CHRIS KIRWAN: Dragons' lack of 'possibles' won't be missed by regional rivals amid WRU wrangling

Newport Gwent Dragons versus ConnachtPOWER RUN Dragon Jack Dixon (4803815)

Newport Gwent Dragons versus ConnachtPOWER RUN Dragon Jack Dixon (4803815)

First published in Sport
Last updated

JUDGEMENT Day is supposed to pit rivals for the Wales squad against each other in front of a big crowd at a Test venue.

In theory it gives hopefuls the chance to give Warren Gatland a gentle nudge ahead of the summer tour by producing a fine performance against their peers.

Unfortunately there will be precious few doing that for Newport Gwent Dragons, a situation not helped by a shocking run of form.

Taulupe Faletau is inked in as Gatland's number eight while Andrew Coombs has proved himself to be fine cover at lock.

Beyond that the Dragons have two teenagers in Hallam Amos and Jack Dixon that will be regular members of the Wales squad in time but for now may have to be content with spending their summer in New Zealand with the Under-20s rather than South Africa with the seniors.

Hooker Elliot Dee, 20, and centre Tyler Morgan, 18, have the talent to follow in their footsteps and will also look to continue their development at the Junior World Championship.

But if Gatland gets the green light for his possibles versus probables trial then the only other player that might be able to force his way in is flanker Lewis Evans, someone I have long been a fan of but who may have missed the boat to get a cap in the ultra-competitive back row.

And that emphasises a huge problem for the Dragons amid a time of wrangling about funding with the Welsh Rugby Union.

Regional Rugby Wales acting chief executive Mark Davies said on Tuesday: "Of course it's going to take more resource to be competitive, but how do we structure that to protect the competitiveness of the national side and the regions?

"We do that we believe with a coherent contracting structure that works both ways. But it can't just be about one or six players.

"It's a question of trying to put a proper business structure in place that allows the asset to perform for both sides. That's what we think is the most coherent solution and we think it's doable."

If central contracts are not the answer then "doable" might just mean looking at the English model, where teams are rewarded according to how many England players they provide.

It seems a fair system, but one that would worry those at Rodney Parade. At times the Dragons have been like the partygoer that arrives with cheap cans yet pulls premium bottles from the fridge.

Director of rugby Lyn Jones is well aware that the Dragons need to contribute more by upping their international contingent and it has shaped his recruitment for next season.

Aled Brew and Lee Byrne may fancy their chances of sneaking back into the Wales squad ahead of the 2015 World Cup but their task will also be to make sure the next generation flourish.

It's a role that will also be carried out by their fellow new recruits: Boris Stankovich will mentor props Luke Garrett and Alex Jeffries while Ian Gough and Ligtoring Landman will bring on Joe Davies, Matthew Screech and Cory Hill.

That will take time and the Rodney Parade hierarchy need to make sure that any deal between RRW and the WRU enables them to up their number of internationals rather than simply providing young talent for the other three.

Because you can be sure that the dreaded 'development region' idea will be mooted again soon and that hasn't been helped by the Dragons' slump in form that looks likely to condemn them to being Wales' worst for the eighth time in 11 seasons.

Wales will be taking a larger squad to South Africa because of the midweek fixture against Eastern Province Kings yet it is still hard to see too many Dragons forcing their way in.

That won't be lost on the Ospreys, Cardiff Blues and Scarlets, even if RRW have stuck together in the spat over European Cup rugby.

Comments (2)

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2:44pm Thu 17 Apr 14

welshdav says...

Couldn't agree more on the dip of the hat to Lewis Evans!
Couldn't agree more on the dip of the hat to Lewis Evans! welshdav
  • Score: 1

10:19pm Thu 17 Apr 14

hazellboy says...

Lewis is an average back rower and is prone to giving away too many penalties, Anyone know what has happened to Darren waters?
Lewis is an average back rower and is prone to giving away too many penalties, Anyone know what has happened to Darren waters? hazellboy
  • Score: 0

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