DRAGONS co-owner David Buttress has criticised the Welsh Rugby Union for “gaslighting” workers at the professional clubs, urging the governing body to stop cutting and start investing.

Buttress, who will be replaced as chairman of the Rodney Parade club this summer by fellow own David Wright, reacted online after WRU executive director Nigel Walker talked about cutting the pro quartet to a trio.

The former Wales winger was a guest on BBC Wales’ Scrum V when he was questioned about the futures of the Dragons, Cardiff, Ospreys and Scarlets.

"It has got to be an option which will be considered and discussed,” said Walker in quotes that were posted on X by BBC Sport Wales.

"Which way we go on that has yet to be determined but of course, reducing to three regions has to be on the table. But that doesn't mean we will."

Buttress responded to the social media post by saying: “So sad and sorry to see that the national governing body continuing to gaslight hundreds of professional employees who are trying to do a great job every day.

“Have the courage to make a decision or stop talking about one. And while we are on it invest in the core rugby business.”

The Dragons were owned by the WRU from the summer of 2017 until last September when Buttress, Wright and Hoyoung Huh completed a takeover, with all three men equal owners.

It has been another tough year on the pitch after the owners opted to make deep cuts in a bid to sort out finances so that they can invest for next season.

South Wales Argus: Dragons co-owner David ButtressDragons co-owner David Buttress (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“Financially it’s significantly better place than last year but Welsh rugby is in a tough place,” said Buttress to the Argus before the Walker interview.

“The pleasing thing is that we have three owners who are willing to invest, care about the club and are committed.

“The finances of professional rugby are not easy but luckily we have some astute people that work here who are used to working with tight budgets and do a fantastic job.

“But do I wish there was a little bit more investment in the professional men’s game in Wales? Yes, I do.

“We have reaped what we’ve sown over the last four or five years under the leadership of the WRU constantly cutting and cutting the funding of the professional men’s game.

“The results of that have been clear in the Six Nations and, and this is stating the blindingly obvious, it’s time to invest in the pro game because we have such an opportunity to grow.

“I’m no longer on the Professional Rugby Board [Wright replaced him at the Dragons representative] but I would hope that everyone is clear on this now because I don’t know what other indicators you need.”

The Dragons will be operating on a playing budget of £4.5million next season and have been recruiting on and off the pitch.

Head coach Dai Flanagan has made five signings in centre Harry Wilson, hooker Oli Burrows, lock Steve Cummins and back rowers Shane Lewis-Hughes and Solomone Funaki.

After going through the campaign without a specialist defence coach to cut costs, he has made an eye-catching appointment of former Ospreys icon Filo Tiatia.

The Dragons are also going to significantly bolster their academy coaching team.