Incoming Ospreys chairman Rob Davies has described the saga surrounding a proposed merger with the Scarlets as a “stitch-up of convenience” and declared the plans “dead”.
Reports emerged earlier this week that the rival teams could join forces as part of an overhaul of the professional game in Wales, with a new region created in the north of the country.
Davies’ predecessor Mike James resigned at the start of a Professional Rugby Board (PRB) meeting amid the turmoil on Tuesday, citing the Welsh Rugby Union’s “catastrophic mismanagement” of efforts to restructure the sport.
The Liberty Stadium side later denied a merger will go ahead, hitting out at the PRB’s “chaotic approach to its own imposed restructuring criteria”.
The PRB then released a statement claiming the merger was “a central component” of a proposal that was set to be finalised on Tuesday and that the Ospreys’ version of events “do not reconcile with the minuted meetings, actions and documented agreements that have taken place to date”.
The Scarlets on Wednesday stated that terms had been agreed for a merger, but the plans – which the Llanelli outfit say were originally suggested by the Ospreys – have now been scrapped.
“There are three stark realities,” said new Ospreys chairman Davies. “Firstly, the concept of an Ospreys-Scarlets merger is dead and the clock is ticking.
“Secondly, Wales was promised a comprehensive review with nothing off the table, but nothing has yet been put on the table.
“Thirdly, the PRB cynically left it to the regions to have a shoot-out for survival with the clear direction that a region in the west should go and make room for a fourth in the north. We are now where we are as a result.
“It’s hard to look at this situation and not conclude that a stitch-up of convenience has just unravelled before us all. There isn’t a ‘plan B’, because there was never a ‘plan A’.
“Even the PRB has said a western merger was central to their planning, which is frankly mind-boggling. Wishful thinking is not an acceptable replacement for responsible decision making.
“It’s now time for the grown-ups to get back in the room. It’s time for experienced strategic planning, robust consultation and a methodical process to emerge that is transparent, timely and carries with it the full range of the sport’s stakeholders. And this is what I will be discussing with Union and PRB officials over the coming days.”
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