Ryan Jones, the Welsh Rugby Union’s head of participation, has described how the governing body will be helping new Dragons coach Bernard Jackman to win “hearts and minds” around the Region.

Katie Vizard | 27/06/2017

Triple Grand Slam winning former Wales captain Jones, who won 75 caps and played for the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand 12 years ago, has backed Jackman to make a positive impact both on and off the pitch at Rodney Parade and says he will have the full backing of the WRU in the process.

“Everyone involved with the region knows that the clubs in the surrounding areas and their associated supporters, players and staff are the key to long-term sustainable success,” said Jones, who, himself, went to Bassaleg School in Newport and first played the game at Risca Youth.

“We will be doing everything in our power to engage with them and make a real and positive difference to the Dragons’ offering in this area.

“We will be looking to ramp up the good work already done by Dragons staff in surrounding rugby communities and really drive participation in the game, through provision in schools and significant extra work with clubs.

“We are looking at summer camps and events throughout the season, as well as the match-day offering at Rodney Parade in support of the amateur and community game.”

Jones believes Jackman is a perfect fit for the Dragons - and the former Irish hooker begins his tenure as the WRU officially assumes control of the region this week and embarks upon a new strategy to engage with communities around Gwent.

“Bernard can be the inspirational leader who will bring through a new breed of Welsh talent in the area and galvanise the 73 clubs in the region in support of the Dragons, but he will need and receive help from all quarters,” said Jones

“I know him of old, from our time as players, and he was always a fearsome competitor, but also a great student of the game and you don’t come with high recommendation from someone like Warren Gatland unless you have earned it.

"Bernard and his team will have a vital role to play as we aim to win over more hearts and minds to the Dragons cause and I know he is both fully supportive and excited, as we all are, about the future ahead.

“It is vital that the Dragons engage with fans, players and communities right across the region.

“We know we need to increase the reach, bring new audiences, re-engage with existing ones and re-ignite passions and the head coach and his squad will be an integral part of our strategic approach to that engagement as we move forwards together.

“Bernard’s appointment comes at an extremely exciting time for any coach, with the full resource of the Welsh Rugby Union in support, and I have no doubt that they have found the right man for the job.”

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