EALING AND OSPREYS IN MERGE PLAN
A REMARKABLE 2023 for Welsh rugby could be set for another twist with a merger between the Ospreys and Ealing being strongly considered by bosses. Championship side Ealing have been told they will not be promoted to the Gallagher Premiership for the second straight year because they do not meet RFU criteria.
That has prompted a rethink at the London-based Trailfinders, who have been exploring competing in the United Rugby Championship instead. Doing so and merging with Welsh region Ospreys would be complicated. But with the Welsh Rugby Union and their four professional sides — Dragons, Cardiff, Ospreys and Scarlets — hit by huge budget cuts, some believe one region may well have to go.
To that end, a merger of a Welsh side with Ealing would make sense, although doing so would be fraught with political tension. In 2019, Welsh chiefs proposed a merger between the Ospreys and Scarlets, but the idea caused outrage and was swiftly abandoned.
The WRU and the regions are yet to sign a new, six-year funding agreement. In light of that, the Ealing venture has been proposed and talks are ongoing.