Newport Gwent Dragons
|Location||Newport, South Wales|
|Ground(s)||Rodney Parade, Newport (Capacity: 11,676)|
|Most caps||Steve Jones (180)|
|Top scorer||Jason Tovey (637)|
|Most tries||Aled Brew (43)|
Newport Gwent Dragons (Welsh: Dreigiau Casnewydd Gwent) are one of the four professional Rugby Union regional teams in Wales. They are jointly owned by Newport RFC and the Welsh Rugby Union and play all their home games at Rodney Parade, Newport. They play in the Pro12 league, the Anglo-Welsh Cup and the Heineken Cup/European Challenge Cup. The region they represent covers an area of southeast Wales including Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen with a total population approaching 500,000 and are affiliated with a number of semi-professional and amateur clubs throughout the area, including Welsh Premier Division sides Bedwas RFC, Cross Keys RFC and Newport RFC.
Formed in 2003 as a result of the regionalisation of Welsh rugby, the team started life with a third-placed finish in the 2003–2004 Celtic League, narrowly failing to repeat their initial exploits the season after, ending it in fourth. The team has however struggled to match those early heights, finishing in the bottom three in the 2005–2006, 2006–2007, 2007–2008 and 2008–2009 seasons. In 2007 they reached the semi finals of the European Challenge Cup, losing to French side ASM Clermont Auvergne 46–29. In 2011 they reached the semi-finals of the Anglo-Welsh Cup, losing to Gloucester. They are yet to make the knock-out stages of the Heineken Cup tournament.
- 1 History
- 2 Controversy
- 3 Home ground
- 4 Current standings
- 5 Players
- 6 Head coaches
- 7 Results and statistics
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
They were formed on 1 April 2003, following an agreement between Ebbw Vale RFC and Newport RFC, to form one of five regional rugby entities. Fundamental disagreements between the clubs, saw a period of arbitration, led by the then Welsh Rugby Union chief executive David Moffett, which recommended the name "Gwent Dragons". On 28 July the side was launched under that name. This prompted Newport RFC benefactor Tony Brown of Bisley, Surrey to withdraw his financial support for the region. However by 21 August Brown returned following Ebbw Vale chairman Marcus Russell's resignation and the side's name becoming "Newport and Gwent Dragons". With the Welsh Rugby Union demanding an explanation for the changes, and acrimony between the two clubs another agreement was struck, resulting in the side officially becoming "Newport Gwent Dragons". On 12 November 2003 the region's founding company "Gwent Rugby Ltd" entered into administration. On 27 November 2003 "Dragons Rugby Ltd." a new company was established to run the region, with both Newport RFC and the Welsh Rugby Union holding a fifty percent stake.
Under Mike Ruddock and his assistant Clive Griffiths Newport Gwent Dragons with a squad largely drawn from the Newport RFC and Ebbw Vale RFC sides of the preceding year, confounded their limited pre-season expectations. Despite starting their life in top-class rugby with a 35–11 defeat away to Llanelli Scarlets it was to prove to be the region's most successful season so far. A 29–19 win over the Ospreys was to prove more telling, captained by Andy Marinos the side remained unbeaten at home in the Celtic League and claimed the scalp of Stade Français in the Heineken Cup. Going into the final round with an outside chance of taking the title, the Dragons ended up finishing third in the Celtic League WRU bosses were sufficiently impressed as to appoint Ruddock to the vacant Welsh coaching job in the summer of 2004. Ruddock rewarded two of his former Dragons players, Hal Luscombe and Jason Forster with their first test caps on Wales's summer tour of Argentina rugby. Percy Montgomery also impressed Springbok selector enough to remind them of his international credentials, and earn a Tri Nations recall.
The following off season saw a marked change in direction at Rodney Parade. Gareth Cooper, Kevin Morgan and Ceri Sweeney were amongst a handful of players who joined the region in the wake of the Celtic Warriors being disbanded. Having originally agreed to replace Mike Ruddock as head coach, Declan Kidney decided instead to seek employment back home with Leinster. It was not until 27 July 2004 that former Australian rugby league coach Chris Anderson was appointed, with Leigh Jones as his assistant. Another credible Celtic League campaign followed, finishing in fourth spot, the second highest Welsh region. The side's Heineken Cup could be viewed as a wasted opportunity, having beaten French Perpignan at home 27–14, defeat home and away to Newcastle Falcons put pay to any quarter final ambitions. Chris Anderson's contract was not extended beyond its initial one-year duration.
