Opinion pieces from various rugby commentators
THE SYMBOLISM OF A POINTLESS JERSEY
Aug 23 - The annual release of the 'new
shirt designs' for the Newport Gwent Dragons is normally of symbolic
interest. Firstly, it normally illustrates Rodney Parade Limited have no
idea about their commercial strategy. Secondly, it normally underlines
the gap between those running the club and their core support. Little
has changed this year.
Chief Executive Stuart Davies revealed
that there are now fewer Gwent based season ticket holders for Newport
Gwent Dragons than there were for Newport RFC at the end of its
professional era. Yet the jerseys are dominated by colours other than
the famous black and amber associated with the city of Newport.
The 2015-16 home jersey has slightly more
amber than previous years and has the name of the team on the left side
of the breast. It has red and black on the socks, why not incorporate
amber into them as well? The away jersey is an abomination, white and
blue, supposedly modelled on the old Monmouthshire colours but easily
confused with Queens Park Rangers.
Newport GD's are employing a new marketing
manager at the entry level salary of £25k so presumably just want
someone with little or no experience. Hopefully, one of the dissidents
from the Newport General Meeting will apply!
Argus rugby correspondent Chris Kirwan has
tentatively backed the dissidents and their right to question the
commercial direction of Newport Gwent Dragons in a thoughtful piece in
this week's paper. He said 'the emphasis of how the club is marketed
close to home remains something that needs to be addressed...it is a
risky strategy to potentially alienate where their core support hails
from...they must not fall into the trap of trying to 'represent' people
throughout the region."
NEW CHIEF EXEC DOES NOT GET IT EITHER!
Mar 26 - Newport Gwent Dragons Chief
Executive Stuart Davies has been in post five minutes and chose a show
on BBC to make an utterance on the name of the regional rugby team based
in Newport. He suggested that Newport and Gwent are dropped from the
epithet. His aim, to make the region more like the Ospreys. He does not
seem aware of the 12,000 plus who signed a petition to place Newport in
the first place in 2003 or that the major part of the season ticket base
for the team is drawn from the City. Irrespective of the failure to
recognise Newport wherever possible by the marketing people at the
region Davies etc. cannot be allowed to ignore the importance of
identity in the branding of the team. Fortunately his remarks have met
with a categorical response from the Board that the name will not be
NEWPORT RUGBY AT ALL TIME LOW
Only in Newport would we put up with
A professional side, Newport Gwent
Dragons, playing at our ground, Rodney Parade that disassociates
itself from anything to do with Newport.
A failing coach who cannot bring
himself to say the word.
A team that does not play in the
city's colours home or away
A director who says we should not
shout the word out in support of a team that includes the name
A commercial director appointed from
Pontypool RFC apparently to find ways of making to team more like
his home town club
A semi professional team playing in
the historic colours and name of our city that is forced to hand its
best players and its captain to bitter local rivals
Remember we own and control the
professional team! This situation is a complete joke.
DESPITE THE WIN, SIX THINGS THE NGDs
LEARNT FROM PAYING AT EBBW VALE
The crowds will not sustain
professional rugby even at knock down ticket prices
The trains only run to Cardiff
Its too far north
It always rains there
It is too small
Newport is the only place with the
facilities and infrastructure for professional rugby and supporters
in the locality
BIAS AGAINST NEWPORT RFC CANNOT GO ON
In its desperate attempt to behave as a
region Rodney Parade Limited has done everything it can to work to
release regional players to play for Premiership clubs in the locality.
This policy has been to the detriment of Newport RFC - owners of Rodney
Parade. Not only that we have had to put up with invasion by a small
coterie of coaches and managers at the professional team with no
interest in the development of Newport RFC. With the advent of Ebbw Vale
to the Premiership the pendulum must swing back to those that own Rodney
Parade Limited and pull the financial purse strings.
If the directors of Rodney Parade Limited
sit down during the summer months I would suggest a few priorities for
Continue to work in concert with
partners in Regional Rugby Wales to ensure the professional tier of
Welsh rugby is run by a management board of the clubs
Support the development of super /
city based clubs with the opportunity for promotion or relegation
from / to the Premiership tier
Retain the Newport identity in all
playing kit, branding and merchandise and work to encourage
supporters in the city to identify with the club and as part of the
club's marketing strategy contact lapsed season ticket holders to
find out what will get them to return
Ensure that Newport RFC is recognised
as the elite semi professional club in the area and is provided with
all necessary support to achieve this
|Newport Gwent Dragons tried to
launch a new logo for next season by getting fans to vote on it
but had to shelve the poll amidst rancour and acrimony. I voted
ten times for logo 1. I imagine it did not deliver the results
that the Gwent faction were seeking, Ben Jeffreys "Commercial
and Marketing Consultant"at Newport Gwent Dragons, tweeted: "Bad
day. I tried something with good intentions but hold my hands up
that I got it wrong. A humbling experience and one I will learn
from." Ben, it is quite simple, the most effective way of
marketing the professional side is for it to be based on the
City it represents, called Newport and play in Black and Amber.
The away strip can be whatever confection you like. The majority
of current season ticket holders and fans are from Newport but
they would be swelled considerably by the numbers of us who have
walked away. Remember when this regional nonsense started we got
12,000 signatures together to put Newport in the name. Forget
about logos, playing in Pontypool colours or Monmouthshire
colours. Forget about all the politically correct stuff or
coaches that constantly take the 'p' out of their employers. We
have a world famous club with an established identity that was
regional long before the term came into being.
LYN JONES SHOULD GET IT RIGHT
We were told we could not shout 'Newport'
at Dragons home games so why is Lyn Jones allowed to continually mis-name
the regional team that employs him. He constantly omits the name of
Newport in an intentional and insulting way.
He said that the region should not have to
accept mediocrity but we still have to put up with him as coach of the
region next year despite the lack of any progress this year and his
recent catalogue of failures as a coach. Take your hang ups somewhere
COLOUR, NOT YOUR TEAM!?
It is Judgement Day 2 at the
Millennium Stadium on April 29 and supporters are being urged to
pick their favourite colour. Amber appears to be the colour for
Newport Gwent Dragons but there is hardly any on their kit. They
play in black and sometimes Cardiff blue. There is no love for
these teams, if you want colour, bring back the Black and
'RESEARCH' IN TO DRAGONS BRAND
IS A JOKE!
Gwent Dragons have appointed a marketing expert to lead
market research into the future of the Dragons brand.
Pontypool loyalist Ben Jeffreys has been appointed as a
commercial and marketing consultant with immediate effect.
The blurb states "Jeffreys
will be responsible for reviewing the internal commercial
structure of the club. He will also be tasked with launching
a market research campaign that will help to determine the
future direction of the Dragons brand. And he will be
expected to oversee the implementation of the club's
consumer and business-to-business marketing efforts."
He says: "I am looking
forward to working alongside the management team to further
enhance the Dragons brand, particularly by maximising
commercial effectiveness and developing platforms that aim
to embrace and connect with the wider region on a tangible
Gareth Davies, chief
executive of Newport Gwent Dragons, added: "This appointment
will assist us in plotting and planning the further
development of our commercial activities, and will enable us
to continue to build and strengthen Newport Gwent Dragons as
Lets see now what will
Jeffreys suggest? Ah yes, drop the 'N' word, eradicate any
trace of Amber from the colours and play the odd game at
Pooler Park. Easy to second guess that.
What a pile of tosh. The
Dragons brand is an insult. A testimony to the creative
genius of Marcus Russell.
1. The first thing to do
with the Dragons 'brand' is to drop it altogether. It is a
pointless, synthetic nickname that has nothing to do with
Newport or the Monmouthshire area.
2. Play in colours people
in the City of Newport identify with.
3. Do more to link with the
City of Newport instead of ignoring it. Try to reconnect
with the hundreds if not thousands of Newportonians who no
longer give the Dragons the time of day.
Hopefully, all this
nonsense will be consigned to the Civic tip once we have an
Anglo Welsh League.
REGIONS MUST STICK TOGETHER
Dec 31 2013 - today could pass as a
momentous day in the history of club rugby in Wales. The four regions
will not sign the Participation Agreement drafted by the Welsh Rugby
Union (WRU) on the basis that there is no guarantee that the
competitions being offered will be of the required standard to generate
the necessary income to sustain their businesses.
The WRU under the leadership of Roger
Lewis appears set on reducing the funding for the regions thereby
allowing the exodus of leading internationals to England and,
particularly, France, to continue.
Problems remain with key competitions. The
Heineken Cup as presently constituted will not include English teams
next year but is likely to include the French. The French, it appears,
are still not content with the management of the competition (under the
aegis of the European Rugby Cup) and may play below-strength teams.
The Celtic League underpinned by a new Sky
television deal in 2014-15 may not retain Italian representation as
their Union views their involvement as of limited value.
The proposed Rugby Champions Cup, a new
European Cup, will not be delivered this year given the French
commitment to the alternative Heineken Cup.
The English and French domestic leagues go
from strength to strength as clubs and their owners seek to break the
shackles of their respective Unions. Club matches in each country are
realising huge support with, for example, 74,000 recently for
Harlequins' holiday game with Exeter. Players from all over the world
are flocking to France to play in the Top 14 to enjoy the passion and
commitment of playing in a competitive league with huge media profile.
English rugby is an important focus for BT in their battle for sporting
rights with Sky.
Both England and France took the decision
to allow their established club and community games to prosper in the
era of professional rugby. Their elite level is well established but
there is promotion and relegation thus giving clubs the opportunity to
reach the top of the pyramid. This meritocratic system has not been
followed in the rest of Europe.
It is a well documented but Wales cast
aside the model followed by the English and French. The regions have
done little since their inception bar create the environment for the
Welsh national team to flourish. They have struggled to create a rapport
with fans, to realise revenue or to represent their geographical areas
given that they are formed out of numerous rugby communities. However,
the ranks of regional supporters were still swelled by the normal
Christmas turnout of theatre-goers just to underline latent interest in
The WRU is not interested in the club game
it appears. The Celtic League and Premiership are merely there to
provide the semblance of club rugby to show Welsh teams are
participating even if it is not very good and does not mean very much to
those involved. Since 2003 there are fewer supporters watching, fewer
players and fewer clubs playing rugby in Wales. The success of the
national team has screened out some of the huge underlying issues in our
game. It needs urgent action.
With this back drop of administrative
uncertainty there is an indication that the Welsh regions may find the
courage of their convictions. They may be able to plot a path away from
the malign embrace of the WRU. For Newport this could be the last chance
to get back to rugby's top table. Fifteen fixtures in the Aviva
Premiership with guaranteed funding of £4 million, without WRU central
diktat, could be the fillip rugby in the City and the Principality
needs. The balance could shift back a little, as it needs to, from our
national team to the clubs and communities that are the life-blood of
This is an opportunity not to be missed.
The regions have shown a great deal of solidarity and nerve to date. It
is vital they continue in this vein.
SHOW SOME BALLS!
The opportunity for Welsh super clubs to
compete in an Anglo-Welsh League is one that should not be passed. Four
teams in the Aviva Premiership is the shot in the arm that the club game
here needs. It will wreck the union dominated Italo-Celtic mess that we
have become accustomed to at club level with half strength sides and
uninteresting fixtures. Bringing mighty clubs from England with fans,
yes fans, to Newport on a Saturday afternoon will not only provide a
shot in the arm for our City economy but it will put Newport RFC back
where it should be, at the top of professional rugby in the UK.
The WRU will put up every conceivable
barrier to stop this happening (our move to England that is) but
provided the commitment is there from across the border and their
broadcasting partners the economic and rugby logic in favour of it is
Newport County blazed the trail for it.
Our rugby team and its owners, along with the other Welsh teams, should
have the courage of their convictions. It is the revolution our rugby
needs. There will be many political machinations ahead but when it comes
to the crunch they will 'just' need to show some balls to make it
Lyn Jones is going to provide us with
plenty of copy over the coming months, no doubt. Fresh from failing to
meet the standard in England the Newport Gwent Dragons have taken a punt
with him. Its risky and may have been for the right reasons but he has
never had any affinity with Newport rugby and his discourtesy is already
I know its three words as opposed to two,
so maybe slightly more of a challenge to him. The team is called Newport
Gwent Dragons not the Gwent Dragons. The Gwent Dragons is the failed
entity that could not meet its obligations and did not attract any
season ticket holders, the Marcus Russell one, the team that Tony Brown
stepped in and renamed. It is quite straightforward, perhaps his
employer ought to remind him, or perhaps he is not aware?
BLUE AND BLACK
The new Dragons kit is frankly, a
disgrace. Blue and black is the colour of ..Cardiff. The colour of
Monmouthshire as far as I am aware is light blue, but its not of any
relevance. The colour that is missing every season and that identifies
the area and the city is of course, Amber. That would be the most
effective piece of marketing the region could ever deploy. Isn't it
about selling jerseys?But the region goes out of its way to adopt the
colours of the other Welsh regions rather than our own.
PREMIERSHIP 'REFORM' IS THIN END OF THE WEDGE
April 30 - The WRU's 2012-13 reform plan
for the Premiership is avoiding the main issue. The Premiership is being
criticised by those searching for the answer to Wales' lack of success
in modern rugby. The responsibility for this is not the fault of the
Premiership but rests squarely on the shoulders of the regional entities
and the bloated bureaucracy of the WRU.
The so-called reformers having imposed
regional rugby on us now want to denude our club rugby of its identity.
A ten team ring-fenced division will be dominated by regional
requirements and without promotion/relegation will have reduced
competitive edge. Newport will have their place preserved for
perpetuity, no doubt, but at what cost to the development of the game
and to our communities? As with regional rugby we will have, in effect,
franchises licenced by the union to play in the Premiership. The ability
of clubs to grow and develop from lower tiers of rugby will be largely
ANOTHER EUROPEAN SHAMBLES FOR TURNER
January 23 - Another shambolic European
Cup campaign for Newport Gwent Dragons under current head coach Paul
Turner has come to an end. The Dragons' complete failure in this
competition belies the unbelievable decision by the Dragons Board to
renew his contract. Under Turner the Dragons have lost twenty of their
twenty four fixtures and have never beaten an English or Irish side.
Their pathetic return includes an away win at Treviso, a victory at
Newport over Castres in a dead rubber fixture and a double of over
European giants Glasgow. In five seasons Turner has yet to exceed the
number of wins in two seasons under Anderson and Ruddock.
January 13 - We don't currently have a
section called 'Turnerballs' but perhaps we should consider it. According to Men of
Gwent acolyte Andy Howell "Paul
Turner has delivered a blunt message to his Newport Gwent Dragons squad
telling them their jobs are on the line. The Dragons coach didn’t mince
his words as he warned the flagging region’s soon-to-be out-of-contract
players of the consequences of not performing at their best. Turner
stated "It’s that
time of the season. There’s no pretence about it, we have got to decide
on one or another over a number of players. They have got to show us
through performances they warrant a place in the squad.” It seems like
there is one criteria for the players and another for the coach. He has
consistently failed to perform but still warrants a place as coach, the
players are not so lucky. Turner can thank in
part brown-nosing journalism such as this.
NIGEL OWENS - CUT OUT THE CYMRAEG!
December 31 - He's clever that Nigel
Owens, able to flit between English and Welsh at any given moment as he
did in today's match between the Dragons and Scarlets in Newport.
However, for a majority of the players they would not have a clue what
he was talking about. As all players on the field were able to speak in
English and Welsh surely it would avoid confusion and provide greater
clarity if his instructions and comments to players were only in
English? The odd comment in Welsh is fine but he seemed to use it an
awful lot today. As far as I am aware there are no monoglot Welsh
speakers playing for the Scarlets' or Dragons.
In addition, it would help if he and other
referees stopped calling players by their first names. This practice
smacks of over familiarity and may mean he is more inclined to penalise
those who are not his friends? What about calling players by their
I don't expect the WRU to do anything
about all this. They are too wrapped up in political correctness for
their own good. Lord Islwyn
PREDICTABLE RUBBISH FROM JENKINS
December 23 - "Paul's commitment, pride
and passion about the Dragons and Gwent Rugby is without question and we
are delighted to retain his services until at least 2012," said Dragons
Chief Executive Gethin Jenkins. "Over the past five seasons we have seen
the Dragons grow as an organisation, team and as individuals and Paul
has played a key role in this regard. We are pleased that he will
continue to help us with our aims of continued growth and development
and the emergence of local talent."
Any proper organisation would be setting
objectives for their coach and if not achieved then they would relieve
him of his responsibilities. A realistic objective for the Dragons would
have been to finish as second or even third Welsh region in the Magners
League and to set a points target total for Turner in achieving this.
Apparently, the business plan for the Dragons is 'continued growth and
development' , sounds more like horticulture than rugby. And 'the
emergence of local talent', yes there are a small number of promising
players coming through in to the main squad but there are still far more
players from New Zealand than Newport in their first XV or first 22.
