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Bernard Jackman has Lions coach to thank after landing head coach role with Dragons

The former hooker arrives in Wales with the ‘highest recommendations’ of Warren Gatland.

Jackman left Grenoble in May.
Jackman left Grenoble in May.
Image: Inpho

NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS have described the appointment of Bernard Jackman as head coach ‘as the first milestone in a new direction’ for the club following its takeover by the Welsh Rugby Union.

The former Ireland and Leinster hooker will begin his new role on Monday and takes over from Kingsley Jones, who has been appointed to head up the WRU’s exiles programme.

Jackman parted company with Grenoble with immediate effect back in May after six years with the Top 14 club and arrives in Wales with ‘the highest recommendations’ of Lions coach Warren Gatland.

Gatland, who coached Jackman at Connacht, was part of a panel set up to review the coaching set up at the Dragons and identified the 41-year-old as ‘the ideal fit’ for the region as they look to revive their fortunes.

Speaking from New Zealand, the Lions coach said:  “Bernard is an ideal fit for the Dragons and I know he will be work diligently and exhaustively to ensure that the set-up both on and off the pitch at Rodney Parade is of the very highest quality.

“He will be a huge asset to the region, he will create the right environment to allow a talented group to become even better players at the Dragons and he is someone in whom the supporters will find they can put their trust as he will work tirelessly in his pursuit of success.”

Rugby Union - RBS 6 Nations Championship 2008 - France v Ireland - Stade de France Jackman won nine caps for Ireland during his playing days. Source: Julien Behal

After hanging up his boots in 2010, Jackman started his coaching career with several junior teams in Leinster before being appointed Director of Rugby and forwards coach at Clontarf.

From there, he worked his way up the ladder and headed to France to take up the position of skills and forwards coach on a consultancy basis with Grenoble in 2011 before being made full time a season later.

Jackman made a huge impression during his time at the Stade des Alpes, helping Grenoble to promotion to the Top 14 but his tenure came to an end this season with the side struggling in the top division.

“It is a huge honour for me to be joining the Dragons at such an exciting time in their history,” he said.

“The region is a hot bed of Welsh rugby and to join at such a significant moment in time is a challenge I relish. I can’t wait to get started and look forward to meeting the playing squad and the backroom team.

“We are obviously at the beginning of a major period of transition off the pitch, but on it we will need to quickly get down to work and reward the faith and obvious passion of our supporters throughout the region.”

Jackman’s appointment is another exciting development for the Dragons as they look forward to a new chapter after a deal was agreed for the WRU to take full control of the club from 1 July.

As well as the upgrade of facilities at their Rodney Parade home, investment is being made on the field too with Jackman’s arrival following the acquisitions of Gavin Henson and Zane Kirchner from Leinster.

Jackman, who won the Heineken Cup and Celtic League with Leinster in his playing days, will have a tough task on his hands with the Dragons finishing 11th in the Guinness Pro12 last season.

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Ryan Bailey

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