Initial talks have taken place between the directors of both rugby clubs with both clubs in favour of the merger and are currently in consultation with the Rugby Football Union and the Devon RFU.
Wessex have come under increased pressure by new landlords Exeter College who have taken over managing the Flowerpot Playing Fields and all of the facilities at the site from the local authority, Exeter City Council.
The outdated changing rooms and shower block for many years had 6 changing rooms with 2 shower blocks along with a separate changing and shower room for match officials. Since Exeter College has relocated its main sports hub to the Flowerpot they have reduced the changing accommodation facility to 2 changing rooms with one shower block with the rest of the facility converted into college storage space and weight training rooms. The college have taken over the former Civil Service football and sports site and redeveloped the buildings into lecture rooms and new changing room facilities which are a short distance from the old changing rooms which Wessex currently use, however Wessex have not been able to take advantage of using the new changing rooms because of security and key access.
Because of the close proximity of Exeter University's main campus Wessex over the years have been able to recruited student players from University along with the occasional player living locally in the city, however with the change in the education curriculum and the emergence of newly formed Exeter University amature rugby teams the Exeter Engineers RFU and Exeter Barbarians RFU the recruitment of new players have become extremely difficult.
Currently Exeter Youth RFC only have a youth rugby section which caters for rugby from the age of 6 up to 18 year olds (colts), the majority of the Exeter Youth colts players finish playing rugby altogether once they have come of age at colts level as they cannot progress into a senior team within the current club system as they do not have any senior teams.
The merger would offer players coming of age from the youth section (18 age group) to further their playing career into a senior team within the same club, subsequently the senior teams would also benefit from players filtering through from the youth section.
With the possibility of Wessex and Exeter Youth linking up, the merger would secure and sustain the future for both clubs as a solo club. It maybe possible for a merger to take place as early as July / August 2018 providing all the criteria could be met along with both Wessex RFC and Exeter Youth RFC agreeing to a newly formed club constitution aswel as the merger being approved by both the RFU and Devon RFU.
Exeter Youth RFC have agreed and signed a 30-year lease for the use of the facilities at Oil Mill Lane, they have also applied for planning permission to build new changing rooms with shower facilities along with a club house on the site which has been granted by the local planning authority. If all the required criteria for the merger can be established and approved by the RFU and the Devon RFU the senior team will move out of the Flowerpot Playing Fields and relocate to Oil Mill Lane to join up with the youth section.
However nothing has been decided as talks are still at an early stage with several issues that would have to be resolved before a merger could be brokered. The new club would be rename Exeter Athletic RFC along with a new playing strip and club badge.
Updated 19:03 - 4 Jan 2018 by Phil Spearey