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Ospreys and Scarlets merger likely

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Merger of Ospreys and Scarlets 'more likely to happen than not'

The Ospreys and Scarlets could merge under radical proposals being discussed for Welsh regional rugby’s future.

The scenario, which Press Association Sport understands is more likely to happen than not, could even unfold in time for next season.

The potential merger will be a focal point of talks held by Wales’ Professional Game Board on Tuesday.

It is a group that comprises representatives from the Welsh Rugby Union, Scarlets, Ospreys, Dragons and Cardiff Blues.

Establishing a new professional team in north Wales is also high on the agenda in what would be Welsh rugby’s biggest domestic shake-up since regional teams were established 16 years ago.

It is understood that the favoured plan is to retain four regional teams, but they would comprise north Wales, an Ospreys-Scarlets merger, Blues and Dragons.

The Scarlets currently play at Parc-y-Scarlets in Llanelli, while the Ospreys use Swansea City’s Liberty Stadium for their home games.

Any merger would need to establish a home ground, in addition to issues such as the new team’s name and kit.

So-called Project Reset is being played out against a back-drop of Wales chasing this season’s Six Nations title and a possible Grand Slam.

They face Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday, followed by Ireland in Cardiff seven days later. Victories in both games would secure a first Six Nations clean sweep since 2012.

Around half of Wales’ match-day 23 for the Scotland clash is likely to feature Ospreys and Scarlets players.

And if a merger goes ahead, then players like Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones, Jonathan Davies, George North, Ken Owens and Leigh Halfpenny will be part of the same regional squad.

The WRU has not commented on Tuesday’s planned discussions.

Senior Wales players did meet with the governing body last week, though, to discuss a number of issues on the future of regional rugby.

Speaking last week, Wales assistant coach Rob Howley said: “It’s uncertain times, which is disappointing.

“There is a lot of frustration, not only for the best players in Wales, but for their mates in the regions.

“There is an uncertainty about Project Reset, and they would like to know where they are going to be playing next year or in two years’ time.”

Press Association

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Merger of Ospreys and Scarlets 'more likely to happen than not'