CO-OWNER David Buttress is stepping down as chairman of the Dragons after almost seven years in charge, declaring that it’s essential if the Rodney Parade club are to achieve their ambitions.

The entrepreneur from Cwmbran has been at the helm since being brought in by the Welsh Rugby Union after their takeover of the Rodney Parade club in 2017 but will be replaced as chairman by co-owner David Wright.

Buttress spearheaded the deal to go into private ownership last summer after forming a consortium with Wright, a former Pontypool scrum-half from Machen, and America-based Hoyoung Huh.

Buttress has been appointed as chief executive of energy business Ovo and that has led to him opting to hand the reins to Wright, who will take the role on July 1.

The Dragons have also appointed a new chief executive – a position they have not had since 2017 – who will be announced shortly before they arrive this summer.

South Wales Argus: START: David Buttress when appointed as Dragons chairman by the WRU in 2017START: David Buttress when appointed as Dragons chairman by the WRU in 2017 (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“The Dragons chairmanship is the job that requires probably the minimum of a day a week, plus other bits and pieces. I can’t do a CEO job while doing that,” said Buttress.

“If I look at the ambition that Hoyoung, David and I have for the club, it needs a chairperson who can deliver sufficient time to achieve our objectives of developing Rodney Parade, making the team successful on the pitch and growing out development pathway and community team.

“I was with Hoyoung, who was over in the UK ten or so days ago, and he said that at some point in the future he wants us to be sat together with a cup.

“He wants to win something and that was the moment in my mind where it crystallised that I couldn't be chair anymore because I know what is needed to drive that level of performance in this organisation.

“You can’t do that at arms’ length while CEO of another company, it wouldn’t work and I would have been letting everyone down – supporters, players, co-owners – if I didn’t make this decision.

“You have to be guided by what is right and not what is right for you. It’s right for the Dragons that I step away as chair.

“We have several different pieces of work that we want to achieve over the next few years, so that needs a chairperson who can be hands-on.

“I made this decision with a heavy heart but, after going through the plans for the club, it was clear that it was the right thing to do.”

South Wales Argus: David Buttress will be replaced as chairman of the Dragons by David WrightDavid Buttress will be replaced as chairman of the Dragons by David Wright (Image: Huw Evans/Dragons RFC)

Wright made his money in the pharmaceutical business and was chief executive of Compeed, who are in the last year of a sponsorship deal with the Dragons.

“David is, by nature, a hands-on person and he is also semi-retired now,” said Buttress. “We have been working closely and since October 2023 has been representing the Dragons on the Professional Rugby Board.

“It will be a very smooth transition and David has already been picking up some of the duties; he is a very experienced businessperson in his own right so it just makes a tonne of sense.

“I will remain a one-third owner and will be on the board, so I will still be around in the background.

“I’ve just lost a nice parking spot! I will still be at the games and attend all the board meetings, I just won’t be there for the bits in between.”

Buttress has been at the helm in a tumultuous time for professional rugby in Wales and the takeover deal dragged on after it had looked set to be completed before Covid.

“Let’s be honest, in 2023 I was probably doing three days a week as well as all my jobs in venture capital,” said Buttress.

“It can be a very demanding job with your time and also your headspace. Negotiating with the various parties can be a take an awful lot of time and at times last year it was close to being a full-time job.”

With the Dragons set to unveil a new chief executive, Graeme Bradbury will step down from his interim role with the club.

“I’m proud to have been asked to oversee such an important period of the club’s journey, and look forward to handing over the reins, firmly believing that I leave the business in a stronger position than we found it,” said Bradbury, who was Huh’s representative on the board.

“I will continue to support the club from the terraces and look forward to watching a successful future for all at Dragons RFC.”