A planned merger between Welsh regional rugby teams Scarlets and Ospreys is “off the table”.
Talks over the biggest shake-up in Welsh domestic rugby since the introduction of regional teams - dubbed “Project Reset” - are understood to have stalled.
Llanelli-based Scarlets and Swansea side Ospreys were expected to amalgamate and, along with a brand new professional team being formed in north Wales, change the domestic rugby landscape.
A number of Welsh professional players faced uncertain futures, with the newly created Professional Rugby Board (PRB) hoping to have struck a deal
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.
But Ospreys chairman Mike James resigned at the start of Tuesday’s PRB meeting, citing the WRU’s “catastrophic mismanagement” of efforts to overhaul the game.
The furious Ospreys then released a strongly worded statement claiming they were not on the verge of merging with the Scarlets.
And the PRB responded by stating a merger between Scarlets and Ospreys was “a central component” of their proposal.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Scarlets gave a detailed update on their position.
They confirmed that the proposed merger was driven by the regions, revealing they received “a high-level approach” from the Ospreys about it in late December.
After discussions broke down, the Scarlets say they were approached by the Ospreys again last week.
The Scarlets confirmed PRB’s statement that heads of terms were “agreed and signed by the Ospreys and Scarlets” on March 1 “on terms we believe our supporters would be happy with”.
The club added: “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 merger is off the table.”