NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS 2011/12
One of the greatest mistakes in the history of Newport rugby was the partnership with Ebbw Vale to form the Gwent Dragons regional rugby side. The new team launched on July 28 2003 was an unmitigated disaster with Marcus Russell at the helm. Only a small number signed up for season tickets and Newport supporters collected 10,000 signatures for the City to be included in the name. Despite his initial error Newport backer Tony Brown stepped in on August 21 2003, renaming the side 'Newport Gwent Dragons'. The team is now run as a joint arrangement between Newport and the WRU under the management of Rodney Parade Limited. Newport fans were further alienated when a Director, Martyn Hazell, asked them not to shout 'Newport' at home games. From difficult beginnings the team has now established a core support of 4-5,000 but has failed to make any inroads in the Celtic League or European Cup. It is coached by Paul Turner, his record is little short of disastrous. Since 2005 the region has not finished above 7th in the Celtic League and has been the bottom placed Welsh side in all but one of his seasons at Rodney Parade. For more information go to http://www.newportgwentdragons.com/
News regularly updated
WASPS CLASH FOR NGDs IN AMLIN
June 14 - Newport Gwent Dragons face Black and Amber opposition in Europe this year as they take on London Wasps in the junior tournament, the Amlin Cup. The Newport based region have been drawn in Pool 3 of the Amlin Challenge Cup for the 2012/2013 alongside London Wasps, Bayonne and Rugby Mogliano of Italy.
The Dragons will face off against Wales scrum-half, Mike Phillips' Bayonne side as well as coming up against ex-Blues coach Dai Young's London Wasps outfit which also counts ex-Dragons coach Paul Turner as part of their back room staff.
The five Pool winners will progress into the quarter-finals where they will be joined by three Pool runners-up from the Heineken Cup.
The Ospreys easily accounted for the NGDS 30-12 at the Liberty Stadium before the Dragons lost 22-18 to Leinster at RP.
TREVISO EDGE OUT NGDS
Apr 14 - Italian side Treviso edged out Newport Gwent Dragons 33-32 at Rodney Parade yesterday evening. Aled Brew (twice), Toby Faletau and Adam Hughes scored for the Dragons. Alessandro Zanni, Luke McLean, star fly-half Kris Burton and centre Alberto Sgarbi went over for the visitors. Burton also added two conversions, two penalties and a drop-goal n his 18-point haul.
Admission to the match could not be given away. All club season ticket holders in the region were offered free admission but even that could not generate interest in the regional rugby match with only 5,168 attending. Treviso beat the NGDs in their fixture in Italy by 50 points to 24.
BURNS FORCED TO RETIRE
Apr 12 - Wales hooker Lloyd Burns has been forced to retire. Medical tests have revealed Burns, who has been out of action since January, has damaged his aorta.
"His enforced retirement has come as a massive shock to Lloyd and his family," said Dragons director Robert Beale. Burns, who made 33 appearances for the Dragons, played for Cross Keys in the Principality Premiership.
Comment - The NGDs are linked with out of favour Tom Prydie as a wing / full back replacement for the departing Martyn Thomas. Prydie is currently with Wasps on a short term loan from the Ospreys. Most leading Welsh players are playing in the English and French leagues next season due to the ongoing collapse in interest in regional rugby and the RaboDirect competition. In a hopeful sign the English and French clubs are insisting that future Heineken Cup participation is based on finishing position in the Rabo Direct rather than guaranteed places for Scots, Irish etc. One day someone will also realise that promotion/relegation is the lifeblood of club competition!
CONNACHT BASH DRAGS
Mar 31 - Irish cinderella province
Connacht beat their Welsh equivalent 27-19 at Rodney Parade. Connacht's
Tongan winger Fetu'u Vainikolo scored two tries. For the Newport Gwent
Dragons crossed late on.
NGDs WIN ON ROAD AGAIN
Mar 24 - Tonderai Chavhanga scored two tries as Newport Gwent Dragons beat Edinburgh 29-15. Wing Chavhanga crossed in the first half, with Steffan Jones converting both tries and adding two penalties for a 23-12 lead at the break. Lewis Robling took over the kicking duties to add another six points. Edinburgh's only reply was a Harry Leonard penalty, adding to his four successful first-half efforts. Attendance - 4459
DRAGONS PLAYERS SHOWN THE DOOR
Mar 8 - Newport Gwent Dragons are releasing the following players for 2012/13 - Full back Martyn Thomas, centre Tom Riley, number eight Hugo Ellis, scrum-half James Leadbeater, hooker Rhys Buckley, tight head prop Gethin Robinson, lock Royce Cadman and flanker Rhys Jenkins.
