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Page last updated at 12:35 GMT, Sunday, 17 May 2009 13:35 UK

Dragons back Newport in new cup

By Nick Webb

Dragons head coach Paul Turner is a fan of the new cross-border competition
Dragons coach Paul Turner is a fan of the new cross-border competition

Newport Gwent Dragons look set to concentrate their resources on the Newport club side once the new British and Irish Cup starts next season.

That will leave the other clubs under the Dragons' umbrella shorn of regional players in the Welsh Premiership.

"We've got to talk about that and I think it's the way to go," regional coach Paul Turner told BBC Sport Wales.

"We haven't got a level underneath regional rugby... certainly this British club cup provides that level."

The Black and Ambers are the only Gwent side to finish in the top six of the Principality Premier Division and qualify for the new cross-border competition at semi-pro level.

Asked whether the move could lose the region friends among the valleys clubs, Turner joked: "We haven't got many friends anyway."

606: DEBATE

Cross Keys, Bedwas, Pontypool and Ebbw Vale have all had some fringe regional players on their books this season, but the Dragons have struggled to attract strong support from outside the city of Newport since their foundation in 2003.

None of the other regions has more than two clubs in the British and Irish Cup - Cardiff and Pontypridd in the Blues region, Aberavon and Neath for the Ospreys, and Llanelli in the Scarlets area.

"We just want to be the same as other regions - sides like the Scarlets tend to use one or two of their sides as breeding grounds," added Turner.

"We've got five in our region, so it's quite difficult for us to supply them [all] with players. But I think that could change with this new British cup."

The 24-team fledgling competition will see the top six Welsh club teams competing with 12 English National League One clubs, semi-pro sides representing Irish provinces Munster, Leinster and Ulster, and the top two clubs from Scottish Premiership One plus a Scottish academy side.

Teams will be divided into four pools of six, playing over five weekends during the Autumn international and Six Nations windows.

The semi-finals and finals take place on 24 April and 15 May respectively.



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see also
Dragons 18-9 Leinster
16 May 09 |  NG Dragons
Dragons boss rues play-off fate
15 May 09 |  NG Dragons
New semi-pro tournament launched
06 May 09 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
RaboDirect Pro12
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Anglo-Welsh Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union


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