Rhys Thomas slams Dragons over 'lack of ambition'

STRONG WORDS: Rhys Thomas

STRONG WORDS: Rhys Thomas

First published in Sport Campaign Series: Photograph of the Author by

EX-NEWPORT Gwent Dragons favourite Rhys Thomas has slammed his old region as having “no ambition” in the wake of Dan Lydiate’s departure, and he is certain their other star Toby Faletau will be the next to leave.

Six Nations player of the year Lydiate is leaving Rodney Parade at the end of the season and is linked with a move to French glamour club Racing Métro.

He is the latest high profile Dragon to leave after lock Luke Charteris and wing Aled Brew went to France on big money deals last season to Perpignan and Biarritz respectively.

Retired tighthead prop Thomas, who won seven caps for Wales, fears for his former region but believes many of their woes are of their own making.

“The Dragons are really stuck in a rut and have no ambition,” he said.

“Dan’s departure is a massive blow for the Dragons and they just can’t compete with the money being thrown around by the biggest teams in Europe.

“Toby will be leaving at the end of his contract – he’s got nothing to keep him there.

“After Dan and Toby, the Dragons have no quality international players.

“They keep losing the biggest names but they aren’t replacing them with good players.”

Thomas had to quit the game earlier this year after he nearly died from a heart attack in January while training with the Scarlets, whom he joined in 2009 following six seasons with the Dragons.

The South African-born front row forward, who is currently doing a Welsh Rugby Union level three coaching course, also doesn’t believe the Drag-ons’ youth policy is working as a way of replacing top class personnel.

“I don’t think the young players are coming through,” he said. “I think they’ve got a poor academy infrastructure.

“They seem to have it right with their academies down west. I could see that when I was at the Scarlets.

“They have produced players like George North, Liam Williams and Aaron Shingler in recent years.”

Thomas added: “The Dragons have gone from being a competitive side, although never a top team, to the bottom of the pile and worse than Connacht, no disrespect to them.”

On Lydiate’s move away from Wales, he said: “Dan will do well wherever he goes. He’s a great player. He’s hard working, especially in defence. Dan would be a real asset to any side, not just Racing Métro.”

* The WRU have stated it is “disappointed” Lydiate will be leaving the Dragons.

A spokeswoman said: “Dan is an important player for Wales and we are aware of the financial pressure individuals of his stature face to play their rugby outside one of our four regions.

“This is precisely why the WRU and the four regions have announced the formation of a new Professional Regional Game Board to tackle priority issues of this nature.

“The announcement of his planned departure from Wales emphasises the importance of the new body and its relevance to the future sustainability and development of our regions.

“It is inevitable that representatives of our star players will be open to negotiation for their services outside Wales and we will do all in our power to ensure the playing, welfare and contractual environment here remains attractive to key individuals.

Comments (25)

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8:26am Fri 7 Dec 12

kalwales@hotmail.com says...

Careful Rhys, you dont want to upset the Region & the Fans now do you :-)
Careful Rhys, you dont want to upset the Region & the Fans now do you :-) kalwales@hotmail.com
  • Score: 0

9:36am Fri 7 Dec 12

Dai the Milk says...

Love the end of the article. Meaningless soundbites from the WRUin after the horse has bolted.
Love the end of the article. Meaningless soundbites from the WRUin after the horse has bolted. Dai the Milk
  • Score: 0

10:15am Fri 7 Dec 12

Robert Shillabeer says...

Key individuals, does that mean the agents who make a lot of money from getting players to go to France?
Key individuals, does that mean the agents who make a lot of money from getting players to go to France? Robert Shillabeer
  • Score: 0

11:23am Fri 7 Dec 12

East Newport Dave says...

