Today we look at the first of five new head coaches or directors of rugby in next season’s European Rugby Challenge Cup in new Dragons boss Dean Ryan.
Where is he from?
The 53-year-old former England No.8 has arrived from the Rugby Football Union after nearly three years with the English governing body, where he was head of international player development.
What is his previous coaching experience?
Ryan has nearly 19 years of coaching under his belt, having retired in 2000 following a playing career that took in Saracens, Wasps, Newcastle Falcons and Bristol Bears, as well as four caps in the England back row between 1990 and 1998.
He cut his coaching teeth at Bristol and guided them to the Zurich Championship final in 2002, when they lost to Gloucester Rugby, who tempted him to Kingsholm as assistant head coach to Nigel Melville.
When Melville left in 2005, Ryan was promoted to head coach and proceeded to lead Gloucester to the Challenge Cup in 2006 (when they pipped London Irish 36-34 in the final after extra time), as well as the finals of the Guinness Premiership in 2007 and EDF Energy Cup in 2009.
— Dragons 🏉 (@dragonsrugby) July 3, 2019
Ryan left Kingsholm by mutual consent in 2009 and had three years away from top-flight rugby, until taking part-time consultancy roles with Bristol and Dragons in 2012, as well as becoming Scotland forwards coach for the 2013 Six Nations Championship.
Later that year he was appointed director of rugby at Worcester Warriors and although they were relegated from the Aviva Premiership in his first season in charge, Ryan took them straight back up in 2014/15, when they also won the British & Irish Cup.
The Midlander remained at Sixways until 2016, when he moved to the RFU.
Who will be in his coaching team?
Ryan will have two forwards coaches in Welsh internationals Ian Evans and Ceri Jones, who was interim head coach last season, while Barry Maddocks will be in charge of the backs and Alan Kingsley is skills coach.
What does he think of his appointment?
“It is a hugely exciting opportunity to create a new story with the players and staff here at the Dragons, and personally to be back competing again with this team is a challenge I will relish.”