BRILLIANT TRY BUT DRAGONS RUN OUT OF STEAM
Mar 4 - Munster's bench was the difference between the two teams at Newport as the Dragons lost 24-14 despite scoring a brilliant try. Munster climbed to second in the Pro12 table The home side had led 11-9 at the interval thanks to a try by captain Ashley Smith which was created by a sparkling break from Will Harries. But using their bench wisely the visitors scored 15 points in the last 12 minutes. Luke O'Dea and Felix Jones crossed for tries to inflict the only Dragons' second home league defeat of the season.
LATE PENALTY TRY WINS IT
Feb 25 - Newport Gwent Dragons edged a tight Pro12 encounter 10-9 away to bottom side Aironi at the Stadio Zaffanella. But it took a late penalty try to seal a come-from-behind win, as the Dragons pack forced a series of five-metre scrums on the Italian line. Lewis Robling stroked over the crucial conversion from in front of the posts.
Aled Brew scored a try in his 100th appearance for the Dragons as they beat off Edinburgh 21-10.
BREW TO DEPART
Feb 13 - Aled Brew has joined the exodus of players out of Rodney Parade after it was reported he will leave Newport Gwent Dragons for Biarritz. The Welsh region had hoped that the Wales wing, 25, would sign a new deal when his current contract expires at the end of the season. But Brew has opted to head to France, having also been linked with Perpignan.
ULSTER OUTPACE DRAGONS
Feb 11 - Ulster boosted their hopes of earning a play-off place as they took a bonus-point 30-12 win over a battling Dragons side in Friday's Pro12 clash at Ravenhill. Jason Tovey's early penalty gave the Dragons a deserved lead but tries from Robbie Diack and Ruan Pienaar helped Ulster move 15-9 ahead by half-time.
Tovey's fourth penalty cut the margin before Craig Gilroy's 51st-minute try. Further Dragons pressure failed to produce a score and Stefan Terblanche's late try secured the bonus point.
NGDs FORFEIT AND PUNISHMENT FOR POSTPONEMENT
Feb 8 - Newport Gwent Dragons have been given a £10,000 suspended fine and are forced to forfeit their LV= Cup clash with Saracens after the game was postponed due to a frozen pitch. But the LV= Cup's organising committee said there were no suitable alternative arrangements so awarded the English champions the fixture by a 20-0 score.
OSPREYS BEAT NGDs in LV= CUP
Jan 30 - Stefan Watermeyer scored on his debut as Ospreys ending Newport Gwent Dragons hopes of progressing in the LV= Cup with a 26-21 win in front of a small crowd at Liberty Stadium. The South African's contribution inspired Ospreys to their first LV= Cup win t -his season while Ross Jones, Hanno Dirksen and Eli Walker also touched down.
Dragons had been level at half-time thanks to wing Pat Leach's try and three Steffan Jones penalties. Luke Williams' late try was their only second-half score.
TOVEY SET TO LEAVE
Jan 25 - Newport Gwent Dragons fly-half Jason Tovey is set to join Welsh Pro 12 rivals Cardiff Blues in the summer. Tovey's Dragons contract expires at the end of the season and the 22-year-old's agent has confirmed he has "verbally agreed" a two-year deal at the Blues. Tovey's departure will be a blow to the struggling Dragons who will also lose Luke Charteris in the summer. Aled Brew's Dragons deal also expires in the summer and the Wales wing has also been linked with a move to France.
Newport Gwent Dragons' European campaign ended on a high with a seven-tries-to-two romp 45-16 against Italian side Cavalieri Prato. However, the hosts lost Wales flanker and captain Dan Lydiate with an ankle injury in the opening quarter. Adam Hughes opened the try-scoring with Rhys Buckley, Aled Brew, Alesana Tuilagi, Martyn Thomas and Lewis Robling also scoring. Alberto Chiesa and Clemens Von Grumbkow went over for the visitors.
Newport Gwent Dragons lost their third successive Amlin Challenge Cup match despite a big effort in Perpignan. A dominant first-half display allowed Perpignan to open a 15-3 half-time lead as full-back Porical Jerome slotted over five penalties. The Dragons hit back straight after the interval with an opportunist Aled Brew try, converted by Matthew Jones.But Charles Geli's try restored the home side's cushion and Robins Tchale-Watchou crossed in the last minute. Final score 27-13.
NGDs EDGE FINE MATCH
Jan 6 - Newport Gwent Dragons edged home 21-20 against the Ospreys on Friday night in a fine match. The Dragons celebrated their first Pro12 win since September as they held out in an excitinfg finale.
Martyn Thomas and Lewis Robling went over for the hosts and Tommy Bowe responded. Ospreys' starting fly-half Matthew Morgan kicked four penalties and his replacement Dan Biggar also put one over. Jason Tovey got 11 points for the NGDs. But Biggar also saw a last-gasp drop-goal attempt rebound off an upright. The hosts were forced into a late change ahead of kick off with Wales hooker Lloyd Burns (illness) replaced by Steve Jones in the starting line-up.