The statement from Jenkins extols the
virtue of Turner's pride, passion and commitment about 'Gwent' rugby.
Unfortunately, this is a negative not a positive. It is divisive and has
nothing to do with the rugby on the field. It may sound good spouting on
about these things from his London base but it does not sound good in
His re-appointment may be excellent news
for his cronies in the Dragons set up and in the local media but is a
disaster for Newport Rugby.
SHOCKING COMPLACENCY OF DRAGONS' BOARD
December 21 - The suggestion that Paul
Turner's contract with Newport Gwent Dragons will be extended by a
further two years is a shocking indictment of those responsible for
running the regional side. The slight improvement so far this year in
the fortunes of the side masks a record of failure that should
not be tolerated in professional sport. Our table shows that Turner's
inheritance from Chris Anderson has been squandered during four years in
which he has been as interested in promoting his own agenda on 'Gwent'
and 'stadia' as he has been in events on the field.
The prospects for Newport Gwent Dragons
have not been assisted by the media. They represent Turner as performing
valiantly in difficult circumstances and as able to get the best out of
young players. This has not helped to improve the team and particularly
our local media seem content with the 'brave Dragons' going down to
narrow defeats or being outclassed by ordinary French opposition like
Biarritz (currently eighth in the Top 14). The Dragons' board and the
WRU seem likely to reinforce this view by rewarding failure again.
Newport deserves better, but it seems
likely that the label of perennial under-achievers suits Turner. The
chip on the shoulder mentality of the valleys will once again
predominate in the region's thinking when the Board should be looking to
get the whole City behind the team.
Newport Gwent Dragons - the story so
Coach - Mike
WRU MUST ACT ON POOLER MISCONDUCT
October 17 - Pontypool's conduct in
today's match with Newport was reprehensible. Aside from their lack of
interest in playing rugby one incident in the match must be dealt with.
Newport should report it and the WRU must deal with it. It is
unforgivable for Pontypool's coaching staff to rush on to the field of
play running twenty five metres to join in a brawl. More seriously a
player already sent off the field of play also rushed back on the field
to join the fray to mete out retribution against Newport players. This
appalling behaviour (more akin to bar-room brawls in the wild west)
should not be accepted at any level of rugby and sets a dreadful example
for watching spectators, some of whom may think it is alright to join in
too! In order to prevent it occurring again Pontypool should receive a
severe punishment from the WRU.
The 2009/10 WRU Disciplinary Regulations
cover the eventuality of a player re-entering the field. In the final
paragraph of clause 6.2 it states "Finally, where a Player is sent from
the field of play (yellow carded and/or red carded) for whatever offence
and subsequently re-enters the field of play to involve himself with an
incident, that Player will receive the suspension applicable to the
original offence, along with a further 3 week suspension for re-entering
the pitch having previously been sent off – either permanently (red
carded) or temporarily (yellow carded)."
The WRU Regulations include clear rules
about the responsibilities of the coach to comply with their Code of
Conduct. It could reasonably be argued that their coach has brought the
game into disrepute. The regulations can be found here
Pooler officials ought to read them!
TABLE - TOPPING DRAGONS MY A**E!
September 9 - One game in and the Dragons
have won the mighty Magners League. I kid you not! Orgasmically yours,
the pisspoor South Wales Argus sprayed all over the front of its
sports supplement yesterday and now leading factual columnist Robin
Davey has also confirmed it in his highly regarded weekly essay. Their
23-6 demolition of Ulster was enough to seal it. Top coach Paul Turner
will now be canonised, probably receive a fellowship from Newport Uni
(along with everyone else) and be celebrated with a piece of modern art
in his name on Commercial Street. The streets are covered in tickertape,
our heads aloft watching the Red Arrows flypast etc. etc.
Actually, you can stop dancing down Dragon
Way now. The regional side has won one game not the league, but its
proponents are so desperate they are comparing it to Newport County.
Newport County are top of their league, fifteen games unbeaten, eight
games unbeaten in 2009-10, not one game unbeaten like the Dragons. They
are in a competitive league with promotion and relegation and with a
dream of League football in the future. That dream of junior football
clubs is denied to rugby union clubs because of the sport's obsession
with elite structures and provincial sides.
It is a bad comparison on so many levels
but perhaps worst of all it is sloppy journalism. The Dragons have won
one game. If past history is anything to go they will struggle when they
face European champions Leinster in Dublin next weekend and most of
their games beyond that. Newport County have played eight games won
five, drawn three. The comparison detracts from their achievement,
that's what the Argus should be celebrating, that County are top of the
JUNIOR DRAGONS !
August 3 - More rubbish through the post
this morning this time to my daughter. She was a member of the Junior
Black and Ambers and has a signed certificate from Rod Snow and Simon Raiwalui to prove it. It was free. Now she is being offered the chance
to join something called the Junior Dragons for the princely sum of £25.
They must have got her name and address off the other mailing list but I
do not recall giving my permission to Newport Rugby Club to share her
data with anyone else and I sincerely hope they do not pass this
information on to any other organisations without my permission. Item 1
in the Welcome Pack is a letter from Paul Turner. I am sure it is not
what any self respecting young supporter would be looking for as the
first thing in their welcome pack and if they are labouring under the
impression that Turnip has any connection with younger supporters they
are completely mistaken. One can only presume at the inane drivel in his
letter probably something along the lines "When I was a young Gwent boy
playing rugby in the street, drop-kicking tin cans, side stepping sheep,
the only team I wanted to beat was Newport. Now they are dead and buried
please join the Gwent Youth organisation, and join the hordes of Gwent-isters
who make the pilgrimage to watch the superbly coached Dragons as they
fall to glorious defeats every other weekend against big-spending
opposition." There is also an item in the Welcome Pack called a Junior
Dragons passport, presumably this provides for free movement around the
county of 'Gwent'.
Suffice to say my daughter will have the
good sense to steer away from any organisation promoted by Turnip and
his cohorts and shame on Newport RFC for allowing her personal data to
be passed on this way!
TURNER (AND JONES) MUST GO!
May 7 - The disastrous tenure of Paul
Turner, Leigh Jones and their cohorts continues at the Newport Gwent
Dragons. Once again the Gwentists seem destined to drag the team into a
match with an Italian team in order to play off for qualification for
the Heineken Cup. This is by virtue of the team finishing 9th in the
piss-poor Magners League. Even if they avert this match their record
under Turner has been a season by season regression, we are tired of
saying it but only in Welsh rugby could such a shattering failure be
rewarded with an extended contract! Here goes -
Coach - Mike
In every season under Turner, Newport
Gwent Dragons has been the bottom placed Welsh team in the competition.
Under the much maligned Anderson and Mike Ruddock they were the second
placed Welsh sides. We are tired of Turner, Leigh Jones, apologists like
Robin Davey and their reports of spirited Dragons performances,
valiant defeats and folksy rubbish about a non-existent county. There is
no evidence of progress, or hope of progress in the future. In
particular, Turner's much vaunted youth policy seems a ridiculous sham
with more veteran New Zealanders than young Newportonians in the Dragons
squad. We urge those responsible for directing the management of Newport
Gwent Dragons to take the necessary business decisions now -
GET RID OF THE ELVs!
Mar 30 - The experimental law variations
(so called ELVs) have led to some of the most pointless and annoying
periods of rugby I can ever remember watching this season. The aerial
ping pong is not a direct consequence of the law changes but indirectly
it is a result of the changes to the kicking and maul regulations that
have given the advantage to defending sides. The ability to pull down
the maul without penalty was not only dangerous and foolish but has left
attacking sides without a valuable weapon used to commit defending
players. Having differential numbers in the lineout allows the defending
team an unfair advantage, packing the lineout to win the ball or putting
extra numbers in wider defence. Thank heavens in the Northern Hemisphere
we have not seen the mass change from penalties to free kicks. Three
Mar 13 - The City Council's backing for
the Rodney Parade development is very welcome. A huge effort and no
little expense has gone in to this process thus far on the part of
Newport Rugby and it is pleasing to see the City get behind, even if it
was a narrow vote in its favour. Rodney Parade has been the spiritual
home for rugby in Newport for so long it is brilliant to see that it
will remain but in a modern setting. Let's hope someone has the
foresight to get rid of the idiotic Dragon Way and put something with
more resonance in its place.
At the meeting the familiar nimby
councillors with their rather bizarre reasons against the development
thankfully did not hold much sway. One thing is certain that for all the
claptrap spouted after the planning success there is little doubt that
this is Newport's stadium. And when it is built it should make that very
clear. Black and Amber colours and the word 'Newport' should have a
major place in the design. The other parts of the so-called 'Gwent'
region, it is also certain, will make no financial contribution to this
venture. As in fact they have made no contribution to Newport's regional
team since the start of the desecration of our club game. These clubs
and their local authorities are strangely silent on the matter. Newport
will be putting the effort and the finance in to this project and should
reap the rewards.
SAVE US FROM THESE RIDICULOUS GWENTERS
Jan 23 - 'Gwent legends'
Garin Jenkins and Mark Taylor have called for Newport to be dropped from
the Newport Gwent Dragons name. They want the only scrap of identity
from the team name to be destroyed. I am sure this will satisfy those
who believe that the team should be called just plain Dragons. This will
leave it with a transferable nickname meaning just about anyone can
support it from any part of Wales without having to worry too much about
where it is based (currently the dreaded Newport). Maybe we should let
have them have their way. After all this team can join the rest of the
sanitised Welsh sides in the pointless Magners League in an increasingly
irrelevant sport. Then the team could eventually move away from our
City, perhaps a nice spot for a stadium just off the A4042 on the site
of the 'Gwent' hospital that will never be built.
Newport Rugby Football Club,
its history, traditions and supporter base were severely diminished as
soon as the disastrous deal for a regional side was done with Ebbw Vale.
Effectively, the club was reduced to minor status, and is now largely
run by a heroic band of volunteers. It will NEVER return to the top of
the professional game as long as the present structure of the game in
Wales survives. Any serious rugby identity Newport had disappeared the
day the 'Gwent' fiasco began and Brown fell in league with Russell.
But I am tired of these
ridiculous Gwenters who offer nothing but want everything. Let them have
their side, get out of Newport and good riddance.
DAVEY AND WEEP!
Sep 8 - "The
Dragons obviously need to win this one after their opening day home
reverse against Glasgow, but for people to call for coach Paul Turner’s
head after just one game is ridiculous. It’s a new team, for goodness
sake, and while the defeat was disappointing it is clearly going to take
time to gel as a team. Far too much emphasis is placed everywhere on
quick fixes rather than being a bit patient even if patience has been
stretched in the past with the Dragons. " The Argus today courtesy of R
Davey. This on the day we have a 'don't panic' Corporal Jones - styley
story claiming that Turnip should be given more time and patience from
the dwindling band of fans who still turn up at Rodney Parade. How much
more of this bilge do we have to put up with? Davey seems to back losers
without any good reason - Steve Lewis, Paul Turner, the Dragons etc. He
needs to get real the problem is Turner, his stupid Gwentist political
utterances and the constant sniping against the only club and its
supporters with a history and identity fit to represent our area of
Wales. I am sorry we keep coming back to this same argument but it is
true. Drop all the baggage and give us back our professional team.
The pity of it is Newport has a proud
history of rugby journalism back to the days of WJT Collins (Dromio).
They are being sadly let down by Davey and his opportunistic ramblings.
This is an excerpt from an article addressed by a far better home grown
journalist, Stephen Jones, to Munster fans in the Limerick Leader in
January. It sums up the death of Newport rugby club and what the Black
and Amber means
"I used to be a member of a real rugby
club once - Newport. We had all the fervency of Munster, the local
passions. In the villages and hamlets and suburbs of Newport and
district, we held ownership. The history meant that the players realised
they were only borrowing the jersey, for a tick of history's clock. In
Munster, you have a whole book, by some obscure author, and endless
memories of beating the All Blacks. We beat New Zealand, South Africa
and drew with Australia inside six years in the 1960s; in 10 successive
matches against the southern hemisphere giants the biggest defeat we
suffered was by six points. We once went seven seasons without losing.
We are no more. The Welsh Rugby Union forgot what made Wales great. They
took our club away. We still play at Rodney Parade, but now we are known
as the Newport Gwent Dragons, or just The Dragons.
The stadium is never full, the team cannot even rise up the feeble
Magners League, they play in pastel kit, the town no longer feels
ownership or belonging, the players come from all over, Rodney Parade is
almost a ruin. The team now represents a giant lump of east Wales,
marked out on a map by crude straight lines.... Limerick still has its
rugby heart and soul and is part of something very special, a
life-force; but that Newport's rugby soul has been stolen away. One day
we will get the team back. And how proud I will be of my brick in the
Thomond wall when Newport, the city team, our team, and not the silly
Gwent Dragons nonsense, come to play at Thomond Park, the theatre of
pints and passion. On that day 26,000 seats won't be enough."
NEW ANGLO WELSH CUP
Aug 26 -
More positive news. England plan to create a second professional league
of 12 teams. The new Anglo Welsh Cup will incorporate our four sides,
twelve Guinness Premiership and the top four of their second division.
In addition, their remaining eight sides will play in a second tier
competition against our top six Premiership sides. At last our
Premiership sides will have something to play for even if there is no
immediate way in to the regional rugby 'closed shop'. It satisfies
England's ambitions to generate income through the period of the Six
Nations tournament and gives our teams the lifeblood of cross border
competition. Good news. The only difficulty will be that the playing
budgets of our Premiership teams are less than a third of their English
equivalents. The English spend more because of the lucrative prize of
Guinness Premiership promotion. Will our sides be similarly ambitious
without a structure that rewards success? Despite this no one should
decry a positive step in the right direction.
Aug 16 -
The obvious solution to the fifth region debate initiated by Warren
Gatland is to bring rugby back to the valleys of South Wales. The area
feels no affinity with any of the major teams on the coastal belt - they
also have a defined identity and could probably generate sufficient
support. A South Wales Valleys team would probably generate a special
atmosphere at matches with Newport and Cardiff. Yes, we could have those
names back too and drop the ridiculous 'Gwent' tag. The only problem
would be finding a suitable venue. Sardis Road is decidedly tired and
would need plenty of development. But the smart money is on a dull
Wrexham based venture.
REGIONAL RUGBY PROGRESS
Players not available to play for
the so called 'Bok and Ambers' - Adrian Garvey
(South Africa - 28 caps), Matt Pini (Italy/Australia - 8/13 caps), Matt Mostyn
(Ireland - 6 caps), Peter Buxton (England), Rod Snow (Canada - 61 caps),
Simon Raiwalui (Fiji - 39 caps), Gary Teichmann (SA - 42 caps).
2003 - start of regional rugby.
Stated aim to develop Welsh professional rugby talent.
not available to play for Wales
Newport Gwent Dragons 2008/9
the 'mostly uncapped All Black and Ambers' - Joe Bearman (England), Adam Black (England), Andrew Hall (Scotland - 1 cap),
Hoani McDonald (NZ), James Alridge (NZ - 4 caps for Japan), Rory Sidey
(Australia), Marc Stcherbina (Australia), Grant Webb (NZ), Tom Willis
(NZ - 5 caps)
BACKING LEWIS WILL NOT HELP NEWPORT
Aug 7 - The news that Steve Lewis is up
for election for the District A representative position with the WRU
should worry everyone associated with Newport. Lewis along with his
mates in the media will do everything possible to pursue their
politically correct 'Gwentist' approach to rugby ensuring that every
village side has a say in how rugby in Newport should be run. Lewis was
at the forefront of the mythical consortium slavishly back by Davey and
co. Only for it to be revealed as built on sand. Let us hope that the
WRU has now handed back its 50 per cent share in the regional rugby side
as promised so long ago. The running of professional and
semi-professional rugby should be the responsibility of those clubs and
not rest with interfering politicos like Lewis. The district
representatives of the WRU should maintain their focus on the
development of the amateur game.
Sep 2 - Thankfully Lewis did not make the
grade and lost heavily to Ken Hewitt, the incumbent.
BRING BACK CHRIS ANDERSON!(?)
Jan 13 - Strange that Paul Turner is
washing his dirty linen in public again? Robin Davey slavishly reports
that Turner is in negotiations with the Newport Gwent Dragons board.
Possibly to renew his contract. The only sane response to this situation
is - why? What has he done in three years to merit any reconsideration?
The answer is surely, nothing. Certainly, he has aired his ideological
views about the so-called region. There is no doubt that he is committed
to the mythical land that is Gwent. But let's put aside his boring
non-rugby utterances. What has he done in a rugby sense to justify even
a second look? Two of the worst defeats by any team playing out of
Rodney Parade, to Italian sides with appalling records in any form of
European competition....9th and 10th in the pisspoor Magners League..the
almost impossible failure to qualify for the Heineken Cup. Even the much
vaunted "making the most of a bad job" style of coaching could be seen
as a mis-representation, player development, signings..hmm! I think the
facts may suggest more than a few negatives there as well.
