Dean Ryan is relishing a Sixways showdown and going toe-to-toe with a French heavyweight after the draw for this season’s European Challenge Cup.
Dragons will face Castres Olympique – crowned Top14 champions in 2018 – plus Ryan’s former club Worcester Warriors.
Russian side Enisei-STM complete Pool 1 in the competition after the draw in Switzerland.
Ryan said: “It’s going to be great to go back to Sixways to take on a club I know very well.
“Castres will be a challenge for any side as heavyweights in the competition. They’re a small-town club, where everyone gets behind their team.
“However, they are going through change and I’m sure they will look to use the competition as they help re-shape themselves and build for the future.”
Dragons last faced Castres in the Challenge Cup in 2015/16, shared a home wins apiece with Worcester Warriors in the 2016/17 edition of the tournament and the Men of Gwent have been paired with Russian side Enisei in three of the last four seasons.
The tournament kicks off later this season with the Rugby World Cup, so the opening rounds will be played on weekends of 16th and 23rd November in the absence of Autumn
International fixtures before resuming the usual dates in the middle of December and January for the remaining rounds of the group stage.
In previous years Enisei have avoided playing home games in December, so it is expected EPCR will look to again accommodate weather conditions in Russia when determining the fixture schedule.
However, as Connacht experienced in 2015 with visa issues and Northampton with the snow last year in Romania, travelling to far flung parts of Europe isn’t always plain sailing.
We will bring you fixture dates – and if we are taking planes, trains or automobiles to our destinations – when they are confirmed.
You can register now to be amongst the first to find out the details when they are confirmed. CLICK HERE to register for fixture and ticket information for the new 2019/20 season
2019/20 Challenge Cup pools:
Pool 1: Castres Olympique, Worcester Warriors, Dragons, Enisei-STM
Pool 2: Scarlets, RC Toulon, London Irish, Bayonne
Pool 3: Wasps, Edinburgh Rugby, Bordeaux-Bègles, Agen
Pool 4: Stade Français Paris, Bristol Bears, Zebre Rugby Club, Brive
Pool 5: Cardiff Blues, Leicester Tigers, Pau, Rugby Calvisano
EPCR weekends – 2019/20 season
Round 1: 15/16/17 November 2019
Round 2: 22/23/24 November 2019
Round 3: 6/7/8 December 2019
Round 4: 13/14/15 December 2019
Round 5: 10/11/12 January 2020
Round 6: 17/18/19 January 2020
Quarter-finals: 3/4/5 April 2020
Semi-finals: 1/2/3 May 2020
2020 finals – Stade de Marseille
Challenge Cup final – Friday 22 May
Champions Cup final – Saturday 23 May
Watch all the action in the European Challenge Cup at Rodney Parade next season with a Season Membership with Dragons. Click HERE to join us in 2019/20!
Castres will be a challenge for any side as heavyweights in the competition... They’re a club where everyone gets behind their team...