SCARLETS WIN POOR SPECTACLE
Dec 30 - A crowd of 7571 at Rodney Parade witnessed a poor spectacle between Newport Gwent Dragons and the Scarlets. Conditions were damp and skill levels poor and despite the crowd the atmosphere was lacklustre, made worse by clutches of one-eyed West Walians and their dreary chants. The Llanelli side got out jail as Lewis Robling, a substitute for the injured Jason Tovey missed four kicks, three in front of the posts that would have given the Dragons a comfortable win. As it was they lost 10-6 with Jonathon Edwards scoring the only try in the first half.
The Dragons were largely dominant but lacked composure and made mistakes in key positions.
I had the mis-fortune to come across a quote from a Western Mail match report commenting on the 'disappointing' crowd from Andy Howell. As follows
"(Nigel) Davies had targeted the clash with the Ospreys, understandably so because it had taken place on home soil in Llanelli but there wasn’t any reason why more players couldn’t have started both games with enough time for recovery. The result was a disappointing crowd of 7,571 last night, but you can’t blame people for not wanting to part with their money to watch an apparent second team. Coaches, players and power-brokers at the regions moan about attendances and say they can’t put a finger on the reason for it. Well, that’s one."
7571 is not a bad crowd of largely theatre-goers for a televised match between two non-entities. Its nothing to do with names on the team sheet, it is the product, the lack of supporter identity, the malaise that sits below international rugby in Wales. But Andy Howell has never been interested in the serious issues, has he?
CARDIFF TOO STRONG FOR NGDs
Dec 24 - The Henson factor helped attract a season's highest crowd of 10,660 to Cardiff City Stadium for the visit of Newport Gwent Dragons. Despite an early penalty from Jason Tovey the Cardiff side were dominant winning 28-9 with two tries from Alex Cuthbert and one from Bradley Davies.
Oct 30 - Newport Gwent Dragons conceded seven tries as Treviso eased to a bonus point Pro12 win. A three-try blitz in the opening 16 minutes laid the foundations for the victory with Brendan Williams crossing twice after Alessandro Zanni's opener.
Ludovico Nitoglia added the fourth early after the break, while Tobias Botes, Robert Barbieri and Paul Derbyshire crossed in the final stages. The Dragons managed tries from Tonderai Chavhanga (two) and Steffan Jones. Chavhanga's second and Jones' effort arrived in the final six minutes but they could not hide the manner of the comprehensive defeat.
FINE WIN OVER WASPS
Oct 22 - Fly-half Steffan Jones kicked a last minute penalty to earn Newport Gwent Dragons a dramatic LV= Cup win over Wasps at Adams Park.
The hosts out-scored the visitors four-tries-to-two and took two bonus points courtesy of that and the narrow losing margin. John Hart, Tom Varndell, Ross Filipo and Joe Simpson touched down for Wasps.
Phil Price and Hallam Amos, 17, went over for the visitors with Jones' boot doing the rest. Ryan Davis kicked two conversions and Nicky Robinson added the extra points to Joe Simpson's 77th-minute try.
BATH OVERWHELM NGDs
Oct 16 - Bath overwhelmed Newport Gwent Dragons as the Anglo-Welsh LV= Cup kicked off at Rodney Parade. The visitors ran in seven tries with the hosts' recent South African signing Tonderai Chavhanga crossing in the first-half. Olly Woodburn, England World Cup squad member Matt Banahan and Tom Biggs went over in the first-half for Bath.
Matt Carraro, Will Spencer, Jack Cuthbert and recent recruit Anthony Perenise scored after the break. Fly-half Tom Heathcote kick four Bath conversions and a penalty while Matthew Jones replied with a conversion and three penalties. Attendance - 4646
EIGHT PENALTIES BEAT DRAGONS
Oct 8 - Duncan Weir's amazing kicking display against Newport Gwent Dragons gave Glasgow Warriors their first home victory of the season. The fly-half equalled the Celtic League record for the most penalty goals in one game with eight successful attempts. Dragons number 10 Matthew Jones scored 11 points with his own boot and the visitors' Martyn Thomas went over for the only try of the game.
NGDs EASE PAT ULSTER
Oct 1 - Newport Gwent Dragons notched up their first win of the season against Irish opponents beating Ulster 22-9. Jason Tovey kicked the Dragons into an early lead before Tom Riley sprinted in for the only try on 24 minutes after Ulster's Nevin Spence was sinbinned. Tovey fired over four penalties in an error-strewn first half at Rodney Parade to put the Dragons 19-6 ahead. Penalties from Tovey and Ulster fly-half Paddy Jackson were the only scores in a lacklustre second half. Both side's were guilty of mistakes as the game opened in scrappy fashion on a humid evening in Newport.