Throughout it all Turner has had a well
oiled publicity machine in his favour from an obvious quarter but the
fact remains that Chris Anderson had a far better outcome on the field
(where it matters) with not dissimilar resources.
Isn't it typical of Welsh rugby to reward
under-achievement? There are enough comfort zones already in our
competitions and amongst our complacent administrators and players. It's
time for the Board to show some balls. Do not even consider making the
same mistake again!
Turner should take with him his baggage,
his 'streets of Gwent' lyricism, his 'D' word, his 'G' word, his well
oiled publicist and leave Newport to take back its rugby team.
REGIONAL RUGBY IS NOT WORKING SAY
ANGLO WELSH JOURNALISTS
Jan 2 - Stephen Jones - Rugby
Correspondent of the Sunday Times - Sunday December 30 - castigates the
notion of provincial or regional rugby clubs. When referring to Wales he
says "there is growing opinion that the teams there are drifting and
that they should be returned as soon as possible to the four cities
which nurtured them over a century ago....in their heart, rugby's
followers want to belong. Few of them feel part of a region. Many of
them are addicted to the adrenalin thrill of watching a team from their
history and also from their present, winning a big rugby match; and more
to the point, playing that match in their own backyard. Kingsholm is
some backyard but it draws one hell of a big family." For Kingshom
five years ago you could have read Rodney Parade.
Steve Bale - Daily Express - January 2
"If ever a place needed an investment, it is Rodney Parade, but this
piece of once-hallowed Welsh ground also needs a team worthy of the
stadium development the board have stated will occur after this season.
It also needs a team to play on it. Chairman Martyn Hazell has
not made good on an undertaking to make a major international signing.
Unless someone is found to finance a club who, in their original Newport
incarnation had one of the finest histories in rugby, even this
low-achieving side could simply dissolve."
WILL HE STAY..OR WILL HE GO? He
will probably stay, but he might go, it is an easy story to write (for
Dec 24 - A controversial 'Gwenter' could be staying at
the end of the season despite calls for the end of his tedious reign.
The person has been with the Draggedups since the arrival of regional
rugby over four years ago and has almost been a regular member of the
The 87-year-old, who also attempts to witter on about
anything else that enter his head was asked about his future plans he
would not reply other than to say: "We'll have to wait and see what my
long-term future holds." When pressed further his only comment was, "We
live in the present and can't worry about the past or the future." But
he stopped well short of giving any indication that he would be staying
with the newspaper. He admitted this year has not been the best in his
career. "It's been a mixed bag," he said. "At the start I was in favour
with Turnip (Dragoons leader), then I missed out on the Stadium story
which was really disappointing, but I fought back hard and when we lost
to that major Italian team I was at my brown-nosing best."
"We can find excuses, plenty of excuses for the
situation we're in with the Dragqueens but at the moment it is all the
fault of the die-hard Newport people, its the Gwent hordes I feel sorry
for. After all, Newport is running the club, its in the name...continued
on page 94.....although next week I may blame somebody else. I am
certainly not to blame, although everyone hangs on my every word. I can
say players are leaving/staying with out any information to support it
other than their vague statements, likewise I can argue that the
Dragoles will receive reduced funding or could go out of existence
without evidence for this. The failures of the team on the field have
nothing to do with the results. The results are the management's fault.
The coach has no control over how the team plays, tactics employed. It
certainly not the players fault either. Turnip is marvellous, have you
heard his album 'streets of Gwent' it's stirring stuff. Although I
exempt certain people from criticism like those that support the club
financially, who I must not upset too much.....back to page 94
WHATEVER HAPPENS, THE COACH WILL
Nov 19 - The biggest defeat suffered by a
team playing out of Rodney Parade in the Heineken Cup but not the most
embarassing. Losing to Parma is still the ultimate. Welsh region Newport
Gwent Dragons were taken apart by English Premiership club side London
Irish in front of 6,000 aghast and very quiet spectators. London Irish
could not not believe their luck. With Catt and Richards at half back
they looked a class apart. Evans and Sweeney seemed mere amateurs by
comparison. Their line out was super effective despite the Dragons
having the tallest man on the pitch. The Dragons played three open sides
for much of the game and left huge yawning gaps around the ruck area.
But nothing was done until far too late in the game (the introduction of
Bearman). Evans was done like a kipper by Richards but Williams'
introduction to the game on the hour was after the damage had been
Kevin Morgan had a disastrous game at full
back and contributed by errors to two of the Exiles tries.
The defeat had nothing to do with the
relative squad strengths. Tactical errors were made by the Dragons
coaches and they should accept that they have failed once too often. But
no doubt the excuses are already being penned -"lack of money", "making
the best of bad lot", "young boys courageous in defeat", "learn from it
come back stronger", "streets of Gwent blah!blah!" It is all trite,
patronising garbage. If the team was still a professional Newport side
Turner and his cronies would be long gone but as this is not a proper
side, merely an extended squad of the national team where results in
important club competitions are a side issue, it does not matter. The
team will qualify for the Heineken Cup in perpetuity barring miracles no
matter how crap it is and it will never face the prospect of relegation.
Regional team supporters and their disappointments or feelings of anger
and frustration are irrelevant. Whatever the consequences, in Welsh
regional rugby the coach and his multi-tasking associates can carry on
THE BIG DEBATE DROSS
Oct 26 - We appear to be having a 'big
debate' in Welsh rugby to find out what went wrong in the World Cup. It
is such a big debate that the answers have already been formulated by
the WRU and their subservient media.
Exclusively I can reveal their conclusions
- We need a foreign coach on the grounds
that it that the last Welsh one was not as good as the one before, even
though the last overseas coach we had was awful. Anyway, a Southern
Hemisphere coach is bound to support our pisspoor regional rugby system.
- We need to destroy the Premiership as it
has failed to develop players for our red-hot regional teams. The
Premiership is the last vestige of club rugby with its backward view of
the world based on identity, supporters and promotion and relegation.
These are all things that must be removed from our game in Wales.
Therefore, it must also be blamed for our failure in the World Cup.
The 'Big Debate' could, of course, look at
our professional tier, the players, coaches and all the followers on
paid for by television revenue received by the WRU. What about analysing
our dreadful performance in meaningful competitions? Unfortunately,
nothing will be allowed to cast doubt on the latest in a long line of
mistakes made by the WRU in administering rugby in Wales. We could ask
what we have gained by removing a proper hierarchy from our club
game not allowing clubs the opportunity to progress up and down the
pyramid? We could ask why the WRU has any role in the professional game,
should they not just get on with developing the amateur and
international game as per the RFU?
The media has not offered any insight in
to the parlous state of our game. We have the worst journalists
commenting on the game in Wales in our history. Robin Davey, Andy
Howell, Simon Thomas etc. are not opinion formers. They have nothing to
offer. We also have a group of incoherent former players who have their
own puny media careers reliant on BBC Wales / S4C's close relationship
with the WRU. (I criticised rugby coverage on BBC Wales in a Newport RFC
programme article once and was advised it could not be included as they
are 'sponsors' of our game via the television contract). This group of
players and journalists cannot even countenance any changes to
professional rugby and are quite happy rambling on about who should be
Elite Performance Director. Quite frankly, who cares when our rugby is
As ever Paul 'streets of Gwent' Turner has
offered his solution. Effectively get rid of the Premiership and replace
it with an 'A' league of regional teams. This would mirror the English
structure where for all its faults there is a wealth of home-grown young
playing talent. But Paul, what about the rest of the English method? You
cannot simply take the parts that suit your regional agenda. We need to
look at strong club identities, promotion / relegation, more freedom for
clubs to invest in the market place and seek out business investment and
sponsorship. The 'A' league will suit the needs of any lazy regional
coach who cannot be bothered to watch club games. Turner's reputation as
a coach who develops young players is open to question anyway.
Perhaps therein lies the answer to the
appalling state of a professional game. We need to do everything we can
to tie our playing structure in with the most successful league in
Europe, the Guinness Premiership. The WRU should do whatever it can to
bring our professional and semi professional teams in to the English
fold. If not possible immediately it ought to be preparing for it in the
future. The pointless Magners League is a commercial and playing
disaster and it is obvious in the short term we would be better off with
a six team professional league. The Irish and Scots regard the Magners
League as a joke, so we should take them on at face value.
Getting in to the Guinness Premiership and
English league structure would reinvigorate our club rugby but it would
have to be at a substantial price. This is the challenge for the WRU, it
would have to renegotiate cross border agreements, television contracts,
sponsorship etc. But the price of failure to do this is the end of
professional rugby in Wales.
CLUBS 3 OTHERS 1
Oct 10 - It was rugby's most exhilirating
weekend in recent memory. England summoned up all their doggedness,
sheer guts and composure under pressure to see off cocky Australia in a
titantic tussle. Even better, France pulled past now traditional
bottlers New Zealand in a stunning match in Cardiff. Fiji joyously
dragged South Africa back level before failing to hold on. Argentina
were made to play for fifteen minutes at the end of their disappointing
game by plucky but ineffective Scotland. Rugby union captured the
spotlight, two sleeping giants of the Northern Hemisphere awoke leaving
Henry and Connolly nursing broken strategies and plans.
And best of all it was players from the
club teams of Europe who led the way. England, France and Argentina are
drawn from the strongest club based leagues in the world. When the chips
are down the players showed they knew how to handle pressure and close
games down. They also showed that they are more than a physical match
for anything the southern hemisphere can throw at them. England's front
row (Sheridan, Regan and Vickery) made mincemeat of their vaunted Aussie
opponents. Sebastian Chabal left in McCaw, Collins and co. in his wake
as he made his entrance as the ultimate impact player on Saturday.
Pichot and Hernandez continued their show as the best half back pairing
in the championship. All these guys play in meaningful competitive
matches, week in, week out. They put their bodies on the line every time
sometimes at the expense of their international ambitions. But when it
came down to it they had the steely determination to confront their
opponents head-on and the composure to close games out to claim victory.
They do not play in half baked fixtures
that are rehearsals for the national team. They rarely play in front of
less than 10,000 fans. They have club supporters, not high street or
armchair fans. They always play to win. They have top class officials,
sponsors, facilities. They get results - look at the Heineken Cup, Six
Nations - when it matters. Their club structures are competitive all the
way down the pyramid - not just at the top. And yet we cannot see the
writing on the wall.
OPTION 1 - We should be doing everything
we can to play in the best competitions and allow our clubs to
flourish in the market place of professional rugby. We have to find a
way in to the Guinness Premiership, offer the RFU a significant
entry fee and get in to the English league hierarchy further down the
structure as well. It will reinvigorate our rugby and who knows some of
the success may be rub off on our players.
OPTION 2 - Carry on as we are. In which
case we might aswell abandon professional rugby, do an Argentina and let
our best players go on to play in the French and English leagues.
TURNER - THE VERDICT
Oct 3 - Top Welsh coach Pauline 'Turnip'
Turner has issued the verdict all of Welsh rugby has been waiting to
hear. Paul strolled the 'streets of Gwent' with top sports journalist
Robin 'scoop' Davey and delivered the following in depth analysis of our
rugby crisis -
"We lost to Parma, no sorry Fiji, its not
the end of the world. There must be an international equivalent to the
Challenge Cup out there somewhere. And strictly Come Dancing is back on
"I am ruling myself out of consideration
for the Wales job. I am quite happy destroying Newport rugby for the
time being. There is very little left for me to destroy at international
"Every other level of rugby is crap, the
Premiership, the academies, everything. The only thing that is not crap
is regional rugby. It has been a soaraway success. The players in the
Premiership are vastly overpaid and it is not an effective breeding
ground for young talent. Whereas at regional level we are not getting
proper recognition for our success."
"Things may be low at the moment but I saw
a boy in Newbridge drop kick a can over a Smart car shouting out
'Gwent!Gwent! Gwent!' It brought a tear to my eye. That boy will go on
to greatness in our glorious fatherland/region one day."
LOST FOR WORDS?
Sep 30 - Are you lost for words at the
Welsh defeat to Fiji? Despite the brilliance of the match Wales came
second to a team with hardly any set piece play or kicking game. They
gave the Fijians the ball and were unable to contain them defensively.
But this is not an isolated instance. The
2005 Grand Slam win has masked our continuing decline as a rugby nation.
That is the crushing reality of the failure to reach the quarter finals
despite having been placed in the easiest of the available pools.
Welsh players and teams are consistently
failing at all levels of competitive rugby. There is no evidence that
the structure put in place by the Welsh Rugby Union is producing results
or allowing the game to flourish. Our performances in the Six Nations
and the Heineken Cup fit the same bill. There is little point in blaming
Gareth Jenkins and his coaching team when they do not have the quality
of player available to take Wales forward in major competitions.
Just to look at one aspect of play for
much of yesterday's game yesterday the Welsh seemed overwhelmed by the
intensity of general Fijian play particularly when they were taking the
ball forward or in the tackle area. They are not used to high intensity
rugby. It is rare they play in it.
Some further thoughts -
The Magners League is a pointless waste of
time. We need to link up with the English, we have nothing in common
with Ireland and Scotland.
We need competitions with meritocracy
allowing new teams to come through, ring fencing teams makes for boring
competitions and takes the marketplace out of rugby. There are too many
comfort zones for our players, teams and administrators.
Give us proper clubs in proper
Before the march Fijian outside half Nicky
Little stated Welsh players. He was right.
Give Newport back its youth team.
Andy Howell does not what he is talking
here. But you knew that already.
Eddie Butler in the Observer today "The
only way forward in Wales is to live at the table of England. It is what
made Welsh rugby what it is. Isolated in her own company, or the company
of fellow Celts, Welsh rugby has polarised towards the romantic notion
of a running game. But when Welsh clubs had to cross the border to
Gloucester and Bath, they had to have a pack, too. The clubs of the
east, from Pontypool to Ebbw Vale, from Newbridge to Newport, used to
provide the pack-horses for the dancers of the west. All the clubs of
Gwent are in a state of disrepair, discarded by those that chase the
dragon of fancy."
BEST NEWS IN AGES
Sep 6 - The news of the planned
redevelopment of Rodney Parade as the venue for our city's rugby teams
is the best news since the regional disaster got under way in 2003. It
took Newport City Council to bang heads together and to finally get
everyone to admit that a city centre stadium offers the best solution
for professional rugby in the area. And since Rodney Parade was already
there, why not use the infrastructure available and design a new stadium
on the site? Financed by land sales and residential apartments within
the development and no doubt underpinned by finance from the City
Council the proposal offers the first optimistic note for Newport fans
in some time. Well done to everyone involved.
Better this than the weasel words of Robin
Davey and his promise of some far off consortium with no business plan
and a desire to destroy Newport RFC. Interesting to read the words of
Paul Flynn MP the other day on his website about this group
"There have been tantalising approaches by
a shadow consortium. They visited me and I was left with more questions
than answers. They did not show their hand and the suspicion is that
they were outsiders out to make a killing out of Newport historic rugby
loyalty. Who Knows?"
The main imperative now is getting the
stadium built and ensuring that Newport RFC remain its owners. I am a
shareholder and while I wholeheartedly welcome the development nothing
should be done to undermine the institution that has played there and
run the place for so long.
There is the also the little matter of
where the teams should play in 2009-10 while the development is under
way. It makes sense for Newport Gwent Dragons (or whatever they are
called by then) to play at an established ground with sufficient seating
for its season ticket holders, able to provide bars and corporate
hospitality and with adequate floodlighting particularly for tv
coverage. Looking around the nearest to the mark is Cardiff Arms Park.
There is no way they could play much more than a friendly at the poxy
grounds of our regional outposts and why should they? Torfaen,
Monmouthshire and Blaenau Gwent will not be investing a penny in the new
rugby stadium for a team that supposedly represents them. Newport
Stadium, although a better prospect, would need significant additional
seating and temporary bar facilities. The latter may be a more suitable
venue for Newport RFC (if the City Council can sort the pitch out and
move Llanwern FC elsewhere) as it can accommodate 1-2,000 comfortably.
With the stadium development Newport can
once again influence its destiny as a rugby city. Who knows with a
vibrant city and increasing population and more pride in being a
Newportonian the momentum may be unstoppable. But that's for another
day. On the rugby front, this was the best news in ages. Lord Islwyn
DOMESTIC RUGBY SHAMBLES
Aug 10 - The new rugby season is underway.
Gareth Jenkins is taking a beating for the disastrous defeat (62-5) at
the hands of England but it is hardly his fault that he does not have
the playing talent at his disposal to combat a mighty English
pack. Should Jenkins be taking the blame for the inherent weakness in
Regional / Celtic rugby is characterised
by poor forward play and a lack of intensity in the tackle area. There
is a competition for the ball on the ground due to the interpretation of
the laws in the Celtic countries but frequently our forwards are lazy
and do not roll away from the tackled player once the tackle is over.