Thanks Rhys, kick us when we're down!
Dragons may lack ambition but, when Rhys Thomas was with us, it was a lack of loyalty from him. I was at a rugby dinner in Newport when he wanted to leave the Dragons but was under contract. He made it clear to the audience he didn't want to be with the Dragons.
Whilst I sympathise with his medical condition, not a nice bloke and is unlikely to have either the intelligence or charisma to make it as a coach.
Thanks Rhys, kick us when we're down! Dragons may lack ambition but, when Rhys Thomas was with us, it was a lack of loyalty from him. I was at a rugby dinner in Newport when he wanted to leave the Dragons but was under contract. He made it clear to the audience he didn't want to be with the Dragons. Whilst I sympathise with his medical condition, not a nice bloke and is unlikely to have either the intelligence or charisma to make it as a coach. East Newport Dave
  • Score: 0

11:36am Fri 7 Dec 12

Draigoch says...

kalwales@hotmail.com wrote:
Careful Rhys, you dont want to upset the Region & the Fans now do you :-)
Would have been an interesting article had he not resorted to slamming his fellow ex players in the process. I'm sure they'll be a few who he has upset by his comments.
[quote][p][bold]kalwales@hotmail.com[/bold] wrote: Careful Rhys, you dont want to upset the Region & the Fans now do you :-)[/p][/quote]Would have been an interesting article had he not resorted to slamming his fellow ex players in the process. I'm sure they'll be a few who he has upset by his comments. Draigoch
  • Score: 0

2:29pm Fri 7 Dec 12

high x boy says...

Hope he never gets employed by us again.True not a nice person.
Hope he never gets employed by us again.True not a nice person. high x boy
  • Score: 0

3:08pm Fri 7 Dec 12

spaniard says...

At last someone who has played there telling the truth of how bad the region is and how badly they are lacking in ambition
At last someone who has played there telling the truth of how bad the region is and how badly they are lacking in ambition spaniard
  • Score: 0

3:58pm Fri 7 Dec 12

Dai the Milk says...

When all is said and done........like him or hate him........he is right.
When all is said and done........like him or hate him........he is right. Dai the Milk
  • Score: 0

3:58pm Fri 7 Dec 12

Dai the Milk says...

When all is said and done........like him or hate him........he is right.
When all is said and done........like him or hate him........he is right. Dai the Milk
  • Score: 0

3:59pm Fri 7 Dec 12

Dai the Milk says...

.......it's ok. It's old age.
.......it's ok. It's old age. Dai the Milk
  • Score: 0

7:02pm Fri 7 Dec 12

newgalesurf says...

Lydiate will play as many games at Rodney Parade for a French side than he will as a Dragon.

Love him as a player, but Dragons are getting nothing out of him due to Welsh commitments or injury. Give others a chance and strengthen where we need to
Lydiate will play as many games at Rodney Parade for a French side than he will as a Dragon. Love him as a player, but Dragons are getting nothing out of him due to Welsh commitments or injury. Give others a chance and strengthen where we need to newgalesurf
  • Score: 0

7:35pm Fri 7 Dec 12

Euwan Usami says...

To be honest you have to put this down to where it comes from. It's not true to say the Dragons don't develop talent or don't have players comming through and we all know why we have lacked investment this season. The guy doesn't know what he's talking about. Simple as.
To be honest you have to put this down to where it comes from. It's not true to say the Dragons don't develop talent or don't have players comming through and we all know why we have lacked investment this season. The guy doesn't know what he's talking about. Simple as. Euwan Usami
  • Score: 0

7:50pm Fri 7 Dec 12

Dai the Milk says...

OK.....after Dan and Toby.......... somebody name me 'the quality international players left' please?
OK.....after Dan and Toby.......... somebody name me 'the quality international players left' please? Dai the Milk
  • Score: 0

8:14pm Fri 7 Dec 12

Keith Barnett says...

Agree with every word Rhinstone said. No French club would have ever signed Thomas!
Other one who thinks he's better than he is - Tovey. Exactly same as Sweeney.
Dan is class and will be missed
Agree with every word Rhinstone said. No French club would have ever signed Thomas! Other one who thinks he's better than he is - Tovey. Exactly same as Sweeney. Dan is class and will be missed Keith Barnett
  • Score: 0

8:57pm Fri 7 Dec 12

Regionalist says...

Dai the Milk wrote:
OK.....after Dan and Toby.......... somebody name me 'the quality international players left' please?
What have international quality players got to do with anything? They're not worth having!
[quote][p][bold]Dai the Milk[/bold] wrote: OK.....after Dan and Toby.......... somebody name me 'the quality international players left' please?[/p][/quote]What have international quality players got to do with anything? They're not worth having! Regionalist
  • Score: 0

9:46pm Fri 7 Dec 12

Euwan Usami says...

