened the door by all losing, a bonus-point 33-29 win over Cardiff at Judgement Day saw Ospreys rise three places and squeeze into eighth to grab a trip to Munster next Friday night.

So did even head coach Toby Booth think this was possible?

“I am an optimist, so yes,” said Booth. “We just keep finding a way.”

That has become the Booth mantra this season. Finding a way. You have heard him say it so often this season it could become a meme, or you half expect Ospreys to use the slogan on some summer merchandise.

It encapsulates what Ospreys have managed to achieve, having emerged as the shining light in a gloomy season for Welsh professional domestic rugby.

Their 14 victories in the URC and European competition means they have won more games than Cardiff, Scarlets and Dragons put together.

“We are trying to be a top-eight team, we are going to try and keep looking up rather than being happy with being the best of the rest,” said Booth.

“People think I am mad when I say that, that it’s going to get tougher with the money being reduced again next season, but we have kept trying to beat the odds.

“Now the stats mean we have become a top-eight team for the first time since I’ve been here, and that’s a credit to everyone involved.

“We’ve moved the dial a bit and we know progress in sport is very difficult.

“It’s a rough journey and there are plenty of reasons why not, but we have found enough throughout the season. It’s a reward for how competitive we have been.”

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