CHRIS KIRWAN: What's in a name? Plenty despite over a decade of squabbling for Newport Gwent Dragons

First published in Sport

EMOTIONS run high when it comes to the name Newport Gwent Dragons but the decision about what the region is called needs to be taken with the head and not the heart.

The squabbling was inevitable when a web poll was started last week to decide a new logo for the Rodney Parade outfit.

The comments section of the Argus site shows that it doesn't even take a story about the name to fire up the rival factions; Andrew Coombs talking about Ulster's scrum could prompt a war of words between those that want to return to being Newport and those that want to simply be known as Dragons.

The logo vote was pulled after just 16 hours because of the reaction but it's a debate that needs to be had and a situation that needs to be solved one way or the other.

Of course, the region's bosses could opt to just leave it alone and one imagines that the safety-first approach of staying as Newport Gwent Dragons may just win the day for now.

But we need a Battle of Bosworth.

That would once again stir the passions of the rival groups and the ones who decide the direction that the region/superclub/team goes down must be those that actually are prepared to invest their time and money into it.

The spat over European competitions caused consternation in some quarters about the English and French wanting to make more pounds and euros. Rugby still have some way to go as a professional sport if the pursuit of more revenue can be seen as dirty.

But cash has to be king when making a decision regarding the name of the pro team that plays at Rodney Parade.

If some wishy-washy ambition about being a region for the greater good was put above the financial future then the appropriate name would be Newport Gwent Dodos.

With that in mind the region's bosses cannot afford to simply take people on their word when it comes to the name; they cannot change just so somebody in Newbridge goes from hating Newport Gwent Dragons to being generally supportive of Dragons Rugby from their living room.

They need tangible backing and with over half of their season ticket holders hailing from Newport it would be a risk to remove the city from the name.

Maybe they feel it is a risk worth taking.

If by going down the Dragons route they feel that they can bring in more sponsorship and backing from the wider area then they should go for it.

But success drives attendances in pro sport and it's fair to assume that we are some way off an all-conquering Rodney Parade side. Therefore they would be wise to heed those that still turn up despite season upon season mediocrity.

The crux is that the region should be free to decide their route after doing proper, detailed research and be responsible for the implications.

If they change to something more Newport-heavy and it goes pear-shaped, that's their fault. If they change to Dragons Rugby to be met by indifference and dwindling crowds, that's their fault.

It is inevitable that some people will not be happy with the choice and the bosses cannot afford to just try and include everyone; that is what has got us in this mess.

Comments (10)

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9:32am Thu 8 May 14

The People's Republic of Newp says...

Hear, hear, Mr K. Its about sometime someone had the gumption to say what needs to be said. One omission however, a matter widely ignore by the media and 'non-Newport RFC supporting public': the cause of such enmity is that Cardiff and Llanelli were allowed to remain in situ and unadulterated.

Had that not been the case, or had Newport RFC been afforded equal pre-eminence for performing the same duties and responsibilities vis-a-vis regional rugby (which it does) I genuinely believe we'd be past this by now.

We're not however, and a decision MUST be made. Enough prevarication.
Hear, hear, Mr K. Its about sometime someone had the gumption to say what needs to be said. One omission however, a matter widely ignore by the media and 'non-Newport RFC supporting public': the cause of such enmity is that Cardiff and Llanelli were allowed to remain in situ and unadulterated. Had that not been the case, or had Newport RFC been afforded equal pre-eminence for performing the same duties and responsibilities vis-a-vis regional rugby (which it does) I genuinely believe we'd be past this by now. We're not however, and a decision MUST be made. Enough prevarication. The People's Republic of Newp
  • Score: 9

9:43am Thu 8 May 14

munkian says...

I'm interested what the Dragons considered to be 'valid feedback' on the logos ?

As there was no feedback form on the voting page, where did this outrage come from ?

It certainly wasn't through feedback from the people who actually turn up week in, week out and pay for season tickets as it should have been.

Is Gwald Rugby now the meter stick used by the Dragons ?

Absolute shambles from start to finish
I'm interested what the Dragons considered to be 'valid feedback' on the logos ? As there was no feedback form on the voting page, where did this outrage come from ? It certainly wasn't through feedback from the people who actually turn up week in, week out and pay for season tickets as it should have been. Is Gwald Rugby now the meter stick used by the Dragons ? Absolute shambles from start to finish munkian
  • Score: 3

11:03am Thu 8 May 14

silurix says...

