Allez le Dragons....

A Welsh touring party, in an Irish Bar, in France...

A Welsh touring party, in an Irish Bar, in France...

*DISCLAIMER - The events recounted below are recalled to the best of the writers ability, and no responsibility is accepted for the actual factual content...*


The late announcement of the fixtures meant that a last minute scramble for plane tickets ensued just before Christmas. Whilst a large contingent ended up on the Friday night Bristol to Bordeaux flight (which just so happened to also be the players flights), there were intrepid travelers flying from from Stansted, Luton, via Amsterdam, and some into Bergerac. With organisation only slightly less than that of a military operation, the annual shambolic decampment began. 


Perhaps the first indication of what was to come was when one poor Dragon had his Airport Executive Lounge membership revoked in Bristol after taking "an unreasonable amount of scones" from said lounge to feed the hungry masses still in the bar. Miraculously, everyone managed to get on the flight, though with Gavin Henson sat three rows in front, the temptation to start throwing ice cubes was hard to resist. 

Safe in Bordeaux (with the exception of this poor writer, who got stuck on the airport shuttle bus and wandered aimlessly around the city for 2 hours) refreshments were found, and a taste for Pastis regained.


Plas de la Bourse - there was supposed to be a reflection pool, but it was shut

Plas de la Bourse - there was supposed to be a reflection pool, but it was shut

Matchday dawned cold but clear, with a glorious view from the hotel over Bordeaux Cemetery (#102 thing to do in Bordeaux according to TripAdvisor). An early(ish) morning (ok, afternoon) walking tour of the city was undertaken, though the handy guide that one of the tourists had made did have the wrong pictures against the landmarks. Attached is the one cultured picture taken all weekend. 

At 3pm, we set up base camp in the Connemara Pub, where we later met up with the "UBB Angels" (The UBB supporters club). I'm pretty sure there were songs and presentations, but I think the attached photo's tell a better story of the next few hours than my memory allows.

This woman tried to steal Dan's jersey and hat

This woman tried to steal Dan's jersey and hat

Off we trammed (I'm not sure if that's the right verb - "to tram?") to the ground for the dangerous 9pm start. The Stade Chaban Delmas is a very beautiful old stadium, and of course, one of the tourists had brought a list of facts:

  • Built in 1930 as a cycle racing track
  • Modified in 1935 for the football world cup
  • First stadium in the world with no pillars (oh what luxury for us Hazell dwellers)
  • The longest changing room tunnel in the world at 120 meters (Later verified by "Viz" the Dragons Logistics manager who had to cart all the gear down it...)

Also in place was a "moat" around the pitch, preventing any pitch invasions, scuppering our initial plans.

We did go to the game - honest...

We did go to the game - honest...

The game - what to say. Most had travelled with a fair bit of trepidation, but the Dragons gave a great account of themselves through the first half, and if truth be told, should have been further ahead. Whilst UBB took control in the second half, the frustrating thing was that this was a game that we could, and maybe even should have won. As we found out the next weekend, a bonus point would have been enough to see us through. Alas, it was not to be. Landman and Pretorius were the standout players for me, with an honourable mention to James Benjamin for taking the longest possible route to the tryline for his score.

So it was back to the Connemara for some, where old traditions were upheld, including the now mandatory 18 verses of Max Boyce's "Duw it's Hard" and for some reason, Art Garfunkle's "Bright Eyes". Suffice to say there were few of those the next day...





Tour - It's not for everyone...

Tour - It's not for everyone...

Monday came around, with the remnants of the decimated touring party heading back to the airport. Poor old Pretorius had stayed with his family for a few days and was also in the airport - and despite his best efforts, he couldn't extricate himself from one Dragon's tourist who bent his ear for several hours about how he used to play with Stuart Barnes at Bassaleg -  no prizes for guessing who....

And so to bed...


Supporters' Worthy's Weds & Ed Jackson Fundraiser - Elliot Dee, Sean Holley & more

Please select below for details on how to book tickets for a Supporters event with Elliot Dee, Shaun Holley and much more... in addition this event will also help raise funds for the Hampson Foundation, in support of our own Ed Jackson.

Dragons Supporters Worthy Weds - Elliot Dee & Hampson Foundation Fundraising

On Wednesday 25th of Oct 2017 at 19:00 we are proud to announce our first formal Dragons' Supporters event of the season.  

Our Sponsors Worthington's have offered significant support in order to help us hold a 'Worthy's Wednesday' Supporter event, for Dragons Supporters to spend an evening together, mixing with members of the playing and coaching staff, and getting an opportunity to win some Dragons' memorbilia.

