Paul Turner leaves Newport Gwent Dragons

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The Independent Online

Newport Gwent Dragons have confirmed that head coach Paul Turner has left the region by mutual consent.

The 50-year-old was suspended by the Magners League outfit following the Heineken Cup defeat against Glasgow at the end of January pending an internal disciplinary hearing.

And a Dragons statement this morning read: "Newport Gwent Dragons wish to announce that Paul Turner's employment with the region as head coach has ceased today by mutual agreement.

"The region would like to express its thanks to Paul for the work he has done in past years and to wish him all the very best in the future."

Turner added: "I've enjoyed my six years at the Dragons and am immensely proud to have been involved with developing this region. I wish all the players and staff my best for the remainder of the season."

Assistant coach Darren Edwards, who also coaches the Wales Under-20s side, has been placed in charge until the end of the season.

Turner, a former Wales fly-half, was appointed head coach at Rodney Parade in 2005 and was named Magners League coach of the year at the end of last season.

But this season has proved to be much tougher, with the Gwent side managing just five league wins to date and suffering a first clean sweep of six defeats in their Heineken Cup pool.

Off-field matters have scarcely been any better.

Last month Turner furiously accused the Welsh Rugby Union of sending flanker Dan Lydiate back to the region with an injury, after the back-rower took part in a national squad fitness testing session.

Lydiate, who starts for Wales in their RBS 6 Nations clash with Scotland tomorrow, has battled back to re-establish himself after breaking his neck in a game against Perpignan four years ago.

Turner had told the South Wales Argus: "It's a disgrace. They had him in there and though his neck wasn't right they've messed around with it and made it worse when we distinctly said our players should not be tested this week. I've got e-mails which were sent about this and I'm fuming about it."

But the Dragons subsequently apologised for Turner's remarks, after the WRU clarified that Lydiate had not taken part in any of the tests at the squad session because he was carrying an injury.

"Dragons head coach Paul Turner would like to apologise unequivocally both for the way in which this matter came into the public domain and his choice of words used in his interview with the Argus," the Dragons statement read.

"His comments were made in the heat of the moment following a briefing from his medical team regarding Danny Lydiate and were the result of his frustration and concern over the welfare of a player who has had a difficult history with injury.

"Mr Turner accepts that these are issues which would have been best dealt with directly with the WRU and not through the media."

Turner also ordered a journalist out of his post-match press conference following the defeat to Glasgow and he was suspended just a few days later while chief executive Mike Jenkins conducted his internal inquiry, which in turn has led to today's announcement.

While Edwards has been placed in charge until the end of the campaign, former Wales captain Kingsley Jones is understood to be a candidate for the full-time role, after announcing he will leave Sale Sharks in the summer.