FORMER Newport Gwent Dragons loosehead prop Aaron Coundley has signed for Principality Premiership side Neath, writes Chris Kirwan.

The 24-year-old front row forward from Blackwood made two appearances for the Welsh All Blacks on permit at the end of last season and has now made the move permanent.

The former Wales Under-20s prop was highly rated when he came through the ranks and impressed going up against Adam Jones when the Lions tighthead was getting some game time for Bridgend against Ebbw Vale in 2008.

But Coundley, a mobile loosehead who is effective around the field, was plagued by injuries and played just 27 times for the Dragons.

“When (head coach) Neil Edwards then approached me about joining the club for this season there really wasn’t much of a choice to make,” said Coundley.

“This is a fresh start for me, I’ve trained hard in the off months and I can’t wait for the season to start.”

Coundley will be joined at the Gnoll by number eight Lee Beach, who is returning to Neath after a campaign as Newport skipper. The 31-year-old made 15 appearances for the Black and Ambers after signing from London Welsh last summer.

Neath has also appointed former Cross Keys and Ebbw Vale lock Will Thomas as chief executive.

The 36-year-old, who also had a spell as head coach at the Steelmen and as Dragons Academy manager, heads west after being rugby compliance officer with the Welsh Rugby Union.

- The WRU has unveiled a £750,000 Participation Points scheme to provide equipment to community rugby clubs.

Items ranging from playing kit to scrummaging machines will be on offer to reward the most active clubs in the country.

The number of participation points each club has been awarded is based on criteria such as the number of teams from under-sevens to senior and women's sides plus factors such as the number of first aiders, match officials and coaches.

Over the summer clubs will be told how many points they have and they can decide which items they want to claim. They will be sent a catalogue containing an order form.