Ashton Hewitt: Dragon's try celebration for young fan scared by racism

By Nick WebbBBC Sport Wales
Ashton Hewitt displays his new try celebration after scoring against Ospreys
Ashton Hewitt has been the target of racist abuse online

Ashton Hewitt says his try celebration against Ospreys was in support of a young fan he met after speaking about Black Lives Matter issues.

Dragons wing Hewitt marked his 100th appearance with two tries in the Dragons' 31-20 Pro14 win in Bridgend.

He explained the gesture was requested by a schoolboy named Ali.

"I asked what I could do for him and he said a try celebration. I asked what he wanted it to be and he did it and said 'A for Ashton and Ali'," said Hewitt.

Ali was among pupils who wrote to the player and Hewitt then visited them at the request of staff after his media appearances speaking out against racism.

Hewitt made the gesture after his second score at Brewery Field, which made certain of the Dragons' win.

"He was quite emotional in his letter and said that some of his experiences made him scared, so I was keen to go and see him," said Hewitt.

"That letter was probably one of the biggest things that has hit me throughout this journey in terms of racism and equality.

"I was really glad that I did because he is a great kid and I can't wait to see him again."

'It's a huge honour'

The second half of the match saw the Dragons play their best rugby of the season with Hewitt and fellow wing Jonah Holmes touching down twice apiece to upset the form book.

"We just believed in ourselves, kept our confidence and didn't try to play it too safe, we played a bit more expansively," said Newport-born Hewitt.

"It's massive [to reach 100 appearances], only 30-odd others have done it and it's a huge honour and for this to be the game to achieve that milestone made it pretty special."

Director of rugby Dean Ryan paid tribute to the wing, who was named in the Wales summer tour party in 2018 only to be ruled out through injury, and was also in the national squad in late 2019 without being capped.

"A hundred is always fantastic and it's great if it's wrapped up in a nice memory and you've got the ball in your hand under the sticks - he should go into story-writing," said Ryan.

"Ashton's been a tremendous servant to this club and you want them to enjoy those moments."

Dragons moved off the bottom of their Pro14 conference with three home games remaining and could still qualify for the European Champions Cup again, depending on how many teams go through automatically.

Bruised Ospreys

Third-placed Ospreys have away trips to Glasgow and Leinster, with the buffer of a 10-point lead over the Scots, although the Warriors and Dragons have a game in hand.

Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb, who was forced off with a shoulder injury, and fly-half Stephen Myler, who suffered a similar knock in the last minute, could be doubtful for the trip to Scotstoun on Friday, 12 March.

"They're tough away games especially in Six Nations windows, but that's part of the journey for these youngsters and the Ospreys," head coach Toby Booth told BBC Sport Wales.

"We're going to try to build a bigger, more resilient, competitive squad but these things take time within the budgetary constraints."

His team at least have a home match in the last 16 of the European Challenge Cup to look forward to, with the draw being made on Tuesday, 9 March.

"We've earned that right, it's a nice change of focus. It's exciting to see who we get and we'll embrace that when we get to it," said Booth of their Easter weekend fixture.

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