KINGSLEY Jones has revealed he would love to coach the Newport Gwent Dragons in the future and believes the struggling region has huge potential.
The 43-year-old has an impressive coaching pedigree and is tied to his job as Russia head coach until 2016.
The ex-Sale director of rugby’s CV includes an English Premiership title, secured with France boss Philippe Saint-André when the Sharks hammered Leicester 45-20 in the 2006 final. Jones also assists London Welsh chief Lyn Jones in the Aviva Premiership and the Nantyglo-born and Blaina-raised former Wales captain would relish the opportunity of coaching his home region one day.
“I’m from Gwent and I’m very proud to be from Gwent,” he said. “It’s got a massive rugby culture. I would like to be involved with a region at some point.
“Of course I can’t be choosy about which one I would do – but at some point in my coaching career I would love to coach a region and, of course, the Dragons is where I am from.”
Jones, who won ten Wales caps in the back row between 1996 and 1998, was clear he wasn’t angling for a job at Rodney Parade: “I’m not pushing myself for a job, I’ve got a contract until 2016 with Russia.
“I’ve spoken to one or two regions over the last couple of years to see about the future and I’ve certainly had positive vibes about that but I haven’t spoken to the Dragons.”
And Jones said he sympathises with the plight of the Dragons’ coaching staff who are under fire after seven defeats and just two wins in their nine competitive games so far this season.
“It is tough for them, the coaches are doing their best and the region are doing their best,” he said.
“Players will improve and develop – there are a lot of young players who will come through.
“But it’s a very tough place to learn your trade. The young players are having to try and find five years’ experience in five months.
“It’s almost impossible to do. It’s really difficult. I’m sure it gets to a point where the coaches and the supporters look at the fixture list and think, ‘where are we going to get a victory?’ “It’s Glasgow away next time out – you know that’s not easy at all.”
As well as his coaching commitments, Jones is often seen watching his youngest son Dorian playing for Keys in the Welsh Premiership, as well as his eldest, Rhys, an ex-Newport outside half, with Llandovery.
A former Abertillery, Cross Keys and Ebbw Vale player, Jones believes Gwent remains a hot bed of rugby containing plenty of rough diamonds that may not have been snapped up by the regional academy.
“Rugby is not all about money, although of course it is a massive factor,” he said.
“But let’s remember some of the positives. We’ve got so many rugby players in Gwent and I travel around the Welsh Premiership and I watch my sons playing.
“Last year, my youngest one was playing for Ebbw Vale, and I tell you if I watch them often enough, I often see a player and think, ‘that kid’s got massive potential and could be good enough’.
“Now I know we’ve got a great academy system and the Dragons one is particularly strong.
“But there are players out there who develop late and there are people out there who you could pick up.”
Jones believes the density of rugby players in Gwent is rarely matched anywhere in the world.
“We’ve got to remember there’s a hell of a lot of rugby players in this region,” he said.
“Good, young, tough kids that would relish an opportunity so it’s a positive for the region.
“I think there are more players in Gwent per square mile than almost any other place in the world apart from south Auckland.
“There aren’t too many places I’ve been where you can just pop out and watch a rugby match.
“At Sale in Cheshire, yes we had this and we had that, but you couldn’t go and pick up a couple of rugby players from down the road.”
- BBC Scrum V pundit Kingsley Jones was speaking to the Argus after the Dragons’ 46-19 defeat to Ulster at Rodney Parade on Friday night