Newport Gwent Dragons

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Newport Gwent Dragons
Newport gwent dragons badge.png
Nickname(s) Dragons
Founded 2003; 12 years ago (2003)
Location Newport, Wales
Ground(s) Rodney Parade (Capacity: 8,500)
Chairman Martyn Hazell
Director of Rugby Lyn Jones
Coach(es) Kingsley Jones
Captain(s) Lee Byrne
Most caps Steve Jones (180)
Top scorer Jason Tovey (776)
Most tries Aled Brew (43)
League(s) Pro12
2014–15 9th
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website

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 European Rugby Champions Cup/European Rugby 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 they are affiliated with a number of semi-professional and amateur clubs throughout the area, including Welsh Premier Division sides Bedwas RFC, Cross Keys RFC, Ebbw Vale RFC and Newport RFC.[1]

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, and finished fourth the next season. However the team finished 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.



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.[2] Fundamental disagreements between the clubs[3] 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.[4] This prompted Newport RFC benefactor Tony Brown of Bisley, Surrey to withdraw his financial support for the region. However by 21 August Brown returned after Ebbw Vale chairman Marcus Russell resigned and the side's name was changed to "Newport and Gwent Dragons".[5] With the Welsh Rugby Union demanding an explanation for the changes, and acrimony between the two clubs[6] another agreement was struck:[7] the side officially became "Newport Gwent Dragons". On 12 November 2003 the region's founding company Gwent Rugby Ltd entered into administration.[8] On 27 November a new company, Dragons Rugby Ltd., was established to run the region, with Newport RFC and the Welsh Rugby Union each holding a 50% stake.[9]

2003–2005: Infancy[edit]

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, beat their limited pre-season expectations. Despite starting their life in top-class rugby with a 35–11 defeat away to Llanelli Scarlets, it was 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 eliminated Stade Français[10] in the Heineken Cup. Going into the final round with an outside chance of taking the title, the Dragons finished third in the Celtic League[11] WRU bosses were impressed enough to appoint Ruddock to the vacant Welsh coaching job in summer 2004.[12] Ruddock rewarded two of his former Dragons players, Hal Luscombe and Jason Forster, with their first test caps on Wales' summer tour of Argentina. Percy Montgomery also impressed Springbok selectors enough to remind them of his international credentials, and earn a Tri Nations recall.

The following off season saw a marked change in direction. Gareth Cooper, Kevin Morgan and Ceri Sweeney were amongst a handful of players who joined the region when the Celtic Warriors were 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 fourth,[11] the second highest Welsh region. The side's Heineken Cup could be viewed as a wasted opportunity: the team beat French side Perpignan 27-14 at home, but were then beaten home and away by Newcastle Falcons to put paid to any quarter-final ambitions. Chris Anderson's contract was not extended beyond its initial one-year duration.[13]

2005–2011 Paul Turner era[edit]

The region looked to Harlequins backs coach Paul Turner, a Welshman, as their new head coach.[14] Turner would also have to contend with Percy Montgomery returning to South Africa [15] and Newport stalwart Rod Snow retiring.[16] Munster and Sale Sharks proved too strong in the 2005-06 Heineken Cup. After finishing 8th in the Celtic League, a 24–15 defeat[17] 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.[18]

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.[19] 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[20] to defeating the Ospreys on 6 May,[21] the Dragons failed to win a Celtic League game. Despite finishing as the lowest-placed Welsh side in the league[22] 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.[23]

The summer of 2008 marked a change in the Dragons recruitment policy to a more antipodean focus.[24] Several new signings included New Zealander Tom Willis who was also appointed captain.[25] 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[26] 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.[27] 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.

2011 onwards[edit]

Turner stepped down as Head Coach in February 2011 with Darren Edwards taking over in a caretaker capacity.[28] In March 2011 Edwards led the Dragons 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. Lyn Jones was appointed to the role of Director of Rugby in 2013 taking over a lot of on field responsibilities.[29] He brought with him then Russia Head Coach Kingsley Jones who worked with him as a consultant at London Welsh.[30] Edwards left the Dragons in February 2014[31] while in June Kingsley Jones was promoted to the role of Head Coach.[32]


