We need to up our game off the field - Dragons chief executive Gareth Davies
8:46am Thursday 19th September 2013 in Sport
CHIEF executive Gareth Davies believes Newport Gwent Dragons need to dramatically improve their marketing if they are to pack out Rodney Parade.
The former Wales and Lions fly-half is in his second week in the role after succeeding Chris Brown.
Davies admitted he was disappointed that just 5,165 headed for Rodney Parade for the opening game of the season against Ulster.
He is hopeful of a bumper crowd for tomorrow's home clash against the Scarlets but also acknowledges the need for the Dragons to be more proactive if they are to improve on their 2012/13 league average of 5,362.
He said: "Are we out there marketing it, are we selling it to a wider public? Probably not and that's something we need to get in place with a view for 2014/15.
"Campaigns in the press and on the radio, posters up around Gwent; that's not going to come free but there hasn't been the investment in marketing.
"Why would we expect to sell £100,000 more in season tickets than last year if we don't do anything about it? You are not going to get that just because you've brought in Lyn Jones.
"There's a general feel-good factor about the Dragons and people are more interested in what we are doing but that's not going to get people through the gates.
"We have to get a marketing plan in place and that may be a £50,000, £100,000, £200,000 investment that the board needs to sign off.
"That's putting our necks on the block, we want 50 grand to market ourselves and bring in 200 grand."
There is the argument that the nature of the RaboDirect Pro12, with rested stars, lack of away support and no relegation, doesn't help attract the punters.
But Davies believes the packed stands across the Irish Sea shows that is just an excuse.
He said: "Why did so many people (16,885) turn up at the Royal Dublin Society to watch Leinster's second team against the Ospreys?
"It's easy to blame the product but Leinster, Ulster and Munster have got it right.
"Having lived in England I know that the Aviva Premiership is not great – it's confrontational and very physical – but they talk up their product while we talk ours down."
It has been an encouraging start to the season on the field with early signs of progress under new director of rugby Jones. Davies' job is to match that progress off the field.
"I split the business into four areas – finance, commercial, operations and rugby," he said.
"The rugby is the main springboard for all of those. All of the other three are easier if the guys are playing well.
"But we need to improve commercially and open our doors to businesses around Gwent.
"It's really a case of how we get to those businesses and we need to get some more robust systems in commercially.
"We are not a charity and cannot expect people to just throw money at us. If we want to engage with people then they need a return."