Local politicians from across the Ospreys region have written to Martyn Phillips, Chief Executive of the WRU, calling on him to ‘look at all possible avenues and do all you possibly can’ to prevent the Ospreys from going out of existence.
The letter has been signed by Aberavon’s Stephen Kinnock MP and David Rees AM, Gower’s Tonia Antoniazzi MP and Rebecca Evans AM, Neath’s Christina Rees MP and Jeremy Miles AM, Ogmore’s Chris Elmore MP, Swansea East’s Carolyn Harris MP and Mike Hedges AM, and Swansea West’s Geraint Davies MP and Julie James AM.
In the letter they say, ‘It seems astonishing that the outcome of restructuring the regional game in Wales could result in the most successful region ceasing to exist and Wales’ second city failing to have a regional rugby side.
‘Merging fierce rivals like the Ospreys and the Scarlets will be a bitter pill for both sets of fans to swallow. If this were to be the outcome then we fear that there will be a backlash from supporters in the Ospreys region, and possibly further afield, who will feel alienated by the decision and they will walk away from regional rugby altogether.
‘Then there are the livelihoods of the players, coaching teams, backroom staff and everyone involved with the region, who will all be deeply impacted by this decision. There’s also the possible loss of the excellent community work undertaken by the Ospreys which would undoubtedly impact upon young people in our constituencies. And let’s not forget the work undertaken with regards to women’s rugby.
‘Since their inception in 2003 the Ospreys have embraced regional rugby, overcoming the historical rivalries between Swansea, Neath, Aberavon and Bridgend, to create one team: The Ospreys. Off the back of this they have enjoyed tremendous success winning four league titles, the Anglo-Welsh cup and have contributed countless internationals to Wales and the British and Irish Lions in their 16-year history.
‘Despite a difficult and emotive start to the region, fans from across Swansea, Neath, Aberavon and Bridgend, have a strong affinity to the team and support them 100%.
‘To secure the long-term sustainability of the regional game in Wales the current regional system needs to change, however this should not come at the cost of the Ospreys.’
Commenting on the future of the Ospreys, Stephen Kinnock said: ’Eleven MPs and AMs from across the Swansea Bay area have sent this letter to the WRU to send a clear message: our region must not lose the Ospreys. Regional rugby of the highest quality is vital for our local economy, crucial for our sense of community, of course the Ospreys have produced a huge number of star players for our national team. We trust that the WRU will now have a fundamental re-think, and we stand ready of course to assist in any way we can.’