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: 

 

#SUFTMOG

Dragons Official Supporters Club

Email: contact.us@dragonssupportersclub.com

Twitter Acct: https://twitter.com/DragonsOffic_SC

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/214242215641004/

 

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).
  • DOSC AGM.

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.

 

Conclusions

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….

#SUFTMOG

 

 

Worthington's Dragons Supporters' Player of the Season 16/17

Worthington's Dragons Supporters Player of the Season 2016/17

To register your vote for the Dragons' Player of the Season, sponsored by Worthington's, simply select the player from the shortlist below.  

The player shortlist has been selected by the Dragons' Coaching staff, and they would very much like for the Supporters to make the final decision on the player who it is felt has contributed the most this season.

Voting for the award closes 10:00am on Thursday 11th May.

 

Sorry, Voting is now closed for the Worthington's Dragons Supporters' Player of the Season 2016/17.

Dragons Supporters' Q&A with Stuart Davies & Kingsley Jones

Rodney Parade Ltd CEO Stuart Davies and Dragons Head Coach Kingsley Jones have agreed to hold a Supporters Q&A with all Dragons Supporters at Rodney Parade on Thursday 23rd March 2017.

The event itself will be held in the Business Suite, in the Bisley Stand at Rodney Parade, and is scheduled to commence at 19:00.  The bar will be open for refreshments for the attendees.  

If any Dragons' Supporters cannot make the event, but wish to ensure that a particular line of discussion is covered, please get in touch with the team at: contact.us@dragonssupportersclub.com and we'll endeavour to ensure your point is covered.

Meeting between DOSC and Wales Online

Following the publishing of a number of Dragons related articles in Wales Online, a significant number of members of both the DOSC and the wider Dragons Supporter Community requested that we contacted Media Wales in order to raise a number of points of clarity, and ask for a discussion on concerns over the generally perceived tone and content of reporting against the Dragons recently.  

Prior to engaging with Media Wales the DOSC discussed these concerns with a large number of stakeholders, both within the Dragons ‘family’ and external through the Joint Supporters Group.  These discussions were to ensure that the message relayed to Media Wales wasn't overly emotive, and therefore easily dismissed or perceived as paranoia from a parochial group of Dragons Supporters.  The consistent message across these discussions was an agreement that an element of the recent reporting against the Dragons was perceived as lacking wider context and overly negative in both tone and message.

With these discussions completed the DOSC formally wrote to Wales Online, and to their credit Media Wales immediately responded to the correspondence.  Their response was constructive, and highlighted the urgency of meeting face to face to discuss the perceived issues discussed.  Very generously both Paul Abbandonato (Head of Sport, Media Wales) and Paul Rowland (Editor in Chief, Media Wales) made their time available at very short notice to discuss our concerns in great detail.  They openly communicated that as a Media outlet they endeavour to speak as a voice of Supporters, and pride themselves on this, be it in relation to Football/Rugby at a International, Regional or Club level.  It is this intent that resulted in them placing such an importance on holding this meeting, and to their credit, researching in detail the accusations and requests for clarity made within our correspondence.

This meeting was therefore held in the Media Wales office, where a number of recently published Wales Online articles were reviewed in detail, and constructive dialogue was held regarding the concerns discussed on the general tone and content being overly negative and critical, with the perceived use of inflammatory and antagonistic language.  The DOSC requested that Media Wales considered the assertions made, especially when considered in wider context involved with the stories, such as results of other Pro12 teams in similar fixtures, and the financial/resource disparity between the Dragons and the other Pro12 teams.

A very productive dialogue then followed, where both Paul Abbandonato and Paul Rowland acknowledged that some headlines and parts of stories could be perceived by Dragons fans as unnecessarily negative, unhelpful, and could be viewed as overly critical when considering the context to the story in question. 

However, two Paul’s each felt that whilst other articles were also seen as critical of the Dragons, they actually also had lots of positive elements to them. They fully  understood why the focus from fans would be on the negative aspects, particularly the ongoing references to attendances, which seem to be something of a bugbear.  They pointed out that sport evokes passions and emotions and they have had to deal with these type of issues in the past with all of Wales’ mainstream rugby teams, as well as football.