The event will be held upstairs in the Bisley Suite at Rodney Parade, and will commence at 19:00.  Entrance will be gained through tickets, in the form of charity donations, which are to be purchased prior to the event wherever possible.  We will be able to distribute tickets also on the night.

It is suggested that these tickets are 'sold' for a small charity donation, which will be used towards our chosen charity, the Hampson Foundation.  The Foundation are currently helping with the required support necessary for Dragons' No 8 Ed Jackson to complete his recovery from a serious neck injury.  As such, if you would be so kind, we would therefore ask for a £5 per person donation, in order to help drive the success of the evening.

The evening will be hosted by Sean Holley, and offer a buffet for attendees through the evening.  It will also deliver a number of activities including a raffle for some high quality Dragons' prizes, and a Q&A with Dragons Players and Staff.

It will also be an opportunity for us to present Elliot with his Supporters' player of the month trophy for Sept, and award which I'm sure we all agree is richly deserved based on his form so far this season.

The planned prize draw, including items such as a framed signed Dragons Jersey, will be completed by the sale of raffle tickets on the night.  The proceeds from both this draw, and the suggested ticketing for the event, will be used to help raise funds towards the Hampson Foundation.  More details of which can be found here:

As stated the Hampson Foundation have been supporting our own Ed Jackson through his very recent rehabilitation from serious injury, and we therefore feel would be a very worthy cause for us Dragons Supporters to get behind, in their goal to supporting young people recover from serious sports' injuries.

Hopefully you can sacrifice a few hours, and a small amount of funds, on the 25th in support of our Dragons family.

We hope to offer a number of these style events throughout the season, both to the continue the development of the Supporters' relationships with our team/coaches, and also raise money for a very worthwhile charity.

Any questions please get in touch with us through normal channels.  In the meantime we'd really appreciate if you could help spread the word regarding this evening, to not only have an opportunity for us to rightly recognise Elliot's efforts, but also help support Ed Jackson, and those in similar circumstances, through our chosen charity.


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Dragons Supporter - Get Well Soon Message from Dragons Squad

One of our loyal Dragons' Supporters, Mr David Watts, not only commits much of his time to supporting the team home and away, but also watching the squad train up at Ystrad Mynach.  

An avid autograph and memorabilia collector, David will often identify unique Dragons memorabilia to take up to the team's training base at Ystrad, or Rodney Parade, Principality Stadium on match days, and spend numerous hours waiting for his heroes to sign and personalise the products for him.

The Dragons squad recently discovered that David has been in and out of hospital with health concerns, and led by Brok Harris, they arranged a surprise for him on his next visit to the Ystrad Mynach Training base.

Believing he was had been arranged an opportunity for Hallam Amos to sign a picture for him, without his knowing the entire squad had assembled in the team room.  When David arrived the entire squad presented him with a signed Dragons home shirt, and offered a round of applause for his loyal support, and wished him all the very best with his recent health concerns.  

David clearly appreciated the kind efforts that had gone into this from the squad, and was moved by such a touching gesture.  

We would like to join the squad in wishing David all the very best, and look forward to seeing him cheering on the lads at Exeter this Saturday.. #SUFTMOG

Away Travel - Exeter Chiefs vs Dragons

We are pleased to announce that we have upgraded our website over the off season to be able to support both card and PayPal payments.  This means that we can arrange to support online booking for Away Travel, and other initiatives we will be looking at introducing to continue fundraising for the Dragons' Supporters.

As such, we have now booked transport for the forthcoming away trip to the Exeter Chiefs on Sat 19th Aug 17.  The coach will be provided by Dragons' Partner Edwards, and will depart Rodney Parade at 11:30 am.  The coach is expected to then depart Sandy Park at 18:00.

A variety of packages are available, coach only, coach and seated match tickets, or coach and standing match tickets.  To book online please use link below.

Dragons' Pre Season Fitness Assessments

Prior to the Dragons players being afforded a week long break to recover from the gruelling pre season conditioning sessions that Bernard Jackman and the team had been putting the lads through, a Friday afternoon fitness assessment was completed for the whole Squad.

The test was a variation on a Multi-Stage fitness test, with cones laid out on the pitch, and the Players expected to reach certain cones prior to an audible 'beep'.  As the test progresses the time between the beeps decreases, and therefore the Players have to run quicker and quicker, as the stages move on.  The level achieved is then recorded for each player, as a method of measuring and monitoring their cardiovascular levels through the season.

The Players carried out these tests in groups, allocated by positions, so firstly the backs, followed by the front row players, and then back 5 forwards.  The process was managed and monitored by the Head of Strength and Conditioning Ryan Harris, who has been responsible for leading a number of the Conditioning sessions that we've observed on our visits to training this Summer.