Nobody is happy about the way regionalisation was implemented but **** about the past without presenting a feasible, clear way forward for the future is pretty futile. Cardiff and Llanelli's position is not the same as NGD. The WRU does not have a 50% stake on their board. Fairness dictates that they should either take a 50% in them, find a viable candidate for its 50% share in NGD or relinquish its 50% to the current NGD board. I may be pessimistic but I don't see any chance of the WRU doing that. That being the case , and assuming that the 50% share allows the WRU to veto any name change that they find unacceptable, the scope for name changing at NGD is limited. Unless Moffett gets elected I can see nothing changing . And lets face it, none of the Welsh Regions is well supported so why a name change at NGD should suddenly transform its fortunes is speculative, to put it politely.
Nobody is happy about the way regionalisation was implemented but **** about the past without presenting a feasible, clear way forward for the future is pretty futile. Cardiff and Llanelli's position is not the same as NGD. The WRU does not have a 50% stake on their board. Fairness dictates that they should either take a 50% in them, find a viable candidate for its 50% share in NGD or relinquish its 50% to the current NGD board. I may be pessimistic but I don't see any chance of the WRU doing that. That being the case , and assuming that the 50% share allows the WRU to veto any name change that they find unacceptable, the scope for name changing at NGD is limited. Unless Moffett gets elected I can see nothing changing . And lets face it, none of the Welsh Regions is well supported so why a name change at NGD should suddenly transform its fortunes is speculative, to put it politely. silurix
  • Score: 6

11:05am Thu 8 May 14

MrBaz1927 says...

I'm surprised that some Dragons and Blues supporters are still resistant to the idea of dropping the city name. Regardless of why supporters felt their noses were collectively out of joint when the regions were formed, this is surely about business now.
How is the regional team meant to grow if interest isn't generated outside the cities to increase attendances and merchandise sales? How will top players be tempted to stay in the region, or new players attracted to it, if the club is financially stagnating?
What are people afraid of; that If Newport isn't in the name that people won't know where Gwent is? Newport is at the heart of Gwent, everyone knows that. Does anybody not know that Dublin is at the heart of Leinster or Limerick is in Munster? Of course not.
Another point, and probably more important than the name debate, is Munster, Toulon, Perpignan, Racing Metro (and probably more clubs) leave their home stadiums to play home games to generate interest and connect with an area outside their core. Is it really that difficult for the Dragons to take games to Pontypool or Ebbw Vale during the season? Or the Blues to play at Sardis Road, Caerphilly or Merthyr?
The fans outside the cities feel ostracised. They don't deserve to be starved of top flight rugby because their regions simply won't engage with them.
It works both ways; the club make an effort with the 'Region' as a whole, the fans in the region will make an effort with the club.
I'm surprised that some Dragons and Blues supporters are still resistant to the idea of dropping the city name. Regardless of why supporters felt their noses were collectively out of joint when the regions were formed, this is surely about business now. How is the regional team meant to grow if interest isn't generated outside the cities to increase attendances and merchandise sales? How will top players be tempted to stay in the region, or new players attracted to it, if the club is financially stagnating? What are people afraid of; that If Newport isn't in the name that people won't know where Gwent is? Newport is at the heart of Gwent, everyone knows that. Does anybody not know that Dublin is at the heart of Leinster or Limerick is in Munster? Of course not. Another point, and probably more important than the name debate, is Munster, Toulon, Perpignan, Racing Metro (and probably more clubs) leave their home stadiums to play home games to generate interest and connect with an area outside their core. Is it really that difficult for the Dragons to take games to Pontypool or Ebbw Vale during the season? Or the Blues to play at Sardis Road, Caerphilly or Merthyr? The fans outside the cities feel ostracised. They don't deserve to be starved of top flight rugby because their regions simply won't engage with them. It works both ways; the club make an effort with the 'Region' as a whole, the fans in the region will make an effort with the club. MrBaz1927
  • Score: 4

11:18am Thu 8 May 14

Walter Devereux says...

The provinces in Ireland are universally well known. There is no need for any "regional" component to the name if it is not the case in other regions.
The provinces in Ireland are universally well known. There is no need for any "regional" component to the name if it is not the case in other regions. Walter Devereux
  • Score: 2

11:35am Thu 8 May 14

MrBaz1927 says...

Walter Devereux wrote:
The provinces in Ireland are universally well known. There is no need for any "regional" component to the name if it is not the case in other regions.
Yes there clearly is a need if the Dragons ever want to grow as a club. Self-generation of sustainable income is the way forward, the club can't be bankrolled indefinitely and it has to stand on its own two feet. Nobody has come up with a feasible way of this ever occurring as a stand-alone 'Newport' club without big backing from WRU or a sugar daddy.

As for other regions, this isn't unique to The Dragons. The Blues have handled the regional concept terribly to date and need to make changes too.