To offer contrast they both offered a number of other stories written about the Dragons over the past few months that had a very positive message. Examples of those have been sent to the DOSC and they politely requested that these be considered in addition to the focus given to the negative aspects of stories.

The meeting drew to a close, with both parties coming to a good understanding on a suitable path forward, where they could work together, with a little compromise from each side, to improve the current situation and relationship.  The Media Wales team acknowledged some of the accusations made, and agreed to review the focus and tone of the some of the reporting, whilst the DOSC agreed to communicate and feedback to the Dragons community this intention, and to ensure the balance of positive reporting was also presented.

WalesOnline plan to write a big piece on ‘Where Newport Gwent Dragons/ Gwent rugby goes from here and how it can succeed.’ This is intended to be a constructive overview of what has happened to date, an analysis of the financial situation and what needs to take place next in order for one of Wales’ real rugby hot-beds to start thriving again. They plan to interview a number of people for this article, including the Dragons Official Supporters Club. We will welcome the input.

Both parties agreed that this meeting was not attempting to influence the reporting of Wales Online to a point of blind and unwavering positivity, just applying context and consistency to the tone of coverage.

Meeting between Dragons Management and DOSC Committee

Members of the Dragons Official Supporters’ Club Committee met with Stuart Davies and Katie Vizard of Dragons Rugby on Monday 6th March 2017 to discuss the growing concerns of supporters of the region.

Ahead of the meeting, the DOSC committee sent Stuart Davies an email with a collation of questions for his attention that Dragons fans had put to the DOSC over the previous week. The DOSC committee also shared questions and suggestions relating to this Blues fixture which fans had raised at the, public Q&A organised by the DOSC held on February 22nd, these included:-  

  • Will there be transport available for any disabled supporters who wish to attend?
  • Following transport, one of the largest concerns is access to food and drink.  There must be sufficient food and drink available at the chosen venue for the predicted crowd size. 
  • Could a beer/food festival be organised to coincide with the event? With the opportunity for the region to recoup some financial losses by charging vendors to sell at the game?
  • Who will have ownership of commercial operations on the day?  Will it be the venue chosen or will NGD be hiring the ground and therefore have ownership of which food and drink facilities are available?
  • A 'fanzone' of aforementioned vendors at the venue would help create the atmosphere and Rugby festival feel. Could current DOSC partners such as Mission Burrito, Oddball, Tiny Rebels etc be approached to support 'event', and foster the 'Dragons family' culture.
  • Will there be sufficient staffing to ensure that fans are served food/drink in a timely manner? Will this be affected by Newport County’s fixture at Rodney Parade?
  • With a restricted capacity of tickets available for this fixture transparency of ticket allocation and pricing.  Following hospitality/corporate, season ticket holders, non-season ticket members – where will the tickets go in order of priority? Can they be offered to people who have purchased tickets from the region for another game this season?  Can they be offered for sale to community rugby clubs within Gwent? Where do the Blues come in this?  Will the away ticket allocation be reduced in percentage as per the reduction in capacity?
  • Can free pint/drink voucher be offered on top of existing voucher offer – for inconvenience.
  • Could any left over 2 for 1 vouchers be honoured for this fixture, as they have already been costed for.
  • Will there be live music at the venue akin to the experience of the WFAC Family Zone?
  • If the fixture is a success – will taking games around the region become a regular fixture in the future?

Stuart Davies acknowledged receipt of the questions, thanked fans for their input and confirmed that a public Q & A will be held with fans, at which he will respond to such questions directly, when further information can be disclosed about future investment in the region.

Following this, the two areas that were discussed predominantly during the meeting were the ongoing talks with potential investors and the relocation of the Blues match to a ground within the region.

With regards to the former, Stuart Davies reiterated that the seeking of new investment for the region had been a long and complex process, with the landscape changing along the way, but that he was confident that the region would be in a position to announce further details in the near future. He was, however, able to reiterate and confirm that the Newport Gwent Dragons would be remaining in Gwent at their home at Rodney Parade and that the region would not be moving to North Wales.

