Sport

Scarlets-Ospreys merger 'off the table'

Scarlets-Ospreys merger 'off the table'”

The Scarlets have dramatically revealed that any planned merger with their Welsh regional rivals Ospreys is now "off the table".

The Scarlets on Wednesday stated that terms had been agreed for a merger, but the plans - which the club say were originally suggested by the Ospreys - have now been scrapped. The loss of a region would have put Welsh rugby in breach of its commitment to having four regions playing in the major competitions (Pro14 and the European Cups). Out of contract players at the regions that will remain have been told to organise their affairs as quickly as possible before a swathe of Scarlets and Ospreys become available.

'The merger is off the table, ' read a statement from the Llanelli region.

Against that backdrop, James announced his resignation at the start of the PRB meeting in which he lambasted the way the union had handled the restructuring.

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.

Now, with all amalgamation ideas scrapped, once their funding streams are confirmed for the 2019-20 season the current four regions will press ahead with agreeing new contracts with players, which have been held up amid the chaotic scenes.

"This is the most challenging of situations that I, or arguably any player, has faced during our rugby careers".

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"I appeal to all stakeholders to have the concerns and welfare needs of all those that stand to be affected by the proposed changes at the forefront of their minds". They've got a gameplan that has been working for them, clearly, but the biggest thing is that we need to focus on ourselves and get our own gameplan right. This proposal came from the regions to the Professional Rugby Board, and they will sit down and hopefully find a solution. Victory in their final two games, against Scotland at BT Murrayfield this weekend and Ireland in Cardiff seven days later, would also secure a Grand Slam.

Hill was one of the heroes of that Welsh win but injured his ankle near the end of the game and has since been ruled out of the rest of the Six Nations.

WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips addressed Welsh squad members on Monday, but it is all being played out against a backdrop of Wales chasing a first Six Nations title in six years.

The WRU has not commented on Tuesday' meetings.

Warren Gatland was on British and Irish Lions sabbatical, with Rob Howley in caretaker charge, but on Saturday the Kiwi will be looking to maintain his ideal record over the Scots since he took the Wales job in 2007.

But Seymour confessed the players who were able to pull on a dark blue jersey for last month's clash with Les Bleus in Paris did not do enough to put a French side, themselves short on confidence, under strain.



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