A RETURN to their old school brought back some fond memories for Dragons duo Elliot Dee and Jack Dixon, not least the time they spent away from the classroom on the rugby field.

The pair also got the chance to give something back to a man who helped shape them as players on their way to becoming favourites with the Rodney Parade faithful.

For Dee, it was a first trip back to Newbridge School since making his Wales debut against Georgia in November, an achievement that PE teacher Darren Bool was rightly proud of.

Hooker Dee and fellow Dragons forward Ollie Griffiths, who couldn’t make the visit, which included a training session, because of injury, were in the same year at the school.

Centre Dixon was the year below the other two but played in the same team such was his prowess at a young age – he was also a very talented basketball player and athlete.

All three owe a debt of gratitude to Bool, who is also Pontypridd’s conditioning coach, after he revamped the sports programme at the school following his arrival around a decade ago.

“It’s nice to get down and see the teachers and all the kids coming through,” said Dee.

“It was brilliant to go and give back to the people who gave a lot to us.

“If a day like this one had happened when we were in school we would all be looking up to the players who came in.

“It’s quite strange being the person the kids are looking up to now, but it’s great to inspire them to go on and achieve what they want to achieve.”

He added: “Booly looked after us in the rugby team and let us get out of lessons early.

“We all respected Darren when we were younger, we knew he was involved with Ponty and the Blues U16s.

“We were all striving to play for the Dragons U16s and to get into the Dragons academy, so it’s nice to help out Darren because he helped us so much.

“It was wicked with me, Jack and Ollie in the same team, and there were a few other boys who came through with us.

“It was nice to grow up playing with Jack and Ollie and still be in the same team as them now.”

Dixon echoed Dee’s sentiments, saying: “Anything Booly wants from us we’ll help with because he couldn’t do enough for us in school.

“We had a great rugby team and basketball team and there were a lot of boys who were very athletic.

“Sport really got me through school because I wasn’t really that academic.

“I love sport and I played two age groups – I was never in lessons.

“My family really encouraged me to go for it and it’s all working out so far.”

The school now has in excess of a dozen rugby teams and prides itself on getting youngsters into the sport while excelling in their academic studies.

“I am extremely proud of the three boys, especially Ollie, who didn't play rugby until he came to school and only ever played for school during his time with us,” said Bool.