The second item that was discussed was the relocation of the Blues fixture to a ground within the region. The DOSC asked, on behalf of a number of our supporters who has raised it, whether the Principality Stadium had been considered as a venue for hosting the Blues derby. Stuart responded by stating that moving the game to the Principality Stadium would, in effect, be giving the Blues home advantage in one of our biggest games of the season. It was also a consideration that it would come quick on the heels of the Judgement Day fixtures and a desire to keep the fixture within Gwent. The venue has yet to be finalised but an announcement is due shortly. Again, there are many complex issues to consider. Stuart has the feedback from our supporter engagement and is taking those issues into account.

In summary, a positive and worthwhile meeting, even if the finer detail we all wish to know could not be disclosed for obvious and understandable reasons. The general feeling was that of a positive future for the region.

DOSC Committee

In the Dragons' Eye - Opposition Preview - Glasgow Warriors

Opposition view:

Glasgow Warriors

Quick facts:

League position: 6th

European position: 2nd

Stadium: Scotstoun

Capacity: 6,600 (can be extended to 10,000)

League form:

Glasgow started the season with an emphatic 41-5 away victory at reigning champions Connacht. Since then, results have been mixed leaving the club in 6th position having already lost four matches at home this season. The Warriors lost 25-16 away at the Ospreys in their last game, leaving them without a league win since January 7th.

European form:

Glasgow face a daunting trip to the Allianz Park to take on Saracens in the Champions Cup quarter-finals. That “reward” comes after navigating tricky opposition in Munster, Leicester and Racing 92. The Scottish side were particularly impressive in two emphatic victories against the Tigers, including a thumping 43-0 away victory at Welford Road.

How to get to the stadium:

By car:

There is no public parking available at the stadium on match-day so cars are discouraged by our hosts.

By rail:

The closest railway stations, Scotstounhill and Jordanhill, are around 15-20 minutes’ walk away from the stadium.

From the city centre:

Taxis to the stadium are quite cheap if you are travelling in a group, but buses can also be taken to the stadium. The stadium is on the route of the First Bus Number X4, and they run every 10 minutes.

Best place to eat and drink (inside the stadium):

For drink, there are various booths dotted around the stadium as-well as the clubhouse. However, the clubhouse has limited capacity so do arrive early to ensure you can get in.

There are many food outlets within the ground.  Martha’s Kitchen, which does a wide selection of food at a good price, comes highly recommended. Apparently, it is mandatory at Scottish league games to sell Scotch Pies so why not indulge yourself – when in Rome and all that.

Best place to eat and drink (outside the ground):

The West End is recommended for food but you will need to catch the metro to Hillhead or Kelvinhall to sample its delights. The main hub for food is Byres Road with Balbir’s the preferred choice of Glasgow supporters.

There are two pubs near to the ground - Granny Gibbs on Dumbarton Road (5-minutes’ walk from the ground) and the Three Craws on Crow Road (15-minutes’ walk and adjacent to Jordanhill station). So plenty of choices at which to celebrate a good win.

The city-centre also has a wide array of options and is about 20-minutes from the stadium.

What the Glasgow fans think:

Their best players:

Glasgow have 16 players in Scotland’s 6 nations’ squad and 2 injuries to key players. The most notable of those absentees are Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg. Despite this, they are still a dangerous side, with Nick Grigg, Tim Swinson and Ryan Wilson all highly thought of by the Warriors faithful.

Dragons best players:

Glasgow fans have spoken unanimously on the 3 players they are looking out for. They are Lewis Evans, Adam Hughes and Ashton Hewitt.

Chances:

The Glasgow fans I have spoken with seem very cagey about this encounter.  The general consensus though is they will sneak it within 5 points.

Prediction:

It is no secret that our recent record against Glasgow is poor. However, I thought we played very well against them at Rodney Parade and were unlucky to get nothing for our efforts.

We need to respond well after last week’s defeat to Leinster and Glasgow might be the right team at the right time. We need to get a win and Glasgow are in a bit of a rut at the moment. That said, they still have a wealth of talent at their disposal who will want to turn a corner and fight to maintain their places in the squad when the 6 nations is over.

I will go for a sneaky away victory and a chance to leapfrog Edinburgh in the table.

