Support our Nation today - please donate here

Ospreys confirm talks about possible relocation to Bridgend

23 May 2024 6 minute read
Liberty Stadium rugby.jpg by Chris Jobling from Swansea, UK, Wales is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Bridgend Council has confirmed that talks are ongoing with the Ospreys about the team potentially relocating to the county from the 2025/26 season onwards.

Earlier this year, the Ospreys announced plans to relocate to a new stadium and their search has now been narrowed down to the Dunraven Brewery Field in Bridgend and St Helens in Swansea.

The move would represent a boost to the local economy by offering many mutual benefits to both the Ospreys and the county borough as a whole.

“Mutual benefits”

Bridgend County Borough has been part of the Ospreys region since 2004 and has played host to the team on a number of occasions, including this season’s derby clash against Cardiff Rugby and the memorable European Challenge Cup win over Sale Sharks.

Cllr Neelo Farr, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Economic Development and Housing, said: “We are fully supportive of the Ospreys’ plans to potentially relocate to Bridgend County Borough and we are looking forward to further talks as we continue to discuss the many mutual benefits of any such move, including the massive economic boost that it would bring to the entire area.

“The Dunraven Brewery Field would offer the Ospreys a unique opportunity to base themselves in the heart of a town centre, with Bridgend being perfectly placed on the M4 corridor and having lots of public transport options with nearby train and bus stations.

“The Ospreys already have lots of strong community links throughout the county borough and it’s fantastic that many of their current players are from Bridgend and started their rugby journeys by playing for our local teams.”

St Helen’s bid

Council chiefs in Swansea, however, want the Ospreys to play rugby at the city’s St Helen’s ground in the two-horse race to attract the regional side.

St Helen’s, which is owned by the council, would need considerable investment and although no decisions have been made a move there by the Ospreys would, it seems, spell the end of cricket’s 149-year association at the ground.

“We’re prepared to work on the current Ospreys proposal for St Helen’s to become a modern rugby stadium, helping the region to make their home there and remain in Swansea,” said council leader Rob Stewart.

“We’re doing all we can to support the Ospreys to stay in Swansea, while also working with all of our sporting stakeholders to provide top-class facilities for them.”

Multi use

The St Helen’s proposal would, said the council, mean the ground becoming a rugby stadium for a range of users, including Swansea RFC and Swansea University, and be developed in a phased manner over a number of years, increasing capacity and improving the player and visitor experience.

The proposal does not feature the neighbouring recreation ground and the council said it would want Swansea Cricket Club, which has played at St Helen’s since 1875, to be relocated in a manner agreed by the club as part of any approved plan.

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, cabinet member for investment, regeneration, events and tourism, said: “We want to work with the Ospreys to improve St Helen’s as a key sporting facility to the benefit of first-class regional rugby and as a community sports venue.”

The proposal, he said, was to secure investment at a time of significant budget pressures to modernise the ground while ensuring access for community and student sport.

He added: “We’re talking with Swansea Cricket Club about helping them relocate to an alternative facility suitable for their games in the top division of the South Wales Premier Cricket League.”

Long history

St Helen’s has been home to Swansea RFC since 1876. Touring international rugby sides played there, attracting crowds said to have reached 50,000. The All Whites, as the team is known, was the first club side to claim the big southern hemisphere scalps of Australia, in 1908, South Africa four years later, and New Zealand in 1935.

Stars such as Mervyn Davies, Clem Thomas, Geoff Wheel, Scott Gibbs, Robert Jones, Richard Moriarty, Colin Charvis and Alun Wyn Jones played for Swansea RFC, which finished tenth in the Welsh Premiership this season,  over the decades.

The future for Swansea cricket club, however, which celebrates its 150-year anniversary next year, looks uncertain.

Club chairman Mike Hayden said: “Emotionally, would we want to move from St Helen’s? Definitely not. Unfortunately the bigger picture is beyond our control.

“We understand that we are tenants at St Helen’s, and it is a council-owned ground. We have to work with all stakeholders and hopefully they will honour us suitably.”

Community enrichment

Ospreys CEO, Lance Bradley said: “I am happy to share that we have narrowed down our decision to two fantastic grounds, each offering unique opportunities, and we are confident that either choice would be more than suitable as the Ospreys new home.

“It’s been a pleasure working with both the City and County of Swansea Council and Bridgend County Borough Council to get to this point.

“Both councils have really come to the party and been more than accommodating in our requests, and open to working together to ensure our new stadium is not just a suitable top-flight rugby stadium but offers further opportunities to enrich the local community.

“I look forward to being able to share our preferred option in the coming weeks and working in partnership with the relevant Council to ensure our new home becomes the hub of the community.”

The Ospreys Supporters Club said the Stadium was too large for the rugby side and had been for some time.

Chairwoman Sarah Collins-Davies said: “We have seen how a smaller ground can create a better atmosphere, and we understand that this decision has to be the right one for the region in terms of long-term sustainability.

“We also understand the complexities of such a move. We just feel that whatever decision is made it’s going to be exciting for us as a supporters’ club, and it will signal a new era.”

The Ospreys will remain at the Stadium for the 24/25 season, using this time for initial redevelopments to ensure the selected stadium is fit for purpose for the following 25/26 season.

Further updates regarding stadium selection will be shared by the Ospreys in due course.

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dai Rob
Dai Rob
11 days ago

Hysterical…hope they move to Bridgend…..i’m crying laughing at this news!!! 😂
The O’s have spent the last 20 yrs sh1tting on Port Talbot, the last few sh1tting on Neath and now it’s Swansea’s turn!
Look out Bridgend, you time will come!!! 😂🤣😂🤣

10 days ago

After the Ponty/Bridgend screwjob this is rather funny if it happens. The regional system is a farce if they move out of a perfectly good stadium and the area it was created to cover. Time the WRU looked at why it has failed to grow rugby support.

10 days ago
Reply to  Karl

I think the main reason behind the failure, was allowing Cardiff Newport and LLanelli to remain basically intact as clubs and becoming regions in name only, thus alienating all the remaining merit table clubs, who all had equally valid reasons to host a pro team. Pontypool who dominated the 70s, Pontypridd who dominated the pre pro era, Swansea Neath etc all had good support, and fans resented being told to now support their nearest rivals, this was not ever going to succeed. Ireland has historic regions for support to identify with, If we had gone down the county route, and… Read more »

Matt Evans
Matt Evans
10 days ago

What a bleeding joke. The majority of Swansea and Neath fans aren’t going to make the trip down the M4.

There’s no bigger indicator of the failure that is the regions system than St. Helen’s being touted as a potential site. The stadium for a local team that the WRU decided was too small to financially support a local team.

Disband the Ospreys, reinstate Swansea, Neath, Port Talbot and Bridgend as fully fledged teams and if they can’t financially support themselves let them and their local communities decide who they are going to merge with.

10 days ago
Reply to  Matt Evans

Better still get rid of the WRU

10 days ago
Reply to  T3DSK1

And what, not have a National team? I’m sure that’s its every plastic taff loving Anglos wet dream. Their obsession with eroding The history of Wales in all regards will never end, will it?

10 days ago

This sums up everything wrong with rugby in Wales, it’s too much like America where they leave anytime they see a slight fall in income. This is the reason why people don’t watch them, the current clubs have no history because they have changed their identity so often. Look at the Dragon for example, they are called Dragons yet have foreign Fluer De-lis as their badge, while having commonly a blue away kit. This Norman play up is a joke and highly traitorous!

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.