Ospreys 'gutted' as Castres defeat spells Europe exit
The Ospreys defeat to French champions Castres in the pool stages puts them out of the Heineken Cup, says backs coach Gruff Rhys.
The Welsh side lost 15-9 to Castres in France, their third successive Pool 1 defeat.
Ospreys, who produced a sterling defensive effort, almost claimed an unlikely victory in the final moments with Castres reduced to 13 men.
"We are gutted. There are no pats on the back," said Rhys.
"We have put a hell-of a stint in, but they are gutted they had an opportunity to win a game, and they didn't seal it.
"Effectively, it puts us out of the competition, but for long-term planning and the future of the Ospreys, we can use this as a springboard."
The French champions battered the Welsh region's line, but could not cross it with Wales and British and Irish Lions lock Alun Wyn Jones an outstanding defensive example at he Stade Pierre Antoine.
After reaching the interval all square at 6-6, Castres took complete control in the second half.
The French side dominated possession and territory, pinning the Ospreys in their own 22 for long periods.
But they met a solid wall of white with second row Jones directing proceedings and the young centre pairing of Tom Isaacs and Ben John also prominent.
The defeat leaves the Welsh region rooted to the bottom of the table withone losing bonus point to show for their efforts following earlier defeats by Leinster and Northampton Saints.
Rhys, though, praised the effort of the Ospreys side which had only two full training sessions to prepare for their trip to France due to players returning from Wales duty after autumn internationals.
"It's disappointing, but considering the week we have had, the climate we are in and coming away to the French champions... it's a hell-of an effort," said Rhys.
"It shouldn't be underestimated what we have put in here and it shows what we are about, in terms of the fight the players put in for the Ospreys shirt.
"We had seasoned international and inspirational leaders like Alun Wyn Jones and young players like Daniel Suter come in to the fold... we have to be proud of that."