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WRU ownership is necessary for Dragons' future, maintains chief

By Jack Austin

The Welsh Rugby Union have reached a 'heads of terms' agreement with Newport Gwent Dragons as they inch closer to assuming full ownership and control of the region.

The WRU announced yesterday that they would take control of the Dragons, in a capacity both on and off the pitch, as well as purchasing Rodney Parade and clearing the region of all historic debts.

The targeted completion date for the takeover is July 1 with all employees moving to a new company, free of debt, which would act as a subsidiary of the WRU.

Martyn Phillips, the chief executive of the WRU Group, insisted the move was a rugby decision made in the interest of safeguarding the sport in the Gwent area.

He said: "All parties recognise that from an NGD perspective significant improvement is required on and off the pitch, and it is now time to take a different approach.

"This investment is equally designed to safeguard Newport RFC and its rich history at Rodney Parade. Without this action the future of both the NGD and Newport RFC is at best uncertain.

"There is still a lot of hard work to be completed before the proposed transaction proceeds, but it is important to recognise that there will be no magic wand."

Phillips did however admit the Dragons, who recently signed former Wales and Lions star Gavin Henson on a two-year deal, were struggling to such an extent that the WRU had to intervene.

He also promised the WRU would invest in improving Rodney Parade's pitch, as well as the infrastructure around the region.

"It is inconceivable that professional rugby in that area could be lost and so we have committed to doing everything possible," he said. "Initially we will focus on consolidating a high performance environment for the players and ensuring high quality coaching.

"We know we can only deliver if the communities of the region are engaged, but we believe the solid foundations and sustainable future we will provide will be central to that."

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