March 6, 2019 / 2:43 PM / 19 days ago

Scarlets confirm merger with Ospreys is 'off the table'

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - European Rugby Champions Cup - Leicester Tigers v Scarlets - Welford Road Stadium, Leicester, Britain - October 19, 2018 Scarlets' Ken Owens in action with Leicester Tigers' Harry Wells Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers/File Photo

(Reuters) - Scarlets have confirmed that a proposed merger with fellow Welsh side Ospreys is “off the table” after their Pro 14 rivals pulled the plug on a deal on Tuesday.

The Ospreys said they would not join forces with Scarlets just as the Welsh Rugby Union’s Professional Rugby Board (PRB) released a statement saying the merger had already been agreed between the two regions on Friday.

"The merger is off the table," Scarlets said in a statement on their website here on Wednesday. "Heads of terms were agreed and signed by the Ospreys and Scarlets on 1 March on terms we believe our supporters would be happy with.

“This was to be proposed at a meeting of the PRB on Tuesday afternoon, but we were told at the start of that meeting that the Ospreys had changed their mind.”

The PRB said on Tuesday that a merger between the two sides was central to their restructuring plans as part of ‘Project Reset’ and that statements issued by the Ospreys did not “reconcile with the minuted meetings”.

The Scarlets on Wednesday added: “We can confirm the statement issued by the Professional Rugby Board (PRB) on Tuesday afternoon as accurate, as are the comments made by Wales’ national coach (Warren Gatland) that the proposed merger was driven by the regions, in consultation with the PRB.”

The WRU’s ‘Project Reset’ represents the most radical change to regional rugby in Wales since its inception in 2003 with one outcome seeing the formation of a professional side in north Wales to keep the number of teams in Wales at four.

The Scarlets also assured their fans that they had the best interests of the team and Welsh rugby at heart.

“We know that the problems regarding Welsh rugby have not gone away but we remain committed to the best interests of the Scarlets and the game in Wales,” the statement added.

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris

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