Simon Raiwalui continued as captain in 2002-03 under new coach Leigh Jones who had been successful at Ebbw Vale with limited resources. Alix Popham and Peter Buxton had joined other clubs and new players included Alex Cadwallader, Matthew Veater, Andrew Wagstaff, ex-England player Steve Ojomoh and Hong Kong international Luke Nabaro but the star signing was undoubtedly Springbok back Percy Montgomery.
A disastrous start saw Newport lose their first 8 matches : 6 Celtic League and 2 Heineken European Cup matches - Edinburgh(A) and Toulouse (H). Newport finally won at home to Borders and Caerphilly in the Welsh League and against English Cup holders London Irish in the European Cup. A loss at London Irish which was popular fullback Matt Pini's last match, ended their HC hopes.
In the Principality Welsh Cup they had more success and reached their 5th final after a remarkable S/F against Bridgend a the Millennium Stadium Cardiff. Fullback Montgomery kicked 9 out of 9 penalties to win the match 27 v 23. This was just a week after Bridgend had beaten Newport at Bridgend 56 v 30 in a WL match. In the final they were outclassed by Llanelli although Montgomery kept them in the game up to HT before losing 32 v 9.
There was a sad note at Rodney Parade on 17th May 2003 as fans watched Newport win their last home match against rivals Ebbw Vale 61 v 9. Supporters knew then that things would never be the same again as the WRU had decided to set up regional sides for the following season. The Gwent side were destined to be a combined Newport and Ebbw Vale side eventually being called Newport Gwent Dragons and based at Rodney Parade after much political wrangling and involvement of the WRU. This meant that sides like Newport would effectively be semi-professional sides playing in a Welsh Premier League and acting as feeder sides to the regional team.
17th May 2003 would be the last time for many fans - with only one match away to Neath to follow - to see the likes of Simon Raiwalui, Shane Howarth (retired), Jason Jones-Hughes, Jon Pritchard, Matt Mostyn, Ofisa Tonu'u, Adrian Garvey (retired) and Mike Voyle (retired).
What would season 2003-04 bring to the Welsh rugby scene? Only time would tell.
For the record Raiwalui led the appearances for the third consecutive season with 32 followed by Chris Anthony on 31 and James Richards on 28. Leading scorer was Percy Montgomery with 207pts from just 17 games while outside half Jason Strange scored 199 pts from 26 appearances. Outstanding flanker Jason Forster scored 15 tries.
This season also saw publication of Steve Lewis' book 'Who let the dogs out? The revival of Newport Rugby' by Vertical Editions.The book seeks to record for posterity the great upheaval of the three previous seasons of professional rugby at Rodney Parade.