Osprey’s chief executive Nick Garcia ‘bullish’ about region’s future

Ospreys players in a huddle at the Swansea.com Stadium
Ospreys players in a huddle at the Swansea.com Stadium

Osprey’s chief executive Nick Garcia insists the region’s future is not in danger.

A recent independent report made a recommendation to cut one Welsh professional side.

Garcia insisted it was business as usual at Ospreys and dismissed any talk of a merger with Scarlets.

“I feel bullish and confident about the future of Welsh rugby, but I feel exceptionally confident about the future of Ospreys,” said Garcia.

A leaked document looking into the financial health of Welsh rugby was commissioned for the Professional Rugby Board (PRB) to consider and included a proposal to reduce the number of professional sides in Wales from four to three.

The PRB runs the professional game in Wales and has representatives from the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and the four regions – Ospreys, Scarlets, Dragons and Cardiff.

A PRB statement last week stated it is committed to ensuring the four regions “continue to play important roles in the professional game”.

“We’re not in danger,” said Garcia.

“It has been a challenging environment and not a pretty story about Welsh rugby.

“It does not help when you are going on sale for season tickets with people talking about regions being cut, there is a nervousness about working in Welsh rugby.

“I am not concerned about Ospreys, I am concerned about the narrative.

“There is no logic in the Ospreys closing. From the [PRB] announcement last week, it does not make sense to any of the regions or the WRU.

“Our strategy is to still get four regions in Wales but we have to look at a proper governance structure and everybody is engaged in doing that.

“In terms of the relationship between the WRU and the regions, there’s a collective belief it’s not working. That’s why we’re around a table trying to find a resolution.”

No Scarlets merger

Garcia has also dismissed the prospect of a merger with Scarlets after the two sides were on the brink of joining forces in 2019.

“It’s never been on the table as long as I’ve been here,” said Garcia.

“It was a few years ago and that’s why it’s causing distress, but doesn’t make any sense.

“I don’t see the value from [merging with] the Scarlets at all. It’s never even been a consideration to me. It was probably down to the person who leaked this report with an agenda but it’s news to me.

“We’re in the second city in Wales, we’ve got a strong brand, strong following, we’re the most successful team in Wales in the professional era.

“I’m new to Welsh rugby but as I understand it, when the regions merged, a lot of people fell out of love with the game and it damaged things.

“I don’t think it would be any different if you merged any of the regions. I think fans would fall out of love with it.

“So there is no logic in us merging. Anyway, it is never a merger, it’s an acquisition.

“Fans don’t follow, we have seen that in the past and you are losing people out of the ecosystem who will start following football teams or something like that.

“Football will erode rugby in Wales, so it does not make any sense.”

Ospreys announced former Manchester City executive Nick Garcia as their new chief executive in March 2021
Ospreys announced former Manchester City executive Nick Garcia as their new chief executive in March 2021

Garcia also dismissed suggestions Ospreys were vulnerable because they did not own their own stadium. They are tenants of Swansea City at the Swansea.com stadium.

“2055 is when our lease runs out,” added Garcia.

“In that context we probably have the most security of any of the regions.”

Garcia believes future funding should be equally distributed between the four sides.

“Funding is important. It is not the be all and end all, everybody is obsessed with the money coming in,” said Garcia.

“The more important thing is getting the right government structure to ensure funding is efficiently used and drives good behaviour.

“I believe there is enough money in the Welsh system but we need to structure it right.

“I think everybody should be funded the same amount of money. This is sport, it is meant to be a level playing field.

“The regions need to be held to account on how they run their business efficiently and successfully. That is about so much more than money.

“We don’t have the biggest budget in Welsh rugby but we are still battling for the Welsh shield and have more players in the senior and under-20s set-ups.

“I would make it equal but there is a long way for this to play out and ultimately it is not my decision, I am one voice.”

Garcia insists the regions are aligned and dismissed suggestions they were fighting against each other.

“Everybody cares about Welsh rugby, not just about the regions but the national team,” added Garcia.

“We have the same objective. I have been here a year and heard historically it was hard to get people in a room.

“I have noticed over the last nine months, the coming together of that group and the collective responsibility and understanding of what we are trying to achieve, is much more united.”

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