The naming of the region's team caused considerable turbulence.[33] Newport Gwent Dragons were a new side created out of the restructuring of Welsh rugby, and represent their designated region, like the Cardiff Blues, the Scarlets and the Ospreys. Some in the Welsh rugby world, such as Bobby Windsor, believed that including the name Newport would alienate some fans in the surrounding valleys.[34] Many supporters in the wider Newport area favoured greater identification with the City of Newport and a continuation of the historic traditions of Newport RFC.[35] Several names were suggested but all were rejected by the WRU. In the end, the WRU decided the region would be called the Gwent Dragons. However, initial response to the new region was mixed, with many fans unsure whether to buy a season ticket for the new side or to stick to their local clubs.[36] The company set up to run the side entered administration before a game had been played, and as a compromise 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: some supporters of Ebbw Vale, Pontypool, Cross Keys and Newbridge turned their backs on the regional side, claiming that Gwent was no longer being equally represented.[37] This debate continued, with the Dragons being accused of favouritism towards their Newport feeder club rather than the other feeder clubs.[38]

The Newport Action Group, among others, claimed 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 2005-06 season,[39] whereas in the 2002-03 season, Newport RFC was Wales' best supported club and British rugby's fourth best with an average attendance of 8,302 – behind English Premiership clubs Leicester, Gloucester and Northampton.[40] Although controversy surrounding the naming of the region might be considered 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.

Home ground[edit]

The region's ground is the 11,676 capacity Rodney Parade ground in Newport. An agreement is in place between owners Rodney Parade Limited and the region for all regular season games to be played there.[41] The side also played some pre-season games at Pontypool Park[42] and Pandy Park, Cross Keys RFC[43] but these venues have not been used since a game against a Gwent Premiership XV before the 2006–07 season. In preparation for the 2014-15 season the Newport Gwent Dragons agreed a partnership with Caerphilly County Borough Council for the team and coaching staff to use the CCB Centre for Sporting Excellence as the new training base for the 1st team and all other age grade structures within the region.[44]

Results for 2014-15 season[edit]

Pro12 Table watch · edit · discuss
Team Played Won Drawn Lost Points For Points Against Points Difference Tries For Tries Against Try Bonus Losing Bonus Points
1 Scotland Glasgow Warriors (CH) 22 16 1 5 540 360 +180 63 33 9 0 75
2 Ireland Munster (RU) 22 15 2 5 581 367 +214 68 31 8 3 75
3 Wales Ospreys (SF) 22 16 1 5 546 358 +188 53 30 6 2 74
4 Ireland Ulster (SF) 22 14 2 6 524 372 +152 59 34 6 3 69
5 Ireland Leinster 22 11 3 8 483 375 +108 54 39 8 4 62
6 Wales Scarlets 22 11 3 8 452 388 +64 43 39 4 3 57
7 Ireland Connacht 22 10 1 11 447 419 +28 49 48 3 5 50
8 Scotland Edinburgh 22 10 1 11 399 419 −20 41 48 3 3 48
9 Wales Newport Gwent Dragons 22 8 0 14 393 484 −91 38 55 4 6 42
10 Wales Cardiff Blues 22 7 1 14 430 545 −115 46 57 3 2 35
11 Italy Benetton Treviso 22 3 1 18 306 641 −335 34 81 2 3 19
12 Italy Zebre 22 3 0 19 266 639 −373 27 80 0 3 15

If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:[45]

  1. number of matches won;
  2. the difference between points for and points against;
  3. the number of tries scored;
  4. the most points scored;
  5. the difference between tries for and tries against;
  6. the fewest number of red cards received;
  7. the fewest number of yellow cards received.

Green background (rows 1 to 4) are play-off places, and earn a place in the 2015–16 European Rugby Champions Cup.
Blue background indicates teams outside the play-off places, that earn a place in the European Rugby Champions Cup. The top team from each country will qualify.
Yellow background indicates the team that advances to a play-off semi-final against Aviva Premiership side Gloucester, who qualified for the play-off as the 2014–15 European Rugby Challenge Cup winners.[46]
Plain background indicates teams that earn a place in the 2015–16 European Rugby Challenge Cup.

Current squad[edit]

