After losing all 14 of their league matches and finishing 8th and bottom of the league they also realised that they had to appraise their playing staff, Director of Rugby and image. Shock of the season was Newport's win over much fancied Pontypridd at Rodney Parade in the Welsh Cup Q/F only to lose heavily to Ebbw Vale in the S/F. The backs were often blamed for Newport's demise but it has to be said that as they were seldom given the chance to hone their skills in real match situations they were almost inevitably found wanting when they were finally called into action by slow ball from the forwards.
However Newport RFC were handed a lifeline by Cardiff and Swansea insisting on playing in England in friendly matches in the hope that they would be part of a future British League and so Allan Lewis (ex-Moseley), who was appointed as new Director of Rugby, found that he would be in charge of a Premier side for the coming season rather than a First Division side.
Players of the season were prop Rod Snow and back row Jan Machacek while young player of the season was Ian Gough. Young centre Matthew J. Watkins also showed promise while flanker Richard Parks was the most improved player. Shaun Connor was leading points scorer with 298pts from 30 games and leading try scorers were Jan Machacek 19 and wing Martin Llewellyn 12.
Ian Gough played for Wales U21, Wales A and won his full Welsh cap in South Africa in June 1998. Prop Sven Cronk played for Barbarians as did Machacek and Snow who also played for Czech Rep and Canada respectively.
This season also saw overseas teams imported for a short-lived W.R.U. Challenge Trophy competition, reported in a January 1998 match programmes as follows:-
"THE W.R.U. CHALLENGE TROPHY"
"The Welsh Rugby Union's latest brainchild began at St Helens, Swansea Saturday 1st November when Neath won 26-21. There are no changes to the laws in the Tournament apart from disallowing conversions in the hope that spectators will see more action. Stage 1 of the competition took place in November with the country's eight leading clubs playing three matches each. Pontypridd, Llanelli, Bridgend and Ebbw Vale are in Pool A with Swansea, Cardiff, Newport and Neath in Pool B. Clubs are seeded on their finishing positions in last season's league table. A draw decided which club would play two home games (Newport are unlucky again with two trips) with the results of matches being carried over into Stage 2 of the competition."
"That will take place in the middle of January and mark the arrival in Wales of overseas participants, Namibia, provinces Tucuman, Rosario and Cordoba from Argentina, Spain, Rugby Canada and leading South African province, Northern Transvaal. Namibia and Tucuman will play in Pool A, Newport will entertain Spain, Rugby Canada and Rosario in Pool B whilst Cordoba and Northern Transvaal unusually have matches in both."
"Fixtures have been graded which results in Wales's top three of last season Pontypridd, Swansea and Llanelli will all face Super 12 team Northern Transvaal. Only Welsh clubs can qualify for the semi-finals, to be held next March with the Final due to follow later that month. It is almost certain that some sides will not be able to field their first choice XV for internationals do clash with certain dates and hence the competition may be used by certain sides as a platform to develop lesser members of their squads."
"CHALLENGE TROPHY FIXTURES"
"THE W.R.U. CHALLENGE TROPHY"
"POOL A: Pontypridd, Llanelli, Bridgend, Ebbw Vale, Namibia, Tucuman."
"POOL B: Swansea, Cardiff, Newport, Neath, Rugby Canada, Rosario, Spain."
"POOLS A & B: Cordoba and Northern Transvaal."