The test itself built into a sprint by the end, with already fatigued Players having to push incredibly hard to get up the pace.  The effort on show was exceptional, especially considering the conditions on the day.  All the players pushed themselves to the limits, and without exception performed very well, and within their respective groups Angus O'Brien, James Thomas and Elliott Dee all had enough in the tank to just outlast their peers.

Hope the guys have a great week's break, they have undoubtedly earnt it..

Dragons vs Usk Charity Cricket Match

The Dragons today supported a Summer Charity T20 cricket match at the home of Usk Cricket Club, with both the Dragons and Usk supporting two worthy charities throughout the day, with both being causes that the team will continue to support fundraising initiatives for throughout this year.  

This year's collections and contributions will be raised for the Matt Hampson Foundation (on behalf of Ed Jackson) and the Rhiannon Jade Smith Memorial Trust.  Rhiannon's Trust was set up following the death of Rhiannon in a car crash in nearby Llandevaud, and the Matt Hampson Foundation will be supporting Ed with his rehabilitation from his recent serious neck injury.

Throughout the day Food was cooked by a group of the South African Players that hadn't donned the Playing Whites, putting on a South African braai for all, and Dragons' No9 Charlie Davies also demonstrated some alternative skills by Dj-ing after the match.  

The day itself was supported by Bernard Jackman and the entire Dragons squad, offering a glimpse of the respect and sincere goodwill held towards Ed, who is such a large personality and popular member of the Squad with both Players and Supporters alike.

The game was opened with the Dragons fielding, and Elliot and Rynard offering a twin pace attack to start off.  They were backed up by the impressive Zane Kirtchner, who at first change offered real threat to the Usk batsmen.

Match report details unfortunately tail off after this point... with the Cider definitely NOT a factor in this...

However, what can be confirmed was the Dragons managed to chase down the target Usk set, and proved victorious on the day.

Dragons Charity Cricket Squad: Rynard Landman ©, Elliot Dee, Sarel Pretorius, James Thomas, Rhys Buckley, Will Talbot-Davies, Angus O’Brien, Robson Blake, James Benjamin, Zane Kirchner, Cory Hill, Dorian Jones & Pete Grzonka (Dragons Commercial Director)


We'd like to obviously take the opportunity to thank all those that helped organise, and contributed on the day, it was fantastic to see the Cricket and Rugby Communities coming together for such noble causes.

From a Dragons' Supporters perspective we are very keen to continue this momentum through the season now, and help plan and organise a number of other events to help contribute towards Ed's recovery, and demonstrate just how much the Dragons Family are thinking of him.

Ed's determination and drive, coupled with an amazingly positive and can-do attitude, has been nothing short of remarkable, and is a lesson to all of us.  Both Ed and his family have been dealt a hugely testing challenge, but the way he continues to strive forwards through this adversity, with an almost obssesive drive, and a smile on his face, is phenomenal.

Stay strong Ed, we're all thinking of you....


Dragons Pre Season Training - Supporters View

With the well received appointment of the New Dragons Head Coach Bernard Jackman, and the many change initiatives that have already been introduced into our Region, has come a more open and engaging attitude towards Supporters, which obviously we applaud and value greatly.

One of these new initiatives has been Bernard opening training sessions at Ystrad Mynach for Supporters to attend, and view for themselves his vision for the team, and the methods he intends to introduce.  What is clear already, is there is an intensity and clarity of thinking in training, with the Players aware of exactly what is expected of them.

The recurring theme of the Pre Season sessions we've witnessed so far, is core skills and decision making under fatigue, where Bernard and the staff will stress the players to physical limits and then encourage them to complete precise team runs or skill based drills replicating in-game conditions as much as practical.

The sessions have all been clearly well defined, with a fast and seamless transition between sets, and the players constantly on the move.  One such training run was fatiguing players through cardio and then resistance based stations, and then rotating through very accurate and high paced handling drills.  This was then continually repeated over, with high standards expected to be sustained throughout.

Throughout the training the mood and spirits within the squad seem high, and despite the physically brutal nature of the sessions, it is evident that the lads were enjoying the challenge and really thriving in the environment.

Anybody that has spent any time with this Dragons squad will undoubtedly testify that they are a superb group of guys, and to see them working without some of the stresses and baggage of last season is something that is really refreshing and encouraging for the season ahead.

With the much publicised number of young local talent within the Squad, Bernard has often stated that their continued development is down to the environment that he and his coaching staff develop and foster.  Watching training, and seeing some of our undoubtedly high quality young players being challenged and pushed to limits really bodes well for their continued progression in the game.

