FORMER Wales flanker Rob Appleyard has been appointed full-time Newport Gwent Dragons defence coach after being released by the Welsh Rugby Union.

Appleyard has been with the Dragons on a short-term basis since February, but has now been given a full-time contract and will complete the young Dragons coaching team made up of Darren Edwards (head coach), Danny Wilson (forwards) and Shaun Connor (skills).

They were instrumental in getting the Dragons playing some adventurous, attacking rugby last season when they gained notable victories over the Ospreys and Cardiff Blues. And youngsters like Toby Faletau, Jason Tovey and Adam Hughes made even more progress, Dan Lydiate already established.

Appleyard, currently with the Wales Under 20 squad in Italy, is a west Walian, born at Haverfordwest who played for Swansea, Sale and Cardiff, as well as the Barbarians. He won nine caps in 1997 and 1998. He is 38 “We would like to welcome Rob Appleyard as a full-time member of the Newport Gwent Dragons coaching team,” said Dragons director of rugby Robert Beale.

“Rob joins Darren Edwards’ coaching team as an assistant coach with responsibilities for defence. He has had a huge impact on our environment since his involvement with the region and we would like to thank Joe Lydon and the WRU in enabling Rob to join the Dragons on a full-time basis from the Union.

“We are confident he will make a valuable contribution to both our defence and other areas of the game.”

Appleyard will continue to work alongside Connor with the Dragons’ senior academy.

The Dragons have also made another appointment, with Sara Davies becoming team administrator from July 1.

She is currently employed by the Welsh Rugby Union and is the first woman to hold a major rugby administrative post with the Dragons.

Previously the role of team manager was held by Jim McCreedy and then Beale, who has relinquished the team arrangements responsibility to become director or rugby and concentrate more on contractual issues.

- Faletau, who made his Wales debut as a 20-year-old against the Barbarians last month, has greatly impressed WRU conditioning chief Adam Beard during the summer.

“He is the stand-out in terms of improvement,” said Australian Beard.

“He came in two-and-a-half weeks before the Barbarians game. I put a lot of voluntary sessions into the programme and he came to every single one.

“He’s improved six or seven seconds on our fitness test which is just amazing. He’s really trained hard and impressed me a lot. He’s quiet but he’s gaining in confidence all the time.”