Paul Thorburn gets Ospreys salute following his surprise departure
THE Ospreys have paid tribute to Paul Thorburn after his surprise departure from the Liberty Stadium.
The ex-Wales captain has stepped down as the region's strategic development manager after four years in the job, with a joint statement explaining he is leaving to pursue other business interests.
He departs having helped secure the sponsorship that has made the Ospreys shirt one of the most valuable in European rugby, the former full-back having been involved in a series of significant deals that have assisted the region's ambition to become one of the leading professional organisations in the northern- hemisphere game.
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The Ospreys issued a statement saluting the 47-year-old's efforts.
''We would like to thank Paul for his invaluable contribution to the region during the past four years, not only in his commercial capacity, but also with his contribution to the overall strategic direction of the business,'' said managing director Roger Blyth.
''As one of the senior management within the organisation, he has brought considerable knowledge and skills into the mix and driven forward a number of the successful initiatives we have embarked on.
''He built an excellent rapport with all of our sponsors and business clients and was a real team player within the business.
"We wish Paul every success with his new business ventures and trust that his undoubted talents are used to maintain his passion for the game.''
Thorburn claimed his place in Welsh rugby history with the conversion that secured Wales their third-place play-off win over Australia in the inaugural Rugby World Cup.
He also still holds the world record for long-range goal-kicking courtesy of his 70-yard penalty against Scotland in 1986.
Tournament director for the World Cup in 1999 and a former special projects manager for the Welsh Rugby Union, he joined the Ospreys in 2006 and during his four-year tenure has played an instrumental role in a range of commercial, business and marketing initiatives.
As well as profiting from Thorburn's commercial input, the region have also benefited from his rugby knowledge and event-management skills.
Sharp-suited and confident, he has been a good front man at significant press conference occasions.
Thorburn said: ''The past four years have been some of the most enjoyable for me.
''And to have recently secured one of the largest long-term sponsorship deals with RWE npower renewables, along with other long-term sponsors, including Worthington's, Persimmon Homes, Fujitsu and Veolia Transport, giving up to three years' stability for the region, is particularly pleasing.
''I am also proud of the community and charitable work.
''There have been some memorable rugby moments, most notably the EDF Energy Cup win in 2007-08, the win over Australia in 2006-07 and the recent success in the Magners League.''