IT'S Newport and Gwent Dragons and Rodney Parade benefactor Tony Brown is back on board.

That is the double decision which will delight all Newport rugby fans after months of wrangling over the new Gwent rugby region.

Ebbw Vale chairman Marcus Russell, a director of Gwent Dragons, has resigned, leading to the double change at the top and in the title.

Russell will be replaced by an Ebbw Vale representative on the board, but just over a fortnight after the launch of the Gwent Dragons, that title is now dead.

Newport fans have finally got their way by having the club name in the title, though officials stress it is still a regional team, and they now appeal for fans to support them.

Martyn Hazell will remain the Newport director on the Gwent board, with Brown returning in a stabilising and supporting role but not be on the same basis as with Newport over the past four years.

Brown admits: "It's a shame it had to come to this," but adds: "Unless urgent action was taken, the region would have been bankrupt by Christmas.

"Since Mr Russell had given an assurance to the WRU and the public that he was going to fund the region, it became more and more apparent to him, I imagine, that he'd have to put his hand deeper and deeper into his pocket.

"Gwent Dragons would have been bankrupt, and in order to avoid that Marcus Russell resigned and he appears to blame everyone but himself, so Newport had to step in and fill the void.

"It does become farcical when you can launch the Gwent Dragons and, within two weeks, the main driving force behind it decides he wants to change the name.

"It became apparent to him there was no future for the region unless the Newport name be included in the title. Months which should have marketed the region instead became all argument and distrust.

"If it helps the situation, I've agreed to step in to give it a degree of stability. Hopefully we can ask the thousands of people who wanted the Newport name to support it and see the region go forward.

"It's not just the season ticket holders. We had created something special at Newport. We want to maintain that, build on it and ask those corporate sponsors who have supported us in the past to come back on board and help us drive the region forward.

"Martyn Hazell (Newport's director on the Dragon's board) and I have worked very closely and this is primarily down to Martyn. In the last two days, the Newport board decided to take action needed to preserve rugby at the top level.

"Ideally it will be me having a stabilising role, but I'd like Martyn to carry on on the board, though Ebbw Vale will replace Marcus Russell.

"I'm hoping if we can get season ticket holders on board and enough corporate sponsors as well, we will break even.

"I am back and involved, but it will not be on the same basis."

Hazell pleads with Newport and Gwent fans to now get behind the region, and he also criticises the Welsh Rugby Union heavily.

"It's a pity it's gone this way," he said. "We have spent months arguing and if we had done this from the beginning we would be the strongest region in Wales."

He stressed, "It is a Gwent regional team not a Newport RFC team.

"It will be played at Newport and run from Newport representing Gwent.

"I would ask all the supporters of Gwent and Newport to support it by buying tickets immediately to support the whole region and come in their droves to the matches on Friday and Monday.

"We have come full circle back to Rodney Parade, and I hope for commonsense with our partners in the future.

"It's all been a terrible waste of time and money.

"The WRU got it all wrong after we asked them for help. It rested on Marcus Russ-ell's shoulders and he had to resign.

"We should never have asked David Moffett to adjudicate, but now we've got something out of the ashes and we've all got to pull together."

Russell criticises Newport in a statement on his reasons for quitting as a Gwent director.

"Despite the decision that the name of the new regional side should be Gwent having been made on three occasions, including by mutually agreed independent arbitration, the matter continued to dominate the agenda of the directors of Newport Rugby Football Club Limited to the exclusion of other, vitally important, matters," he said.

"The situation became so dysfunctional that the management of Gwent Rugby Limited were unable to address fully, and thus able only to make slow progress on matters such as obtaining corporate sponsorship, developing brand awareness, selling season tickets, drawing up staging agreements etc."

Russell refers to the decision on Monday to market a joint season ticket that would admit the holder to the home games of both Gwent Dragons and Newport RFC, a product Gwent Rugby Limited had sought from the outset though the Newport directors had refused to agree, with a ballot to fans on what the eventual name should be.

"Within less than 24 hours of the announcement being made, Tony Brown, the majority shareholder in and director of Newport RFC Limited (and the joint shareholder in Gwent Rugby Limited) made comment in the Press denigrating the scheme, which his board had endorsed, and making derogatory comments such as "the pantomime season has opened early this year" and "it's a climdown by Russell and he's backing out of his commitment to fund the region," said Russell.

"These comments are scurrilous, un-true, and, I am advised, defamatory.

"More importantly, these comments have undermined and damaged the credibility of the initiative to the extent that a ballot is no longer a viable proposition.

"I am now forced to consider my position. I entered this process with the strong and sincere intention of helping to create a team to represent the whole region of Gwent and to become a real force on the club rugby stage: also to provide the sporting public of Gwent at large with a team with which they could identify.

"I was initially supported and encouraged in this intention by Tony Brown.

"In order to achieve the ambitious objectives set for Gwent Rugby Limited, two things needed to be in place:

(I) The whole-hearted support, co-operation and expertise of the directors of both shareholders.

(ii) and wide-ranging support for the new regional side from the sporting public throughout the Gwent region.

The business plan which was drawn for Gwent Rugby Limited, and registered with the WRU, is wholly dependent upon the above key success factors being achieved.

"In the event, neither of these essential prerequisites for success has been forthcoming.

"Almost from the outset of the implementation phase, Tony Brown, together with certain other directors of Newport Rugby Football Club Limited, have opposed any of the progress required for the success of Gwent Rugby Limited in protest against the name Gwent, and, later, Gwent Dragons.

"Furthermore, an analysis of the sales to date of Gwent Dragon season tickets shows that only a small percentage of the sales have been made to rugby followers who were not season ticket holders of Newport RFC last season.

"My initial belief that the sporting public of Gwent would welcome, and support, the notion of a top class rugby side representing the whole region of Gwent and playing out of Rodney Parade was ill-conceived.

"My efforts to retain a Gwent identity in the face of a sustained campaign to the contrary by all concerned with Newport RFC have been undermined by the proportionate lack of season ticket sales to rugby followers living outside the Newport area, (Ebbw Vale area excepted).

"These shortfalls are at odds with the business plan in place for Gwent Rugby Limited, which plan is dependent upon wide-spread support for the entire Gwent region.

"As a director of Gwent Rugby Club I am under an absolute duty of good faith to ensure the commercial viability and success of the new company.

"It is now my strong view, given the above circumstances, that such viability and success can best be achieved if the infrastructure of Gwent Dragons is subsumed into the existing operations of Newport RFC.

"This being the case I am forced to come to the conclusion that I have no constituency which allows me to continue to pursue my original aim.

"I will consult with my brother and the other shareholders of Ebbw Vale Rugby Club Limited as to the identity of my replacement as the Ebbw Vale Limited nominated director."

Team coach Mike Ruddock is sure the playing side will not be affected by the changes.

"I don't think there will be a problem for the players and the coaches," he said.

"The important thing is it still encompasses the whole region.

"Last night we had a rpoductive meeting with all the Gwent coaches to discuss policy, I met the Gwent referees on Monay and the Academy is up and running.

'The fact that Newport is now in the title is not an issue, but unfortunately two great business minds (Russell and Brown) were unable to get on together."

Gwent chief executive David Jenkins said, "I want to emphasise that though the Newport supporters were asking for the Newport name to be in the title they realise it is a regional team and are going to attract people from the region.

"A Dragons supporters club has been set up and they are happy to work together, and none of it will be affected by the name.

"We are at the Monmouth Show next Tuesday and the Academy games will go in through the region."