Dean Ryan of the Dragons. Pic: Getty Images.

Another Dragon Tests Positive, But Dean Ryan Insists They’ll Be Firing To Face Cardiff Blues

By Gareth James

Dean Ryan is looking forward to a full-blooded Boxing Day derby between his Dragons side and Cardiff Blues at Rodney Parade.

The Dragons director of rugby has seen his team been hit hard by Covid-19 and rugby-related injuries, with the region confirming another positive test on Wednesday.

But six other players who missed the Wasps game through instruction to isolate have returned and Ryan is eager for the festive battle against their biggest rivals.

“I’m just expecting a really good derby game,” he said.

“If anyone has managed to be consistent in this time then they’ve got the magic formula! It’s stop start and people are coming in and out.

“I don’t think inconsistency is something which can be levelled at anyone. I’m looking forward to a great derby. Let’s get out there and enjoy playing.

“When the backdrop is what it is, let’s just enjoy a full-blooded derby.”

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Ryan’s opposite number – Blues head coach John Mulvihill – won’t be in Newport for the Christmas derby after being identified as a Covid-19 close contact.

It is a sign of the times as rugby prepares to bring an end to a chaotic 2020.

“I don’t expect the game to change that much,” said Ryan.

“Obviously it’s without the emotion of the supporters there, but these rivalries have gone on for how many years.

“I expect it to be fully committed and physical, even though we don’t have the added impact of crowds.”

Ryan saw Covid-19 withdrawals and injuries hit his squad hard ahead of their first two rounds of Heineken Champions Cup action.

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They suffered defeats to Wasps and Bordeaux Begles as disruption hit preparations for both matches, although their English coach has stressed they always felt they were able to fulfil the fixture, even as six others were falling by the wayside.

“We more than anybody were struggling, alongside some of the other places with high numbers.

“But we thought it was the right thing to play. I will be interested to see how EPCR deal with the last two weeks.

“I have seen the 28-0 results, but non-fulfilment of a fixtures is an interesting one to see what happens next.”

The Dragons’ first appearance in the Champions Cup in nine years has been hard hit by selection issues, with the heavy loss out in France following a 24-8 defeat at home to Wasps.

“We gave two guys debuts in terms of senior professional outings in Bordeaux,” said Ryan.

“I’m not sure anybody on any sort of sensible plan would have picked that particular weekend.

“What we do know is the group prior to Wasps is back in training for the first time today.


“There was a significant number compromised in that situation and they’ve returned.

“For everyone, it’s a weekly thing now and we’ve got to structure our weeks to work out the best way through. A squad that is resourced as we are is always challenged when we lose that front line.

“We gave two guys senior professional debuts in Bordeaux and that’s what the Dragons is and always been.

“The challenge of Covid added to a small and under-resourced squad is just an additional problem.”

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