Our set piece play is generally poor, we have few dominant line out
jumpers and our game is not producing powerful scrummagers. The front
row battle in England or France means that you face Sheridan, Marconnet,
de Villiers, White, Hayman etc. in domestic action week in and week out.
English or French tight forwards are constantly being pressurised and
confronted by the calibre of their opponents, including overseas players
attracted to their League competitions.
Matches between our regional teams are
rehearsals for the national team and do not have the level of naked
aggression and frankly the nasty edge required. The players know one
another too well. There are too many comfort zones for them. Prior to
the England match stories were invented for our national press to
indicate that the Welsh training camp was a battle zone with players
knocking chunks out of one another. Surely they should be doing this on
the rugby field in matchplay as well?
The new domestic season will be with us
shortly. The Scottish Rugby Union's takeover of Edinburgh is undoubtedly
a negative blow to the Magners League. It means Stephen Larkham will not
be joining them and will seek offers elsewhere. Meanwhile, the piss-poor
Magners League has failed to attract an international signing of
significance compared to the huge influx of Springboks and All Blacks
into France and England. Long may this continue, the marketplace should
be allowed to dictate where players play rather than the unions, who
have made such a mess of governing the game.
Newport Gwent Dragons have yet to make a
signing of note. We were promised a Russian but Vladmir Putin won't let
him leave the homeland. No, I got confused with the Litvinenko saga
again, sorry. Paul Turner will be scouring the world from 'Gwent' born
talent, but eventually he will realise that there is very little out
there and most of it is not from his mythical paradise. Indeed, he will
also realise that the non-Gwent talent has no intention of playing for
him anyway. By the way Paul, 'we' did not sign Gary Teichmann. 'Newport'
signed Gary Teichmann and you are no Tony Brown.
The proper Black and Ambers will be
stepping out in the ultimate village league, the Premiership, which is
becoming almost as pointless as the Magners League. The WRU make up the
rules as they go along. Promotion and relegation are needless
side-issues. And anyone who says the playing standard in this League has
improved is joking. Dwindling crowds are a barometer of spectator
interest in this competition and for many who watch the games it fills
in the gap between beers on a Saturday afternoon off. It is providing
very little in the way of up and coming talent and for the clubs there
is no hope of progressing or developing as there is a bar on moving up
to the regional level. It is highly likely that Neath will be the
dominant force in the Premiership again. Lord Islwyn
A LEAGUE OF THEIR
Jul 28 - We are promised a feast of rugby
in the Magners League by the apologists for regional rugby. Its
interesting to compare the squads being assembled by the respective
leagues next season other than domestic movements. Find attached notable
Glasgow - Daryl Gibson
(New Zealand), Leinster - Ollie Le Roux (South Africa),
Edinburgh - Stephen Larkham (Australia)
GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP / Division 2
BATH - Michael Claassens
(South Africa), Paulica Ion (Romania), Butch James (South Africa)
BRISTOL - Graeme Beveridge (Scotland), Kevin Maggs
(Ireland) GLOUCESTER - Lesley Vainikolo (Bradford RL),
Gareth Delve (Wales)), Alasdair Dickinson (Scotland), Alasdair
Strockosch (Scotland), Jeremy Paul (ACT Brumbies/Autralia), Gareth
Cooper (Wales), Chris Patterson (Scotland) HARLEQUINS -
De Wet Barry (The Stormers/South Africa). LEICESTER -
Mefin Davies (Wales), Aaron Mauger (New Zealand), Owen Finegan
(Australia) LONDON IRISH - Tom Curran (Australia),
Jeremy Staunton (Ireland) NEWCASTLE - Ross Beattie
(Border Reivers/Scotland), Carl Hayman (Otago/NZ) SALE
- Luke McAlister (Auckland Blues/New Zealand), Scott Lawson, Rory Lamont
(Scotland), Julien Laharrague (France)
SARACENS - Chris Jack
(Canterbury Crusaders/NZ) WORCESTER - Rico Gear
(Canterbury Crusaders/NZ), Greg Rawlinson (Auckland Blues/NZ), Sam
Tuitupou (Auckland Blues/NZ). DIV 2 / Northampton - Joe
van Niekerk (SA)
FRENCH TOP 14 / Division 2
Percy Montgomery (SA), Chris Cussier, Nathan Hines (Scotland) CLERMONT
AUVERGNE - Jon Smit, Marius Joubert (SA), TOULOUSE -
Byron Kelleher (NZ), Macus di Rollo (Scotland) BIARRITZ
- Ashley Willemse (SA), TOULON - George Gregan (Aus),
Andrew Mehrtens (NZ), Lawrence Sephaka (SA)CASTRES -
Kees Meeuws (NZ) MONTAUBAN - Scott Murray (Scotland),
STADE FRANCAIS - Simon Taylor (Scotland)
ANDERSON v TURNER
Jul 10 - Chris Anderson the former Newport
Gwent Dragons coach has been chastised by Robin Davey and others for
criticising the poor set up of professional rugby in Wales. Anderson
described it as fifteen years behind the times. Davey fires back in
today's Argus "for Anderson to hit out at Welsh rugby in the way he has
beggars belief. For a start what does he know about rugby union?
Precious little on the evidence of his 12-month tenure at Rodney
Parade." Well, any review of the record book may tell a different story.
Anderson's brief tenure as coach was highly successful when compared to
Paul 'streets of Gwent' Turner.
ANDERSON 2004/5 Celtic
League Position 4th Points 50
TURNER 2005/6 Celtic
League Position 8th Points 45
TURNER 2006/7 Celtic
League Position 9th Points 39
ANDERSON 2004/5 Heineken
Cup POOL 5 2nd Points 15 (won 3, lost 3)
TURNER 2005/6 Heineken
Cup POOL 1 3rd Points 6 (won 1, lost 5)
TURNER 2006/7 Heineken
Cup Did Not Qualify
Anderson's 2004/5 Heineken
Cup team were the highest placed Welsh team in the qualifying stages.
Not bad for someone who hasn't got a clue
about rugby union!
TURNER'S ROLE IN
'STADIUM' PLAN NEEDS TO BE REVIEWED
June 10 - On May 4 the South Wales Argus
trumpeted a Jerry Sherman type take over of Newport Gwent Dragons and
the proposal to build the Steve Lewis Dome at an undisclosed site within
the City of Newport. Six weeks on, despite the calls from Newport City
Council (May 18th) and Newport Unlimited (June 6th) there is still no
sign of the consortium or its backers.
It is worth reflecting now
on the intial coverage of this apparent fiction. The sullen presence of
Steve Lewis, the dead hand of Robin Davey and enthusiastic backing of
Paul Turner are all to be seen and/or heard. Indeed, Turner was
extolling the virtues of this plan to supporters during the Dragons' ill
fated venture to Clermont Auvergne. Apparently, he spent a lot of time
pushing the interests of this idea and working with those involved. Was
this at the expense of time spent working for his employer? And what
exactly was his connection with the new group? Was he promised a rugby
position in return for his support for their aims? As a solid man of
Gwent no doubt he would have fitted in with their view of Welsh rugby.
The questions should now be asked. It was an unsettling episode
and reassurance should be sought that Turner was working in the best
interests of his current employer.
HOW HAZELL SHOULD
RESPOND TO TURNER
May 21 - So Paul Turner has made a much
publicised request for major investment from Martyn Hazell in players
for the coming season.
Turner has just guided Newport Gwent
Dragons to a narrow victory over a plucky but poor Calvisano side to
ensure their place in next year's Heineken Cup. In their three away
fixtures in this year's Heineken Cup the Italians mustered 23 points and
conceded 140 points. They shipped 50 points at home to Neath Swansea
Ospreys. But Turner's Dragons conspired to almost lose to them.
For the second year running Turner guided
his team to bottom slot of the four Welsh teams. This year they were a
full 18 points adrift of the third team, Llanelli. They were ninth as
opposed to eighth. In 2004/5 under the much maligned Chris Anderson they
In Turner's first season he finished off
matters with a humiliating defeat at the hands of Overmach Parma, the
only time in the short history of regional rugby that a Welsh
professional team has pulled off the near impossible and failed to
qualify for the Heineken Cup.
His signings - Hinton, Jess, Stewart etc.
have reflected a poor sense of judgement and look at all the players
that have come and gone. I won't start a list it will take up most of
the website. Their departure is invariably attributed by Robin Davey to
lack of ambition, facilities, better prospects elsewhere etc. The
departure notes could be written by Turner but few of them want to stick
around and carry on the good work wih him.
Time after time we are told he is good at
getting the best out of young players - well, put him in charge of the
academy set up then! Get a proper coach in to run the senior side and
get rid of the failures and show ponies surrounding Turner who only have
an interest in preening themselves for a future Welsh coaching role.
Off the field he has pursued his own
political agenda. His 'streets of Gwent' refrain at every turn has bored
away a whole generation of Newport supporters who have no interest in
what happened when he grew up amongst close knit communities, butties,
sheep worriers, and constant choral harmonies in a non-existent
county. Neither do they have any interest where Blaenavon is or how
everyone is getting on in Aberbeeg.
The hand of Turner has been evident in the
trumped up stories about a takeover bid for Newport Gwent Dragons and a
possible San Siro like stadium complex for 5k Dragons fans and 1k County
fans. He has wittered on for most of the season via his mouthpiece Davey
about such a scheme. And now thanks to two blokes and a company
registration he can indulge himself a little. Through the columns of the
Argus he has spent too much of his time undermining the Board of the
Newport Gwent Dragons, questioning their motives and saying he does not
have the tools to do his job, excuse, blah blah. But at times you are
left to question who Turner is working for, I am sure his current
employer is often left wondering that one every day of the week.
Each defeat is justified by "we only had
kids out there" or "it was a great night for Gwent rugby even though we
lost". Heroic, battling, gallant young Dragons are eulogised by Robin
Davey as they lose to mighty Connacht or Edinburgh. At some point the
coach or manager has to take responsibility for events on the field. He
has yet to.
Too often in rugby, particularly Welsh
rugby, failure is rewarded. In a proper competitive league Turner would
have been sacked by now. 8th and 9th in the Celtic League consecutive
seasons and a season of European Challenge Cup rugby is seen as progress
using the peculiar standard applied by Davey and other apologists. They
have allowed the coach to get away with murder and to pursue a personal
agenda detrimental to the future of rugby in the city of Newport. Martyn
Hazell's best investment plan would be to show Paul Turner the door!
FATE OF NEWPORT RUGBY MAY LIE WITH
SHAREHOLDERS AND WITH BROWN
- There is every reason to believe that those running
Newport Gwent Dragons will be happy to surrender control of the
side...if the price is right. The Welsh Rugby Union through Chief
Executive Roger Lewis has indicated that it may be necessary to
review the Participation Agreement for regional rugby if the takeover
bid goes ahead. This is a clear indication that Newport RFC's
controlling interest in the Dragons would disappear as would the
prospect of the new entity being a Newport standalone. Steve Lewis, a
backer of the bid has
trumpeted the prospect of overseas signings should it go ahead. Robin
Davey has claimed that a new stadium will be built to serve the new
So far then, a lot of talk but no detail. We have
become accustomed to this from Davey and Lewis.
There are two key interests missing in all this -
Newport Rugby Football Club and Rodney Parade. No mention so far of
In order to finance their dream will these 'Gwent' businessmen need to
sell off the prize
asset currently in the possession of the shareholders of Newport RFC -
If this comes to a vote every
shareholder should remember their responsibilities to 132 years of first
rugby in Newport. They should remember the duty to
those who have worn the famous black and amber and their responsibility to
ensure that Newport RFC is preserved
and also the
name of 'Newport' is preserved in any future
professional / first class team representing the area. They should also
not be persuaded or tempted
to sell the family silver for short term personal
The role of shareholders will be crucial - RP
requires a one member one vote ballot of shareholders and a 75 per cent
vote in favour.
The role of Tony Brown will also be vital.
Despite his illness and recent lack of contact with the club his
recommendation is likely to influence shareholders. Although it should
be remembered that his good intentions set up the
Dragons their existence has been troubled on and off the field and they
have never adequately replaced the Newport professional team that went
before. In other words supporting the WRU and getting in to bed with
Ebbw Vale was one of the biggest mistakes ever made by Newport RFC. In
effect, the club disappeared whereas both Cardiff and Llanelli survived
as standalone entities. In the light of this historic error it is
to be hoped that the Tony and the Board use their influence to extract
every possible advantage for Newport RFC from the consortium and that
there is a
satisfactory conclusion to this.
BE A BIG PLAYER IN LEAGUE FOOTBALL
May 2 - Newport
County proved in
the last couple of weeks that it is well on course to regaining football
league status within 4-5 years. The hardcore support is unfaltering and
the undercurrent of potential and passion for the club is endless. I
truly believe if County were in
position we’d be averaging much more than the miserly 12/13000 that CCFC
are getting in the second tier of English Football. The identity and
pride of the County being a true people’s club is also heart-warming and
ensure the club remains
in good hands. I have been looking at the populations of regional clubs
within the English premiership and it makes interesting reading.
Discounting the teams from the huge major cities of
England it certainly makes you think
just what could be achieved!
When you consider where
Bolton are currently lying with a similar population to
it just shows how far careful and considerate planning can take you. I
would also consider County to potentially be bigger than Fulham, Watford
and possibly Charlton but because of the
London factor I couldn’t work this out on a
population basis. My vision for the
medium-term future of NCFC is a football purpose only stadium with no
athletics at all. I see this as the key factor of progress as I don’t
in it’s current guise is fit for league football. I would then like to
see all four sides of the stadium moved closer to make a compact more
intimidating ground whilst retaining the current land for future
development. I see no reason why in about the year 2025 we should not be
in Bolton’s position of European
football and a 25,000 all-seater stadium. The
future’s bright, the future’s Amber! O.Dyke
'TOP TEAM IN GWENT' GARBAGE
Apr 27 - Newport will finish their Welsh
Premiership season against Pontypridd aiming to be the 'top team in
Gwent' according to our local rag. Apparently, Ebbw Vale are vying with
them for the honour of being top dog in a mythical county. What a load
of codswallop. Newport are the top team in the locality, always have
been, they run the regional team there is no honour to be contested.
Anyway, some title.
The pity of it is that despite their
longstanding pre-eminence that as Newportonians we are not able to utter
the 'N' word when referring to the professional team for fear of arrest
by the regional rugby thought police. And we have a pale shadow of the
real Black and Ambers playing in the village league. The rugby identity
of the City is at an all time low ebb. We have allowed idiots like
Turner and Davey to dictate their ridiculous agenda at the cost of the
Black and Ambers. Now we have Newport sidelined in a pointless Welsh
competition and the Newport name virtually excluded from an equally
pointless Celtic League. The worst of all possible worlds. But as I am
constantly reminded we must move with the times. After all, that's
progress! Lord Islwyn
ENGLISH AND FRENCH CLUBS ARE
Apr 5 - The decision by the English and
French clubs to pull out of the Heineken Cup is a welcome one. By so
doing they are battling for the future identity of the game of rugby
union in the northern hemisphere. These two major nations are the last
bastions of club rugby and long may they continue. Their domestic
leagues are thriving with huge media focus, international appeal and
matches played in ever larger stadiums before a growing audience.
Between them they have provided nine of the eleven winners. In 1999 when
Ulster were victorious there were no English sides in the competition.
Their decision may be based on their
desire to ensure that the English clubs obtain equal representation on
the board of the European Rugby Cup but it is also motivated by a desire
to redress the unfair balance of power in competitions. English and
French domestic competitions are season long events with play off and
relegation issues in which teams are at full strength and highly
competitive. The Celtic League is by contrast a joke with half strength
Irish teams for much of the season, and Scottish teams for the most part
barely above the Welsh Premiership standard. The final irony is that 9
of the 11 teams in the Celtic League despite the pisspoor quality of
the event are allowed entry in to the Heineken Cup whereas only 6 teams
from France and England are normally permitted. 3 of the 6 English teams
have made it to the semi final stage this year. The imbalance is totally
unfair and prevents some English players from the opportunity to play in
the Heineken Cup at the same time as their Celtic cousins are virtually
guaranteed a chance to compete in it, despite being rubbish.
Perhaps it is time for the English and
French clubs to organise their own competition away from the dead hand
of their domestic unions and the province dominated Celtic League. They
can generate their own income, sponsorship and television revenue
without the interference of organisations like the RFU and WRU.
And perhaps our Welsh 'teams' can be a
little less sanctimonious about the issue? Who the hell are the Ospreys
anyway? They have wasted money on big signings to play Connacht and
Glasgow and then bleat at the English and French because they are
'selfish' for wanting to control their own destiny and run their own
competitions. Without big matches against the major English teams those
signings are pointless. Hazell's Dragons now look like they knew what
was happening all along. Even though they didn't. Their Premiership Plus
squad now seems like a sound investment for a season without competitve
rugby in Wales.
