P44 W24 D3 L17 : F1139-A1307
Premier Lge Record : P22 W12 D2 L8 F541 A632 (Tries 71)
Capt : Richard Goodey
1996/7 saw the “official” introduction of professionalism into rugby and there were many changes in personnel on and off the field in Welsh and English league clubs. Overseas players were recruited, encouraged by generous financial inducements and other players sought greener pastures. Newport RFC lost record points scorer Gareth Rees to Wasps and lock Kevin Moseley, hooker Andrew Peacock and scrum half Mark Roderick to West Hartlepool. Wing Richard Rees moved to Swansea, lock Mike Voyle to Llanelli, scrum half Jason Hewlett to Cardiff, centre Duncan Hughes to Worcester and utility back Mark Yendle to Newbridge. David Waters had “retired” although he continued playing in lower league rugby at Merthyr RFC and Alun Carter took up an appointment with the WRU. These severe losses were marginally offset with the arrival of new players wing Steve Reed (Newbridge), centre John Colderley (Dinas Powis), flanker Vince Davies (Pontypool),scrum-half Brian Davies (Barry / London Saracens, Wales A lock / back-row Gareth Taylor (Neath), centre Lee Jones (Pontypool) for his 2nd spell, scrum-half Nicky Lloyd, back-rows Richard Stride and Jan Machacek who captained Czech Rep), utility back Alex Lawson who was Cardiff born but had played in Australia, promising outside half Shaun Connor Abertillery), wing Tony Hurford, Wales Youth scrum-half Dale Burn and Newport Youth back-row Tim Barnes.
In the season Newport played 22 Welsh League, 5 European Conference, 6 Anglo-Welsh as well as various friendly and Welsh Cup games. The Anglo-Welsh competition was a non-event with some matches not even played and clubs concentrating on the league matches. The WRU moved the goal posts halfway through the season by announcing that the First Division (later to be known as Premier) would comprise of just 8 teams rather than 12. The bonus points system which gave more reward to a team scoring tries and losing than one who drew was very controversial. Injuries played their part in Newport’s difficult season under captain Richard Goodey in his third successive term as captain. Only 4 players managed over 30 games and Newport’s away form was very poor. Newport lost 8 league matches with heavy defeats at Swansea, Llanelli, Neath and Pontypridd. There was a narrow defeat at Ebbw Vale but an excellent performance at Cardiff when Newport played a lot of the match with only 14 men. Swansea and Pontypridd were the only teams to win at Rodney Parade in the league. Newport beat old rivals Cardiff in the last league match of the season at Rodney Parade 23-11 scoring 4 tries to 1 to end on a high note and finishing 6th in the league. They scored a club record of 1139 pts in their 44 matches but on the negative side they conceded a record 1307pts.
Shaun Connor finished as top scorer with 286pts in 28 games. Appearances were led by Ian Gough 36, Ian Jones 32, Nicky Lloyd 32 and Richard Goodey 30. Jan Machacek, who had an excellent season, scored 9 tries but leading try scorer was scrum-half Nicky Lloyd with 12. Tony Hurford scored 4 tries and was leading try scorer for the United with 18.
Nigel Callard played his final game for Newport as rep vs Monmouth in Ben Francis Cup in Nov 1967. He dropped a goal and was on the winning side 15-9.
Ian Gough received the Boucher Award and was also voted “Players’ Player” while Sven Cronk received the Webber Bowl. Badge were presented to Simon Davies, Jon Colderley, Shaun Connor, Alex Lawson, Martin Llewellyn, Nicky Lloyd, Rod Snow,Ian Gough, Jan Machacek and Richard Parks.
Shaun Connor played for Emerging Wales XV, Wales U21 and toured Japan with Wales 7’s Squad. Ian Gough and Jon Colderley played for Wales U21 and Richard Parks and Mark Workman played for Wales 7’s in Japan. Jan Machacek played for Czech Rep and Rod Snow for Canada. Gareth Curtis, who scored 134 pts for Newport United and David Jones played for Wales Youth.