Ken Owens Wales

Ken Owens Wales. Pic: getty Images

Former Wales Rugby Captain Ken Owens Joins Cardiff Dragons

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By Graham Thomas

Former Wales rugby captain Ken Owens has joined the board of Cardiff Dragons.

Owens – who retired in April of this year after a celebrated 18-year professional career – has become a non-executive director at the club.

The appointment comes just a week after the Dragons were confirmed to be one of the eight new franchises who will compete next season in a revamped Netball Super League.

Owens, 37, will bring a wealth of experience in elite level sport, after a career that saw him earn 91 caps for Wales, go on two tours with the British and Irish Lions, and play at three World Cups.

He won four Six Nations titles with Wales, and played over 250 games for the Scarlets, with whom he also won a Pro12 title in 2017.

Ken Owens Bows Out After 91 Caps And 20 Years Of Hooking

For the former hooker, the move into sports governance comes on the back of his time spent as the players’ representative on the board of the Scarlets, chairman of the Welsh Rugby Players Association, as well as time served on the International Rugby Players Council.

“I’m hugely interested in sports governance and the opportunity to go and work in a different sport, and gain new experiences, and learn new things, is very exciting,” said Owens.

“Obviously, with the advent of the new era of Super League Netball, it’s a great time to get involved.

“I’m newly retired now, so I’ll have a lot more time on my hands to be able to contribute in whichever way I can and support their dream of becoming a fully professional outfit.”

Owens may have been renowned as one of the most accurate hookers in rugby when it came to throwing in at a line-out, but he admits he was not quite as faultless when he tried netball.

“I’m a big supporter of netball. My wife used to play and I’ve still got friends who play and are involved in the sport.

“I did play a little bit of netball when I was at school, but I wasn’t very good – probably because I was over-keen on the contact side of things!

“But it’s a great sport, free-flowing and fast-paced. It’s a great to watch live as a spectator and I think with the new Super League plan, it’s only going to grow and engage with new audiences.”

Cardiff Dragons Predict Decade Of Transformation For Professional Netball

For the Dragons, the appointment of a high-profile figure from another sport comes after a markedly improved season on court and some notable victories.

Following a couple of seasons of struggle near the bottom of the table, they are set for an encouraging mid-table final placing.

They have also been buoyed by rising attendance figures at their House of Sport home venue in Cardiff, reflected in their move to the bigger-capacity Utilita Arena in the centre of the city for their final two home fixtures of the season.

Now, Dragons chief executive Vicki Sutton is hopeful the recruitment of Owens to the board is another reflection of the club’s growth and development.

“Everyone in Wales knows who Ken is, so it’s a good fit because we want everyone in Wales to know who the Cardiff Dragons are,” said Sutton.

“Ken will bring a huge amount to the board. He loves netball, he knows professional sport because he has spent more than half his life within it.

“He will be able to advise our board and management teams what professional sport really looks like and what the players require.

“He will also be able to advise me on what a high performance sport business looks like. So, he has lots of attributes and lots of skills we can tap into.”

Netball remains the most popular female participation sport in the UK, with over three million players at all levels, whilst over eight million watched the sport on TV last year.

But the Dragons also hope Owens’ appointment will benefit their aim of broadening their supporter-base further and enticing new fans to the game.

Clubs such as Saracens Mavericks and Leeds Rhinos have had long-standing links with their associated rugby clubs, while Nottingham Forest Football Club will have one of the new Netball Super League franchises competing under their banner next season.

“Netball has always been female-first and that is something I have always really loved about the sport,” added Sutton.

“We want to be Wales’ first fully professional female sports club. But it’s also absolutely time to open the doors to more male participants and more male fans.

“The appointment of Ken shows that ambition, and just as we now have a great balance of female and male members on our board, we hope to see more of that balance in grassroots netball as a whole.”

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