Jones expecting big things from Dragons' new training home
15 August 2014 16:27
By Rob Cole
Head Coach Kingsley Jones reckons the Newport Gwent Dragons' new lair will propel the region up the Guinness PRO12 table.
The Men of Gwent recently moved into their brand-new, state of the art training facility at the Caerphilly County Borough Centre of Sporting Excellence. The Ystrad Mynach base boasts two innovative 3G pitches as well as a gymnasium fit for elite rugby stars.
After years of splitting training between Rodney Parade and Newport High School, Jones is expecting his side to challenge at the top end of the PRO12 table after nine seasons outside the top seven league places.
"These facilities bring a buzz and a real lift to the group. It's new, it's fresh and there's no excuse for failure any more. The surface helps everything and the players are really benefiting from the gym, they look in great physical condition," said Jones.
"It's a real positive start and a chance to have a fresh start after 10 years of the Newport Gwent Dragons. We've put a line in the sand after an unsuccessful time and we're going to move the region forward."
The Rodney Parade region travel to Clifton this Sunday to take on Bristol Rugby in the first of three pre-season friendlies ahead of the new PRO12 campaign. They kick-off against Connacht at the Sportsground on September 6 and Jones is hoping the new environment, as well as their new signings, can bring success to Gwent.
"We're not here to finish 11th. We have to push up the table and Lyn Jones has worked hard to get the new players in for this season. Bristol will be a fantastic exercise for us we will see how we're improving and what we still need to work on," added Jones.
"There will be a lot of holes in our game with so many new players but it will be a great workout. The new boys have driven the standards up and created a really professional environment.
"The young players are copying that behaviour and that's exactly what we wanted when we signed them."
Wales reached their first semi-final since 2013 in the opening round of this season's HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie recaps on what proved to be an eventful tournament
Wales and Ospreys back row James King, who came through the North Wales age grade system, nominated North Wales Regional Community Rugby Manager Marc Roberts, in the WRU's 'Diolch' initiative where squad players thanked those who played a part in their rise to the top.
Beating Merthyr has boosted Carmarthen Quins hopes of reaching a top eight spot in the Principality Premiership. Quins captain Haydn Pugh is delighted with his team's progress and is determined that everyone from the Under 6s through to the senior team, enjoys the ride.
When the Wales squad were asked to nominate individuals who played a big part in their early playing days, Wales and Dragons full back and wing Hallam Amos thought of his former Monmouth School rugby coach John Bevan.
Sam Cross and Luke Treharne have been named as co-captains of the Wales Sevens side as head coach Gareth Williams names his 12-man squad to play in the first leg of the HSBC World Series in Dubai next weekend.
Bedwas head coach Steve Law and players Nicky Griffiths and Alun Rees extol the virtues of the close knit club as they prepare to host third place RGC 1404 - who are one place head of them on the Principality Premiership points table - on Saturday.
Many of the Wales squad have said Diolch (thank you) to someone who played an important part in their early playing days by nominating them to be invited to the Wales v South Africa match. One person, Gowerton Comprehensive geography teacher Mr Dean Mason was nominated by two of his former pupils, Dan Biggar and Sam Davies.
The second WRU disability rugby pilot has been delivered, this time in Caerphilly schools, culminating in a festival at the Caerphilly Centre of Sporting Excellence, Ystrad Mynach tomorrow. Plans are in place to set up a Disability Rugby Club in Newbridge to provide long-term playing opportunities.
WRU TV: Hear from inside the Wales camp as Neil Jenkins discusses this weekend's clash with South Africa and how the squad are looking to put in a strong performance to round of the 2016 Under Armour Series