KEEPING one step ahead -- that is the aim of Gwent Dragons who were officially launched at Newport civic centre yesterday.

Coach Mike Ruddock outlined the new pecking order in Welsh rugby which is Team Wales followed by regional rugby and then club rugby.

But Gwent will add another level. "We have decided to take one step further with a Gwent A side or development squad," said Ruddock.

"We want to make everyone part of it, it will be up and running soon because we have got a proper region.

"This is all about managing change. Look at the difference with Leinster and Munster now everyone has bought into it. We can develop into one of the best sides in Europe."

Ruddock has based the model, A or development apart, on the Leinster example when he was in charge there.

He also pledges to secure the return of Gwent players Iestyn Thomas, Matthew Watkins and Chris Wyatt who are all with Llanelli.

And he is instigating a plan for squad members to visit schools in Gwent at the rate of one a month, the first to be in Newport when he expects over 1,000 children to be present.

Chief executive David Jenkins says organising buses and trains from all parts of Gwent and from across the Severn Bridge to watch the matches will be one of his aims.

"We've got to reflect on the past, but build for the future and in the years ahead see the youngsters of the region aspire to this team," he said.

"Sponsorship and hospitality revenue streams are vital. We've got to make sure this is a vibrant, competitive region.

"I'd like to spread the geographical boundaries across the bridge where there are 100,000 people living within 40 miles of Newport. I am contacting train and bus companies to get people over.

"We have got 40 clubs in this district, and we will form a supporters club as soon as possible. We have had some problems between Newport and Ebbw Vale, now we're ready to go."

Jenkins paid tribute to Newport benefactor Tony Brown. "He has decided to take a back seat from rugby, but without his support at Newport for four years it is debatable whether Rodney Parade could have attracted regional rugby," he said. "He's been fantastic and he needs congratulating not ridiculing."

With one eye on the future, Jenkins said: "We want to create a Rodney Parade experience, let's make it a fortress and get behind Mike Ruddock and his team."

New captain Andy Marinos, who will have Jason Forster as his deputy next season, says a committed squad with a high work ethic has been assembled.

"As a group of players we are excited at the challenge of both regional rugby and to establish Gwent as a dominant figure with in Welsh and European rugby," he said.

"We are a determined bunch of players as depicted by our new identity, the Dragon. It's fire is at its strongest once it has been bellowing in the belly for some time, so we are in the belly and awaiting our exit!"