2015-16 Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Player Position Union
Rhys Buckley Hooker Wales Wales
Elliot Dee Hooker Wales Wales
Hugh Gustafson Hooker Wales Wales
T. Rhys Thomas (c) Hooker Wales Wales
Owen Evans Prop Wales Wales
Lloyd Fairbrother Prop England England
Luke Garrett Prop Wales Wales
Brok Harris Prop South Africa South Africa
Alex Jeffries Prop Wales Wales
Shaun Knight Prop England England
Phil Price Prop Wales Wales
Boris Stankovich Prop England England
Andrew Coombs Lock Wales Wales
Joe Davies Lock Wales Wales
Cory Hill Lock Wales Wales
Rynard Landman Lock South Africa South Africa
Matthew Screech Lock Wales Wales
Nick Crosswell Flanker New Zealand New Zealand
Nic Cudd Flanker Wales Wales
Lewis Evans Flanker Wales Wales
Ollie Griffiths Flanker Wales Wales
Scott Matthews Flanker Wales Wales
James Thomas Flanker Wales Wales
James Benjamin Number 8 Wales Wales
Taulupe Faletau Number 8 Wales Wales
Ed Jackson Number 8 England England
Player Position Union
Charlie Davies Scrum-half England England
Luc Jones Scrum-half Wales Wales
Sarel Pretorius Scrum-half South Africa South Africa
Dorian Jones Fly-half Wales Wales
Angus O'Brien Fly-half Wales Wales
Jason Tovey Fly-half Wales Wales
Jack Dixon Centre Wales Wales
Pat Leach Centre Wales Wales
Tyler Morgan Centre Wales Wales
Barney Nightingale Centre Wales Wales
Adam Warren Centre Wales Wales
Rhys Williams Centre Wales Wales
Aled Brew Wing Wales Wales
Ashton Hewitt Wing Wales Wales
Matthew Pewtner Wing Wales Wales
Tom Prydie Wing Wales Wales
Nick Scott Wing England England
Ross Wardle Wing Wales Wales
Hallam Amos Fullback Wales Wales
Geraint Rhys Jones Fullback Wales Wales

Notable players[edit]

See also: Category:Newport Gwent Dragons players.

Michael Owen captained Wales in 2005–06 and he led Wales to their first Grand Slam for 27 years in the 2005 Six Nations Championship.

Adam Black, Jamie Ringer, Peter Sidoli, Gareth Wyatt, Steve Jones, Luke Charteris, Wayne Evans, Aled Brew, Ashley Smith, Lewis Evans, Adam Jones, Hugh Gustafson, Jason Tovey, Robert Sidoli and Phil Price 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 Will Harries, 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 Aled Brew, Taulupe Faletau, Andrew Coombs, Tom Prydie, Hallam Amos and Tyler Morgan have featured in Wales test matches whilst with the region. T. Rhys Thomas and Adam Warren attained Wales international caps before joining Newport Gwent Dragons.

British and Irish Lions[edit]

The following players have been selected to play for the British and Irish Lions touring squads while playing for Newport Gwent Dragons.

Player Home Union Tours
Michael Owen Wales Wales 2005 New Zealand
Gareth Cooper Wales Wales 2005 New Zealand
Dan Lydiate Wales Wales 2013 Australia
Taulupe Faletau Wales Wales 2013 Australia

Head Coach/Director of Rugby[edit]

Name Nationality Years
Mike Ruddock Wales 2003–2004
Declan Kidney Ireland 2004
Chris Anderson Australia 2004–2005
Paul Turner Wales 2005–2011
Darren Edwards Wales 2011–2014
Lyn Jones Wales 2013

Results and statistics[edit]

Celtic League / Pro12[edit]

Season Played Win Draw Loss BP Points Position
2014–15 22 8 0 14 10 42 9th
2013–14 22 7 1 14 5 35 9th
2012–13 22 6 0 16 4 28 11th
2011–12 22 7 1 14 6 36 9th
2010–11 22 10 1 11 7 49 7th
2009–10 18 8 1 9 5 39 7th
2008–09 18 7 0 11 5 33 9th
2007–08 18 7 1 10 4 34 8th
2006–07 20 8 0 12 7 39 9th
2005–06 22 7 0 13 9 45 8th[n 1]
2004–05 20 11 0 9 6 50 4th
2003–04 22 16 0 6 8 72 3rd
  1. ^ 11 teams were involved in this season, so one team did not play each week and were awarded 4 points instead.
    Therefore, each team finished the season with 8 more points than the table would seem to warrant.

Celtic Cup[edit]

Season Round Match
2003–04 First round Llanelli Scarlets 40 – 6 Newport Gwent Dragons
2004–05 Quarter-final Newport Gwent Dragons 19 – 46 Llanelli Scarlets

Heineken Cup / Rugby Champions Cup[edit]

Year Pool Pos Played Won Drawn Loss Bonus Pts
2010–11 6 4th 6 0 0 6 2 2
2009–10 2 4th 6 1 0 5 2 6
2008–09 5 4th 6 1 0 5 3 7
2007–08 1 3rd 6 1 0 5 4 8
2005–06 1 3rd 6 1 0 5 2 6
2004–05 5 3rd 6 3 0 3 3 15
2003–04 1 4th 6 2 0 4 1 9

European Challenge Cup / Rugby Challenge Cup[edit]