Hopefully, the decision by the English and
French will be the reality check northern hemisphere rugby needs. Let
freedom reign, let the clubs control their destiny and allow market
forces to flourish and remove the controlling interest of the unions.
The pity of it is we have not got club owners in Wales with the
financial clout or the guts to stand shoulder to shoulder with the
English and French. Lord Islwyn
BASIL BRUSH SAYS "I'M NO PUPPET"
AS HE VOWS TO BACK DRAGONS
Feb 28 - Following months of tiresome
press speculation the wait is over. Basil Brush has emerged as the new
backer of Newport Gwent Dragons. Brush says he will invest heavily to
ensure the success of the regional team. He immediately denied
suggestions he was a stooge of the existing Board of Directors "The very
idea that there is someone controlling my actions is an outrageous slur.
If you want proof of this I suggest you talk to Mr. Derek or one of my
new friends at CBBC!"
The popular entertainer will provide much
needed new investment to the Dragons in return for them providing an
outlet for 'Brush' merchandise including the well known soft drink
"Pokey pola". Small tweed capes will shortly be available in the Club
shop with very small amounts of black and amber evident. Tweed will also
become an important part of next season's Dragons' away strip. Basil's
cousin Mortimer will also be joining the Dragons' coaching team as part
of the deal - he is growing a small dark moustache in order to meet the
exacting qualifying criteria for the role.
Basil enjoys strong Gwent connections "I
passed Newport once before, on the motorway..is that in Gwent?" His aunt
Cissie ate a Pot Noodle once. Basil also has a nephew 'a delightful
young cub' who used to live in Monmouth and remembers seeing the Dragons
on television once "He quickly turned over to watch Emmerdale, it was
really interesting, the lead up to the Tom King murder, a bit more
atmosphere than the rugby".
Brush announced that although Rodney the
Dragon was a 'dear friend' he was a 'little short on personality' and
therefore would be joined by a new upbeat mascot Basil the Fox next
season . Basil expressed deep concern for the whereabouts of old chum
Tommy the Tiger. A shaven headed Tommy, it is rumoured, has recently
entered a rehabiltation clinic following months of depression watching
Basil said he was a huge fan of coach Paul
Turner. "I have all his albums". He particularly liked his moody classic
"The Streets of Newbridge". He was delighted 'Mr. Paul' has turned his
hand to fiction and has enjoyed his fantastical works on the lost world
of 'Gwent'. He was not sure about his prowess as a rugby coach but had
heard that he was 'not very good'.
Dragons Chairman Martyn Hazell commented
"It is great to have Basil on board. He is a unique figure in the world
of entertainment (just like me) and will bring a keen business brain to
our organisation. He is making a big personal commitment to our much
loved team. Now hopefully everyone in Newport will get behind our team
as long as they don't shout Newport, even though they play in Newport
etc.etc." After much rambling Hazell denied suggestions that Brush
will rename the team from 'Dragons' to 'Foxes'. "With Basil behind us,
we will reach for the stars, it will be Boom! Boom! time for the
Robin Davey was unavailable for comment,
but is aged 94 etc.
DAVEY WINS COVETED ORDER OF THE
BROWN NOSE AWARD
Feb 20 - Robin Davey has been awarded the
coveted Order of the Brown Nose in a specially organised event held in
Newport this evening. The journalist has slavishly praised the works and
utterances of leading rugby thinker Paul Turner and has become a
foremost supporter of the regional rugby sect, the Dragons. The Order of
the Brown Nose is a richly deserved honour and has a fine history
(Stalin, Lenin, Mussolini etc.).
It is believed that Turner has
entranced Davey with his visionary approach to rugby, his stories of the
Gwent fatherland ('those Gwent streets'), his love of Romanian forward
play and small moustaches.
Davey used his weekly newspaper column
today to paraphrase an article by a Belfast journalist who claimed that
Turner is "ahead of his time as a coach and observer of the game." The
article had 'caught his eye' Davey said. I am surprised he can see
anything with the view he has of the world.
The same journalist (Peter Bills)
obviously a forward thinker himself referred to the team as Newport
Dragons but that's another matter.
Unfortunately, Davey's eye for a story has
meant that he has not provided any serious comment as yet on the
departures of Gareth Cooper and Ian Gough. We are told Ian Gough's
departure is in part due to Goughie's frustration at the inadequacy of
facilities at Rodney Parade. It will be interesting to see if Ian Gough
confirms this or if it is wishful thinking on Davey's part. Will Davey
be looking for a burly Romanian to replace Goughie, merely a man of
Davey has explained how Paul 'continues to
do everything within his powers to try to make the region a
success.' This was prior to the defeat by Parma, the most humiliating
defeat for any professional team playing out of Rodney Parade. After it
Turner said "I always said we weren't good enough for the main European
competition and I don't know why everyone is so afraid of the Challenge
Cup...It is just a stage in our development, no-one is happy about it
but we see it as an opportunity..I'm not embarrassed". Robin did not
comment on those remarks. When Turner's Dragons conceded a 13 point half
time lead and eventual victory to Llanelli in September and the coach
commented "That was a great night for Gwent rugby", Davey did not have
cause to criticise him.
When the leading thinker took his team on
a bus trip around 'Gwent' Davey could not see the joke as
sat-nav receivers came up with 'Ghent'. Then Turner stated he was
"looking at two big Moldovian forwards, a prop and a lock, playing in Russia
but with Romanian parents, which would avoid work permit problems for
players outside the EU." Davey barely raised a titter. Instead he
turned his grammatical guns on first, Newport rugby supporters and then,
Newport rugby directors challenging them to see the error of their ways,
to stop living in the past, extolling the virtue of free buses from
Garndiffaith and urging everyone to follow the teachings of Paul.
As I say a richly deserved honour. A
triumph of bluster over reason in the great tradition of journalistic
* - this award was made in my living room.
My cat accepted the paperweight denoting this award as Robin Davey was
not in the living room at the time.
THE PREMIERSHIP, WHAT IS IT GOOD
Feb 1 - Paul Turner's agreement with Kevin
Hopkins recently that Newport Gwent Dragons and the Ospreys will play an
'A' fixture begs a few questions. The purpose of the fixture is to
bridge that 'gap' between the Magners League and the Welsh Premiership.
Turner states in the recent advertisement for the idea in the Argus "The
A team format will allow us to blend a team including fully
professional, Premiership and development players in a competitive
environment and at a standard which gives us a stepping stone between
the Premiership and fully professional level." Obviously there is a huge
leap of faith for Turner between the Welsh Premiership and Magners
League fixtures against the Munster third XV or indeed mighty Borders? I
think not. The argument does not stand up. The Welsh Premiership is
supposed to be the environment for this kind of fixture but self
evidently nobody is interested in it. Turner has underlined this. His
regional agenda will eventually see an end to clubs and games will be
little more than trial matches for the region and the international
The Premiership is currently a piss poor
competition of pointless matches watched by fewer and fewer
spectators. It is only given credibility by the continued existence of
historic club names even if the teams do not live up to the past. There
is no evidence that it is producing an influx of new talent in to the
Welsh professional tier. Look at the foreign players that joined our
professional teams this season in an effort to improve their
performance. It receives little or no coverage and rarely produces rugby
of any quality. Now Turner is trying to undermine it further. If this
fixture and concept go ahead there will be little point to the Welsh
Premiership and with it the last vestiges of club rugby in Wales will be
gone. Lord Islwyn
DAVEY IS A DISGRACE part 95
Jan 9 - Robin Davey's moniker as Chief
Sports Writer of the Argus is as superficial as the team he spends so
much time writing about, Newport Gwent Dragons. Like the name of
regional team he purports to be all things to all men but stands for
He started the week by extracting a
statement from Martyn Hazell, Chairman of Newport Gwent Dragons about
the future of the professional team. Having bullied Hazell and co. to
produce this statement Davey's actions left the reader with a curious
feeling - one of sympathy for Hazell. Here was the sincere if rambling
statement of a man personally committed to the Dragons and willing to
underwrite them with his own money. It was clear that Hazell was hurt by
Davey's ludicrous insinuations of misuse of central funding and his
criticism of the failure to attract outside investment from other
benefactors. Hazell's statement gave the impression of being slightly
out of his depth but with a determination to ensure the Dragons do not
go in to debt and live within their means.
Moving aside from this apparent 'success'
Davey turned his fire on the agitators in his midst. These unnamed
individuals it appears have successfully maintained the publicity
spotlight on the campaign for a Newport standalone on a par with
Llanelli and Cardiff. They are according to Davey "fortunately a
minority.." but "the agitators' have been banging on about this issue
now for over three years, ever since the inception of regional rugby,
and they're still at it, boring the pants off everyone but themselves."
This is not true some of us realised early on that a mistake had been
made concerning the name of the regional team. We campaigned for the
change, petitioned the general public and when the name changed we
bought our season tickets. Without us it would never have got off the
ground. We gave it a go particularly as so many of our favourites,
Percy, Snowy, Fozzie still graced Rodney Parade. Some of us supported
the team for two years before making our decision. We sat in a
passionless environment watching a team playing in white with a puerile
nickname take on half strength Irish sides before waking up to the fact
that there might be better things to spend our money on. When we were
told we could not chant 'Newport' and the team did not represent
our City it was the final straw. We walked away, feeling betrayed having
campaigned for Newport in the name, finally realising that this was not
Davey may castigate us but we can still
dream that one day we will have a Newport professional rugby team. After
all the current team is subsidised and under written by our club and
plays out of our ground. And most of its supporters and season ticket
holders come from the City of Newport, even if there is a significant
shortfall on previous years.
Davey asks what team we want to support
"Is it the Newport team which lost five times to Caerphilly in season
1998-99 when crowds dwindled to around 800? Were these people on the
terraces then?" Yes it is. And I was. But he would not realise what we
are talking about. He does not recognise the strength of feeling on this
issue. He is a mere journalist flitting from one favoured team to
another. We are indelibly Newport rugby supporters.
He also states "they even objected when
the Dragons wore orange jerseys against Cardiff Blues at Christmas,
though that's the colour of the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the
Dragons were trying to help that worthy cause. I ask you." This is a
contemptible slur without evidence or justification. But as his
agitators are unnamed Davey can chastise them with impunity. It is
further evidence that he has lost the plot but it is very sad to read
such a statement in the South Wales Argus. It is not journalism more
opinion masquerading as abuse.
Despite Davey's protestations this issue
will not go away. 'The agitators' should dig in and continue the fight.
It is clear they are winning the argument.
YES, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
Dec 19 - The Dragons' mouthpiece has said
it himself 'enough is enough'. A large crowd of rugby theatregoers at
Rodney Parade on December 27th will not conceal the bleak outlook for
Newport Gwent Dragons. There is no benefactor in sight, no sign of squad
strengthening apart from possible signings from Moldova, there is no
identity or passion for the team despite plentiful supplies of free
tickets and jerseys, the coach appears to be more concerned
with promulgating myths about forgotten counties than he is with events
on the field. To cap it all there is even the prospect of Steve 'Ebbw'
Lewis having a major influence on the administration at Rodney Parade
Limited including Newport RFC. Apparently there will be another
advertorial extolling the wonders of Lewis in the Argus today. To let
him loose at Newport and its environs would be an act of corporate
vandalism of the highest order.
Perhaps Davey is now waking up to the fact
that his beloved Dragons are destined to finish bottom of the pile year
in year out. He deserves credit for realsing that there is something
beyond the freeloading that so many rely upon in his
profession. He acknowledges that the current directors are incapable of
the investment and ambition required to take the professional team
forward. Tony Brown after all was a benevolent outsider who was
introduced to Newport and stayed long enough to take control of matters.
But now the original band of brothers are back in charge. Investment
from outside is certainly needed. However, investors (even if they are
sufficiently mad to want to throw their money away) also need to be
attracted by a brand, identity and potential for improvement. The
Dragons brand means nothing and is synonymous with so many other
sporting teams particularly in Wales. Can Davey bring himself to accept
that the concept is not working and that the brand needs to be
remodelled? I will not spell it out but there is an obvious brand
'Enough is enough', yes, we have had
enough of the endless propaganda and political correctness of those
pushing the 'Gwent' agenda. Davey has been at the forefront of this and
has not resisted the opportunity to demonstrate his opposition to a
Newport standalone in vehement terms. He has pushed every publicity
button possible even exaggerating support from far flung areas of the
former county. He has given Turner undue deference and made
readable Hazell's Prescott-like utterances. But there is time to draw
back from this. The realities of commerce and business were the drivers
for including Newport in the name in the first place. They are now the
drivers for further change. Davey has had many previous incarnations, he
is well able to reinvent himself again - possibly now as the voice of
the supporter rather than the coach or the board?. Like it or not, as an
opinion former, he has a key contribution to make to this discussion
about the future of the professional team in Newport. It is about time
it was started.
HAZELL MISSES THE POINT AGAIN
Nov 29 - The decision by Newport Gwent
Dragons to support the Welsh Rugby Union's proposal to buy (again)
Stradey Park to save the Llanelli Scarlets from the ultimate
embarassment is no surprise. The Newport Gwent Dragons Board and in
particular their Chairman Martyn Hazell rarely has anything constructive
to say or to offer professional rugby in Wales or elsewhere for that
The proposal to buy back Stradey Park is
akin to the desperate rescues of ailing enterprises in British industry
who could not compete in the marketplace and spent way beyond their
means. For British Leyland or Rover substitute Llanelli Scarlets. It may
have been forgivable had this not been the second time the Scarlets have
faced oblivion. But professional rugby in Wales still has to confront
the market hence the supporter has to contend with the WRU running our
professional competitions, regional rugby and pathetic nicknames that
ridicule our rugby heritage.
In yet another no-brainer
from the tedious Robin Davey we are offered Martyn Hazell's daft
perspective on all this "There is
also a sting in the tail for the local authority in Newport from Hazell.
"Huw Evans (Llanelli benefactor who now wants some of his investment
back) has vowed to give some to Carmarthenshire County Council if it
goes ahead," he said "They will then build a new stadium for the
Scarlets; Cardiff City Council are bending over backwards to build a new
stadium and it's the same with the Ospreys. Where does that leave us
here with our council?"
Remember Martyn Newport Gwent Dragons is
not a Newport team, you do not want Newport to be chanted at its
matches! So if you are referring to 'our council' presumably this is a
reference to all local authorities in the region covered by the
professional team?If so let the Council Tax payers of Torfaen,
Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent etc. cough up their fair share for any
financial contribution towards a stadium for your unloved team. If you
want a new stadium to be considered in the city of Newport with the
support of 'our council' perhaps you can do what you can to give the
professional team back to the people of our City - it is as simple as
NOW IS THE TIME!
Oct 30 - Now we know former WRU Group
Chief Executive David Moffett believes the regional experiment has run
its course and we should return to the brand names of Welsh club rugby
(with the exception of the Ospreys area). New Group Chief Executive
Roger Lewis has talked of the need to retain the traditional names. We
also know within the WRU there are those according to the Western Mail
and others that believe the set up was a complete mistake. We know
Gwentist Steve Lewis has been effectively sidelined.
That makes the reaction of Martyn Hazell
to Moffett's comments all the more disappointing. Does he not realise
the profound mistake still being made? Has he not comprehended that the
time is right to push for the standalone status that seemed to be so
elusive previously? Moffett has given the green light to the club and
to its supporting organisations to make their voices clear and without
qualification. Let us hope the parochial and disastrous Gwent era can
now be put to one side and we can all move ahead behind a team and a
brand that is known the world over and can be marketed to the widest
possible audience. Now come on Davey, Hazell, Godfrey, FONR, Supporters
Club reps! Let's hear you make a joint statement or a common cause - get
behind a professional team called just Newport playing in Black and
Amber (with regional responsibilities of course). Lord Islwyn
NEW STADIUM IS A PIPEDREAM
Robin Davey pursuing his own news agenda,
Paul Turner speaking outside of his brief, Chris Blight with ideas above
his station. Yes that just about reflects the lead item on the back page
of the Argus tonight. Davey has wasted endless column inches talking
about the 'inadequate' facilities at Rodney Parade. Turner has
constantly criticised it and by implication the Board of Newport
RFC/Rodney Parade Ltd. (whatever they are called). Blight has already
had one stadium built for his team with significant contributions from
the taxpayers of Newport as a general sports facility.
Why should the taxpayers of Newport fork
out for this new facility when Rodney Parade is privately owned and
Newport RFC are a semi-professional club? How would other finance be
raised - presumably by the sale of Rodney Parade and agreement with
majority shareholder Tony Brown? Newport Gwent Dragons are allegedly a
regional rugby team. If they were to play at this new stadium what
contribution would Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen, Monmouthshire and Caerphilly
councils make to such a development? What contribution for that matter
would the rugby clubs of the area (now proclaiming their love of the
Dragons) be prepared to make? More to the point what would happen to
And why anyway would the City Council
already committed to massive regeneration projects in the City want to
devote finance, time and energy to such a project when the benefits to
Newport are so unclear? Lord Islwyn
A SHAMELESS PROPAGANDA RAG
is a specific type of
presentation directly aimed at influencing the
or behaviour of people, rather than
An appeal to one's emotions is, perhaps, the more obvious propaganda
method, but there are varied other more subtle and insidious forms. On
the other hand, a most common characteristic of propaganda is volume (in
the sense of a large amount). Individually propaganda functions as
self-deception. Culturally it works within religions, politics, and
economic entities like those which both favor and oppose globalization.
