Delighted Dragons Under-18s Head Coach Matt O’Brien praised his side after they claimed the RAG Championship title – and firmly believes the result bodes well for the future at the region.
The next generation of Dragons made is seven wins from seven and claimed a first-ever Under-18 crown with a battling 19-10 win over Scarlets Under-18s at Ystrad Mynach on Tuesday night.
O’Brien praised the attitude and work ethic of his young players as they maintained their undefeated run in wet and windy conditions.
And he believes success at Under-18 level is another indicator of the exciting young talent being developed by the Academy system at Dragons.
“Winning the Under-18 title certainly bodes well for the future at Dragons,” said Matt O’Brien.
“We had six players recently involved with Wales Under-20s as they beat Italy in the Six Nations and we hope the Under-18s will be full of Dragons too.
“It’s good for the region to see that young talent and hopefully they continue to come through, develop and push for the senior team in the near future.
“They have a couple of steps to go yet, but we all hope they come through and we see these faces running out at Rodney Parade.
“Ultimately the goal is to produce players for the region. Everyone in the Academy is working extremely hard to meet that target and results like the Under-18 title bodes well for the future.”
A try double from speedster Carrick McDonough – after an opening score from Ben Moa – saw Dragons claim victory and the title.
And O’Brien believes the result was rich reward for a season that has seen the squad develop with every game.
“We’re all really chuffed for the boys. We came second last year so it is nice to go one better this season and get the title,” he said.
“They have worked hard this last 18 months, train hard and are up here three times a week so I’m very proud. They deserve this.
“A lot of them are in their second year now at Under-18s level and when you consider they have come through the Under-16s they have been in our programme for three or four years.
“Many have been friends and played together for a number of years and have worked really hard together for this success.
“Credit to Scarlets, they are a quality side and we knew they would give us a real tough test,” he added.
“There wasn’t much between us when we played at Scarlets earlier this season, but the boys dug in when they needed to and scored some lovely tries to get the reward.”
Dragons Under-18s now finish the season with an away trip to RGC on Sunday, February 24 (kick-off 2pm) – and O’Brien wants one final push.
“I was the typical miserable coach and reminded them there is still one game to go and the target has to be to try and go undefeated,” he smiled.
“It is really pleasing to win the title, but it would be fantastic to go the entire season without a loss.
“It will be tough up against RGC in Colwyn Bay, they beat us last season so we go fully aware of the challenge we will face.”
Ultimately the goal is to produce players for the region. Everyone in the Academy is working extremely hard to meet that target and results like the Under-18 title bodes well for the future...