Year Pool Pos Played Won Drawn Loss Bonus Pts
2013–14 2 2nd 6 3 0 3 2 14
2012–13 3 3rd 6 2 0 4 5 13
2011–12 4 3rd 6 3 0 3 3 15
2006–07 1 1st 6 5 0 1 5 25
Quarter-final Newport Gwent Dragons 39 – 17 Brive
Semi-final Clermont Auvergne 46 – 29 Newport Gwent Dragons
2014–15 3 1st 6 5 0 1 5 25
Quarter-final Newport Gwent Dragons 25 – 21 Cardiff Blues
Semi-final Edinburgh 45 – 16 Newport Gwent Dragons

Anglo-Welsh Cup[edit]

Season Pool Pos Played Won Drawn Loss BP Points
2014–15 1 3rd 4 2 0 2 3 11
2013–14 1 4th 4 1 0 3 0 4
2012–13 1 3rd 4 2 0 2 0 8
2011–12 4 4th 4 1 1 2 1 7
2010–11 2 1st 4 3 0 1 0 12
Semi-Final Gloucester 45 – 17 Newport Gwent Dragons
2009–10 4 2nd 4 3 0 1 0 12
2008–09 A 3rd 3 1 0 2 1 5
2007–08 A 4th 3 0 1 2 3 5
2006–07 D 3rd 3 1 0 2 0 4
2005–06 D 3rd 3 2 0 1 0 8

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Newport Gwent Dragons: Club Directory
  2. ^ Archer, Graeme. "Sport". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  3. ^ South Wales Argus – It's all out war!
  4. ^ South Wales Argus – Support the Dragons!
  5. ^ South Wales Argus – Brown's Back – And It's Now Newport And Gwent Dragons
  6. ^ South Wales Argus – It's off!
  7. ^ South Wales Argus – Can we get on with the rugby now?
  8. ^ "Dragons enter administration". BBC News. 2003-11-12. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  9. ^ South Wales Argus
  10. ^ European Rugby Cup : Stade Burned By Dragons
  11. ^ a b Magners League Official Website : Stat Attack – League table
  12. ^ WRU: Wales Coach Archive: Mike Ruddock: 2004 – 2006
  13. ^ South Wales Argus – Time for six sense – Jones
  14. ^ South Wales Argus – IT'S TURNER
  15. ^ "Montgomery quits Wales for Sharks". BBC News. 2005-04-07. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  16. ^ "Snow to retire at end of season". BBC News. 2005-03-16. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  17. ^ "Dragons 15–24 Overmach Parma". BBC News. 2006-06-02. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  18. ^ "Luscombe leaves Dragons for Quins". BBC News. 2006-04-01. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  19. ^ "Dragons 22–15 Calvisano". BBC News. 2007-05-18. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  20. ^ "Dragons 15–13 Scarlets". BBC News. 2008-01-01. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  21. ^ "Dragons 18–10 Ospreys". BBC News. 2008-05-06. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  22. ^ "Magners League table". BBC News. 2006-08-09. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Kiwi arrival no issue for Gatland". BBC News. 2008-07-23. 
  25. ^ "Kiwi Willis made Dragons captain". BBC News. 2008-08-05. 
  26. ^ Roberts, Gareth (2009-05-29). "Calvisano 17–42 NG Dragons". BBC News. 
  27. ^
  28. ^ Turner leaves Newport Gwent Dragons
  29. ^ Pro12: Ex-Ospreys boss Lyn Jones takes over at Dragons
  30. ^ Kingsley Jones Joins London Welsh
  31. ^ Edwards leaves Dragons
  32. ^ Kingsley Jones Head Coach at Dragons
  33. ^ South Wales Argus – Brown: I want nothing to do with `region'
  34. ^ Windsor mourns fall of Pooler – Wales Online 5 July 2006
  35. ^ South Wales Argus – Brown's Back – And now it's Newport and Gwent Dragons Thursday 21 August 2003
  36. ^ South Wales Argus – Dragons hunt 'missing' fans
  37. ^ Webb, Nick (2009-05-17). "Dragons back Newport in new cup". BBC News. 
  38. ^ Newport RFC feeder
  39. ^ Magners League Official Website : Fixtures and Results Home Page
  40. ^ Davies, Phil (Autumn 2002). "Rugby in the community" (PDF). Welsh Economic Review (Welsh Economy Research Unit) 14 (2): 13–14. ISSN 0965-2450. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2003-05-11. 
  41. ^ South Wales Argus – Gwent Dragons ready to roar at Rodney Parade
  42. ^ Newport Gwent Dragons 7 – 31 Leeds Carnegie, 22/08/2003. Match Details
  43. ^ Newport Gwent Dragons 14 – 24 Gwent Premiership XV, 13/08/2004. Match Details
  44. ^
  45. ^ Competition Rule 3.5 "Summary of Key Rules". Pro12. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  46. ^ "Future of European Rugby resolved" (Press release). RFU. 10 April 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 

External links[edit]