Wales

Ospreys-Scarlets merger: Welsh rugby fans angry at plans

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Media captionMore than a hundred years of history "destroyed"

Rugby fans in Wales have expressed their anger of plans to merge the Ospreys and Scarlets regions together.

The proposal would see a radical change to Welsh regional rugby, with the two regions in south-west Wales to join and a new team created in the north.

However there is deadlock over the plan after Ospreys denied they would join forces with their local rivals.

Fans of all four regions have expressed their "sadness and anger" and want a halt to changes.

The Joint Supporters Group (JSG), which represents fans from Cardiff Blues, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets, have met with Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips to spell out their concerns at the plans and the recent announcements from Ospreys and Professional Rugby Board.

In a statement, the JSG said existing supporters were being treated as "expendable" when compared to a potential new market.

It added: "We stand together as announcements and decisions are made and support each other and the stance that all existing regions should remain.

"There are precious few people putting money into the regional game in Wales and we represent those that do."

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Meanwhile, other fans took to social media to vent their anger, saying a merger "just won't work".

Christine James, an Ospreys fan since 2003, said she was "hurt" and "anxious" and would not attend any games if the merger went ahead.

"I can't see why they would want to merge the Scarlets and the Ospreys because they're the two biggest [sets of] rival fans and it just wouldn't work," she said.

"It's like trying to amalgamate Swansea City football with Cardiff City.

"You're talking regional rugby now. The Ospreys and the Scarlets would never work, they're two big regions, too successful in their own right.

"It's different with the local teams it's totally different up in the regions."

Hywel Williams, a Scarlets fan, said: "This is a mess and it's been a mess for 20 years.

"You only needed two regions, one in the west and another in the east and develop the one in the north. That to me is common sense."

Simon Williams, an Ospreys supporter, said: "We've been through this before back in 2003 when we went down from nine clubs to three regions.

"What we need is more financial help from the union and the clubs themselves. I'm not sure how I feel to be honest with you, merging doesn't sound natural. It's like asking Pontypridd fans to support Cardiff."

The change would be the biggest overhaul of regional rugby since their creation in 2003 and it is thought the merger could happen as early as next season.

The Ospreys have been the most successful region in the past 16 years, winning four Pro12 titles, while the Scarlets are the most recent champions from Wales, triumphing in 2017, making it their second title.

Cardiff Blues and the Dragons have never won the league title.

There is currently one club from north Wales playing in the Welsh Premiership, the Colwyn Bay-based side Rygbi Gogledd Cymru (RGC).

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