Newport Gwent Dragons

Newport Gwent Dragons
Nickname(s) Dragons
Founded 2003 (2003)
Location Newport, Wales
Ground(s) Rodney Parade (Capacity: 8,800)
Chairman Martyn Hazell
Director of Rugby vacant
Coach(es) Kingsley Jones
Captain(s) T. Rhys Thomas
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 2003–04 Celtic League, and finished fourth the next season. However the team finished in the bottom three in the 2005–06, 2006–07, 2007–08 and 2008–09 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

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

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 2006–07 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.

2007–08 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 2008–09 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 2009–10 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

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 2006–07 season, attendance averaged 5,629 at Rodney Parade.


The kit is supplied by Gilbert. On the front of the shirt, BT Sport is at the centre with Bisley at the top. Building Management Solutions with its website and Taymore appear on their left sleeve while Rugby Heaven with its website below appear on the right sleeve while Robert Price appear on the left and right of their front collar. On the back of the shirt, Worthington's and Shadow Scaffolding are at the top while Clarity Copiers is on the bottom. Hicks transport appear on the left of their back shorts while Gap personnel appear on the right of their back shorts.

Home ground

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]

Current Pro12 Table

2016–17 Pro12
Team Played Won Drawn Lost Points for Points against Points diff Tries for Tries against Try bonus Losing bonus Points
1 Ireland Munster 10 8 0 2 267 129 +138 34 15 4 1 37
2 Ireland Leinster 10 8 0 2 264 183 +81 34 24 4 1 37
3 Wales Ospreys 10 7 0 3 315 167 +148 45 21 7 1 36
4 Wales Scarlets 10 7 0 3 222 174 +48 28 19 4 0 32
5 Ireland Ulster 9 6 0 3 192 146 +46 25 18 2 2 28
6 Scotland Glasgow Warriors 10 5 0 5 223 199 +24 30 24 4 3 27
7 Wales Cardiff Blues 10 5 0 5 219 248 −29 25 30 1 1 22
8 Ireland Connacht 9 4 0 5 176 190 −14 22 23 3 1 20
9 Wales Newport Gwent Dragons 10 3 0 7 170 237 −67 19 29 1 2 15
10 Scotland Edinburgh 10 3 0 7 213 236 −23 28 28 1 1 14
11 Italy Zebre 8 1 0 7 118 253 −135 12 35 0 4 8
12 Italy Benetton Treviso 10 1 0 9 125 342 −217 14 48 1 1 6
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 2017–18 European Rugby Champions Cup.
Blue background indicates teams outside the play-off places, that earn a place in the European Rugby Champions Cup.

    Current squad

    2016-17 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
    Darran Harris Hooker Wales Wales
    T. Rhys Thomas Hooker Wales Wales
    Keagan Bale Prop Wales Wales
    Leon Brown Prop Wales Wales
    Tom Davies Prop Wales Wales
    Lloyd Fairbrother* Prop England England
    Brok Harris Prop South Africa South Africa
    Sam Hobbs Prop Wales Wales
    Shaun Knight Prop England England
    Craig Mitchell Prop Wales Wales
    Phil Price Prop Wales Wales
    Scott Andrews 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
    Ashley Sweet Lock Wales Wales
    James Benjamin Flanker Wales Wales
    Nick Crosswell Flanker New Zealand New Zealand
    Nic Cudd Flanker Wales Wales
    Ollie Griffiths Flanker Wales Wales
    Harrison Keddie Flanker Wales Wales
    Joshua Skinner Flanker Wales Wales
    Lewis Evans Number 8 Wales Wales
    Ed Jackson Number 8 England England
    James Thomas Number 8 Wales Wales
    Player Position Union
    Charlie Davies Scrum-half England England
    Owen Davies Scrum-half Wales Wales
    Luc Jones Scrum-half Wales Wales
    Tavis Knoyle Scrum-half Wales Wales
    Sarel Pretorius Scrum-half South Africa South Africa
    Dorian Jones Fly-half Wales Wales
    Nick Macleod Fly-half Wales Wales
    Angus O'Brien Fly-half Wales Wales
    Sam Beard Centre New Zealand New Zealand
    Jack Dixon Centre Wales Wales
    Pat Howard Centre South Africa South Africa
    Tyler Morgan Centre Wales Wales
    Barney Nightingale Centre Wales Wales
    Adam Warren Centre Wales Wales
    Ashton Hewitt Wing Wales Wales
    Adam Hughes Wing Wales Wales
    Tom Prydie Wing Wales Wales
    Ross Wardle Wing Wales Wales
    Hallam Amos Fullback Wales Wales
    Geraint Rhys Jones Fullback Wales Wales
    Carl Meyer* Fullback South Africa South Africa

    Notable 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, Luke Charteris and Andrew Coombs, flankers Jason Forster, Richard Parks, Jamie Ringer, Gavin Thomas and Dan Lydiate, number eight Michael Owen, Rhys Oakley and Taulupe Faletau, scrum halves Gareth Cooper and Andy Williams, outside half Ceri Sweeney, centre Andy Marinos, wingers Gareth Wyatt, Hal Luscombe, Aled Brew 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 Tom Prydie, Hallam Amos, Tyler Morgan and Cory Hill have featured in Wales test matches whilst with the region. T. Rhys Thomas, Adam Warren and Craig Mitchell attained Wales international caps before joining Newport Gwent Dragons.

    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.

    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

    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 2014
    Kingsley Jones Wales 2014-

    Results and statistics

    Celtic League / Pro12

    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

    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

    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

    Year Pool Pos Played Won Drawn Loss Bonus Pts
    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 Dragon
    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


    Anglo-Welsh Cup

    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


    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. 1 2 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.
    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.
    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". Welsh Economic Review. Welsh Economy Research Unit. 14 (2): 13–14. ISSN 0965-2450. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2003-05-11. |archive-url= is malformed: timestamp (help)
    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
    45. Competition Rule 3.5 "Summary of Key Rules". Pro12. Retrieved 13 November 2013.


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