Once you start considering the names of some of the talent at the Region, the list becomes almost endless, with the likes of Leon Brown, Elliot Dee, Cory Hill, Max Williams, Robson Blake, Ollie Griffiths, Harri Keddie, James Benjamin a very small selection in the pack, and AOB, Dorian Jones, Arwel Robson, Jack Dixon, Tyler Morgan, Hallam Amos and Ashton Hewitt another small list of the young backs available to us.  With the right environment, access to the coaching and resources that will hopefully come next season, and the right amount of game-time, it would be great to imagine a number of those names being considered for international honours in the future. 

What is also notable about Bernard's well received intent to open training for Supporters is the time that the Players all make to engage with those that have taken the time to attend.  

It is fantastic to see this openness, and the intent to develop further the sense of a family within the Dragons' community.

From our perspective this not only fosters a far stronger bond between Supporters and their team, but also affords the Supporters the insight into how much it all means to the Players, and how much they value our time and Support.  

This is also highlighted by the efforts of Bernard Jackman himself, who will always take time out to come across and chat with Supporters, and often give up his time and resources to help coaches from the Region's community game.  This level of engagement and support with the Rugby community of our Region is to be applauded, and is something that is encouraging for the months ahead.

If you are a Dragons Supporter, or coach within the Region, we'd encourage you strongly to attend a few sessions at Ystrad Mynach when you can, it is a fascinating insight into the pro game, offers a number of rewarding experiences, and is overall a hugely positive experience. 

Dragons Supporter Q&A Jun 17 - Martyn Phillips, Stuart Davies & Bernard Jackman

Tuesday 20th Jun 2017 - The WRU CEO (Martyn Phillips), Dragons CEO (Stuart Davies) and newly appointed Dragons Head Coach (Bernard Jackman) spent the day with the Media briefing on the new branding for the Region, and their own vision and objectives.  At the end of this day they made the time to meet the Dragons' Supporters at Rodney Parade, and not only brief us all on these subjects, but spent majority of the available time with an open floor, in both a Q&A format, and also requesting feedback and 2-way discussions from the audience on a number of matters.

For those of the Dragons faithful that could not make it down to RP for the evening, the following is an attempt to provide a relatively concise list of some of the areas covered, and the headline responses/statements from the Dragons' Senior Leadership. 

- Martyn Phillips (MP) & Stuart Davies (SD) : Confirmation that all Legal requirements had been met, and that the WRU ownership would be formalized on 27th Jun 17. 

- SD : Discussed the process for redesign of the Logo, and decided upon a refresh with a sense of familiarity rather than a complete overhaul of the identity.

- SD : Acknowleding the loyalty and continued support demonstrated by the Region's Supporters it was announced that it had been decided that Season Ticket prices would be frozen for the coming season.  It was furthermore added that as a additional token of appreciation it was decided to extend this offer to encompass the next 3 seasons

- SD : The new Desso pitch would commence installation in coming weeks, and confident that the pitch could sustain 3 sides playing on the surface.  Additionally, all surrounding areas of the playing surface, behind posts, touchline and changing rooms, was to be a 3G surface to help durability.

- MP & SD : A lot of effort is being expended developing the Matchday experience at Rodney Parade, with intent to innovate to establish a 'buzz' around the Stadium, and establish and sustain the atmosphere that RP is famous for. 

- Bernard Jackman (BJ) : Provided outline of why he was so attracted to Welsh Rugby, with the love and passion for the game imbedded within it's culture.  He stated how incredibly proud he was to be representing the Supporters, and a proud and historic Rugby Region.  He felt honored, and having already discussed the position with a number of stakeholders, is clear on just what a strong Rugby community existed in the area. 

- BJ : Ambitious vision over the length of his current 3 year contract is to develop the structure of the Region, from top to bottom, to be capable of competing in, and sustaining, European Cup Rugby.  It was clear that this vision seemed unrealistic with current results and standings, but having been involved in transformations at Connacht and Leinster, is aware of what the environment needs to be, and what will need to change, to reach those goals.   Wants to change people's behaviors and skills for the long term.

 - BJ :  The top to bottom review will include the current Player Pathway in the Region, where the aim is to establish a system that inspires young players, and maximized their potential.  With such a wealth of young talent within the Region it was important that they were nurtured and developed in the right ways.  Stated players are a result of the environment they work in, and in response to a previous question over players leaving Dragons to be better elsewhere, BJ suggested that it provides evidence that other Regions/Clubs are capable of providing better environments.  BJ confirmed the intent to ensure that this will change, and no stone would be left unturned in the desire to introduce the correct environment for the Team to develop both individually and together.

