Ospreys: Clarke 'delighted' at assurances over their future

Allen Clarke
Allen Clarke succeeded Steve Tandy at Ospreys' helm in January, 2018

Head coach Allen Clarke says he is "absolutely delighted" over assurances the Ospreys will continue to exist in the 2019-20 season.

He says talks involving the Welsh Rugby Union and the four professional regions in Wales have led to that decision.

Ospreys, Cardiff Blues, Scarlets and Dragons have been unable to offer fresh deals to players coming out of contract at the end of 2019-20.

"The key message is that the Ospreys exists," said Clarke.

"We're going to be here. We're going to be driving in terms of the standards we set."

Clarke was speaking after his side's Pro14 play-off hopes were dented in a 19-13 home defeat by Munster.

Talks between the WRU and the regions have been underway since the autumn and have been dubbed "Project Reset".

The aim of those talks is to produce a long-term plan and structure for the professional game in Wales.

He added: "The boys were aware that over the last couple of days that there have been some discussions regarding different permutations which may have resulted in a situation where the Ospreys didn't [wouldn't] exist as it stands today.

"I'm absolutely delighted to be told that it will do and we're fighting on all fronts. So we are one 100% Ospreys as it stands."

The former Ireland hooker says uncertainty over players' futures has "been incredibly difficult for the last 12 months, right from the summer"

He added: "I'm talking about players, players' families, all the staff members.

"My job's to set the team and all credit to the players when you see them responding with that effort (against Munster). You feel like they're willing to fight for something."

Clarke says he can now plan for next season.

He added: "Obviously you plan with optimism and the fact that we are going to be a club going into '19-20 and you plan for the future regardless, because you've got to live in the moment.

"Otherwise, you wallow in self-pity and you lose sight of what's important.

"So what's important is the here and now. What's important is our players' recovery and getting them up again for Connacht next week, but also planning for what the squad's going look like next season.

"We've been getting our ducks in a row so to speak so we're in a position to strive now."

Welsh rugby's regions were formed for 2003-04 with an initial five launched.

Celtic Warriors - a merger of the Pontypridd and Bridgend clubs - went out of existence after the first season, 2003-04.

Neath-Swansea Ospreys evolved into Ospreys with Newport Gwent Dragons and Llanelli Scarlets also eventually dropping their geographical monikers.

Cardiff Blues have retained their original name.

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