Gareth Davies: Dragons must embrace Gwent to prosper
12:02pm Wednesday 18th September 2013 in Sport
CHIEF executive Gareth Davies wants the Dragons to embrace Gwent – as long as there is the appetite for supporting the region outside of Newport.
The Rodney Parade region appears to have had a shift in policy this summer.
They unveiled their new kits at Caldicot Castle and the away jersey, in the blue and black of Monmouth, features a plain logo without ''Newport Gwent Dragons'.
That was followed by previous chief executive Chris Brown stating his desire to play LV= Cup matches away from Newport, a move that has been put on the back burner.
Then came new director of rugby Lyn Jones' programme notes ahead of the season opener against Ulster.
He wrote: "There is a big journey ahead of us to create, from the academy to the regional teams, a Gwent branding, Gwent skills and a Gwent understanding."
Like Jones, former Wales and Lions fly-half Davies arrived at the region this summer and is just getting his feet under the table.
And high on his list of priorities is a spot of market research to establish how the region should be branded.
He said: "We need to determine whether people want to be part of, and associated with, the Dragons. That may be the key, whether the region just becomes the Dragons.
"There is no silver bullet and you have to be mindful of the heritage but we need to move forward and find the best vehicle for doing that.
"We need to grow the business and attract more people, if we lose some on the way then so be it.
"We need to find out what the people of Gwent want. Perhaps people out in the towns haven't got an interest in the professional entity. If they don't have an interest because it's badged as Newport then perhaps we do have to do something about it.
"We've got to find out if there is an appetite to support a professional franchise and be proud of it.
"We need to do some market research and gather some intelligence; it could be that nobody in the Gwent valleys wants a professional entity to support, but I don't think that's the case."
Davies intends to pick the brains of the Irish provinces, keen to utilise some of the tactics that have made Munster, Leinster and Ulster so successful.
And he also will be looking to follow the lead of Leeds Rhinos by working to foster relationships with the rugby community.
"There are three things that I want to ensure happen in my role here," said Davies.
"Firstly, that the side improves on the field, although that's not directly my remit.
"Secondly we want to run a sustainable business, because the benefactors have said they won't be filling any more holes.
"Thirdly, the growth of the region, to have a greater identity that is truly Gwent.
"We need greater engagement with the region, whether through attendance or clubs' allegiance to us.
"I've seen how successful Leeds Rhinos are at working in the community with the Leeds Rugby Foundation, which has a turnover of £500,000 and is self-sustaining.
"Our community team are doing a great job but within the confines of what they've got and we need to grow that."