Commercially it works within the (mass)
societies. Definition courtesy of Wikipedia, the wonderful online
Newport Gwent Dragons match programme for
the game against Bayonne is as shameless a piece of propaganda as you
are likely to read. It makes several attempts at re-writing history.
It's use of words is cunning and manipulative. Paul Turner looks forward
to the upcoming cross border clash "It will be great to renew Gwent v
Bristol derbies". As far as I am aware Gwent never played
Bristol. He also looks foward to "pitting his wits against ...a couple
of ex-Gwent players in Jason Strange, Gareth Llewellyn and Craig
Morgan". First of all, a couple is normally two and so far as I am aware
neither Gareth Llewellyn or Craig Morgan have played for clubs in
Turner's mythical county. Gethin Jenkins, erstwhile Commercial Director
remarks that everyone has been 'greatly encouraged' by the support that
the team has been receiving at home. The implication being that it was
not there before and anyway isn't it remarkable that the people in the
ground are supporting the home team?
On page 30 we are treated to "Gwent's
Great Matches" or rather Newport's 53-17 over Newcastle in 2002. The
article has nothing to do with Gwent and indeed there is no
reference within the narrative to the area.
Throughout the programme is the heading
'Men of Gwent'. Never mind the women of Gwent you can follow
your own team.
It is noticeable that the references to
the 'N' word are getting fewer and fewer. Turner and co. are slowly
weeding them out. If you repeat a lie (i.e. Gwent) often enough it
sticks. Those of you who claim it will change from the inside look like
you have lost. The propaganda machine has won. Lord Islwyn
TURNER CLAIMS HE HEARD A FAN
SHOUT "DRAGONS" AT LEICESTER
Oct 2 - In an amazing and hysterical
outburst coach Paul Turner claims he saw a Dragons supporter getting
behind his team at Welford Road on Saturday. "It is another sign that
people are coming around to us. I distinctly saw and heard someone shout
'Come on the Dragons' at the match'. This person will signal to the
Gwent hordes that they should get behind our team. We have turned the
corner I am sure one supporter could easily become two (perhaps he could
bring his wife or even his aunt) and before you know it we will have
enough to fill a taxi or a small minibus for an away match". The
supporter was later identified as a Leicester fan and stated he had
little idea what the Dragons coach was talking about. "I was shouting to
my mate down the front of the stand 'Come on the bar's open' - next
thing I know Paul Turner stuck his thumb up to me and some twerp called
Robin Davey interviewed me and claimed I had saved Gwent rugby. We were
playing Newport I said. Gwent is in Belgium anyway isn't it?" etc.etc.
TURNER FAILS TO TRACE FATHERLAND
SEP 25 - Paul Turner's attempts to take
his squad on a tour of the fatherland of 'Gwent' foundered last week.
The satellite navigation on the bus could not locate an area called
'Gwent'. Those on board not least the players and Dragons Director Will
Godfrey were shocked to find that 'Gwent' could not be found and did not
exist. Turner has previously referred to the hordes of 'Gwent' rugby
supporters who would follow his 'regional' team. It now appears they may
not exist at all. Instead Turner explained there had been a
misunderstanding. On the way to Belgium he provided the team with a
passionate defence of his Flemish roots and said that the conveyor belt
of talented Belgian players must continue to flow. The new team name
Newport Ghent Dragons is to be considered by new WRU Chief Executive
Roger Lewis next week.
Ghent (left) -
possible site of new stadium.
The new Dragons region (Belgium)
EBBW LEWIS JOINS THE BOARD
SEP 21 - Steve Lewis, "Chief Executive" of
the Welsh Rugby Union has joined the Board of Directors of Newport Gwent
Dragons. The future of Lewis is unclear following the appointment of his
namesake Roger to the Group Chief Executive position earlier this week.
He must be personally disappointed that he has been overlooked despite a
well oiled media machine working in his favour. No good news article
relating to Welsh rugby recently was complete without a quote from Ebbw
Lewis obviously with plenty of time on his
hands will now turn his attention to destroying any remaining semblance
of 'Newport' influence on the regional team. This is a potentially
dangerous development. Martyn Hazell has organised a batallion of
Newport-leaning Directors to join at the same time as Lewis but they
will lack influence and more importantly financial clout. As Lewis said
in the Argus "They (the WRU) are putting £2.6m into the Dragons and
other regions and need a representative on the board to safeguard their
interests.All I'm interested in is having a robust and sustainable
professional rugby organisation representing South-East Wales." No doubt
the team will be cleansed of its Black and Amber kit and we will all be
reminded of the Gwent fatherland and its hordes of expectant rugby fans
at every turn.
Supposedly the WRU are taking up their 50
per cent share in the Dragons. But in practice they should keep out of
the business of running a rugby club. Their rugby is not too hot - Gower
Park/Neath, Llanelli etc. And I know there is every evidence that Hazell
and co. are not up to it since the departure of Tony Brown but even they
have little to learn from Lewis. Why should they trust anything he says?
It was Lewis (and Pickering) who poached Mike Ruddock from Newport
without any consultation or discussion with Brown. While he is an
employee of the WRU and given his past history under no circumstances
should Lewis be allowed to influence what happens at Rodney Parade. Lord
The Grand Sham
The first gland slam for Wales for
27 years in 2005 sent the nation into ecstasy, yet that success masked
the ripping apart of our national game at club level.
Wales with a team made up of players from
some of the old great clubs such as Newport,Bridgend and Pontypridd
managed to secure a grand slam against all odds,with attacking play not
seen in the northern hemisphere for many a year. Coached by old school
trainer Mike Ruddock who had considerable success with Swansea in the
90’s the team represented the start of a bright new(false!) dawn in
Welsh rugby. This was seen by the pen pushers at the WRU as a
justification for regionalism yet most of these players, some of whom
were once amateurs, were honed and brought through the much maligned
Welsh pyramid system.
Whilst we all enjoyed the success in 2005,
I did so with a tinge of scepticism, knowing what was to be proclaimed
in the weeks following. It is sad to feel any sort of resentment towards
your country of birth, but with some of us the feeling for our home town
team is more than the feeling for our country. I would rather watch a
big Newport-Cardiff derby than a Wales-England derby for instance. This
feeling of resentment towards Wales however is not an isolated incident,
there are many supporters of grass roots rugby in Wales who feel
disillusioned by the whole setup these days. I remember the magic of
international five nations day in Cardiff, the crowd at the old Arms
Park was mostly made up of club followers, now it is watched by theatre
goers’ and people with only a passing interest in the Sport.
Of course our game was run by a rather
crazy frog like character from down under at the time, a place where the
identity-less and the stupidly-named takes precedence. The Australian
Capital Territory Brumbies anyone? Thought Not!. Rugby in Wales, unlike
England and Ireland where elitism is still in place, is the people’s
game. It’s time the powers that be gave it back to us…………O.Dyke
THE NEW SEASON
AUG 23 - The season is only a couple of
weeks away but there is no sense of expectation for me. The Black and
Ambers are not the old Newport in any sense - they are a second squad
for the Dragons. There is no interest in their success. I have a
lessening interest too. The Premiership is a poor quality product and
above it there is nowhere to go. I still have not bought a season ticket
but I will probably - just to be able to shout 'Newport' without fear of
contradiction. But I still have this nagging doubt, where will the
money from my £100 ticket go? No one can answer that question, nobody
ever answers straightforward questions at Newport Rugby anymore.
As for Newport Gwent Dragons their
progress is of no interest to me. The management and marketing of the
team has been a disgrace. The pandering to a non-existent group of
supporters at the expense of Newportonians may salve the conscience of
the Gwenters at the WRU but it has served to alienate many Newportonians
and former Newport supporters. If you do not believe me look at the
large and vocal group on the Talk Newport and Gwlad websites.
Godfrey and Hazell made
their statements about the Dragons' not being a Newport team and not
shouting 'Newport' at their matches and they have to live with the
consequences. Anybody who believes that these people are capable of
securing the interests of the Newport club must surely have grave doubts given these
statements. Neither is capable of making a coherent public utterance and
I think we can forget about a proper standalone for the forseeable
On the field Paul Turner has surveyed the
talent available in the non-existent fatherland of 'Gwent' and signed a
host of foreign players with little pedigree. Colin Charvis may prove to
be a good signing if he can get fit. But Turner has been a poor coach
and has spent too much time whingeing about 'Gwent' , lack of
facilities, new stadia when we knew he could not do the job in the first
To cap it all the Dragons despite their
shite marketing, pisspoor season ticket sales, abyssmal coach are now
going to play in a bastardised form of Black and Amber. They have no
identity themselves so they want to steal Newport's without changing
their bizarre name! There are those who regard this as a significant
step. But it seems more of an act of desperation to me. There need to be
many more significant steps before I would begin to support this team. I
gave it two years and frankly that was enough.
So the new season beckons
a newly sponsored Celtic League, a feeling of expectation and excitement
abounds, but not in this small corner of the 'Port. Lord Islwyn
THE SECRET WORLD OF NEWPORT RUGBY
AUG 2 - Tucked away in Robin Davey's piece
about the delay to plans for Stradey Park was a little snippet about the
plans for another rugby ground much closer to our hearts. We were told "It
now appears major ground developments at Rodney Parade could be jammed
because of local authority environment demands while there are financial
issues with the WRU about a major new training barn, which the other
regions all possess." So, the plans that no one has seen have now
been stalled by 'environment' demands, whatever that means? Could it be
that the plans do not exist at all and are a figment of Davey's
over-exercised imagination, and their failure to materialise can
conveniently be blamed on the City Council? Perhaps someone at Rodney
Parade would like to share with Newport rugby supporters and
shareholders exactly what their intentions are for the ground? Perhaps
they would like to outline the reasoning behind their proposals for
development and begin a dialogue with supporters regarding the future of
the professional team? And while they are at it explain the
relationship with the WRU regarding the running of the team, the
position concerning the WRU's shares and any options available to change
the name of the team. Oh, and explain what happened to the Chief
Executive's position. A chance conversation at the bar with Will Godfrey
and co. should not be the way to conduct business.
Sceptics are sadly all
regarded by the brown nosing Welsh press as either anti-regional
activists, diehards or dinosaurs. But the reverse is the case. Many of
us want to see a strong, forward looking, commercially powerful Newport
team. A little more openness might
heal the wounds opened since the advent of regionalism and help to
dispel the impression that those who run Newport and the Dragons are
weak, lacking in independant thought and running scared of the Welsh
Rugby Union. Instead of trying to impress the WRU by making politically
correct coded 'Gwentist' noises,
speak to the many supporters who regard you with increasing suspicion or
who are no longer interested in you. Who knows - you may draw strength
from it and it might help to reassure those supporters that the
professional side could be a Newport team after all. Lord Islwyn
MORE GUNFIRE AIMED AT NEWPORT
JUL 15 -
The 'Western Mail' has consistently failed to provide any sensible
critique of the regional rugby fiasco. They recently published an
adoration of the Ospreys lauding their 'triple-pronged' attack on all
competitions next season not pausing to comment that last season was the
first time a Welsh team had failed to progress from the pool stages of
the European Cup. Newport Gwent Dragons humiliation against Parma is
also long forgotten.
typical zeal they have attacked the Newport based region (known only as
the 'Gwent-based' region in its pages). Pisspoor soccer journalist Paul
Abbandonato was allowed out of the nursing home to comment as
follows "The position of the headquarters - in the heart of Newport -
still sits uncomfortably with many of the region's potential rugby
support and the fact that the region have refused to use an out-ground
as the Blues and Scarlets have done, continues to provide a bone of
contention for those in the Gwent valleys." Cardiff Blues out-ground
would be the Millennium Stadium in erm, Cardiff, and our west Walian
cousins have totally given up on Wrexham.
Abbandonato goes on to insist "A permanent move away from Rodney Parade
- to a custom-built arena around the Cwmbran Stadium area would almost
certainly allow the region's identity to improve, while a game or two at
Vale's Eugene Cross Park would certainly stimulate the interest in that
area of the region." This is the same mentality that insists that the
regional hospital should move away from Newport. Suggesting that a new
arena should be built away from the City has nothing to do with
practicality and more to do with spite. It probably has nothing to do
with rugby or business sense for that matter. Amenties, transport,
availability of hospitality and accessibility should all determine where
games are played. Hardly any public transport services pass near to
Cwmbran stadium and as for Ebbw Vale there is one road in and out, it is
twenty miles from the M4 but it will have an hourly train service to
Newport by 2010! Abbandanato should realise that like Llanelli and
Cardiff the region should concentrate on its strength and win back the
hundreds if not thousands of supporters who have deserted the team and
were loyal supporters of ...yes, lets say it..NEWPORT. Lord Islwyn
THE TRUTH MACHINE
JUL 13 - Another day another story about
season ticket sales for Newport Gwent Dragons. The marketing
officer John Hall claims that the new sales pitch has worked that season
ticket renewals have "flooded in" and that there are a "significant"
number of new season ticket sales. Our attempts to discern the actual
number of season ticket sales from RP Limited have met with no response.
It is easier to claim that things are going well even if there is no
evidence. And you can always rely on the Argus to print whatever
publicity guff comes out of Rodney Parade Limited.
Newport RFC shareholders and supporters
still await substantive information about the future of professional
rugby in the City. Still no Chief Executive for Rodney Parade Limited,
no news of the 'development' of Rodney Parade, no news of Steve Lewis's
meeting with Martyn Hazell and no information on the status of the Welsh
Rugby Union's interest in Newport Gwent Dragons. Only Davey in his
current forlock tugging mode is given privileged access. The information
is obviously far too important to be shared with the poor bloody
infantrymen of the Hazell or Argus Terrace.
Despite all the hype and spin the truth
will not go away. Drop all the silly taglines. Stop appealing to a
redundant county with no interest in top class rugby, with small town
teams unwilling or unable to put in any financial commitment. There is
only one team that can carry the flag in so-called 'Gwent'. Professional
rugby must be handed back to the people of our City now. Lord Islwyn
THE THINGS THEY SAY
JUL 5 - Rumours abound that season ticket
sales for Newport Gwent Dragons have made a poor start.
"So we would urge them to come and
support the Dragons for what will be a very exciting first season.
Tickets only went on sale on Saturday so from that point of view we are
very encouraged with how it has gone. The ticket hotline has been
ringing non-stop and it's been a very positive response." David
Jenkins, Chief Executive, before the collapse of the Gwent Dragons
regional team - August 2003.
"Despite what some gloom and doom
merchants are saying they're going very well. Supporters are getting
behind the team and are looking forward to the new season. he Dragons
are always being written off, but we've got continuity for the first
time and our new signings should come good. Fans are also taking
advantage of our offer which runs until July 9". Gethin Jenkins, Dragons
Commercial Director, June 29. The discount offer for renewals and new
purchases has now been extended to July 16.
Bobby Windsor was a hero of the Welsh
rugby team in the seventies but he has become a rent a quote as have so
many of that era. His pronouncements on regional rugby are a little
inconsistent and possibly designed to cater for his audience?
"You talk to all the valleys people and
they won't support it," he said. "By calling it Newport Gwent Dragons,
the door has been shut on the valleys. We haven't got true regional
rugby in Gwent. You go down to Rodney Parade for Dragons games and the
supporters are shouting 'New-port'. Because of all the old rivalries,
that turns off people from other parts of the region." WESTERN MAIL -
July 5th 2006
Newport has the best tradition of all the
clubs. It's Cardiff Blues And Llanelli Scarlets so why shouldn't it be
Newport Dragons? If anyone stands alone it should be Newport. I'd go and
watch Newport Dragons but not Newport Gwent Dragons. Newport represent
Gwent, they always have done. Every valley boy always wanted to play for
Newport so i can't understand why they didn't stand alone." SOUTH WALES
ARGUS November 2004
ROBIN LOVES STEVE, LOVES PAUL
JUL 2 - Robin Davey's weekly column this
week was headed "Time to move on". Yes, it would do us all favour if he
moved on. But sadly Davey has not considered this and was suggesting
that it was now time to put the arguments about regional rugby behind us
and to rally behind the cause of a Gwent team. This shows how out of
touch he is. Having played an honourable role in the first year of the
regional team he has aimed most of his recent criticism at Newport
supporters characterising those in favour of a standalone as 'diehards'
and 'dinosaurs'. He stands shoulder to shoulder with Paul Turner and
Steve Lewis on every issue often acting as the means to get the message
to the public. Davey is no longer an opinion former more a mouthpiece.
