By Rob Carbon
Dragons chairman David Buttress – the man who launched Just Eat in the UK – reckons he has just listened.
Buttress insists he took soundings from Dragons supporters as part of an exhaustive 10-month process surrounding the identity of the Gwent regional side.
A new club crest, name and slogan was officially unveiled for the first time at Rodney Parade with the club now being known as Dragons RFC.
The team will also play in a new kit that strongly features black and amber and bearing the slogan ‘We are Gwent Rugby’.
After unveiling the re-brand, Buttress talked about the reasoning behind the exercise.
“Twenty years ago I don’t think Welsh rugby spent enough time, or conducted a rigorous enough process, around what the new representative teams should look like across the new professional game,” he said.
“There has been a consistent question around identity at the Dragons and in the last 10 months I have carried out a really rigorous process, talking to all the stakeholders, about the pros and cons in this hot topic.
“I spoke to the Newport promoters, the Gwent promoters and looked at the city and regional perspective. I wanted to get a really genuine view and so we pulled up all the drains and asked all the questions about our identity.
— Dragons RFC (@dragonsrugby) June 27, 2022
“That allowed us to become really clear about who we think we are. I was determined that at the end of it all, that would be the end of it.
“There was nothing off the table and we looked at everything, including reinstating the place name of either Newport or Gwent. In the end, we felt very comfortable with Dragons and being able to develop our brand with that name.
“Why Dragons? Well, we’ve been the Dragons for 20 years. We are developing our own history and we feel really proud of that. We want to continue to build on that over the next five, 10 and 20 years to leave a real lasting legacy.
“I don’t think we could have done that, and created a clearly identifiable brand, if we hadn’t gone through this process. In terms of imagery, we use Dragons a lot around the ground and in the club. We will still have the Dragons tail on the collar of our shirts and on our leisurewear.
“We have a great respect for Newport RFC history and we didn’t want to be seen to be encroaching on that. That’s why we stayed away from using Newport in the name. We are different from Cardiff and the Scarlets.
“Twenty years ago we went on a different path. The route that Cardiff went down last year was easier because they were always Cardiff Rugby.
“Why RFC? I grew up in Wales surrounded by rugby clubs. When I say I’m going to Rodney Parade, I always say I’m going to the club. We behave like a club with our relationship with our supporters and our community.
“We behave like a rugby club and that is a point I feel really strong about. We need to be authentic to that.
| Take a look behind the scenes on the opening day of pre-season as the players receive their brand new @VX3apparel & Dragons RFC kit for the new campaign, including chats with @elliotdee2 & @aaronwain97! ⤵️#BringYourFire #WeAreGwentRugby pic.twitter.com/Svqf4Cl9sW
— Dragons RFC (@dragonsrugby) June 28, 2022
“I’ve spent the last 20 years of my life building brands and the most important thing in that process is being authentic to what you feel you are and what you are in practice.
“We are a rugby club with regional pathways and responsibilities for developing Gwent rugby. We take those responsibilities very seriously and that’s why you know see underneath the badge ‘We are Gwent Rugby’.
“We represent the Gwent rugby pathway and we are proud to do that and to say we represent all the clubs in Gwent.
“Badges should represent what and who you are and we feel very strongly and proudly that we represent the Gwent regional pathway.
“When we thought about what captures that, the best thing we saw was that in years gone by if you were called up to represent Gwent or Monmouthshire you had a badge like this on your jersey with the Fleur De Lys crest.
“We felt that this perfectly encapsulated what we represent. We prepare in the valleys, but we play in the city and that’s why we added black and amber colouring to our new badge.
“We used a little bit of creativity and we wanted to use black and amber because those are the colours used by the teams of the city of Newport.
An excellent interview and explanation of the process.
Positive feedback from those at the Q&A last week, now the official confirmation.
All that is left of the ownership situation and hopefully, that isn’t too far down the track. https://t.co/Jd8yppaX7G
— Dragons Official SC (@DragonsOffic_SC) June 27, 2022
“I think it was a mistake all those years ago to insert red into a team that was based in Newport representing Gwent.
“Black and amber are the city’s colours and if you play at Rodney Parade, as we do, it should be in the colours that represent the city. I make no apologies for that.
“We are incorporating all the colours of every club in Gwent in our away shirt. We are now absolutely clear on what we stand for and why.
“This is an exercise that should have been done years ago and, with hindsight, I should have done it four years ago. Getting the branding right has been an interesting exercise.
“Whoever owns this club moving forward, I am very confident this is the right brand, imagery and how and why we should represent ourselves. I am very confident we have done the right thing.”
Much has changed in the names of the four surviving regions from their formative days in 2003.
The Celtic Warriors lasted only one season, while Llanelli Scarlets joined Neath-Swansea Ospreys in jettisoning their place names and merely becoming the Scarlets and Ospreys.
Having started as Gwent Dragons, the club added Newport before trimming down to the Dragons in 2017. Last year, Cardiff Blues rebranded as Cardiff Rugby.