Newport Gwent Dragons should be development team - Gwyn Jones

Taulupe Faletau
Dragons' star player Taulupe Faletau will join Bath at the end of the 2015-16 season

Newport Gwent Dragons should become a development team in Welsh rugby, says former Wales captain Gwyn Jones.

Only Italian sides Treviso and Zebre lie below Dragons in the Pro12, with the Welsh team and Zebre having won four Pro12 games each this season.

Jones told Scrum V a gulf is opening between Scarlets, Cardiff Blues and Ospreys and the nation's strugglers.

"It wouldn't be a bad thing if they were to become more developmental in their philosophy," said Jones.

Another Scrum V pundit, former Wales dual-code star Jonathan Davies, recently said Treviso and Zebre should consider leaving the Pro12.

Gwyn Jones
Gwyn Jones won 13 Wales caps as a flanker before his career was cut short by a spinal injury in 1997 when aged 25

Jones added the fact Zebre and Dragons are level on wins underlines his view of Wales' eastern-most team.

The former Llanelli and Cardiff flanker said: "It's pretty stark reading, isn't it - 26 points behind the Blues who are one step ahead of them and there's a gulf developing.

"And people have been quite rightly, perhaps, questioning what the value of the Italian teams are in the Pro12.

"Well, the Dragons have won the same number of games as Zebre and not just this season, but over the last 11 seasons they've been the bottom Welsh region on nine occasions.

"And unless something substantial changes you feel they're in this cycle of existing hand to mouth and just reproducing the same cycle each year."

Jones believes Dragons should occupy the sort of role Irish team Connacht fulfilled until this season that has seen them become a top-four Pro12 team.

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He said talented players from Wales Under-20 could develop at such a team rather than possibly finding themselves under-used by rival regions.

"Look at Connacht - they are the model. They're now doing well and are in the top four so it (changing philosophy) isn't consigning them there for history.

"And the other thing is, do they become perhaps more regional in their outlook - incorporate more of the (local) clubs?"

Dragons, beaten 34-20 by Scarlets on Saturday, parted company with director of rugby Lyn Jones in April.

Earlier the same month, they began a search for fresh investment and independence that would see governing body the Welsh Rugby Union relinquish their 50% stake in the region.

Jones contends Dragons "are not even spending their whole player budget" when "the other regions are doing it".

He added: "Why can you complain about the standard of your players if you don't fully spend your money on your budget?

"Of course we want four strong regions, but we haven't got four strong regions and we haven't had for some time.

"Let's be perfectly honest with you - there are some journeymen in that side who are not Welsh who are contributing very little to the future of Welsh rugby."

Dragons' season ends at bottom side Zebre on Saturday, but they cannot finish lower than 10th in the Pro12.

BBC Wales Sport has asked Dragons if they would like to comment.