CERI Jones has returned to the Dragons as head coach of the academy.

The 47-year-old from Usk is back with the Rodney Parade club after spending the last three seasons in charge of RGC in the Premiership.

The return of the popular coach is a huge boost for the Dragons, who are beefing up their academy staff.

Jones cut his coaching teeth with Worcester’s academy while forwards coach at Ebbw Vale and he stepped up to the Dragons in that position.

The twice-times capped Wales prop, who is a Harlequins great, helped the likes of Elliot Dee, Leon Brown, Cory Hill and Aaron Wainwright earn international honours.

He had a brief spell as caretaker boss after the exit of Bernard Jackman – and masterminded the Dragons breaking their Judgement Day duck against the Scarlets – but missed out on the top job to Dean Ryan.

DELIGHT: Ceri Jones with Elliot Dee after the Judgement Day win against the Scarlets in 2019DELIGHT: Ceri Jones with Elliot Dee after the Judgement Day win against the Scarlets in 2019

Jones stayed for a year before leaving in 2020 and then heading to Colwyn Bay a year later.

Now he is back in Ystrad Mynach with the task of helping bring more players through to the Dragons’ first team.

“Ceri will be with the 19s and down, the first point of contact for our academy kids alongside our academy manager [Lewis Roberts],” said head coach Dai Flanagan. “It will be great for them to see a former regional coach working at that level.

“He is passionate about the region and passionate about player development, so it’s the perfect role for him to come back into.

“Ceri will help bring young talent through but also add experience to the coaching group, whether that’s our pathway or senior coaches.

“He will be an ally for Sam Hobbs, who is stepping up to forwards coach. They have a good relationship and I am sure they will have lots and lots of valuable conversations.

“Ceri has already been around us and I’ve been asking him questions about his experiences and journey here. Some of his best times came at this region and he can’t stop smiling now that he is back!”

Jones is part of an academy revamp that the Dragons will confirm in the coming weeks.

“We have put a massive emphasis on our pathway because we believe we have to produce our own to be successful,” said Flanagan.

“We will have a head of player development, an academy manager, four coaches, two strength and conditioning coaches and medics to make sure we can service this region well.

“We have still produced unbelievable talent recently and people in posts were doing a fantastic job, giving up lots of hours and doing two or three people’s jobs.

“What we are able to do now is focus specifically on each area of the game and give a fantastic service to our pathway.”

PROMOTION: Sam Hobbs is now Dragons forwards coachPROMOTION: Sam Hobbs is now Dragons forwards coach (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

Hobbs, who played under Jones when making 42 appearances for the Dragons, has been promoted to forwards coach after previously being with the academy and helping out with the seniors last season.

“He has had a great apprenticeship and has put a lot of time and effort into developing his craft,” said Flanagan.

“Sam has worked extremely hard to make sure he is in the shop window by coaching with Newport in the Premiership, coaching age-grade and being head coach of the academy, working with Wales 20s.

“We have seen Newport’s pack and the quality of player he has helped developed such as Ryan Woodman.”