ARGUS COMMENT: Chris Kirwan on the Dragons' ultimate humiliation
FRIDAY night, Saturday and Sunday have passed since Newport Gwent Dragons’ crushing, humiliating defeat to Glasgow, but the state of shock remains.
The 60-3 loss at Rodney Parade was a new low for a region that experienced plenty of downs since the initial success of Mike Ruddock’s first season.
This campaign has been a shocker, but nobody saw that coming.
The stats make ugly reading – the Dragons’ heaviest ever defeat, the first time they have shipped a half-century at Rodney Parade, their seventh home loss this season, their 11th home beating since this time last year.
Is it any wonder that fans heading for the exits early on Friday night were pledging never to return?
Not even Don Draper, the slick New York advertising rep from Mad Men, would relish the task of a campaign to sell season tickets for 2013/14.
The last 20 minutes, when the Warriors barely had to work for five tries, were painful but the ramifications are even more unpleasant.
Nobody emerges unscathed from the embarrassment:
- The coaches, who select the team and prepare the squad.
- The players, who are the ones ultimately responsible for what goes on out in the middle once the first whistle is blown.
- The board, who have asset-stripped, allowed things to drift and helped create a losing culture.
- The Welsh Rugby Union, who have allowed a region to meander and decline.
Action has been demanded by the supporters and rhetoric won’t do, but plenty of damage has been done.
The past few months have been prime recruitment time and the Dragons have been beavering away.
They haven’t quite managed to get pen on paper like plenty of other clubs, but the region believes they are close to nailing a few signings in key positions.
But if you were, for example, Andy Goode sitting watching Friday’s débâcle on television then an agent would have received a phone call before the 80 minutes was out instructing them to issue a polite ‘thanks, but no thanks’.
Money talks in the professional game and it will take a few more bucks per month to attract top talent after a performance like that.
And one wonders what it will have done to the bright talent that is in the Dragons ranks.
Teenagers Hallam Amos, Jack Dixon and Ieuan Jones look to be bright prospects and future internationals, while Jonathan Evans may have had a stinker on Friday but his season has been excellent.
They are getting exposed to regional rugby, but what damage is being done by such beatings?
With confidence low throughout the team the prospect of them blossoming diminishes; rather than playing their natural game they will look for a safety-first option, scared of making a mistake.
The harsh truth is that the current Dragons squad is not good enough and there is no strength in depth; that is evident by Josh Tyler, a lock who has only played Championship rugby and who, at the very least, needs to be toughened up, being flung in against a title-chasing side.
There has been a thread on Pontypridd RFC’s fans forum for some time about whether they could beat the Dragons.
It must be said that those from Sardis Road are a special bunch who live in their own bubble, at times seemingly unable to grasp the big step up from semi-pro to regional rugby.
But Friday gave them plenty of ammunition – all 12 Premiership clubs would have fancied their chances of keeping Glasgow under that scoreline.
Had the Dragons played like that this weekend in a Swalec Cup tie then they would not have made it through to the quarter-finals.
This is not a kneejerk reaction to a drubbing, the Dragons have lost 17 of 25 fixtures this season and are yet to claim a major scalp.
They have beaten Italian part-timers Mogliano twice, the Ospreys and London Welsh in the LV= Cup, Treviso in an international period and fellow bottom four sides Connacht, Edinburgh and Zebre at Rodney Parade.
Such a record renders it impossible to just file this season away with the others in the folder named ‘disappointing campaigns’.
The manner of many of the defeats hammers home the the point that change is needed at many levels because regardless of talk about being a sustainable business and owning its ground, this region is dying before our eyes.
The blame cannot be pinned solely on head coach Darren Edwards, despite his statement that the buck stops with him.
If nothing is done then it would be a statement of lack of intent that is even more shocking than shipping 60 points at home.