2005–2011 Paul Turner era
The region looked to Harlequins backs coach Paul Turner, a Welshman, as their new head coach. Turner would also have to contend with Percy Montgomery returning to South Africa  and Newport stalwart Rod Snow retiring. Munster and Sale Sharks proved too strong in the 2005-06 Heineken Cup. After finishing 8th in the Celtic League, a 24–15 defeat Overmach Parma in a play-off for a place in the following seasons Heineken cup proved a new low for the region. Anglo-Welsh Cup wins over Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints were the highlights of a tough season. Turner remained, but Wales international Hal Luscombe opted for a move away from the region, joining English Premiership side Harlequins.
Former Wales captain Colin Charvis joined ahead of the 2006–2007 season with the Dragons progressed into a European Challenge Cup semi-final, where they lost comfortably to ASM Clermont Auvergne. Domestically though, the region's European exploits appeared to take their toll, finishing ninth in the Celtic League. Significantly the region avoided the prospect of a second season away from the Heineken Cup, defeating another Italian side Calvisano 22–15. The match also marked the end for departing Wales internationals Ian Gough and Gareth Cooper at Rodney Parade.
2007–2008 proved to be another difficult season for the region. Signings such as scrum-half Andy Williams and flanker Richard Parks were not able to help reverse the side's fortunes. The Dragons 2007-08 Heineken Cup campaign only saw one win against Italian side Treviso and exiting the Anglo-Welsh Cup in the pool stages for a third year running. Between completing a double over Llanelli Scarlets on 1 January to defeating the Ospreys on 6 May, the Dragons failed to win a Celtic League game. Despite finishing as the lowest-placed Welsh side in the league the region qualified for next season's Heineken Cup, without having to play off against Italian opposition due to a failure by the Italian League to finish before a specified date.
The summer of 2008 marked a change in the Dragons recruitment policy to a more antipodean focus. Several new signings included New Zealander Tom Willis who was also appointed captain. The 2008–2009 Heineken Cup saw visible signs of encouragement for the region. An opening round defeat of Glasgow at Rodney Parade and two respectable defeats to French giants Toulouse, sandwiched between narrow losses against Bath offered hope of arresting decline at Rodney Parade. Domestically in the Celtic League it was a case of same old as consecutive defeats in rearranged matches away at Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys ended any hopes of avoiding finishing as the lowest placed Welsh region and another Heineken Cup play off against Italian opposition. In record appearance holder Adam Black's final game for the side, the Dragons ran out comfortable winners away to Calvisano to secure their place in European rugby's premier tournament for a third season running.
The 2009–2010 season brought about significant improvements in results, with the Dragons remaining unbeaten at Rodney Parade in the Celtic League until their final home match, a 20–14 loss to Cardiff Blues. Defeat also brought about the end of the Dragons bid to qualify for the inaugural Celtic League play offs. An improved seventh place finish did however mean automatic qualification for the Heineken cup as the third highest finishing Welsh region. Despite coming close to defeating Gloucester away at Kingsholm and a win at home against Glasgow, back to back losses at Biarritz put pay to the Dragons chances of progressing past the group stages of the Heineken Cup for the first time.
Turner stepped down as Head Coach in February 2011 and Darren Edwards took over the role in a caretaker capacity. Edwards led the team to their first Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-final, where they lost to Gloucester. In April 2011 Edwards was appointed Head Coach on a full-time basis.