Scarlets have a great coaching and scouting network set up in North Wales but i can't recall them ever playing games up there to reward current fans or attract prospective fans
[quote][p][bold]Walter Devereux[/bold] wrote: The provinces in Ireland are universally well known. There is no need for any "regional" component to the name if it is not the case in other regions.[/p][/quote]Yes there clearly is a need if the Dragons ever want to grow as a club. Self-generation of sustainable income is the way forward, the club can't be bankrolled indefinitely and it has to stand on its own two feet. Nobody has come up with a feasible way of this ever occurring as a stand-alone 'Newport' club without big backing from WRU or a sugar daddy. As for other regions, this isn't unique to The Dragons. The Blues have handled the regional concept terribly to date and need to make changes too. Scarlets have a great coaching and scouting network set up in North Wales but i can't recall them ever playing games up there to reward current fans or attract prospective fans MrBaz1927
  • Score: 7

8:45pm Thu 8 May 14

Welshman76 says...

If newport is dropped from the name, half the season ticket holders would still come from Newport as it is where they play and is the biggest urban area in the region.
If newport is dropped from the name, half the season ticket holders would still come from Newport as it is where they play and is the biggest urban area in the region. Welshman76
  • Score: -1

9:20pm Thu 8 May 14

Keith Barnett says...

Sorry - Everyone is missing the main point
IF the region was successful then call it what you like, the crowds would come. Problem is that it is ALL about money and we ain't got none!
Plot how much each team in England, Ireland, France and Wales spends on players and you will see that it almost EXACTLY matches their placings in the various leagues. Just like football
The ONLY place in rugby that money does not have an effect on results is international rugby where there is no salary band, that's probably why Wales does ok
Scarlets is Llanelli, Blues are Cardiff, Opreys are Swansea, Dragons is Newport. That;'s where they all play their games and 80% of their supporters come from
NGD should please most people. You can please some of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time but not all the people all of the time
Sorry - Everyone is missing the main point IF the region was successful then call it what you like, the crowds would come. Problem is that it is ALL about money and we ain't got none! Plot how much each team in England, Ireland, France and Wales spends on players and you will see that it almost EXACTLY matches their placings in the various leagues. Just like football The ONLY place in rugby that money does not have an effect on results is international rugby where there is no salary band, that's probably why Wales does ok Scarlets is Llanelli, Blues are Cardiff, Opreys are Swansea, Dragons is Newport. That;'s where they all play their games and 80% of their supporters come from NGD should please most people. You can please some of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time but not all the people all of the time Keith Barnett
  • Score: 0

9:01am Fri 9 May 14

a465hov says...

Spurs/Arsenal, Liverpool/Everton, Man City/Man Utd, Celtic/Rangers. Each from the same city within a stones throw of each other but with thier own identity. NGD/Newport RFC, Cardiff/Cardiff Blues and Llanelli/Llanelli Scarlets. Each with two teams in the same city/town, with roughly the same name playing in the same stadium in roughly the same colours. It will never work and people outside these areas are not going to support regional rugby. Look at the number of people at "the heart and soul of Welsh rugby" last week, it was appalling and this was a Welsh derby!!!
Spurs/Arsenal, Liverpool/Everton, Man City/Man Utd, Celtic/Rangers. Each from the same city within a stones throw of each other but with thier own identity. NGD/Newport RFC, Cardiff/Cardiff Blues and Llanelli/Llanelli Scarlets. Each with two teams in the same city/town, with roughly the same name playing in the same stadium in roughly the same colours. It will never work and people outside these areas are not going to support regional rugby. Look at the number of people at "the heart and soul of Welsh rugby" last week, it was appalling and this was a Welsh derby!!! a465hov
  • Score: 3

11:43am Fri 9 May 14

davidjohnedwards says...

Quite frankly, if they don't move to a more Newport heavy branding then it would be a major mistake. How the hell can a region be called Dragons. Ridiculous. Gwent is a busted flush as it doesn't actually exist anymore anyway. I lived in Risca most of my life but support Newport RFC. Went to the Drag-ons games for a while but didn't feel anything. Final straw was being told we shouldn't shout Newport at games even though this was in the team name. Haven't been back since and won't go back until the unnecessary G & D is dropped from the name and a real identity for professional rugby in Newport is reinstated...
Quite frankly, if they don't move to a more Newport heavy branding then it would be a major mistake. How the hell can a region be called Dragons. Ridiculous. Gwent is a busted flush as it doesn't actually exist anymore anyway. I lived in Risca most of my life but support Newport RFC. Went to the Drag-ons games for a while but didn't feel anything. Final straw was being told we shouldn't shout Newport at games even though this was in the team name. Haven't been back since and won't go back until the unnecessary G & D is dropped from the name and a real identity for professional rugby in Newport is reinstated... davidjohnedwards
  • Score: 1

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