Prediction:

Glasgow 18 – 21 Dragons

Ryan Robinson – Dragons Community Ambassador

#SUFTMOG

Meeting between Dragons Management and DOSC Committee

Following the region's disappointing performance in last weekend's league fixture against Leinster, the DOSC requested a meeting with Stuart Davies and the Dragons management team.

This request has been accepted and the meeting is due to take place on the evening of Monday 6th March.

We plan to ask a number of questions that Dragons fans want answers to, these include:-

- The reason for the decline in performances on the field and what the business plans to do to improve them.

- The reasons for inconsistent team selections from week to week and selection policy.

- Explanations over recent contract renewal decisions.

- Further information regarding the Blues fixture.

- An update on the investment discussions, particularly in light of today's Wales Online article which suggests that the region is to be taken over by the WRU.

- Plans for next season.

If you would like any question asked which is not covered above, please feel free to email us at contact.us@dragonssupportersclub.com. We will update supporters on the content of our discussion after the meeting.

Please be aware that the region are also keen to hold a public Q & A with fans, and we will publish details about this when we have them.

Yours sincerely

Dragons Official Supporters' Club Committee

Supporters Q&A - Blues Fixture

In order to ensure the needs and expectations of the Dragons Supporters are taken into account for the upcoming end of season fixture with the Cardiff Blues, which is scheduled to be moved elsewhere across the Region, the DOSC will be holding an open meeting with Dragons Supporters. 

This meeting will take place downstairs (The Cwtch) in Tiny Rebels, Newport at 8 pm on Weds 22nd Feb.  We'd encourage attendance for us to be able to discuss the situation itself, and ensure you have the opportunity to provide the DOSC with your thoughts and ideas for how best to deliver this Fixture from a Supporters perspective. 

These discussions will then form a key part of the future meetings the DODC will be holding with the Dragons in the coming weeks, to ensure the needs of the Supporters are taken into consideration, and influence the planning process accordingly. 

The situation, and the circumstances that has led to movement of the fixture, is obviously a concern for a number of Supporters, however with the decision now made,  it is critical that we work together with the Region to make this event as successful as possible, and make the event itself as memorable and enjoyable for all of those involved.

#StandUpForTheMenOfGwent

The DOSC get around....Gwent club rugby

Pontypool RFC Fans pack CAP in their 2nd round cup match on Saturday.

Pontypool RFC Fans pack CAP in their 2nd round cup match on Saturday.

With the Dragons away at Connacht and kicking off at 7.30pm, the DOSC spread its wings throughout the grounds of Gwent on Saturday (and Sunday) to sample some of the rugby that the region's finest had to offer, and we weren't disappointed! We witnessed a derby, a very well promoted bowl game and a David vs Golliath cup match which ended with a victory that will go down as one of the victor's finest. Oh yes, club rugby is certainly alive and well and breathing fire in the Dragons' region! 

Below we provide a synopsis of the games we attended. Congratulations to all the victors and thank you for having us! 

Chepstow Grind Out Win Over Gritty Monmouth

The first game the DOSC watched was the East Gwent derby at the Memorial Ground where high flyers Chepstow RFC entertained their close rivals Monmouth RFC.

Chepstow came into the game sitting 2nd in the table, having only lost twice all season, and were, in this reporters eyes, favourites to take the spoils over mid table Monmouth. The hosts certainly started the brighter of the two, spending the first ten minutes camped firmly in the opposition's 22m, but they failed to turn that pressure into points, turning the ball over and allowing Monmouth's backline, whose outside centre looked particularly dangerous, to run the ball up the other end of the field.

The first 10 minutes set the tone for the game, with Chepstow looking the more physical in the contact area and strong at the set piece, and Monmouth looking the pacier and more clinical out wide. It was the latter who drew first blood when a poor clearance kick lead to a string of neat passes to put their winger over in the corner.

Chepstow responded through their lineout, and a well worked pushover score saw them claw the game back to 7-5, and a further kicked penalty put them into an 8-7 lead.

Monmouth, starved of possession for long periods, still looked dangerous on the counter attack, and they were unlucky not to be ahead shortly before the break when another incisive run from their backline was only thwarted by an excellent scramble defence from Chepstow, which meant they maintained their lead at half time.