- BJ : Responding to question on recruitment, BJ confirmed his intent to assess the players available within the Region, and implement what he wants in terms of aggression, high tempo, and expansive game plan.  During his time in France his team were noted for an aggressive style of Rugby, and high try scorers, that is his vision for the Region on the field, dynamic and powerful.  Whilst implementing this plan he intends to challenge personnel and make them increasingly accountable, in a stable yet challenging environment.  Once this foundation has been built, and clarity has been delivered over what is expected, he can assess what people can and cannot adapt to expectations, which will then inform recruitment.  Does not want to start in the role and 'blindly' recruit without assessing what he holds.  From the conversations held it appeared that the Autumn period would be the likely time when playing recruitment would be assessed, whilst the additions to backroom staff would commence as soon Bernard identified a requirement, and could identify the correct talent.

- BJ: Remembered his visits to RP, and what the atmosphere and support is like.  Wants the Dragons Supporters to play their part, and make it a very uncomfortable place to play.  Widening pitch to limits to get closer to supporters, and provided anecdotes about how difficult it was throwing in as a hooker on the RP touchline, and wants to ensure we all, the team and Supporters, make it a thoroughly horrible away trip for teams. 

- MP : Backed up BJ's view, and drove home message that the support he needs is there, and he will be backed in terms of recruitment etc when he identifies his requirements.  There is a finite playing budget, however there were very interested external investors identified.  The WRU and Dragons are carefully assessing the options presented, as they want to ensure the right people are brought onboard, with the best interests of the Region in the long term.  MP then opened the floor once more, and requested the audience broke into groups, and after a short period of reflection, provided him and SD with 'one thing you would change at the Region if you owned it'.  The audience then provided a list of ideas, in terms of Supporter engagement, ticketing, facilities, player development etc, an activity that provoked some healthy conversation and debate.

- BJ : After questions on his vision, Bernard confirmed that his desire was to leave the Region in a far greater, and far more stable position whenever he eventually departed.  This included a team that made the Supporters proud, players that had helped develop the right environment for people to flourish, and a wider Rugby Region that viewed the Dragons in a hugely positive light, and saw them as supportive and beneficial to them.  Intends to take his team, and his coaching staff around the Region as much as possible, to engage with the local coaches and players, from all age grades, and to build a sense of identity.  This will start very soon in terms of coaching sessions around the Region, and with a number of Summer Community Days across many of the Clubs.

- BJ : Briefed that he was aware that the changes planned would not come quickly, and that his vision may provide to be more challenging to deliver in the short term, but he stated he remained positive this was the correct path and environment to develop for the team.  As such he requested two things from the Supporters during the initial period of his appointment, patience and positivity.  BJ stated that significant change was being delivered, and part of that was changing the mood and the feel of the current environment.  He wanted to deliver a healthy, challenging and positive environment, both at training, and within the Stadium on Matchdays.  He intending to drive this message with the Media, and insisted that this is where the Supporters can help, by adopting a positive outlook on the team for the new season.   We can all shape how our Region is perceived, and by the tone we adopt, from how we talk to opposition supporters, to what we post on Social Media, BJ insisted that we can all help drive forward this change in vision and culture, and all play a part.

- MP & SD : Questions from the floor on facilities, from floodlighting, bars and disabled facilities.  SD confirmed that with WRU support RP could receive some much needed uplifts through the Summer, and although not all Agenda items could be delivered within this timeline, significant improvements would be made, and will continue to be made in future.  Of note was the state of disrepair of the Clubhouse, which it was not envisaged to continue past 12 months as a feasible venue.  It was therefore necessary to look at the reprovisioning of these facilities into the Matchday experience at the Stadium.

- BJ : In response to further questions on recruitment, BJ stated that alongside his determination to recruit correctly, once he assesses the ability of the squad to play his style of Rugby, it was also a difficult time of year to recruit the correct caliber of player.  BJ honestly insisted that as a Team we were not currently good enough to be recruiting the standard of player he wants to attract.  Therefore it was critical that the standards and environment were at the necessary level quickly, so that you can attract the right quality of player through the right messaging and with the aformentioned positivity.  BJ confirmed how he wants to develop the young Welsh talent, and therefore key in terms of recruitment are the correct players, in both ability and attitude, to provide the necessary mentoring of these young Dragons players. 

- WRU & Dragons Commercial : In response to question confirmed they will increase the research into the correct marketing of the Region, and an additional priority was valuing and showing appreciation to the current season ticket holders for their loyalty. 