It is difficult to know who he loves more,
Steve or Paul. I know these are enlightened times but this is
ridiculous. Robin has spent most of this week making a very strong case
for Steve. On Monday he proclaimed the regions are united "Let me
make it quite clear, the WRU want four professional teams, and all the
regions want four as well, everyone believes four is the right number," says
Lewis. He goes on to say he will pass that message on to Newport Gwent
Dragons. Apparently, he has been too busy to meet with them. Why hasn't
he met with them already. What happened to the meeting to review the
Parma debacle (Davey - June 9th)? There's no point in asking Davey to
comment. On Tuesday in his weekly column we were warned that if Lewis is
no longer Chief Executive it will be disastrous for the Dragons (and
probably for Robin too!) "If he goes that can only be bad for Gwent
and the Dragons. He may upset some with a perceived aggressiveness and
arrogance - qualities I believe are necessary anyway - but no-one should
doubt his commitment to south-east Wales..If the WRU dispense with Lewis
rugby in these parts could perish, and so could Rodney Parade." God
help us, the fate of Rodney Parade is in Lewis's hands, he must stay as
On Wednesday Steve was in the news again.
Robin Davey reports that Lewis was receptive at a meeting to retaining a
14 team Premiership. In the article the clubs representative at the
meeting is quoted as saying "We met with Steve Lewis and his support
is very much appreciated.It was very positive in the attitude towards
the argument the clubs put forward, hopefully it will be the first of
many." Yes, this man must remain Chief Executive whatever happens!
Have you got the message?
By Friday the good news spin was complete.
Davey was back again to report that following the "favourably received"
presentation by the clubs Lewis and the WRU Board had supported the
idea. Next to the article was a photograph of the enigmatic and saintly
Lewis with the description "not set to depart anytime soon". Did
anyone mention Mike Ruddock, no apparently not.
Paul Turner has received Davey's fulsome
support too. Prior to the Parma humiliation we were advised Paul "continues
to do everything within his powers to try to make the region a success".
Pity that the region in question is Cornwall as someone has
recently stated. Following the debacle Robin Davey chose not comment on
Turner's ill judged post-match remarks "I always said we weren't
good enough for the main European competition and I don't know why
everyone is so afraid of the Challenge Cup...It is just a stage in our
development, no-one is happy about it but we see it as an
opportunity..I'm not embarrassed". No, the most controversial voice
in Gwent sport seemed to miss that one. Instead via Martyn Hazell he
continued the call for facilities, a stronger playing squad etc. Paul
could not have put it better himself. But Davey misses the main issues -
he does not comment on the lack of atmosphere at Rodney Parade, the
inability to attract sponsorship, the failure of the brand or its
inability to connect with the professional club's biggest market - the
City of Newport.
At least the playing squad has been
strengthened by the introduction of a swathe of non-Welsh qualified
players. This is hardly a tribute to the regional concept or the
Premiership but again has passed barely without comment. Indeed the new
intake were bizarrely dubbed 'the fab five' in Robin's
promotional article on Thursday. But Turner is quoted as saying that "I
was impressed with the lot of them it's early days yet but it's a good
start to the summer." Yes, for you Paul while Robin is around it
will always be a good start to the summer.
DOES HAZELL PLAN TO SELL THE
JUN 23 - Rumours abound
that 'the Board' plan to develop and modernise Rodney Parade. 'The
Board' presumably being the Directors of Newport Rugby Football Club.
Their aim it appears is to asset strip the clubhouse and adjoining land
to it in order to realise the price of the land for residential
development as part of the riverside regeneration. The pressure to
develop the ground has been led by Robin Davey in his latest guise as
mouthpiece for the Welsh Rugby Union, for Paul Turner and as an
apologist for the shambles that is regional rugby.
Apparently, Davey says, Newport RFC and
the City Council should invest heavily in stadia and facilities in order
to ensure the unloved team, Newport Gwent Dragons continue to ply their
trade in our city. Despite the 'regional' character of this team no
mention is made of any contribution required from the clubs in the local
area (Ebbw Vale, Pontypool etc.) or indeed the other local authorities
supposedly part of 'Gwent'. As usual Newport should pay for everything
but not be able to call the team its own.
The latest proposal appears to require
disposal of most of the western section of the Rodney Parade area
including the old clubhouse, running track and squash club. This is the
area first used by the club following negotiations with Viscount
Tredegar in 1877 (the freehold of the existing grounds was purchased by
Newport Athletic Club in 1922).
The sale of this land will enable Newport
RFC to build a new stand and clubhouse where the temporary Family Stand
is now. In itself this is a desirable outcome but supporters should ask
- what has Newport RFC to gain from this arrangement? To respond to
Davey and co. by building new facilities without a primary motive would
be gutless in the extreme. Surely, this is an opportunity for Martyn
Hazell and company to reclaim the 50 per cent of the shares currently
held by the WRU and to affirm the team as a 'standalone' entity. If this
is the gameplan many currently disaffected supporters will be behind
Hazell. But if this is not the motivation then why bother?
At the Annual General Meeting of Newport
RFC shareholders Tony Brown stated the sale of all or any part of Rodney
Parade would be subject to one shareholder, one vote ballot. Despite the
massive holdings of Brown and Hazell this was intended to ensure the
decision was taken by those with Newport's interest at heart.
If the sale is purely to fund the
aspirations of a team that is not a Newport team and that we are not
allowed to chant 'Newport' at its games why should I as a shareholder to
support it? Lord Islwyn
"I'm not so much
enjoying seeing The Dragons struggle, more seeing the complete shambles
that the WRU have caused. Many praised Moffett, that has been proven to
be wrong. Many praised regions, we ain't got them and have never had
them..Welsh rugby is a complete shambles" - Phil BB - Cardiff
rugby supporter - Gwlad rugby forum 23/06
JUN 23 - The Challenge
Cup Draw has provided Newport Gwent Dragons with a group including
Bristol, Bayonne and Bucharest. This is seen as favourable even if
Bristol might also regard it in the same way. Interestingly, the
prospect of playing Bristol has brought out those convenient but lying
phrases "There's a lot of history between Bristol and the Gwent
clubs and we're really looking forward to it." Who else but Paul Turner.
"The Dragons and Bristol are close together and there's a long tradition
of fixtures" Richard Hill (did he say Dragons or Newport?) "We'll be
renewing Anglo-Welsh fixtures with Bristol" Jim McCreedy. The
Dragons were founded in 2003.
NB According to the Bristol website Hill
actually said "Newport will be massive games played in front of big
crowds. I know Leigh Jones and Paul Turner the coaches very well and a
number of the players as well."
NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS - DEFINED
JUN 18 - WIKIPEDIA the free internet
encyclopaedia now widely used and thoroughly respected has a
startling summary of the evolution of regional rugby in Newport and
Gwent. It runs as follows "The naming of the region has caused
considerable turbulence because, unlike the stand-alone regions of the
Cardiff Blues and
Llanelli Scarlets, the Newport Gwent Dragons were a new
regional creation who are meant to represent a "Gwent region". Some in
the Welsh rugby world believed that including the name Newport would
alienate some fans in the surrounding valleys including fans of the
historic Ebbw Vale RFC. Several names were suggested but all were
rejected. In the end, the WRU decided the region's name for them, the
"Gwent Dragons". This name didn't even last until the beginning of the
season, because Ebbw Vale RFC went close to bankruptcy and were forced
to sell their stake to Newport RFC. After this, the name Newport was
added to the front of the title. In reality, the side has lost more
supporters by including the name "Gwent" in its title. The crowds
supporting the Newport Gwent Dragons average about 4,000 - less than
half the number that supported the Newport team that it succeeded. At
the time Newport was Wales' best supported club and British rugby's
fourth best - after Zurich Premiership outfits,
. Although controversy surrounding the naming of the
region might be petty, rugby in
South Wales is deeply divided amongst hundreds of
historic rugby clubs with bitter rivalries." I could not have put
it better myself. Lord Islwyn
HEY BUDDY! WANNA BUY A SEASON
JUN 13 - The shame-faced desperation
of Rodney Parade Limited is evident in their publicity for the coming
season. "Wanted - your support" implores their Newport Gwent Dragons
season ticket flyer. No, sorry you have to earn it. Nothing you have
said or done on or off the field in recent months merits the support of
the City of Newport.
Following the humiliation against Parma no
European Cup rugby is on offer to Newport Gwent Dragons "fans". Ten
Celtic League matches , an Anglo-Welsh match and the three Challenge Cup
fixtures will set you back £230 in the Hazell Stand (£200 if you
purchase before 7th July). Combined with Newport RFC it will set you
back a further £100.
The recent remarks by Martyn Hazell, Paul
Turner and company provide Newportonians with no incentive to get behind
either team. The Dragons will also seek to cheat us by playing in a
washed out black and amber jersey. So what! And Newport will be a pale
shadow of the pale shadow they already are as the Dragons take all their
better players when required.
For less than the cost of the combined
season ticket you can sit in the Buildbase stand at Gloucester and watch
their Premiership and European Cup campaign as well as the
Premiership 'A' Division, infinitely superior to our Welsh Premiership.
You will also be able to enjoy the atmosphere of a City thoroughly
behind its team and proud of everything it stands for.
It is tempting. Has the time come to turn
our backs on Rodney Parade, Hazell, Turner etc? If they are not prepared
to review the present situation and cannot see the need for change then
sadly it seems clear they do not deserve our hard earned cash or our
support. Lord Islwyn
THE ATTACK ON NEWPORT SUPPORTERS
JUN 9 - The vain hope
that some of us may have had that sanity would return to rugby in
Newport has been dashed. Martyn Hazell has blindly followed the lead of
Steve Lewis and shattered any prospect of the Dragons becoming a Newport
standalone (see below). Now on the Newport Gwent Dragons website we have
Gethin Jenkins, their Marketing Director defending the stability of the
region despite dwindling crowds, the loss of 17 players and the team's
humiliating defeat to Parma. Jenkins makes the following assertion “Finally,
The Dragons will do what they do best and that is fight back against the
criticism being levelled at them and rise above the critics who are
intent on knocking as they have done since day one. The Dragons have
been written off before, labelled a ‘bunch of rejects’ and criticised by
people who haven’t even had the courtesy to come and talk with those at
Rodney Parade on their thoughts and offer alternative ideas. We have
robust practices and strong financial budgets in place. We have worked
hard all season in the community offering ticketing initiatives while
the squad have held school sessions and question and answer evenings
with the community department at the WRU praising our efforts. One thing
is for sure everyone at the Region is committed to getting the Dragons
roaring once again, write us off at your peril.”
Frankly Mr Jenkins your statement belies
the truth. Martyn Hazell has indicated that he has invested over £400k
of his own money in your unloved team just to keep it afloat. Your
marketing and ticketing policies are nothing new, in fact Newport Rugby
initiated most of the schemes some years ago with far greater success.
Your organisation very rarely answers letters or deals in a two way
dialogue concerning the aspirations of supporters. You are too busy
playing lap dog to the Welsh Rugby Union to realise that there is
an alternative strategy - a team called Newport playing in Black and
Amber. Then you might have something to market! Lord Islwyn
HAZELL SPEAKS! BUT DOES NOT
Martn Hazell, the sole active Director of
Newport Gwent Dragons has spoken. It is a rare moment - so let's savour
it and then assess exactly what he has to say by way of response to the
disaster that has befallen rugby in Newport in recent months.
In the South Wales Argus yesterday he said
there will be more 'new signings' and 'major announcements (in the
summer concerning the ground). In the Western Mail today he stated there
was no possibility of a return to a Newport Black and Ambers
professional team or standalone status. He said this would fly in the
face of the so-called Participation Agreement signed with the Welsh
Rugby Union. He admitted 'only Newport people really support the
"If we were to become a super club now,
the WRU wouldn't pay us - they have told us that. If I went to Steve
Lewis (WRU chief executive) and said we are going to call it Newport
Black and Ambers he would say, 'Fine, call it what you like, but you
won't get any more money off us.And they would be able to do that
because of the participation agreement we have signed with them. Under
that agreement, we aren't allowed to alter the name without permission -
and the union won't allow us to change it. We are too far down the line
for that. So it will stay as the Dragons."
As for the protest
letter from the fans, he commented, "I understand the frustration out
there. But these people aren't representative of the general consensus
of opinion among the supporters. It's a separate breakaway faction."
He has effectively promised no change to
the disastrous situation that has unfolded before our eyes. The name is
a key part of the problem it is a dreadful, tragi-comic abomination that
has been inflicted on the people of Newport. Martyn Hazell is either not
bright enough to realise this or not courageous enough to confront the
issue. If this is the sum of his reaction to the latest disaster he has
failed to understand the strength of feeling among our supporters. Many
fans will now walk away from Rodney Parade for good. Lord Islwyn
Overmarch Parma did what the All Blacks
couldn’t do in 1963 last Friday night. They won at the world famous
Rodney Parade, albeit against a team that has no affinity with the
mighty Black and Ambers of days gone by.
Hopefully the 2nd of June,2006
will be a day which is looked back on with fondness by supporters of
Newport RFC. It could be the day when reality bites for all at boardroom
level and the WRU. The ill-fated regional side can only go two ways now,
Black and Amber or bust. The club based days for which a lot of us still
crave appear to be gone for good now and the best Newportonians can ask
for is a stand-alone team playing in a league with rugby-mad countries
such as Ireland and Scotland. However if the ‘regional’ team was
re-named back to Newport at least we would be at the top of the
bargaining table with regards to any future Anglo-Welsh or European
Newport were invincible in the 1880’s and
not able to win in the 1980’s!! But at least we cared.
Not Very Affectionate Remembrance of
"GWENT DRAGONS" REGIONAL RUGBY TEAM,
which died at the Rodney Parade on
2nd JUNE 2006,
Only lamented by a tiny circle of sorrowing friends,
theatre-goers and acquaintances
N.B. - The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia (and
hand-delivered to David Moffett).
deference to the original 'Times' advertisement of 1882)
HAZELL - THE DEAFENING SILENCE
The shameful defeat to Parma on Friday was bad enough.
But the disastrous public relations since the final whistle was blown
has only served to underline the complete incompetence of Rodney Parade
Limited and their disregard for anyone stupid enough to invest their
well earned cash in the unloved team, Newport Gwent Dragons. Paul
Turner's comments after the game were insensitive and insulting " This
ain't a problem for me. Nobody has died - we have to move on.I know
there will be people who beg to differ but we just have to get on with
it now" (Western Mail - June 3) "The supporters are disappointed but
it's no big deal to me. We're in the European Challenge Cup and I've
never been scared of that; I've been in it and won it with Quins." (BBC
- June 2). He forgot to mention that he also relegated Quins, but that's
another story. The remarks make you wonder why they (the fans) bothered
turning up at all. If the coach thinks second best is ok then what sort
of impression will that pass on to the players. As for the players they
seem to have fallen apart under Turner's leadership. Witness Michael
The bigger story is not the failure of Turner but the
lack of direction being given by the sole remaining director of the
regional rugby team. Despite the clamour for change Martyn Hazell has
remained silent. You could not stop him speaking last year when he
confirmed that the regional rugby team was not a "Newport" team and that
supporters should not chant "Newport" in support of the side. These
statements alienated hundreds (perhaps more) Newport fans and led to
active opposition to the regional concept in the City. He made a
thoughtless and damaging contribution to the debate merely designed to
appease the Welsh Rugby Union.
His only recent statement of note was during the
difficulty faced by Steve Lewis when he slammed the regional rugby
concept. On February 19 2006 he launched a 'stunning tirade' against
regional rugby. This comment came out of the blue and appeared purely
Since then he has not made a public utterance worthy
of comment. Perhaps that has spared us another incomprehensible John
Prescott style outburst or perhaps it is because he does not know what
to say or what to do. However, if he requires guidance he would be well
advised to read and respond to his post bag and scan the comments being
made with great force by Newportonians on websites and in letters to
newspapers.The momentum for a return to a professional team called
Newport playing in Black and Amber gathers by the day and it will not go
away! Lord Islwyn
CLUB WINS HEINEKEN CUP
It was nothing to do with the Celtic League or
regional rugby. It has been coming for several seasons. The passion and
pride of Munster on and off the field was something to behold on
Saturday as they staggered to victory over brave Biarritz. Over 40,000
supporters buoyed Munster as they struggled to contain the French team
in the last quarter of the game. It was a telling spectacle and
underlined the importance of playing for the shirt and for your team.
Munster has created a phenomenal following - it can be called a province
and a club in the same breath. In the same way that Newport was once
regarded. Lord Islwyn
VOICE OF HOPE OR VOICE OF
Desolation "Until the board acts, until major sponsors
get on board, until the Council get their fingers out to try and help,
nothing is going to improve...And there is absolutely no chance of the
Dragons reverting to Newport. It would not make any difference even so
because the same people would be in charge, there would be the same lack
of drive and ambition and the same shortage of facilities."