Regionalist wrote:
Dai the Milk wrote:
OK.....after Dan and Toby.......... somebody name me 'the quality international players left' please?
What have international quality players got to do with anything? They're not worth having!
True enough lol, better to have a mix of experienced foreigners and promising youngsters to keep some kind of continuity for the season. Give it a couple of seasons and Wales will be playing home games in the South of France anyway.
[quote][p][bold]Regionalist[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Dai the Milk[/bold] wrote: OK.....after Dan and Toby.......... somebody name me 'the quality international players left' please?[/p][/quote]What have international quality players got to do with anything? They're not worth having![/p][/quote]True enough lol, better to have a mix of experienced foreigners and promising youngsters to keep some kind of continuity for the season. Give it a couple of seasons and Wales will be playing home games in the South of France anyway. Euwan Usami
  • Score: 0

2:38am Sat 8 Dec 12

Robert Shillabeer says...

We don't want international players at the Dragons, we need good standard players who will be available on a consistent basis for US not the WRU. the idea f regional rugby is sound, there ain't enough money to spread around all the Premiership clubs so a smaller professional system is needed. Time people accepted this basic fact. South Wales is where Welsh rugby is based (nothing against mid or north Wales in this comment but facts prove it to be historically true) Llandovery are doing well at the moment and they are based in west/mid Wales and have some very good financial support at the moment along with the school have avenues others don't have, no critisism from me on that perhaps more envy really. I remember when Ebbw Vale were the top dogs, they were supported by Ebbw Vale steelworks (Rag Tag and Bob Tail for those who knew them) in many ways with the flood lights and catering facilities and eventually a new club house, since destroyed by fire I must say. I'm sure Newport had their supporting groups, all of which up ported Welsh rugby. Rugby is no longer a community based thing, it's a business that relies upon fan support more than benefactors therefore need to perform that much better simply because results drive things forward. It's the I thing that controls where a player wants to play these days rather than the WE. Until things change in outlook regional rugby will continue to struggle and the WRU must do much more to support regional rugby in order for the system to both work and retain quality payers.
We don't want international players at the Dragons, we need good standard players who will be available on a consistent basis for US not the WRU. the idea f regional rugby is sound, there ain't enough money to spread around all the Premiership clubs so a smaller professional system is needed. Time people accepted this basic fact. South Wales is where Welsh rugby is based (nothing against mid or north Wales in this comment but facts prove it to be historically true) Llandovery are doing well at the moment and they are based in west/mid Wales and have some very good financial support at the moment along with the school have avenues others don't have, no critisism from me on that perhaps more envy really. I remember when Ebbw Vale were the top dogs, they were supported by Ebbw Vale steelworks (Rag Tag and Bob Tail for those who knew them) in many ways with the flood lights and catering facilities and eventually a new club house, since destroyed by fire I must say. I'm sure Newport had their supporting groups, all of which up ported Welsh rugby. Rugby is no longer a community based thing, it's a business that relies upon fan support more than benefactors therefore need to perform that much better simply because results drive things forward. It's the I thing that controls where a player wants to play these days rather than the WE. Until things change in outlook regional rugby will continue to struggle and the WRU must do much more to support regional rugby in order for the system to both work and retain quality payers. Robert Shillabeer
  • Score: 0

5:21am Sat 8 Dec 12

Dai the Milk says...

Robert, you make me laugh sometimes with your illogical logic. First you want Howley sacked after a few games in charge but defend the Dragons' coaches after two seasons of mediocrity. Now you want a set-up which exists in its own bubble, for no reason. You say 'We don't want international players at the Dragons'????? Robert, the whole raison d'etre of the Dragons or any of the other entities is to produce international players, just as the lower leagues exist to produce potential representative standard players. Please wake up and smell the coffee of this brave new world we live in..........which isn't working mind you. Because it is neither regional or club-based. I concede it has to change....and fast.
Robert, you make me laugh sometimes with your illogical logic. First you want Howley sacked after a few games in charge but defend the Dragons' coaches after two seasons of mediocrity. Now you want a set-up which exists in its own bubble, for no reason. You say 'We don't want international players at the Dragons'????? Robert, the whole raison d'etre of the Dragons or any of the other entities is to produce international players, just as the lower leagues exist to produce potential representative standard players. Please wake up and smell the coffee of this brave new world we live in..........which isn't working mind you. Because it is neither regional or club-based. I concede it has to change....and fast. Dai the Milk
  • Score: 0

5:25am Sat 8 Dec 12

East Newport Dave says...

