by Tom Pritchard
AFTER yesterday’s announcement that a merger between Scarlets and Ospreys is to be considered, supporters of both teams have reacted angrily.
For a north Wales region to be viable, the number of current regional teams must be reduced from four to three.
The preferred option of the newly-formed Professional Rugby Board (PRB) is to have four regional teams that cover the south, east, west and north areas of the country.
The proposed amalgamation, dubbed ‘Project Reset’, will be discussed by the PRB as part of plans to make the most radical change to regional rugby in Wales since 2003.
Scarlets supporter Liam Thomas said: “I think it has been brought about through desperation, due to the Ospreys’ financial situation.
“I don’t want the Ospreys to go bust, but I don’t want the history and culture of the Scarlets to be sacrificed to keep them afloat in some makeshift west Wales region.”
Thomas is a lifelong supporter of the region, and admitted that a merger could cause him to walk away: “I’ve supported the Scarlets for as long as I’ve been a fan of rugby.
“The Scarlets is a region where all are welcome; it’s proud of its roots and that shouldn’t be lost at the cost of its biggest rivals.
“I don’t know if I’d support another team if I’m honest. I enjoy watching all games and would still travel to watch other clubs, but that connection wouldn’t be there.”
Strong stuff from Wales and Lions hooker and chairman of the Welsh Rugby Players' Association, Ken Owens, who spells out how unsettling this regional upheaval is for players. pic.twitter.com/0GrDXl9wkv
— Dafydd Pritchard (@DafPritchard) March 5, 2019
Ospreys fan Cathy Green agreed that the proposals would be a real blow and said she too is unclear about where they would leave her in terms of supporting a side.
“The thought of Ospreys ceasing to exist is devastating.
“I’ve supported Ospreys since the beginning. Swansea before that. I am an Ospreys season ticket holder and have been for many years. I go to many away games and have had fantastic trips.”
Green is a similar position to Thomas when it comes to potentially having to find a new team: “I don’t know where I’d go. I live in Cardiff but I couldn’t see myself supporting Blues, or any other region if Ospreys go.
“Of course, I wish them well, but I couldn’t feel the passion I feel for Ospreys.”
Fellow Ospreys supporter Sophie Harris will miss the rivalry between the two sides, should the merger go ahead: “I love to watch the Boxing Day match-up and the atmosphere is fantastic.
“The supporters really get behind the team and I will miss that massively.”
When asked where she would go if she chose not to support the hybrid team, she said: “I’m not sure if I’m honest. It’ll be difficult, as I live too far from Llanelli, (I live in Newport), and going to the home games is a big part of it.
“I’m genuinely at a loss and gutted.”
(Featured image: Nigel Davies)