Ealing Trailfinders Could Be Set for Club Merger with Ospreys - Ruck

Ealing Trailfinders Could Be Set for Club Merger with Ospreys

Ospreys and Ealing Trailfinders are reportedly set to merge together, with off-field frustrations causing times for change at both clubs.

Ealing are currently leading the Championship, but have once again been told that they do not meet the RFU requirements for promotion to the Gallagher Premiership.

Players jump at a line out during the Greene King IPA Championship Play-Off final 2nd Leg match between Saracens v Ealing Trailfinders at The StoneX Stadium, Hendon, London on June 20 2021. – PHOTO: Micah Crook/PPAUK

Ospreys are one of the four provincial Welsh clubs who are in the midst of the WRU’s contract and funding crisis. Budget cuts have been made across the board in Wales, and Ospreys would certainly benefit from the financial boost of merging with Ealing.

Financial administration is a definite possibility within professional rugby, just look no further than Worcester Warriors’ collapse last season. The Swansea club recognises this, and a merger with the Trailfinders would keep Osprey’s heads above the water if more budget cuts come their way from the WRU.

The merger would be mutually beneficial, as Ealing would have the required financial influx to improve their facilities at the Trailfinders Sports Ground, to play in England’s top flight. Although, there is speculation that Ealing may in fact join the Ospreys, and compete in the United Rugby Championship. This would be a drastic statement of intent to the RFU, and cause a re-think to their current Premiership requirements.

There are approximately 90 professional players across the four Welsh clubs, that have their contacts expiring come the end of the season. The Ospreys’ would welcome the possibility of getting contracts on their players’ tables, as the uncertainty continues throughout the country. Reports are that the WRU will offer each Welsh club around £5million per year, on a six-year agreement, however nothing definitive has been signed between the clubs and the WRU.

Ealing need to develop their facilities, to reach a capacity of 10,000 for Premiership acceptance. The current capacity of the Trailfinders Sports Ground is 5,000, which enabled them to be considered for a place in the Premiership. However, Ealing were unable to provide satisfactory evidence of “permission and funding to increase it (capacity) to 10,001 by the start of the 2024/25 campaign”.


Ranked: The Highest-Paid Player At Each Gallagher Premiership Club

Starting from the lowest wage, here is the ranking of the highest-paid players at each Gallagher Premiership club for the 2022-23 season.

#11. Matias Moroni (Newcastle Falcons) – £320,000

Matias joined the Falcons in the summer of 2022, having helped Leicester Tigers to win the 2021-22 Gallagher Premiership title.

Starting in the Twickenham final for the Tigers, the Buenos Aires native brings a huge amount of big-game experience to the North East and boasts ‘intensity’ as his chief attribute.

Capped more than 50 times by Argentina, he has also represented his homeland at Sevens during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, having began his career with Club Universitario de Buenos Aires (CUBA) in his home city. 

#10. Adam Hastings (Gloucester) – £450,000

One of Gloucester Rugby’s biggest signings this season, Hastings will be looking to bring his attacking flare and experience to Kingsholm.

A Scotland international, the fly-half joins the Cherry & Whites from Glasgow Warriors where he has excelled since arriving in 2017.

With Premiership experience having previously played at Bath, Hastings’ arrival at Gloucester Rugby is hugely exciting and the club is set to have good competition for places at fly-half.

Adam Hastings of Gloucester Rugby kicks the conversion during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Gloucester Rugby and Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm on 28 October. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

#9. Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby) – £450,000

Underhill has developed into a world-class back rower at Bath Rugby.

He came on to the scene at 17 featuring a couple of times for Gloucester before switching to Ospreys where he firmly introduced himself with Wales and England vying for his international commitment. 

Born in USA, Underhill did captain England at Under-18 level and moved to Bath Rugby in 2017, making his full international debut in Argentina following on from a non-cap appearance against the Barbarians.

Sam Underhill of Bath Rugby on the break during the Gallagher Premiership match between Exeter Chiefs and Bath at Sandy Park, Exeter on 24th December 2022. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

#8. Marcus Smith (Harlequins) – £460,000

Smith’s rapid rise shows no signs of slowing down – it took barely a year for him to go from captaining Brighton College in an unbeaten season to involvement in the senior England squad.

Marcus became the second-youngest Premiership debutant in history, behind George Ford, when making his Harlequins bow against London Irish aged 18 years and 200 days in September 2017.

The fly-half made 28 appearances for Harlequins in all competitions during the 2017/18 season, scoring three tries on his way to 208 points. He was named as an apprentice in the England party for the Old Mutual Wealth series that autumn and continued in that role during the 2018 NatWest Six Nations. He made his Test debut in 2021 against the USA and contributed 13 points, including a try, to their 43-19 victory.

In 2021 he was called up to the British & Irish Lions squad and kicked all seven conversions in their game against the Stormers. Steve Borthwick named Smith in his squad for the 2023 Guinness Six Nations Championship.

Try Celebrations for Marcus Smith of England during the Autumn Nations Match between England and Tonga at Twickenham Stoop on 6 November 2021. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK