Next Gen: Is Taine Basham Dragons’ next international flanker?

Rich Dore
05 November 2019

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For anyone outside of Gwent not yet aware of 20-year-old Dragons back rower Taine Basham, early-season form indicates you soon will be.

Supporters of Zebre, Connacht and Glasgow are already well-acquainted, Basham has scored against all three this season, while also setting up a beautiful try for Owen Jenkins at Leinster last weekend.

Dragons are currently looking for ways out of their recent-season struggles and with new boss Dean Ryan already taking effect – as wins over the Warriors and away at Zebre have shown – new heroes will inevitably come to the fore this season.

With the Welsh region investing in youth those new heroes will likely come via the academy, supplemented by returning World Cup stars in Aaron Wainwright and Ross Moriarty, with Basham joined by fellow bright prospects Max Williams, Lennon Greggains, Connor Edwards, Dan Babos and Josh Reynolds.

“I thought Taine Basham was outstanding for a young man in those circumstances. We shouldn’t lose sight of that,” said Ryan after the defeat to Leinster in Round 5, with the youngster running for 57 metres off 12 carries and having made 14 tackles.

“Results sometimes can colour some great performances so full credit to him.

“I was pleased for him. He came in and challenged some of the things he did in the game.

“He tried to simplify his game to try and get some of his more physical attributes in. I thought, against real quality opposition, we saw that.

“In reality, when people look a little bit under the surface, they will see some really good things from people like Taine.”

Three tries in 306 minutes is an impressive strike rate for a man who only turned 20 on Saturday, already matching his tally from nine appearances last term.

So where has the youngster aiming for the same trajectory as Wainwright come from?

The Abergavenny born back row, who has played mostly at openside but done jobs at No.8, started out at junior level with Talywain and developed through the Dragons age group system.

The 6’0’’ flanker played for both Bedwas and Cross Keys in the Principality Premiership, making his senior debut for Bedwas having just turned 17.

Basham has also long been in the international reckoning, touring South Africa with Wales U18s in 2017 before making his Guinness PRO14 debut against Scarlets in the 2017/18 season.

He’s progressed up the age groups with Wales, making his debut against Scotland U20s in February of last year and scoring a hat-trick against Italy in February – four tries in 12 all in all.

Last season, then Dragons coach Bernard Jackman tipped Basham for good things, a prediction that seems to be coming to fruition.

“I thought he was too short!” commented the Irishman.

“But when he has the ball, he has got something you don’t see very often.

“His footwork is exceptional, as good as any back. He has a boxer’s footwork.

“We have seen him make people look silly in training. He can beat people for fun. He’s very quick and very elusive, with good offloading skills.

“His skill-set is pretty unique. Not many back rowers have that.

“He is very much like Justin Tipuric to my mind. He has similar traits.

“He’s got that little bit of magic that makes you go ‘Wow, that is brilliant’.”

Cardiff City Stadium will play host to the 2020 Guinness PRO14 Final on June 20 as one of the most exciting days in the club rugby calendar comes to Wales!

General sale tickets are available from and prices start at just £13 for concessions and £26 for adults (subject to booking fees), that’s a 15% early bird discount. Family ticket (2 adults / 2 children) prices begin at £64 and fans are encouraged to buy early to get the best value tickets.

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