BAD LOSS FOR DRAGONS
Sep 24 - Connacht fought back from 13-3 down at half-time to beat Newport Gwent Dragons in Friday's Pro 12 clash in Galway. The Dragons appeared in control at the break with Jason Tovey kicking eight points and Nathan Williams scoring his first try. But tries from Eoin Griffin and Gavin Duffy helped Connacht maintain their fine start to the season as they earned their third win in four games.
DRAGONS OFF THE MARK
Sep 18 - Newport Gwent Dragons scored two tries as they recorded their first RaboDirect Pro12 win of the season. Tom Riley crossed for the first after four minutes, and Jason Tovey's kicks opened up a 13-3 half-time lead.
Aironi closed to within two points through a Josh Furno try and two penalties from Naas Olivier. Andrew Coombs calmed home nerves with a converted try, and although Olivier's kick closed the gap, Matthew Jones' penalty took the Dragons clear again.
Backs Riley (dead leg), Wayne Evans (groin), Mike Poole (shoulder) and Adam Hughes (neck) all left the field injured and are extremely doubtful for Friday's trip to Connacht.
ANOTHER DEFEAT IN IRELAND
Sep 11 - Leinster secured their first win of the new RaboDirect Pro12 with a comfortable win over the Newport Gwent Dragons at the RDS. Leinster led 6-3 at half-time but pulled away in the second half thanks to tries from Brendan Macken, Ian Madigan and Fionn Carr.
Man-of-the-match Isa Nacewa kicked four penalties and two conversions. Jason Tovey scored a try, a penalty and a conversion for the Dragons who remain without a point after their opening two games of the new season.
DEFEAT IN OPENER
Sep 3 - Holders Munster opened their Pro12 League campaign with a deserved 20-12 victory over the Newport Gwent Dragons at Musgrave Park. Steffan Jones and Ian Keatley swapped penalties in a poor opening quarter before Johne Murphy's run set up Danny Barnes for a superb 26th-minute try.
Lifeimi Mafi's score extend Munster's lead to 17-6 at the break with Jason Tovey notching another Dragons penalty. Tovey punished three Munster's yellow cards with two more penalties but Keatley's late kick made the game safe. Att - 6000.
DRAGONS TAME BEARS
Aug 17 - Newport Gwent Dragons beat a poor Russian team 40-12 at Rodney Parade last night in front of a crowd of 3,000.
RUSSIA HEAD TO THE PORT
July 15 - Russia’s national rugby team will take on two Welsh regional sides in August in lead-up matches to the Rugby World Cup. Russia take on Newport Gwent Dragons on August 16 in Newport and Neath-Swansea Ospreys at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium on August 21. The games will be the first ever played by Russia against regional Welsh sides, though the Soviet Union team played in South Wales in the 1970's, and hosted Wales in the USSR.
NGDs TO FACE PERPIGNAN
Jun 19 - Newport Gwent Dragons will be returning to the south of France and lining up against former Ospreys outside half James Hook this season in the Amlin Challenge Cup having been drawn with former French champions Perpignan. The five Pool winners will progress into the quarter-finals where they will be joined by three Pool runners-up from the Heineken Cup. “Perpignan is a team that our players know and they have obvious ambition,” said Dragons Head Coach Darren Edwards. “Their signing of James Hook shows this and they are sure to be a big challenge for us. If Hook is at ten for Perpignan, it will be a great challenge for Jason Tovey to pitch himself against another Welsh outside half."
PLAYER EXODUS UNDER WAY
May 24 - Newport Gwent Dragons have confirmed that former Wales internationals Matthew Watkins and Nathan Brew are among 16 players released. Injury-plagued flanker Joe Bearman had already announced he would join the Ospreys when his Rodney Parade contract expires in the summer.
But new coach Darren Edwards starts his first close season with a clear out. Wales Sevens centre Rhodri Gomer Davies is to leave and hooker Duane Goodfield retires because of a shoulder injury. Centre Watkins has played just five games this season while wing Brew has featured just three times, as the Dragons finished seventh in the Magners League. Props Ali McKenzie and Pat Palmer, hookers Arthur Ellis and Craig Attwell, locks Rhydian Wilson and Adam Brown, number eight James Thomas, centre Tom Cooper, flanker James Davies, scrum-half Nicky Griffiths and Canadian full-back Matt Evans have also been released. "It is a part of rugby that the end of each season sees a certain amount of player movement," said Dragons director of rugby, Robert Beale. "These players have all put in a great deal of effort for the Dragons and we would like to thank them for the commitment they have shown to the region during their time here."
FIXTURES 2011 - 2012
Home fixtures in capitals. RD denotes Celtic League AWC - Anglo Welsh ACC- European