I'm glad someone mentioned 'schools'. The whole participation thing in Wales needs to get back to basics. The regions through the WRU should be sponsoring school rugby and paying sports teachers for after school training/matches and Saturday morning matches. Kids need to be incentivised and could be offered £50 season tickets if they played 10 school/club matches the previous season. There is no imagination at the moment, just a fixation with academies. We are missing a trick. The best natural coaches are the teachers who professionally impart knowledge but what do Wales do? Yes, we leave it to the likes of Rob Howley and Rhys Thomas!!
I'm glad someone mentioned 'schools'. The whole participation thing in Wales needs to get back to basics. The regions through the WRU should be sponsoring school rugby and paying sports teachers for after school training/matches and Saturday morning matches. Kids need to be incentivised and could be offered £50 season tickets if they played 10 school/club matches the previous season. There is no imagination at the moment, just a fixation with academies. We are missing a trick. The best natural coaches are the teachers who professionally impart knowledge but what do Wales do? Yes, we leave it to the likes of Rob Howley and Rhys Thomas!! East Newport Dave
  • Score: 0

8:15am Sat 8 Dec 12

mep says...

'Robert, the whole raison d'etre of the Dragons or any of the other entities is to produce international players, just as the lower leagues exist to produce potential representative standard players'.
You could have gone one stage further Dai the Milk and added that after becoming internationals Wales are producing players for the French Top 14!!!
'Robert, the whole raison d'etre of the Dragons or any of the other entities is to produce international players, just as the lower leagues exist to produce potential representative standard players'. You could have gone one stage further Dai the Milk and added that after becoming internationals Wales are producing players for the French Top 14!!! mep
  • Score: 0

8:15am Sat 8 Dec 12

Dai the Milk says...

East Newport Dave wrote:
I'm glad someone mentioned 'schools'. The whole participation thing in Wales needs to get back to basics. The regions through the WRU should be sponsoring school rugby and paying sports teachers for after school training/matches and Saturday morning matches. Kids need to be incentivised and could be offered £50 season tickets if they played 10 school/club matches the previous season. There is no imagination at the moment, just a fixation with academies. We are missing a trick. The best natural coaches are the teachers who professionally impart knowledge but what do Wales do? Yes, we leave it to the likes of Rob Howley and Rhys Thomas!!
Absolute common sense. I benefited from a school system and then representative honours via that. These academies are all well and good but where is the talent of the future going to come from first? It has to be the schools. The whole of the Aussie system is school-based. They become centres of excellence in their own right just as West Mon Grammar, Newbridge Grammar, Nantyglo Grammar, Neath Grammar and Bassaleg Grammar once were before the liberal socialists highjacked our way of life.
[quote][p][bold]East Newport Dave[/bold] wrote: I'm glad someone mentioned 'schools'. The whole participation thing in Wales needs to get back to basics. The regions through the WRU should be sponsoring school rugby and paying sports teachers for after school training/matches and Saturday morning matches. Kids need to be incentivised and could be offered £50 season tickets if they played 10 school/club matches the previous season. There is no imagination at the moment, just a fixation with academies. We are missing a trick. The best natural coaches are the teachers who professionally impart knowledge but what do Wales do? Yes, we leave it to the likes of Rob Howley and Rhys Thomas!![/p][/quote]Absolute common sense. I benefited from a school system and then representative honours via that. These academies are all well and good but where is the talent of the future going to come from first? It has to be the schools. The whole of the Aussie system is school-based. They become centres of excellence in their own right just as West Mon Grammar, Newbridge Grammar, Nantyglo Grammar, Neath Grammar and Bassaleg Grammar once were before the liberal socialists highjacked our way of life. Dai the Milk
  • Score: 0

8:51pm Sat 8 Dec 12

Robert Shillabeer says...

