It is a year, almost to the day, that I became Chairman of the Dragons and I thought it might be helpful to share with you my reflections. I hope you find the honest and open observations useful. Firstly, let me say it is an honour to be part of the team charged with the exciting responsibility to build a top professional region here in Gwent. Coming to Rodney Parade is the best moment of my week and I look forward to every moment here.
While some of last season’s results and changes were tough, they have only strengthened my and our resolve to keep building until we are a winning environment (in every sense). Change, in our case was an essential component of removing a tolerance of under-performance and Bernard has been great at helping to step change that mentality.
In my experience building things is hard and takes time. Patience is going to be key, but so is a sense of urgency to ‘get stuff’ done. On that note, we have made several key improvements during our first 12 months. The quality of our squad and signings, the improvement of several of the grounds facilities, we have evolved a new internal culture and built a new set of values for us all to perform against. The last point should not be underestimated - it is people, and not process, that build successes.
We need to keep sustainably investing in our squad. We can all see the PRO14 is a very competitive league and no team is standing still. That’s a great thing for the quality of the league. We also need to accelerate the progress of the ‘cabbage patch’ redevelopment, to help grow our long term financial muscle and support our strategy of investing in the team.
Critically, I am pleased with our work to expand the supporter base. We are becoming and are focused on becoming the professional rugby team that all of Gwent is fired up to support. We have a big opportunity to grow in this area. We need you, our fans and the many successful businesses based in the area to come and see what we are now building.
Finally, we still have work to do to strengthen the links and co-operation with Newport County and also Newport RFC. I said when I became involved, that I would like Rodney Parade to become a sporting hub. Mike Davies our Managing Director is doing some great work, supported by the team here at RP to develop a more professional working relationship with our Rodney Parade partners. I am hopeful that over time and with good co-operation we will evolve to a great place. Work in progress.
We need to do all this against a back drop of significant ‘off field’ change in Welsh Professional Rugby. Many of you will have read that the four regions and WRU are in the process of agreeing a new Professional Rugby Agreement. More news on this soon – but exciting times ahead.
David Buttress - Chairman