Ospreys and Scarlets could merge in biggest domestic shake-up to Welsh rugby in 16 years

5 Mar

Two of Wales’ biggest rugby union teams could merge under radical proposals being discussed.

Ospreys and Scarlets could be combined in what has been mooted as the biggest domestic shake-up to Welsh rugby since regional teams were established 16 years ago.

The merger is reportedly more likely to happen than not and could take place in time for next season.

Alun Wyn Jones has played 233 times for Ospreys

The proposals are the focal point of talks held by Wales’ Professional Game Board, which is a group comprising of representatives of the Welsh Rugby Union, Scarlets, Ospreys, Dragons and Cardiff Blues.

Establishing a new professional team in the north of the country is also reportedly high on the agenda.

The favoured plan is understood to retain four regional teams but would consist of north Wales, an Ospreys-Scarlets merger, Blues and Dragons.

Ospreys chairman Mike James has quit over the proposals and has said: “Project Reset has become Project Inept”.

Leigh Halfpenny currently plays for Scarlets

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.

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.”

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.