|First class rugby will return to Ebbw Vale next month as Eugene Cross Park plays host to the GUINNESS PRO14 fixture between Dragons and Edinburgh on Friday 23 February, 2018 KO 19:30.
The game at Ebbw Vale will be the first time that the region has hosted a competitive fixture at the venue, although the Dragons did play a pre-season friendly against Glasgow Warriors at the ground last August and follows the PRO14 match against Cardiff Blues in Caerphilly last May.
Dragons Executive Chairman, David Buttress, said that everybody at the region believes that hosting the game in Ebbw Vale will prove to be a successful venture.
“We want every part of the region to be a home of the Dragons,” said David Buttress, “so playing at different clubs helps us reach out to all our communities and we are all extremely excited about taking this game on the road.
“We feel passionately that we are the team for all of Gwent and are committed long term to playing across the region.
“When scheduling our fixtures we had to make a decision about where in the region we wanted to play and Ebbw Vale matched the demands of the criteria.
“It will prove to be a fantastic occasion, I’ve no doubt about that. I’m know the rugby loving public around Ebbw Vale will turn out to back the Dragons in numbers. It’ll also be a great occasion for the local players, who will be representing their home towns and who have the valley connection.”
There is great pride and passion for rugby in Ebbw Vale which was once seen as one of the most successful clubs on and off the field throughout the 1950s and 60s and the town has hosted famous clashes against the likes of New Zealand and Australia, whilst the Steelmen were still mixing it with the best in the late nineties and early noughties with famous wins against both the mighty Toulouse and Toulon.
Kuli Faletau the father of one of the Dragons’ most famous sons, joined Kingsley Jones then captain at Ebbw Vale, which brought Taulupe to Rodney Parade, but there are recent examples in the Dragons squad such as Harrison Keddie and Dorian Jones who have developed their skills with the Steelmen, plus many others who have worn the Ebbw Vale shirt with pride.
“Much has been made by our recruitment for next year, but we’re equally focused on bringing through our talented youngsters that have been made in Gwent, such as Ollie Griffiths, Elliot Dee, Jack Dixon and Leon Brown, so we have a blend of talent in the squad,” added David.
“In return we’re investing in local talent and the pathway, most recently announcing that with every new contract renewal we would be rewarding the clubs or schools that help our players through the pathway to the first team financially as well as through our other support of the community game to continue developing Dragons of the future.”
Head Coach Bernard Jackman, who has stated his desire to visit every club in the Dragons region, after attending Q&A events and coaching sessions at community clubs already this season, confirmed that the experience will be a beneficial one for his Dragons squad:
“Whatever side we put out wears the Dragons jersey and represents the region, it’s important that they understand where they are from and who they represent, never more so than on this occasion when they will be playing in Ebbw Vale,” said Jackman.
“The Gwent valleys are a vital part of the Dragons region, and it’s massively important to us that not only do the local community share that feeling, but the guys selected for that game understand what us playing the game there means to those people. Shaun Connor is a former Steelman and Ceri Jones coached there too, so I have no doubt that they will ensure that message is delivered and the experience of this game will go a long way to strengthening our connections.”
Ebbw Vale Chairman Jon Jones commented, “All at Ebbw Vale RFC are delighted to see the return of competitive professional rugby at Eugene Cross Park allowing the rugby supporters in the area to once again see high level professional rugby on its doorstep.
“The club is delighted to see the Dragons embracing the northern end of the region and looks forward to seeing Bernard Jackman’s team in town. We are sure that this will be a great occasion.”
Season ticket holders that currently have a reserved seat at Rodney Parade will be given priority access to unreserved seating at Ebbw Vale for the match. Match tickets will be on sale from 10am Tuesday 9 January, with adult tickets priced from £10 at early bird prices
To secure your tickets please visit www.dragonsrugby.wales/tickets