- SD : Question raised on having a high profile and engaging kit launch this Summer, which was agreed would be beneficial and would be reviewed. 

- SD : In response to question confirmed that season ticket holders would be receiving a pack in the post early July.   

The formal event then came to a close, with a number of the Dragons and WRU teams staying behind to discuss any other questions with Supporters directly.  

If there are any questions regarding the event, or the matters discussed then please do not hesitate in contacting the team at the usual contact details below: 



Dragons Official Supporters Club


Twitter Acct:

Facebook Group:


Dragons/WRU Supporter Engagement Meetings

Immediately after the NRFC Shareholder vote to accept the WRU’s offer for the Dragons, both the WRU and Dragons teams’ immediately mobilised and put considerable effort into preparing for this forthcoming transfer of ownership, scheduled to take place around 01 Jul 17.  These efforts have been made in order to ensure all parties were fully prepared, and everything necessary was in place, to immediately hit the ground running on the takeover date, and implement a number of significant change initiatives.

In regards to a selection of these ongoing efforts, both Martyn Phillips (CEO WRU) and Stuart Davies (CEO Dragons) have put aside considerable amounts of time to reach out and proactively engage with the DOSC, in order to involve the Dragons Supporters as early on in this process as possible, and take time to consider the thoughts and feelings of the Supporters with regards to the future of the Region.  The intent to drive significant change within the Region (on and off the field) has been made clear, and the associated recognition that the Supporters’ will play a significant part in these efforts is something that we feel very optimistic about.

Region Engagement Meeting

The first of the meetings that the DOSC was invited to was the inaugural Regional Engagement session on 22 May 17, a meeting with participants such as; WRU, Dragons Board, Club & District Reps, Organisations such as ourselves and wider Stakeholders from around the Region.  The intent was to consult with the Region’s Rugby community, and gather feedback and thoughts on the specific areas for development and opportunity within the Region, and was something that was hoped would become a regular forum for debate moving forwards. 

This inaugural meeting was held at Eugene Cross Park in Ebbw Vale, with the intent to take these meetings to locations around the Region, to continue the discussion on matters that effect the game across our Region (Pro, Club, Ladies, Junior, Girls etc) and continue to engage with many of the key stakeholders within these areas

The attendees were invited to use the session to discuss with Martyn Phillips (MP), Stuart Davies (SD) and Ryan Jones (WRU Head of Participation) their opinions and observations with regards to encouraging debate on the strategy and direction for Rugby within the Region. Both MP and SD briefed that although a significant amount of effort was being expended within both the Dragons and WRU teams, examining the future vision, goals and strategy for the Dragons Pro Team, and Rugby within the Region, it was imperative that these areas were discussed and reviewed alongside such ‘focus groups’ of the local Rugby community, working together to deliver change in a joined up approach.

A selection of the areas discussed were:

  • What does success at the Dragons look like?  Winning team, local talent, increased investment, exciting brand of Rugby?
  • Increased connection to the Clubs in Region, with Pro Team seen as an asset and offering support and benefit to the Clubs.
  • The appetite to deliver Pro Rugby at Club grounds around the Region?  Feedback on the Blues Game at Caerphilly as an 'event', and appetite to repeat with carefully selected fixtures.
  • Use of Pro Rugby to influence and grow participation in Region (Pro12 curtain raisers etc) particularly at Junior/Girls levels.
  • Creating a ‘family’ environment within Region with players/coaches having increased connections to the Community and Club game.
  • Invest in continued local coach development and a fundamental review of the structure and goals of the Region's current Player Development Pathway.
  • Branding and Marketing of Dragons as the Region’s Pro Team.  What does this entail?  Greater communication/engagement with Clubs?  Club Representation at Dragons Increased?
  • Use of Hub Officers in Marketing and growth of Dragons Regional Support Network and growing the Game/driving School levels consistency.
  • Reduce conflict between Club/Pro fixtures wherever practicable.  Friday night 19:30 most optimum solution for Pro Game?
  • Possible fast-tracking of some of the pathway concepts and the heaviliy researched improvements that Ryan Jones and team have completed into the Dragons Region?
  • North Wales’ Rugby appetite, and some of the Community success’ in that Region.
  • Series of engagement sessions with Supporters, Clubs, Schools, Partners etc to communicate vision for Dragons and gather feedback continuously.
  • Facilities at Rodney Parade require addressing, playing surface and general stadia facilities fatigued.  
  • Facilities in Community Game, and the appetite to increase 3G pitch footprint to encourage participation.  Ryan Jones has a paper researching such plans, warning on the excessive running costs of such a facility as a caveat to stakeholders.
  • New Dragons Board, what would makeup of Board Members be representative of in future?  Felt to be very important, where personnel, and the relevant skills they bring, could prove to be key to the Region moving forwards.
  • open Trg Sessions/Team runs across Region to engage and involve Club Coaches, Juniors etc.
  • Exiles program.  Paul Turner briefed on the intent to continue to identify Welsh Talent playing outside of Wales.  Feasibility of bringing talent back to Dragons Region in order to get into the Welsh Pathway.

