ON a night when England were floundering at the T20 World Cup, new Dragons chief executive Rhys Blumberg addressed the fears of a region being culled right off the bat at a Q&A with supporters at Rodney Parade.

The event was attended by around 80 fans with Blumberg and head coach Dai Flanagan (owner and chairman David Wright was unable to make it as was originally planned) covering a wide range of topics.

There was the usual mention of the condition of the toilets in the Compeed Stand, a worrying amount of time devoted to a clubhouse and food, desperate pleas to compete with Wetherspoon’s beer prices (an approach that would cost Flanagan a couple of players) but also some actual pressing matters.

Here are some of the themes covered over the night at Rodney Parade...

CHOP: Dragons centre Aneurin Owen is tackled in the defeat to the OspreysCHOP: Dragons centre Aneurin Owen is tackled in the defeat to the Ospreys (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Abi Tierney frustrated the four professional clubs, who long for stability, on Wednesday when once again revisiting the prospect of cutting a region.

Dragons owner David Buttress, no doubt worn down by frequent battles with the governing body, posted a response on X that he subsequently deleted.

“We are asking individuals who have never grown a business or innovated to create a growth strategy," he wrote.

“Growth strategies require appetite for risk, personally and professionally. I'm very, very sorry to say I am not optimistic.”

Blumberg, who will be replacing owner and chairman David Wright as the Dragons’ representative on the Professional Rugby Board, adopted a more conciliatory tone with the first issue raised at the Q&A.

“I would stress that Abi Tierney is absolutely committed and determined to keeping four regions in place,” said Blumberg, who arrived from Cardiff this summer.

“Having spoken to her a couple of times, she is very impressive and her agenda is to save Welsh rugby as fast and as well as she can.

“If for any reason the strategy delivers the verdict that the only option is to cut a team – which I can’t see happening – then I would like to stress a couple of things from a Dragons perspective.

“On the pitch we haven’t been the top region but off it, as we stand today, we are in the best position of all four.

“I got hammered for saying that recently, but we have three great owners who have our back and we own our own ground. The whole site is ours and that gives us an advantage.

“We also don’t carry as much debt as the others.”

For fans of WRU gaffes, Blumberg then uttered the words “please don’t hold my feet to the fire” when offering his opinion/prediction on the situation.

That provided a flashback to the phrase inappropriately used by Nigel Walker, executive director of the governing body, when giving a warning to the regions.

Blumberg later admitted that ‘2+2’ of regions was “more worrying than going down to three” due to the Dragons' historically being the poorest on-field performers.

Rodney Parade, home to the Dragons and Newport CountyRodney Parade, home to the Dragons and Newport County (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


Blumberg gave an update on the plans for the northern part of the site, with talks set to take place with Newport Council about potential leisure facilities.

The chief executive also spoke about a desire to hold events on the ‘cabbage patch’ to generate revenue next year, something the Dragons have done in the past.

He addressed the need to improve facilities in the Compeed Stand – although structurally it is a challenge – and issue of being unable to see the big screen from the back rows.

The issue of a clubhouse took up a sizeable chunk of the evening with debate/statements about the use of Rodney’s Bar in the corner of the stadium, access to it, possibility of members’ prices, “good, old-fashioned rugby food” (which, bizarrely, got one of only two rounds of applause on the night).

Blumberg said that improving disabled facilities had already been identified as a priority.


“An absolute priority for us, people having a fantastic time regardless of what happens on the pitch is paramount to them coming back,” said Blumberg.

The chief executive said that the club are going to invest in more infrastructure for children while Flanagan stressed the importance of players being close to the supporters and spending time with them on matchdays.

CHANGE: Dragons head coach Dai Flanagan intends to tinker with the style next seasonCHANGE: Dragons head coach Dai Flanagan intends to tinker with the style next season (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


Flanagan gave a couple of nuggets, confirming that a deal has been agreed for a Welsh-qualified fly-half (an announcement will be made after WRU approval) and that Ceri Jones has returned as academy head coach.

The boss referred to new defence coach Filo Tiatia, who arrives this weekend ready to be in position for the start of pre-season training a week on Monday, as his “right-hand man”.

The former Osprey will “bring steel and a stern edge” and challenge the culture of the group.

The head coach admitted his frustration at the way his side found ways to lose in the final quarter of games last season and posed the question of the last time the Dragons won more games than they lost (the embarrassing answer, Dai, is 2004/5 after they also achieved that in their first season).

He vowed to have more of an emphasis on size to improve the Dragons’ performance in collisions – “we were lowest collision team in the league, so we have targeted bigger men”.

Flanagan addressed the tough 2023/24 after having to cut costs and said he was relishing a “clean slate” with a new-look squad and staff, one that carries greater expectations to produce the goods on the pitch.

He said home form is a priority but, when pressed about the embarrassing form on the road, admitted his side needed to steal more points on their travels.

Flanagan intends to develop a “rugby identity” that mixes a hard edge – being a ‘blue collar team’ – with a bit of flair and admitted the pressure is on to end the Cardiff hoodoo.

He stressed the importance of the relationship with the Super Rygbi Cymru trio of Newport, Ebbw Vale and Pontypool, stating that he has good conversations with bosses Ty Morris, Jason Strange and Leighton Jones.

That will help the next generation rack up the minutes in the bid to develop and push for the first team.

The Dragons have promised more Q&As in the coming months, and no doubt more debate over curry and chips in the clubhouse…