The second half started much like the first, again Chepstow going to their forward pack, setting up a series of mauls, including one from open play which was straight out of Italy's 6n playbook, and powering over from short range to make it 13-7.

To their credit, Monmouth did not give up, but in the last 20 minutes Chepstow's bench really made an impact, with their big ball carrying replacement centre looking particularly menacing. A line break from Chepstow's answer to Mathieu Basteraud resulted in good phase play in the 22 before going over to score out wide. 20-7.

The scores remained the same despite Chepstow pushing hard for the 4 try bonus point, while Monmouth also had a couple of chances to claw a try back which would have seen them claim a losing bonus point. The result sees Chepstow stay in the hunt for promotion to Division 2 East next season.

FT: Chepstow 20 - 7 Monmouth

The Cheesemen Drop Taff's Down the Well

Regional Touch: Caerphilly with the Region's logo on their strip

Regional Touch: Caerphilly with the Region's logo on their strip

While Chepstow and Monmouth were getting stuck into each other in the East of the region, Caerphilly RFC were in National Bowl action in the West and welcomed their friends from down the A468, Taffs Well RFC, to the Constructaquote Stadium. Caerphilly, currently plying their trade in Division 3 East A, are in fine league form this year and find themselves a few points off the leaders with a number of games in hand due to their bowl exploits. 

This fixture had certainly benefited from some excellent promotion and a crowd of around 750 witnessed a clinical display from the green army as they raced into a 24-0 half time lead.

The Cheesemen started the second half in the same vein, adding another two scores to extend their lead to 38 - 0. Taffs Well, to their credit, did not give up and claimed a consolation score around the hour mark and a second try close to the end with the final score being 41-14 to Caerphilly.

This was a fine display against a very good Taffs Well team who themselves made it to the Principality Stadium in the same competition last year. We would like to pass on our congratulations to Caerphilly and wish them well as they fly the flag for the Dragons' region for the remainder of the competition.

FT: Caerphilly 41 - 14 Taffs Well

While there is only one Gwent representative in the Bowl, the Plate is graced with two Gwent entrants, as Penallta RFC and Abercarn RFC both came through their ties yesterday. Penallta narrowly beat near neighbours Nelson and Abercarn winning what sounded like a cracker at Pwllheli. Best of luck to both sides and here's hoping you make it an all Gwent affair in the final!

Pooler Show Where They Belong

BJ Tweet.jpg

Cardiff vs Pontypool, a mouth watering fixture regardless of context, was always going to be the pick of the club fixtures on Saturday - and it didn't disappoint, with Pontypool, currently in the Championship, claiming a famous victory over the Welsh Premiership club and, quite frankly, making a mockery of the WRU's decision to ring fence that league.

Any burglars would have a field day in Pontypool on Saturday night as what seemed like half the town had packed CAP to witness their side's win. Allegations of skulduggery were awash as Pooler officials were made to wait outside the ground until after 5pm, and fans were left queuing outside the ground due to a lack of stewarding, but it mattered not in the end as the team rose to the challenge of a Cardiff side that contained a number of full time professionals to win 43-32. 

The DOSC members who did attend the game are lifelong Pooler fans and so, unsurprisingly, are yet to provide a report, but you can read a proper write up of the game on the Argus website here.

All that is left for us to say is a massive congratulations to Ben Jeffreys, Leighton Jones and all associated with the club. We wish you the very best of luck in the next round. (All Gwent affair anyone?)

Young Men of Gwent Downed By Baby Scarlets

The DOSC made their way up to Ystrad Mynach on Sunday afternoon to observe the Gwent production line as the Dragons North U16s took on their Scarlets East counterparts.

The Scarlets, coached by current player and former Wales U20 captain Steffan Hughes, started the brighter of the two teams and went into a 10-0 lead following some excellent back play and handling.

The Dragons rallied to bring the score back to 10-10, but while they were always physically competitive, a trait that one would expect from a North Gwent side, their handling let them down with passes being made either behind the runner, making him check his run, or too high or low to catch. The young Dragons worked themselves into good positions on a number of occasions but failed to turn pressure into points.

That being said, they never gave up and managed to score 4 tries and 22 points, it is just that the Scarlets managed 44 of their own to take the spoils back west with them.