Schools rugby is where I first played although I was an avid Ebbw Vale fan as a lad because my father was on the committe really. The first place I could play rugby in school was at Caldicot Community Colledge as it was then called other schools were mainly grammar schools in Monmouthshire. Vey few secondary schools however played rugby because it was far too much trouble for them so schools rugby fell by the wayside. It now seems to be making something of a comeback and with local rugby clubs running under 11s and touch rugby for even younger the sport is getting stronger at grassroots level. The academies are meant for the more talented youngsters to go on to regional standard. Just look at the very good youngsters they have produced in all four regions. A blend of both schools rugby and the academies will provide a stream of talented players and a very good chance to make it to the top.
Schools rugby is where I first played although I was an avid Ebbw Vale fan as a lad because my father was on the committe really. The first place I could play rugby in school was at Caldicot Community Colledge as it was then called other schools were mainly grammar schools in Monmouthshire. Vey few secondary schools however played rugby because it was far too much trouble for them so schools rugby fell by the wayside. It now seems to be making something of a comeback and with local rugby clubs running under 11s and touch rugby for even younger the sport is getting stronger at grassroots level. The academies are meant for the more talented youngsters to go on to regional standard. Just look at the very good youngsters they have produced in all four regions. A blend of both schools rugby and the academies will provide a stream of talented players and a very good chance to make it to the top. Robert Shillabeer
  • Score: 0

9:00am Tue 11 Dec 12

foxy3rd says...

Seems to me there are too many limpets posing behind the scene at the dragons. Personally have supported Newport since early 60,s and always had jt-season ticket but got fed up of signing 2nd rate injury carrying/prone players ----we will learn from this again &again.Rediculous beer prices,Will Harries always running into trouble etc.etc.etc.Really good to watch good old fashioned running rugby with the Port.Phew
Seems to me there are too many limpets posing behind the scene at the dragons. Personally have supported Newport since early 60,s and always had jt-season ticket but got fed up of signing 2nd rate injury carrying/prone players ----we will learn from this again &again.Rediculous beer prices,Will Harries always running into trouble etc.etc.etc.Really good to watch good old fashioned running rugby with the Port.Phew foxy3rd
  • Score: 0

1:39pm Wed 12 Dec 12

NakedDancer says...

Rhys Thomas didn't achieve anything after leaving the Dragons - he's not an authority on anything.

From the National team player pool point of view, with only four Welsh regions playing top level rugby (and they use some foreign players) Wales actually needs some players playing in England/France. That makes spaces in the regional squads for other Welsh players. As already said, the Wales internationals rarely play for their Regions.

The french clubs will go bust in a couple years and the wheel will turn again. Also all countries are losing players to the French teams at the moment.

The problem for the Welsh regions is apparent inability to win matches in the meantime. Losing matches = less gate receipts = worse players = losing matches. However, the Scottish, Irish and Italian teams aren't better funded so its hard to see why the Welsh regions arent beating those regularly at least.
Rhys Thomas didn't achieve anything after leaving the Dragons - he's not an authority on anything. From the National team player pool point of view, with only four Welsh regions playing top level rugby (and they use some foreign players) Wales actually needs some players playing in England/France. That makes spaces in the regional squads for other Welsh players. As already said, the Wales internationals rarely play for their Regions. The french clubs will go bust in a couple years and the wheel will turn again. Also all countries are losing players to the French teams at the moment. The problem for the Welsh regions is apparent inability to win matches in the meantime. Losing matches = less gate receipts = worse players = losing matches. However, the Scottish, Irish and Italian teams aren't better funded so its hard to see why the Welsh regions arent beating those regularly at least. NakedDancer
  • Score: 0

12:19am Thu 13 Dec 12

Robert Shillabeer says...

It's not just Welsh regions who are losing players to France. England are also losing players as well, probably more than Wales and another has just signed for a French side from Gloucester. Rich men in France are paying for them as it was in Wales. France has one advantage though, they play in a French league of 14 teams along the same lines as England. Ireland, Scotland and Wales can't compete on the same basis so playing in four countries including Italy is the best option available making the season about the same length and with two other competitions making it a longer season helps quite a bit with earning potential for our regions. The set up isn't that bad and it will be interesting to see what the new board in Wales can come up with.
It's not just Welsh regions who are losing players to France. England are also losing players as well, probably more than Wales and another has just signed for a French side from Gloucester. Rich men in France are paying for them as it was in Wales. France has one advantage though, they play in a French league of 14 teams along the same lines as England. Ireland, Scotland and Wales can't compete on the same basis so playing in four countries including Italy is the best option available making the season about the same length and with two other competitions making it a longer season helps quite a bit with earning potential for our regions. The set up isn't that bad and it will be interesting to see what the new board in Wales can come up with. Robert Shillabeer
  • Score: 0

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