The feeling from the meeting held was that it was a very positive start, with some very important topics raised, and had valuable input from a number of sources.  All of these debates were held within a context of how this forthcoming change at the Dragons could be utilised to drive many improvements, enhance relationships, offer greater support, and increase participation at all levels of the game across the Region.

It is envisaged that a follow up meeting will be arranged by the WRU at another location within the Region in coming weeks/months, and we hope it will continue to build on this gaining momentum, and continue to involve the Region’s Rugby community in these discussions.  


Supporter Engagement Meeting

The second meeting was held with both MP and SD on 31 May, where they both took the time to support a session with the DOSC, in order to discuss the recommendations and findings of last season’s Supporters Survey, and ensure early discussions were held with the Supporters’ prior to the forthcoming change to WRU ownership.  Martyn and Stuart were very keen to listen to this feedback, and from our perspective it was good to see them both so enthusiastic and positive in terms of trying to understand the Supporters perspectives, and review what recommendations/observations had been made.  It seemed very important to both MP and SD that the views of the Region’s loyal Supporter base were taken on board, and it is hoped that these views will help to inform the future direction in many areas for the Region, and identify where some of the coming efforts could be focussed.

Areas that were discussed were:

  • Playing Surface. 
  • Rodney Parade facilities in areas sub-standard.
  • Playing style (second half of season specifically).
  • Fundraising for Ed Jackson.
  • DOSC Survey results.
  • Match Day experience.
  • Increase presence of Dragons memorabilia etc to develop heritage/history of Region.
  • Family Zone’s match day role.
  • Curtain raisers at RP for Juniors/Girls etc
  • Increase in Supporter engagement events.
  • Developing closer ties between Supporters and team.
  • Summer Tour of Dragons to Clubs.
  • Reciprocal Ticketing offers to/from Region’s Clubs to encourage support at both.
  • Greater transparency to Supporters from Rugby (injuries, training etc).

The meeting held was very open and honest, with the discussions around areas the Supporters would like to see improvements discussed clearly, and received in a very positive manner.  Both Martyn and Stuart were very open to such observations, and it seems are keen to ensure that the Supporters are heavily involved in the future improvements within the Region, and the Rodney Parade Match Day.  This was a very productive initial Supporter focussed meeting, which we are aware MP and SD are both keen to repeat face to face with open Supporters Forums/Q&As in the very near future.

What we would like to emphasise from this meeting is that the time taken by our members to complete the Surveys we distribute (electronically and hard copy on match days) prove invaluable.  The results and recommendations made in these Surveys play a major part in ensuring we are communcating your feelings to the Dragons directly, and for those that took the time to complete them last season we cannot thank you enough for the value they added to these early discussions.


Joint Supporter Group Meeting

The third meeting was with Martyn Phillips on 6th Jun, at the WRU Centre of Excellence in the Vale Resort.  This meeting involved the DOSC acting as the Dragons’ Supporters representatives at the regular Joint Supporters Group meeting with the WRU.  This meeting is a reasonably regular commitment the WRU make, where the Region’s formal Supporter representative organisations meet with the WRU to discuss wider strategic issues with Welsh Rugby, or questions/ideas that have come forward from their respective members. 

The areas discussed were:

