Newport Gwent Dragons have been rebranded to ‘Dragons’ as the Welsh Rugby Union prepares take control of the regional club.
The WRU will officially assume responsibilities from July 1, with Irishman Bernard Jackman, who won the 2009 Heineken Cup and the Celtic League as a player with Leinster, last week appointed head coach.
As part of the restructuring, British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland is set to help out during pre-season while WRU head of rugby Geraint John is providing assistance for player recruitment “with Welsh exiles and young Welsh talent high on the wish-list”.
Dragons announced “advanced plans” are already in place to improve facilities at Rodney Parade, which will see the installation of a new hybrid pitch at the home of EFL club Newport County, while a list of targets have also been set by WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips and Dragons chief executive Stuart Davies.
These will include the appointment of a new board and chairman with the aim for improved crowds by 2020, when the squad is expected to be made up of “predominantly of Welsh-qualified players” along with Dragons making “significant contributions to a thriving club, junior, community and amateur scene throughout the region as well as achieving improved performance on the pitch”.
Phillips said on the club’s website: “We know we need a new brand identity, one that recognises the values we have described and shows the Dragons as the elite end of a pathway which encompasses 73 clubs in the region and which is in place for the mutual benefit of all rugby in the area, both amateur and professional and for men, women, boys and girls in equal measure.”
Jackman is confident the changes will enable the playing squad to make real progress.
“We will be taking the team out to the region at large and ensuring we are visible amongst all of the clubs in Gwent,” he said.
“We will be ensuring we are accessible to supporters, clubs and players throughout the region.
“Producing home-grown talent is a primary ambition for any successful sports team and it will be vital to the long-term success of the Dragons.”