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'Am I still going to coach? Yes, when he factors me in'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)

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Dean Ryan has opened up on the new restructure at the Dragons that has seen Scarlets backs coach Dai Flanagan appointed as head coach at Rodney Parade and existing back coach Gordon Ross departing the struggling URC club. Ex-England international Ryan has been at the Dragons as director of rugby since 2019 after leaving a role with the RFU, but improvements have been slow to materialise in Newport and he now hopes the recruitment of Flanagan can accelerate the process.  

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“The decision was taken to look at how we strengthen as part of us moving the Dragons into a new period,” explained Ryan on the Dragons website. “I’m delighted to be able to welcome Dai. I have been incredibly impressed by his passion for the region, his desire to be involved in the new direction and to bring his experiences here.

“When looking around Wales we felt this is the person who needs that next chance and opportunity and environment where he can continue to develop. It will strengthen us. Dai’s focus is going to be on the day-to-day and what is happening in the next hour, what we need to do tomorrow.

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Documentary – ‘The Dragons Lair’

“It’s also about the development of people in the coaching team. We have been young and inexperienced in that area, so it is about bringing his ideas and contributions about how we learn. It’s difficult for that to be mine with the role I have at the club. That makes the two of us a stronger unit.

“Am I still going to coach? Yes, when he factors me in. Am I responsible for rugby? Yes. How does it work? We’ll work that all out. I always find it is people who have challenging ideas and strong opinions, that make places stronger. How it works is for us to find out and I am looking forward to it. It makes my role a bit easier because I was trying to cover too many areas. It does change the way we evolve forward because we have a new personality.”

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Ryan insisted he was committed to the Dragons. “The responsibility for rugby here is mine and that tends to come with all the negatives – I have no problem with that. I committed to David (Buttress) that I will make the decisions that get this club pointed in the right direction. I committed to Dai that I will create an environment that allows him to develop.

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“We are stronger now. There are still tough decisions to be made by Dragons and there are still decisions that need to be made from day to day. That is why the two of us are stronger for it. I came here with a commitment to David to get this place pointed in the right direction, not to see how long I can last here, that would be a foolish move.

“I believe, predominantly because of some of the challenges around covid, we haven’t been able to make the strides and last year was the time we knew we were going to change. That is what I came here to do. I remain committed to David and this is part of that process. Hopefully, it moves us into clearer waters.”

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