Hope " It was blindingly obvious years ago that the
Dragons would have the devil’s own job winning over an unwilling county
to support them but they have positioned themselves badly in their
market. The regime of Tony Brown, in days when Newport were Newport, had
its critics but compared with the present operation, they were light
years ahead....One of the other key elements, as I have said many times,
is for the club to be returned to its city, for all silly county tags to
be removed and for Newport to become Newport again. It is the only way
to maximise crowds and income."
Voice of desolation played Robin Davey,
Chief Sports Writer of South Wales Argus since year dot, going
nowhere, previously foe of WRU now apparent friend. Voice of hope played
by Stephen Jones, Sunday Times Rugby Union
correspondent since 1985, Sports Journalist of the Year 2004, author of
the award winning "Endless Winter". Davey quoted in South Wales Argus
today and Stephen Jones in Sunday Times yesterday.
KEEP FOZZIE, SACK TURNIP?
"It's very disappointing - I've said
we're a Jekyll and Hyde side but that sort of performance isn't
acceptable. We have to take a long, hard look at ourselves, the fans
deserve better than that. It's been a very disappointing end to the
season and there are some trying times ahead." Who
said this? Paul Turner, even Robin Davey, no they would not have said
anything so bold or realistic. They are the words of Jason Forster,
Newport Gwent Dragons' captain after a 37-11 capitulation to Edinburgh
this evening in the Celtic League.It was a desperate performance - the
worst losing margin at home by the Dragons since their inception. But it
is not Jason Forster who should be offering introspection and a warning
about the future - it is his coach who should be learning the lessons of
the appalling on-field display this evening. This unloved team made
Edinburgh look like world beaters, they plainly are not but they have
runners who will exploit defensive frailties and open spaces. Talking of
open spaces there were huge areas of the ground unoccupied and the
atmosphere was "oh, so quiet" Bjork could have written a song about it.
Even the television commentators mentioned it. Can anyone imagine a
standalone Newport team playing in such circumstances - but we are
repeating ourselves I am afraid. And it appears no one at Rodney Parade
is listening! Cosmetic changes to the playing strip will not be enough.
This rugby team needs to recapture the hearts of the City. And fast.
Drop the insulting Dragons nonsense, stop alienating the fans who could
sustain you and provide the sort of support you are lacking. Stop your
coach spouting rubbish and do all you can to retain the services of a
man of Newport who has inspired the team around him through all the
difficulties of recent years. Lord Islwyn
Three or four years ago Newport County fans would have
looked upon the City's rugby team in awe. Crowds averaging 8000, a team
smattered with world class players, community programmes, the family
village, considerable marketing and merchandising power. Newport Rugby
was dominant in the City and Tony Brown's presence made it seem like a
permanent situation. The Black and Amber jersey was worn with pride by a
wide cross section of the community not only in Newport but throughout
the area. But the advent of regional rugby has destroyed all of that.
Newport Rugby is a bit part player in a concept without identity or
community. Tony Brown has sensibly walked away from the commercial
disaster that is Welsh professional rugby. Newport Rugby has no future
it seems and can only yearn for the professional status enjoyed
previously and denied it by the Welsh Rugby Union.
Now envious glances are cast in the opposite
direction. Despite all the pitfalls placed before it on and off the
field Newport County has risen from the dead sustained by hard working
directors and loyal supporters. It is still stuck in the lower reaches
of the Nationwide Conference but it has the potential to move through
the English League pyramid and restore its place in the Football League.
These are opportunities now denied Newport Rugby and provide the County
with an opportunity to seize the mantle of the City's leading sport
team. It has held it before briefly but it would seem Newport Rugby is
in potentially terminal decline. Stuck in a League with nowhere to go
and denied the opportunity of professional status it has only one way
to go - down.
Interestingly Newport Rugby in its innovative way was
the second rugby club to have a supporters trust organisation, the
Friends of Newport Rugby. This has been a highly responsible and
supportive organisation. It has spent a large amount of its time on
projects to preserve the extraordinary heritage of Newport RFC. This is
money well spent. Newport County on the other hand has had a supporters
trust for slightly longer but has focussed on the running and
administration of the club. It has become the largest single shareholder
in the club with nearly £50,000 worth of shares (18% of all shares
issued). It also has the voice of the supporter heard at Board meetings
through supporter-elected Directors. In short the Newport County
Supporters Trust have a huge influence on the running of their club. By
contrast the running and administration of Rodney Parade Limited (and
Newport Rugby) is still solely the preserve of a small group of
businessman who have made a contribution to its finances and stability
but are also responsible for its current plight and who are content that
Newport Rugby has semi-professional status. They need to be shaken out
of their cosy contentment. Shouldn't the Friends of Newport Rugby be
about this aswell and be seeking to have a significant say in how the
club is run and ultimately exercise influence over the
regional/professional team? Or are they just interested in museum
pieces? Their role should not just be about preserving the past but also
securing the future. Lord Islwyn
THAT RELEGATION CRITERIA IN
1. To play in the Premiership you must have minimum
standards for playing surface, changing rooms, floodlighting, seating,
stands, programmes, refreshments.
2. If you finish in the bottom two you will be
relegated. If you finish third from bottom you will play off against the
Division 1 champions.
3. The minimum standards listed in 1 and conditions in
2 will be ignored if you have it written on the back of a fag packet
that you will never be relegated.
4. Some teams will never be relegated whatever their
position in the League.
5. There is no point in winning Division 1 (and by the
way Premiership is crap so why would you want to be promoted).
6. Irrespective of the above Steve 'Ebbw' Lewis will
make the final decision.
MORE SYCOPHANTIC JOURNALISM
"If the Dragons do achieve third place among the Welsh
teams they will achieve automatic qualification for next season's
Heineken Cup against all the odds considering the disparity in
funding and facilities. Even if they just miss out and end up as
the lowest placed Welsh team they ought to make Europe's premier
competition next season by virtue of a play-off against the third placed
Italian team - probably Viadana - in a match which would be played at
Rodney Parade on June 2. "We could be level with the Ospreys so it's not
all gloom and doom," said Dragons coach Paul Turner, who continues
to do everything within his powers to try to make the region a success."
Robin Davey, South Wales Argus, May 5th
More brown-nosing from the doyen of
rugby journalists. The implication being that the region is not a
success and that Paul Turner is battling bravely against the odds. This
is a dropped in to a news-piece as if it was fact not in one of his
3850 reasons to rebrand this team
The shocking attendance at Rodney Parade on Friday for
the Celtic League match between Newport Gwent Dragons and Glasgow was
further evidence if any were needed of the requirement to rebrand this
team now. The match was effectively a decider for next year's Heneken
Cup, the winner to play an Italian team and therefore having every
chance of making the tournament proper Cardiff qualified in a similar
fashion last year. Can anyone imagine in similar circumstances such a
small crowd for a standalone Newport team? Lord Islwyn
Paul Turner's attempts to undo any Newport association
with the regional rugby team continue. Latterly he has been slating the
legacy of the only credible figure to run Newport Rugby Football Club in
the last twenty years. His constant moaning about training facilities
and his urging of the mythical Gwent hordes smack more of his own
inabilities as a coach.
Turner (pictured left) states in a quotation to the South
Wales Argus "For all the good that was done during the Tony Brown era my
only wish is that he could have done what they have done at Worcester
and developed the training facilities, because there has been no lasting
legacy left and there is not a lot of evidence that much has changed
since 1992 when I was last here." Not only is this rubbish but it shows
a painful failure to understand what was achieved by Tony Brown and
Keith Grainger between 1999 and 2003. Most of the education and skills
based initiatives were initiated during this time beyond the boundaries
of the City of Newport. The family village brought a whole new audience
in to watch professional rugby. Marketing and merchandising were
effective. The ground was redeveloped to include new changing rooms and
hospitality facilities. World class players were brought in to play
alongside homegrown talent. Crucially, there was no support for any of
this from the Welsh Rugby Union. Turner's remarks have once again shown
him not to be the brightest of the bunch of Welsh professional coaches,
he has certainly got plenty of competition (Dai Young, Lyn Jones).
We will try and collect some of his innermost thoughts
Question - Who inspires you in the world of rugby?
(raise your game - the BBC website) Paul Turner's response "I'm a
big fan of the Australian Rugby League. They tend to inspire me as
they've got good players, good skills, things that we learnt growing up
in the Gwent streets, sidestepping, beating players, all that type of
thing." Ah, those Gwent streets!
As Paul Turner, the Dragons coach, said: "Munster
enjoy fantastic support from Cork to Limerick. That's a big area and
Gwent is a big area, too. We need to rebuild and take the game to the
whole of Gwent." Population of Munster - 1.2 million, population
of Gwent - nil (former counties of Gwent - 370k)
"It was disappointing we didn't win in
Cork. We could be playing the European champions tonight which is a
clarion call to get the Gwent people here."
"Craig is a good player, I'm sure he should have
played for Wales before now. If he can manage a game properly he'll have
everything, he's got running ability, he can pass and kick with ease".
The announcement some time ago that Newport was to host
the Ryder Cup in 2010 was greeted with great joy in the then town.
However following recent events surrounding the alleged ‘address’ of the
Celtic Manor, there is some concern that Cardiff is trying to win the
event for itself. It is also not clear whether the
Celtic Manor is innocent in this whole charade. Many Americans, to my
assumption would think of Newport, Rhode Island before Newport, South
Wales. Maybe this is a major factor, the international sporting
reputation of Cardiff. However I would doubt if over 50% of Americans
have heard of Cardiff either, we (Wales) are a mere state/province of
England to them!
Newport must stand up for itself in this fight with big
brother. We sometimes have an inferior attitude towards our neighbours
12 miles down the M4, however this must be an event for Newport. This
could really put us on the map and enable us to compete with places like
Cardiff and at least become Wales’ 2nd sporting city. Sport
(not inc. Pro Rugby and Football)in Newport is really going places and
the International Sports Village is a fantastic facility.
What would really rile me would be to see Tiger Woods’
say on the last day :- “Cardiff has hosted a fantastic event”
Let’s show the yanks what Newport is made
Smell something? The familiar aroma of brown
Pity the poor Welsh rugby supporter. With
less than four weeks to go before an extraordinary general meeting
instigated by the WRU the public are being subjected to a unending
propaganda campaign on behalf of Chairman David Pickering, Chief
Executive Steve Lewis and Stadium Manager Paul Sargeant. Every attempt
has been made to extol the virtues of these men in the last two weeks
ahead of the EGM. The Western Mail of April 17 stated that the original
deal by Glanmor Griffiths to bring the FA Cup / League Cup and playoffs
to the Millennium Stadium showed 'no ideas of values and financial
returns' and that the stadium was 'completely undersold'. It alleges
that the original deal gave the WRU 15% of the gate receipts but
Sargeant (and David Moffett) renegotiated and have reduced the overall
level of debt from £60m to £40m with the new deal. Robin Davey in his
weekly column in the South Wales Argus slams the critics of Lewis and
Pickering "No apologies for revisiting the
subject, but why on earth are a number of clubs (we'll find out exactly
how many at the EGM on May 14) trying to get rid of the Welsh Rugby
Union board and its two main officials when the Union are going to turn
in a profit of £7.5m?" Simon Roberts in Wales on Sunday has heralded
Pickering's reign. He quotes directly from the great man "Three years
ago things were looking bleak.We have reduced our borrowing by £32m and
any company which has done that in three years, just imagine what their
shareholders would be saying."
Let's just pause a moment to reflect - Wales had a poor
season in the Six Nations having had a phenomenally successful year in
2005. The autumn series against the southern hemisphere teams brought in
considerable revenue and we had three home matches in the Six Nations.
Six sell out matches and therefore good for revenue - hence the healthy
profit. The Six Nations was marked by a complete debacle off the field
resulting in the loss of our outstanding coach and the ridiculous
spectacle of our captain hyperventilating on Scrum V before being
carried off to hospital muttering obscenities. Both Pickering and Lewis
demonstrated a complete lack of leadership during this period. Our
national team and our rugby administration was rightly the subject of
ridicule throughout the world. Their other trumpeted achievements are
smokescreens too. Some evidence suggests the debt reduction is not as
stated but all WRU propaganda it seems is accepted without
question. Their restructuring of our professional rugby has been nothing
short of disastrous. We still have no 'A' team and many of our most
promising players are still heading to England to ply their trade. None
of our journalists or television reporters have adequately challenged
the WRU over their abject failure of administration in recent years. A
small group of clubs that raise a voice of dissent for whatever reason
are vilified as if we live in a Communist state. The journalists
concerned have become so complacent that they cannot see beyond their
own self interest to the wider interests of our game and our country. It
is a disgrace 'Lord Islwyn'
Ice cream wars at Rodney Parade
NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS
In a desperate attempt to give some meaning to
Wednesday's clash at Rodney Parade the marketing men have turned to ice
cream. Two ice cream vans each representing the teams involved will
battle out in an attempt to recreate the Italian Ice Creams Wars (last
seen on the British mainland in Glasgow in 1984 - see Google). A number
of challenges including biggest super scoop and most insipid tune will
be played out before the terraces enjoy bumper to bumper combat in a
contest for the best ice cream van representing a regional rugby
team. As you can see the two vans are very similar in style obviously
both in need of a makeover and a re-brand. WRU officials hope to reach
out to a new group of fans who eat ice cream but do not watch rugby or
who are from Italian backgrounds but have still not bought into the
regional rugby concept. An interactive commentary will be provided in
Italian. The marketing of this fixture thankfully no longer relies upon
the traditional battle between the two cities. This would confuse the
hordes of Gwent valleys and mid Glamorgan rugby fans who are the new
force behind our rugby. The Newport - Cardiff rivalry is
definitely a hang up from the past and is not to be encouraged. 'Lord
Regionalism – The destruction of
Three long years have passed since the mighty clubs of
South Wales were all but destroyed by a short termist antipodean. Like
so many Southern Hemisphere coaches and players that came before him,
David Moffet failed to understand the tribal and parochial nature of our
national game. Every passing year new children and young adults are
being introduced to the game with no knowledge of what preceded the new
else in the world is there such density of rugby teams than in South
Wales. From Newport in the East to Llanelli in the West. In between
these two traditional giants there are many great and historic clubs
which line the M4 corridor. We were so lucky that every away game was
within travelling distance. With the advent of
regionalism these clubs were stripped of their ambition,identity and to
some extent their history. Even Llanelli and Cardiff who achieved
‘stand-alone’ status do not retain the same aura of old.
Some Newport fans will argue that Newport have been ‘lucky’, they
have a regional team playing out of Rodney Parade with Newport in the
title. As a Newport fan myself I can say I do not
subscribe to this notion of ‘luckiness’.
argument is not for a Newport stand alone. I believe in a club based
structure and the ‘gang of six/eight’ philosophy which was touted in the
early part of this century. Promotion and relegation of some kind is an
essential part of this structure. I will never be told that clubs such
as Treorchy,Caerphilly and Dunvant should not be allowed to match the
ambitions of Newport,Cardiff and Llanelli. History is important but so
is merit. The Celtic League is a commercial disaster and no-one can
convince me that Leinster and Munster take this league seriously however
high up the table they are.
England and especially France are the
models we should emulate but not exclusively. We in Wales always tend to
look for leadership from others on matters such as this but we have to
be strong and base our own model on what our people will recognise. 'O.
DAVEY IS A DISGRACE part 97
MAR 25 - Yet another weekly column yet another
exercise in pointless journalism. Robin Davey the Chief Sports Writer of
the South Wales Argus has treated us to another appalling waste of
column inches. At the end of a disastrous period in which Welsh rugby
has been held up to ridicule and the Six Nations has disappointed as the
shop window of European rugby what does Davey turn his attention to?
Yes, he has little or nothing to say about these events. His interest
lies in another call for the redevelopment or sale of Rodney Parade.
This is on the basis that the venerable ground is getting old and
because the surrounding area is being given a long overdue dose of
regeneration by the City Council and Newport Unlimited. Davey has
demanded that the City Council assist Newport to carry out his wishes on
the basis that other regional teams have either got new premises or will
have them shortly.
It is several months since Rodney Parade Limited
representatives told us that the regional team is not a Newport team and
additionally we should not shout "Newport" at its matches, despite it
being part of the name. Why should the City Council support an
organisation that has promoted this message? Or if it does wish to
assist it so should all the other "Gwent" local authorities - Torfaen,
Blaenau Gwent, Monmouthshire etc. Why should the burden fall on Newport
taxpayers? Unlike other cash strapped sporting organisations in the City
Newport Gwent Dragons receives £2 million per season to sustain its team
The real point is that regional rugby is not working.
It has been a rugby and a commercial disaster. Club rugby is dying.
Davey cannot and will not say it but it is staring him in the face. If
only we could say in the words of Alan Sugar "You're lightweight you're