DRAGONS head coach Dai Flanagan has kicked off his summer recruitment drive by securing a quartet of exciting young talents on senior academy contracts with the club, writes Andrew Penman.

Back row Owen Conquer, fly-half Harri Ford, prop Owain James and full-back Oli Woodman have all agreed terms with the Men of Gwent.

Flanagan believes that signing the four rising stars demonstrates the club’s continued commitment to developing the very best in young talent.

“It’s great news that Owen, Harri, Owain and Oli have signed senior academy contracts with us ahead of the 2024-2025 campaign,” he said.

“They are all talented young men who we believe we can support, both on and off the field, and help them thrive in our professional set-up.

“We’re excited by the potential within this group and watching them develop in our environment in the seasons ahead.”

Wales Under-20 international back row Conquer joins the club after impressing with Ebbw Vale in the Indigo Premiership.

The athletic 19-year-old joined the Steelmen after previous spells with Llantwit Fadre RFC, and has captained the Welsh Academicals team. He has also represented Crawshays and Wales Under-19s.

International team-mate Ford re-joins Dragons after a spell with RGC.

Newport-born Ford – a key part of the Under-20s set-up for the Six Nations this season – played his earlier rugby for Senghenydd RFC before gaining experience with RGC in the Indigo Premiership.

The 19-year-old playmaker had previously played for Dragons Under-18s, Cross Keys, and Bridgend Ravens.

Prop James, 18, is a Wales Under-18s international who played for Brecon in the Championship this season, previously representing Cardiff Rugby and Cardiff & Vale College.

Full-back Woodman – younger brother of senior ace Ryan Woodman – steps up after impressing in the Dragons RFC Development Academy squad.

The 18-year-old, a Monmouth School for Boys pupil and Wales Under-18s international, will look to continue to make an impression with the club after overcoming recent injury.

Jonathan Jones, chairman at Ebbw Vale RFC, welcomed news of Conquer joining Dragons and believes the signings showcase the player pathway system open to talented youngsters.

“Owen joined Ebbw Vale in 2023, following the establishment of the club’s partnership with Christ College Brecon, providing a pathway to semi-professional rugby for students,” he said.

“Owen quickly established himself at the club with some powerful performances as Ebbw Vale challenged at the top of the league. This form saw Owen selected for Wales Under-20s and attracted the attention of the Dragons, who moved quickly to sign Owen.

“This is a great example of the part semi-professional rugby plays in the development of young players for Wales age group and regional rugby.

“All the club look forward to seeing Owen further developing his experience with Ebbw Vale in Super Rygbi Cymru as he starts his full-time professional career with the Dragons.”