  • Pro 12 expansion. Discussions over the potential expansion of the competition, with significant interest from SA, USA and Germany.  Intent to bridge financial divide with other competitions, but player welfare remained a key factor in discussions.
  • Future makeup of RSA.  Regions and WRU in a far more ‘joined up’ position since the last RSA was agreed.  Discussions slowly underway on what new agreement would look like, with a focus on clearing up and simplifying the Selection Policy (Gatland’s Law), and the Region’s business models and Academy/Skills Development areas.
  • Alignment of National Team/Regions.  International Players hosting skills clinics at the Regions was seen as a positive, with 100’s of attendees at Justin Tipuric’s recent clinic.
  • RGC progress.  Progressing well, with good infrastructure in place and huge appetite for the Game within the Region.
  • WRU Supporters Club.  Request to review whether greater alignment could be put in place between WRU Supporters’ Club and the Region’s representative bodies.
  • Judgment Day.  Review of timing of Event, should it be sooner in season (even season curtain raiser) to try and draw more Support into the Game.
  • Digital Strategy.  WRU confirmed that considerable efforts had been made on online Surveys and research to understand areas of Regional and WRU Support and participation.  These efforts were expended to attempt to greater understand the areas for development, and what the Supporters’ valued and prioritised.
  • Recruiting of Coaching Staff.  WRU confirmed that the National coaches work together with the Regions on Coaching matters, and although no formal arrangements in place, Regions have approached Warren Gatland previously for support and input.  The WRU also hold a succession plan for all coaches, with an aim to nurture and foster the future of Welsh coaching.
  • Welsh Premiership.  WRU currently aware of the fluctuating nature of the Welsh Premiership, and the challenges it faces in bridging the gap between Pro and Semi Pro Rugby.  This was not lost on WRU, who agreed it was an area that was being examined, and would remain important to resolve in the medium/long term.

Our major takeaway from this meeting was just how much effort is being expended by Martyn Phillips and his team to improve matters across Welsh Rugby, and how proactive they are being in trying to bridge the perceived financial gaps across the Pro Rugby competitions.  Additionally, we would suggest the working relationships between the WRU and the Regions have never been stronger, which is really positive to observe, and will hopefully help drive necessary improvements across all areas.


Future Dragons Supporter Engagement

A further meeting has been now been set up for Monday 19th Jun with the DOSC meeting with Stuart Davies, Martyn Phillips and the new head coach of the Dragons, Bernard Jackman.  This is for the committee to discuss the new vision for the Dragons on and off the field with the Senior Leadership team, understand what part the Supporters can play in the forthcoming changes within the Region, arrange details of future Supporter based events, and help inform the upcoming DOSC AGM.  

The clear appetite for the Dragons and the WRU to continue to engage with us so transparently and frequently provides us with confidence and optimism, and hopefully this continued dialogue will help ensure the feelings and observations of the Dragons Supporters are considered throughout the upcoming changes to the Region.  On a separate note, It has also been very encouraging to see our new Head Coach (Bernard Jackman) taking so much time after his appointment to engage with Supporters on Social Media etc, from these early discussions he seems a very popular appointment, and a sincere and genuine man.  We very much look forward to arranging some events in the Summer for him to meet with Supporters, and discuss his vision for the team and the Region over a drink.

On that it is only fitting that we offer a word of thanks to our outgoing Head Coach, Kingsley Jones, who held the position through what, if we are honest, were pretty challenging times.  We would like to thank Kingsley for his dedicated efforts at the Region, his commitment to the development of our young players, and from our perspective, his support to the DOSC's initial establishment and our Supporter events.  We would like to wish Kingsley all the best in his new role with the WRU, and the exiles program, something we hope continues to drive strong young talent into the Region.



From the meetings already held, and the further meetings scheduled to occur in coming days, it is clear just how much effort is being expended by the Dragons, and the WRU, to try and drive significant improvements and change within the Region.  The meetings which the DOSC have been invited to thus far are obviously only a small percentage of the total effort, but from what we’ve seen in these forums, the appetite to ensure the views of Supporters, and wider stakeholders are reviewed and discussed are laudable, and prove a very promising start indeed.

This is encapsulated by the early enthusiasm that Martyn Phillips, Stuart Davies and Bernard Jackman have shown with regards to organising opportunities to meet up with Supporters and openly discuss their thoughts and intent for next season.  It is exciting to see such openness and positivity, and it cannot help but excite us over what is undoubtedly a new dawn for the team and wider Region.

With the Region’s Leadership so open to engage, from our perspective we’d obviously encourage all Dragons Supporters to continue to discuss your ideas, observations or concerns with us when/where you can.  We can assure you that the views expressed in these communications prove invaluable, and as your representatives, will continue to be communicated to the Dragons in a clear and professional manner.  

As such, we will plan to design a pre-season Supporter Survey in the coming weeks, in order to ensure we continue to capture the thoughts and feelings of the loyal Supporters, and we’d encourage you to take the time to share your thoughts with us, as we hope the above examples illustrate, there is a real passion and enthusiasm to listen to your thoughts at the highest levels.

The last few weeks have increased the sense of optimism for the season ahead, and although patience will undoubtedly be required, we remain hugely encouraged by the positive intent from all involved to drive increased support and improvements in Rugby across all areas within our Region.  Many of us have stuck through the Dragons, home and away, through thick and thin, we hope all the efforts being made, and the positive intent thus far, will hopefully result in a bit more ‘thick’ than 'thin' in the coming years….