Welsh rugby is in domestic turmoil and discussions are now deadlocked over so-called Project Reset – Welsh rugby’s biggest domestic shake-up since the inception of regional sides 16 years ago
The Scarlets and Ospreys were expected to join forces under that plan, together with a new professional team being formed in north Wales, alongside existing Welsh regions Cardiff Blues and the Dragons.
Scores of Welsh professional players’ immediate futures are in limbo, with Wales’ Professional Rugby Board (PRB) hoping to have thrashed out a proposal for the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) board.
But Ospreys chairman Mike James resigned at the start of Tuesday’s PRB meeting, citing the WRU’s “catastrophic mismanagement” of efforts to overhaul the game.
(Continue reading below…)
The furious Ospreys then released a strongly worded statement claiming they were not on the verge of merging with the Scarlets.
And the PRB responded by stating a merger between Scarlets and Ospreys was “a central component” of their proposal.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Scarlets gave a detailed update on their position. They confirmed that the proposed merger was driven by the regions, revealing they received “a high-level approach” from the Ospreys about it in late December, but the merger is now off the table.
To Scarlets supporters everywhere #ymaohyd
— Scarlets Rugby (@scarlets_rugby) March 6, 2019
“Firstly, we can confirm the statement issued by the Professional Rugby Board (PRB) on Tuesday afternoon as accurate, as are the comments made by Wales’ national coach that the proposed merger was driven by the regions, in consultation with the PRB,” claimed the Scarlets in their statement.
“In late December, the Scarlets received a high-level approach from the Ospreys to explore the option of a merger as they had come to the conclusion that their position as tenants at the Liberty Stadium was proving to be challenging.
“This was discussed at the two-day strategy meeting of PRB on January 8 and 9. The loss of a region would have put Welsh rugby in breach of its commitment to having four regions playing in the major competitions. As a result, the option of a team playing out of north Wales was raised.
??Who's telling the truth? ??????? https://t.co/yLvLyWP01m
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 5, 2019
“By the time of the next PRB meeting on February 5, discussions had broken down between the Scarlets and Ospreys and we were told that the Ospreys and another region were in talks over a possible merger, again with north Wales being the option to maintain four teams.
“Subsequently, those discussions also broke down and we were approached again last week by the Ospreys to reconsider a merger.
“Heads of terms were agreed and signed by the Ospreys and Scarlets on March 1 on terms we believe our supporters would be happy with. This was to be proposed at a meeting of the PRB on Tuesday afternoon, but we were told at the start of that meeting that the Ospreys had changed their mind. The merger is off the table.
“In recent years, the Scarlets have been building steadily to regain our place as one of Europe’s leading sides. We have a superb stadium, great staff, loyal and passionate supporters and a team to be proud of. We know that the problems regarding Welsh rugby have not gone away but we remain committed to the best interests of the Scarlets and the game in Wales.”
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.