(Reuters) – Welsh rugby sides Ospreys and Scarlets are poised to merge as part of an overhaul of the country’s professional game, British media has reported.
The two teams could come together by the start of next season if plans for the merger are approved at a meeting of the Professional Rugby Board (PRB) later on Tuesday.
The move represents the most radical change to regional rugby in Wales since its inception in 2003, with the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) keen to introduce a professional side in north Wales to keep the number of professional teams in the country at four.
The PRB is made up of representatives from the WRU, as well as regional sides Scarlets, Ospreys, Cardiff Blues and the WRU-owned Dragons.
The move to overhaul the country’s professional game has been dubbed Project Reset and Tuesday’s meeting was confirmed by the Joint Supporters Group (JSG) – an organisation representing the four official supporters groups for the regions.
“As the Joint Supporters Group we have met tonight with Martyn Phillips and Ryan Jones from the WRU/PRB,” the group said in a statement on Twitter.
“We have had an open and frank discussion about Project Reset and have been informed that there is a critical meeting tomorrow. We will make a further joint statement after the outcome of that is known.”
Ospreys and Scarlets are two of Wales’ most successful sides, and both teams consist of a large number of Welsh internationals.
Former Ospreys, Wales and British and Irish Lions wing Shane Williams gave his backing to the proposed merger in comments published by the Daily Telegraph.
“To be honest, if a merger was going to happen then this would make as much sense as anything,” he was quoted as saying.
“I would prefer the Ospreys to remain as they are with some extra help in an ideal world, but it’s clear that is not going to happen.
“If the Ospreys would have moved east to merge with Cardiff Blues then I don’t think that would have worked. Merging the Ospreys and Scarlets will at least create a quality region.”
Details on the name of the team, where it would play and who would coach the regional side are yet to be finalised and will likely form part of the discussions at Tuesday’s meeting.
(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)