The naming of the region has caused considerable turbulence. Newport Gwent Dragons are a new side created out of the restructuring of Welsh rugby and represent their designated region as is the case with the Cardiff Blues, the Scarlets and the Ospreys. Some in the Welsh rugby world, such as Welsh rugby legend Bobby Windsor, believed that including the name Newport would alienate some fans in the surrounding valley. While much of the support in the larger Newport area supported greater identification with the City of Newport and a continuation of the historic traditions of Newport RFC. Several names were suggested but all were rejected by the WRU. In the end, the WRU decided the region's name for them, the "Gwent Dragons". However, initial response to the new region was mixed with many supporters hesitating on whether to buy a season ticket for the new side or stick to their local clubs. The company set up to run the side entered administration before playing a game and as a result the word "Newport" was added to the team name in a double-sized font, whilst "Gwent" was reduced. This addition and choice of kit added a greater Newport emphasis to the region and polarised the regions' fan base with some supporters of Ebbw Vale, Pontypool, Cross keys and Newbridge turning their backs on the regional side claiming that 'Gwent' was no longer being equally represented. This debate continues, with The Dragons being accused of favouritism towards their Newport feeder club rather than the other feeder clubs.
The Newport Action Group, among others, claim the side has lost more supporters by including the name "Gwent" in its title. The crowds supporting Newport Gwent Dragons averaged 5,154 for the 2005/2006 season, whereas in the 2002/2003 season, Newport RFC was Wales' best supported club and British rugby's fourth best with an average attendance of 8,302 – after English Premiership outfits, Leicester, Gloucester and Northampton. Although controversy surrounding the naming of the region might be petty, rugby in South Wales is deeply divided among hundreds of historic rugby clubs with bitter rivalries. In the 2006–2007 season, attendance averaged 5,629 at Rodney Parade.
The region's ground is the 11,676 capacity Rodney Parade ground in Newport, with an agreement between owners Rodney Parade Limited and the region in place for all regular season games to be played there. Along with Rodney Parade, the region has also played pre-season games at Pontypool Park and Pandy Park, Cross Keys RFC but this has not occurred since playing a Gwent Premiership XV prior to the 2006–2007 season.
|Club||Played||Won||Drawn||Lost||Points For||Points Against||Points Difference||Tries For||Tries Against||Try Bonus||Losing Bonus||Points|
|7||Newport Gwent Dragons||9||4||0||5||163||159||+4||12||13||0||3||19|
If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:
|Green background (rows 1 to 4) are play-off places. Qualification for the Heineken Cup is based on each country's allocation, i.e. three highest–ranked Irish teams, three highest–ranked Welsh teams, both Italian teams and both Scottish teams. Updated 30 November 2013. Source: RaboDirect PRO12|
- Internationally capped players in Bold
- Richie Rees from Edinburgh
- Kris Burton from Treviso
- Netani Talei from Edinburgh
- Tetaz Chaparro from Stade Français
- T. Rhys Thomas from Wasps
- Jason Tovey from Cardiff Blues
- Cory Hill from Moseley
- Dan Lydiate to Racing Métro
- Tom Brown to Jersey 
- Tim Ryan to Coventry
- Dan Watchurst retired
- Tonderai Chavhanga released
- Hywel Stoddart released
- Josh Tyler released
- Jamie Smith released
- Anitelea Tuilagi released
- Mike Poole to Scarlets
- Ian Nimmo to London Welsh
- See also: Category:Newport Gwent Dragons players.
Adam Black, Jamie Ringer, Peter Sidoli, Gareth Wyatt, Steve Jones, Luke Charteris, Wayne Evans, Aled Brew, Ashley Smith, Lewis Evans, Adam M. Jones, Hugh Gustafson and Jason Tovey have made over one hundred Newport Gwent Dragons appearances. Prop Adam Black became the first centurion in Dragons colours during the 2006–07 season.
Several former players have been capped by the Wales national rugby union team while with the region; props Chris Anthony and Rhys M. Thomas, hookers Steve Jones and Lloyd Burns, second rows Ian Gough and Luke Charteris, flankers Jason Forster, Richard Parks, Jamie Ringer, Gavin Thomas and Dan Lydiate, number eight Michael Owen and Rhys Oakley, scrum halves Gareth Cooper and Andy Williams, outside half Ceri Sweeney, centre Andy Marinos, wingers Gareth Wyatt, Hal Luscombe and Aled Brew and full back Kevin Morgan. Percy Montgomery, Sione Tu'ipulotu, Rod Snow, Mike Hercus, Mike Petri and James Arlidge played internationally for their respective countries whilst with the region.
