|Union||Welsh Rugby Union|
|Ground||Parc y Scarlets|
|Coach||Simon Easterby (Head Coach)|
Garan Evans (Manager)
Wayne Pivac (Assistant)
Danny Wilson (Forwards)
Mark Jones (Backs)
Andrew Walker (Head Physio)
Jo Raper (Physio)
Matthew Rees (Physio)
|Most caps||Phil John (161)|
|Top scorer||Rhys Priestland (660)|
|Most tries||Jonathan Davies (26)|
|League||RaboDirect Pro 12|
Scarlets (formerly known as Llanelli Scarlets) are a Welsh region, based in Pemberton, Llanelli. They were formed in 2003, the same time as the other Welsh regions. They play in the Rabo Direct Pro 12, the Rugby Champions Cup and the LV Cup.
In 2003, the WRU elected to reduce the top tier of Welsh professional rugby from nine clubs into five regions during the introduction of regional rugby union teams in Wales, attempting to mirror the successful formats in Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Initially, it was planned to have a region playing at Stradey Park, with players coming from Llanelli, Swansea and Neath. This was then modified to have Llanelli and Swansea merging, while Neath joined with Bridgend. Llanelli were opposed to both plans and requested standalone status.
The Scarlets officially represent the whole of West and North Wales, based mostly around Llanelli, although attempts have been made at taking the club to other outposts such as Wrexham. Ownership of the Scarlets brand is in the hands of Llanelli RFC, which also runs a second team in the Principality Premiership in the same way as Cardiff.
Largely drawn from the very successful Llanelli RFC side of the preceding year, the Scarlets carried that success forward into their inaugural season. They reached the last eight of the 2003-04 Celtic League and finished the season as champions by four points over Ulster. In the Heineken Cup, the Scarlets were drawn in Pool Four along with Northampton Saints, Agen and Border Reivers. The Scarlets won five of their six matches, losing only to Agen, and finished at the top of their pool before losing to French club Biarritz 27–10 in the quarter-final.
The following season, however, was less successful. Plagued by injuries and retirements, as well as the transfer of influential fly-half Stephen Jones to Clermont, the Scarlets finished a disappointing fifth in the league. They were even less successful in the Heineken Cup, winning just two of their six pool games to finish third in the pool behind Northampton Saints and Toulouse. The salvation of their season came in reaching the final of the Celtic Cup, in which they lost 26–17 to Munster.
The Scarlets again failed to qualify from their Heineken Cup group in 2005–06 and finished sixth in the Celtic League. They did, however, find more success in the newly restructured Anglo-Welsh Cup. After finishing at the top of their pool, they defeated Bath by one point in the semi-finals to reach the final against London Wasps at Twickenham; missing several international players, they lost 26–10. In the Heineken Cup, it was a similar story to the previous season, with the Scarlets winning two of their six fixtures to finish third in the pool again, behind Toulouse and Wasps. Despite finishing sixth in the Celtic League, the team qualified for the Heineken Cup for the 2006–07 season as the second-best-placed Welsh team in the league. They also re-signed Stephen Jones and full-back Barry Davies extended his contract to stay with the Scarlets. The Scarlets' Director of Rugby, Gareth Jenkins, had been appointed as Wales' national team coach, having been with the region since its inception. Phil Davies, then coach of Leeds Tykes, replaced Jenkins at the Scarlets.
At the first home game of the 2006–07 season, an information sheet was handed out to supporters with details of the club's financial situation. There was opposition by local residents to plans by the Scarlets to move to a new stadium and sell their current ground for housing development. The information sheet stated that, due to delays caused by the opposition and benefactors pulling out of the club, it was "extremely unlikely that [the Llanelli Scarlets] could survive to the end of the present season unless other financial assistance is found", which would result in "the loss, probably for all time, of professional rugby in West Wales." Local residents believed, however, that the infrastructure, such as roads and schools, will not cope with 450 new houses being built on the site. On 28 November 2006, the regions secured investment from Tim Griffiths, a London-based businessman.
In the 2006-07 Heineken Cup season, the Scarlets recorded one of the most famous victories in their brief history as a region, defeating Toulouse 41–34 away, despite twice trailing by 21 points. This was an unexpected victory, despite the Scarlets having won their first three games of the 2006–07 competition. They later secured their place in the Heineken Cup quarter-final with a convincing 35–11 win over Ulster at Ravenhill. The Scarlets went on to become only the fifth team in the history of the competition to win all their pool matches. They beat current holders Munster 24–15 at Stradey Park in the quarter-finals, but were beaten 33–17 in the semis by a strong Leicester side, putting an end to their hopes of making it 'third time lucky' in Heineken Cup semi-finals. On 30 April 2008, Phil Davies was controversially sacked as the Scarlets' head coach. The reasons for his departure remain unclear, but it is believed that he found out via the media before being informed by club chairman Stuart Gallacher.
The Scarlets moved from Stradey Park at the end of November 2008 to a new ground at Pemberton called Parc y Scarlets. The final Scarlets match played at Stradey Park was on 24 October 2008, against Bristol in the group stage of the Anglo-Welsh Cup. The Scarlets won 27–0 in front of a capacity crowd, which included former Llanelli captains such as Delme Thomas and Phil Bennett.
The Scarlets' first match at their new home was an 18–16 Celtic League defeat to Munster on 28 November 2008. Their first Heineken Cup match at Parc y Scarlets was held on 12 December against Ulster which ended in a 16–16 draw.Both matches were held with reduced capacity, as law requires that a new stadium hold three events at reduced capacity before it is authorised for its full capacity. The official opening ceremony was on 31 January 2009 when the Scarlets faced the Barbarians.
Name and ColoursEdit
The Scarlets took their name from the nickname of Llanelli RFC, their main feeder club. Llanelli have played in red since 1884 when they played a game against a touring Ireland side. This close link with Llanelli RFC has also led to the Scarlets adopting the Scarlet red colour for their primary jerseys, with their secondary colours generally being blue. The region was originally named the Llanelli Scarlets, but was renamed at the start of the 2008–09 rugby season to more accurately represent the area covered by the region.
From 2003 to the 2007–08 season, the Scarlets played most of their home matches at Llanelli's Stradey Park (also the home of Llanelli RFC). However, they have played several games in North Wales, at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground, to promote the region's geographical representation. The 2006–07 season was planned to be the last season played at Stradey Park, which was subsequently to be demolished for the building of apartments. The Scarlets played every home game of the 2006–07 season at Stradey Park to commemorate the historic ground. They played their last game at Stradey Park on 24 October 2008 against Bristol, and their first game at Parc y Scarlets on 28 November 2008 against Munster.
The new home of the Scarlets and Llanelli RFC, known as Parc y Scarlets is in Pemberton. The new stadium cost £23 million to be constructed and holds 14,970 spectators. The stadium's main stand is located on the south side of the ground, and houses the new Scarlets museum and club shop, as well as a sports bar, the players' changing rooms and a players' gym. Stadium blueprints planned for the main stand to be about 20m tall. Outside the stadium there is a training barn for the players, as well as a training pitch and athletics track. The remainder of the site is taken up by the Parc Trostre retail park.