Ospreys firmly deny Scarlets merger talk

The Ospreys have categorically denied they are poised to merge with Pro14 rivals Scarlets.

The Professional Rugby Board (PRB) was formed recently to discuss plans for a radical change to regional rugby in Wales, which could see the introduction of a side in the north of the country and one fewer team in the south.

Earlier on Tuesday, Ospreys chairman Mike James resigned from his post over what he described as “catastrophic” proposals, describing talks that had been christened “Project Reset” as “Project Inept”.

And the Liberty Stadium region have now dismissed any imminent prospect of them joining forces with Scarlets.

In a statement on their website, Ospreys said: “Until now, the Ospreys have remained largely silent out of respect to the WRU [Welsh Rugby Union], despite growing speculation over the future of regional rugby in Wales. This can no longer remain the case.

“The instability created by PRB’s chaotic approach to its own imposed restructuring criteria has been the height of recklessness at its worst and incompetent management at its best – an approach which has resulted in wild conjecture, hostility and uncertainty in the regional game. 

“Welsh rugby and the supporters of Welsh rugby deserve better. And the players, families, suppliers, commercial partners and those whose livelihoods depend on the regional game certainly deserve better. 

“We stand fully behind the comments of Ospreys outgoing chairman Mike James and add the Ospreys’ voice to his in calling for fundamental re-examination of a truly disastrous process. We also stand behind the comments and concerns of the WRPA [Welsh Rugby Players Association] concerning the woeful lack of consultation to date. 

“The Ospreys are NOT on the verge of merging with the Scarlets.  

“Like the other M4 regions, the Ospreys were informed by the WRU that their decision was to create a new region in the north and this would necessitate one going in the south. 

“Beyond this, the regions have been encouraged to enter unilateral discussions to try and self-broker an outcome. Rather than every option being on the table, only one has transpired – which region should go.

“Far from being a methodical, consultative process, involving all the game’s stakeholders, looking at the greater good and the long-term benefit to all, the South Wales regions have been forced into a leaderless race for survival, with self-interest as its guiding star.

“The Ospreys are not afraid to think the unthinkable. Our region was born out of the previously unimaginable merger of Swansea and Neath and, later, the seamless integration of Bridgend. We remain the only region to have truly embraced, lived and breathed the concept of regional rugby. Our reward and Wales’s reward, has been an unparalleled level of success for our region and an unrivalled contribution to the national team.  

“We fully recognise the WRU’s argument that the regional game requires further restructuring in order to remain viable and we support this principle.   

“But the way this has been approached has led to a fundamental breakdown in the fabric of the game. This must stop now. A new process must be expedited, with respected and competent leadership – professionally outlined and responsibly led – with transparency and genuine consultation as its foundation.” News wire is powered by opta

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