Of the current players Will Harries, Toby Faletau, Andrew Coombs, Tom Prydie and Hallam Amos have featured in Wales test matches whilst with the region. Adam M. Jones, Robert Sidoli, Daniel Evans, Richie Rees and T. Rhys Thomas attained Wales international caps before joining Newport Gwent Dragons. Netani Talei attained international caps for Fiji as did Kris Burton for Italy and Tetaz Chaparro for Argentina.
British and Irish Lions
The following players have been selected to play for the British and Irish Lions touring squads while playing for Newport Gwent Dragons.
|Michael Owen||Wales||2005 New Zealand|
|Gareth Cooper||Wales||2005 New Zealand|
|Dan Lydiate||Wales||2013 Australia|
|Toby Faletau||Wales||2013 Australia|
Results and statistics
|2003–04||First round||Llanelli Scarlets 40 – 6 Newport Gwent Dragons|
|2004–05||Quarter-final||Newport Gwent Dragons 19 – 46 Llanelli Scarlets|
European Challenge Cup
|Quarter-final||Newport Gwent Dragons 39 – 17 Brive|
|Semi-final||Clermont Auvergne 46 – 29 Newport Gwent Dragons|
|Semi-Final||Gloucester 45 – 17 Newport Gwent Dragons|
- Newport Gwent Dragons: Club Directory
- Archer, Graeme. "Sport". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- South Wales Argus – It's all out war!
- South Wales Argus – Support the Dragons!
- South Wales Argus – Brown'S Back – And It'S Now Newport And Gwent Dragons
- South Wales Argus – It's off!
- South Wales Argus – Can we get on with the rugby now?
- "Dragons enter administration". BBC News. 2003-11-12. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- South Wales Argus
- European Rugby Cup : Stade Burned By Dragons
- Magners League Official Website : Stat Attack – League table
- WRU: Wales Coach Archive: Mike Ruddock: 2004 – 2006
- South Wales Argus – Time for six sense – Jones
- South Wales Argus – IT'S TURNER
- "Montgomery quits Wales for Sharks". BBC News. 2005-04-07. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- "Snow to retire at end of season". BBC News. 2005-03-16. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- "Dragons 15–24 Overmach Parma". BBC News. 2006-06-02. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- "Luscombe leaves Dragons for Quins". BBC News. 2006-04-01. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- "Dragons 22–15 Calvisano". BBC News. 2007-05-18. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- "Dragons 15–13 Scarlets". BBC News. 2008-01-01. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- "Dragons 18–10 Ospreys". BBC News. 2008-05-06. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- "Magners League table". BBC News. 2006-08-09. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- "Kiwi arrival no issue for Gatland". BBC News. 2008-07-23.
- "Kiwi Willis made Dragons captain". BBC News. 2008-08-05.
- Roberts, Gareth (2009-05-29). "Calvisano 17–42 NG Dragons". BBC News.
- Turner leaves Newport Gwent Dragons
- South Wales Argus – Brown: I want nothing to do with `region'
- Windsor mourns fall of Pooler – Wales Online 5 July 2006
- South Wales Argus – Brown's Back – And now it's Newport and Gwent Dragons Thursday 21 August 2003
- South Wales Argus – Dragons hunt 'missing' fans
- Webb, Nick (2009-05-17). "Dragons back Newport in new cup". BBC News.
- Newport RFC feeder
- Magners League Official Website : Fixtures and Results Home Page
- Davies, Phil (Autumn 2002). "Rugby in the community". Welsh Economic Review (Welsh Economy Research Unit) 14 (2): 13–14. ISSN 0965-2450. Archived from the original on 2003-05-11.
- South Wales Argus – Gwent Dragons ready to roar at Rodney Parade
- Newport Gwent Dragons 7 – 31 Leeds Carnegie, 22/08/2003. Match Details
- Newport Gwent Dragons 14 – 24 Gwent Premiership XV, 13/08/2004. Match Details
- Competition Rule 3.5 "Summary of Key Rules". Pro 12. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
- "Newport Gwent Dragons Squad". official site.
- Dragons sign 4
- Thomas joins Dragons
- Tovey rejoins Dragons
- Lydiate joins Racing
- Brown joins Jersey
- Newport Gwent Dragons (official site)
- Bedwas RFC (official site)
- Cross Keys RFC (official site)
- Newport RFC (official site)
- Pontypool RFC (official site)
- Dragged Up (unofficial fan forum)