THE Dragons’ New Year’s Day derby against Cardiff at Rodney Parade has been postponed – raising the possibility of the money-spinning clash being played in front of fans.

The United Rugby Championship encounter was set to take place behind closed doors in Newport on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) but has now been pushed back later in the season due to coronavirus outbreaks in both squads.

Tickets for the fixture will remain valid if supporters are allowed in for the new date but the Dragons will accept applications for refunds.

It is the second of their festive derbies to be postponed after 18 members of the Ospreys’ squad and staff tested positive ahead of the Boxing Day clash in Swansea.

Now Dean Ryan’s men have suffered an outbreak to go along with a lengthy injury list that leaves them unable to field a team.

The Dragons are already without full-back Jordan Williams, wing Ashton Hewitt, centres Jack Dixon and Cory Allen, scrum-halves Gonzalo Bertranou, Rhodri Williams and Lewis Jones, tighthead Lloyd Fairbrother and back rowers Ross Moriarty, Ollie Griffiths and Lennon Greggains because of injury.

The Blue and Blacks have also had an outbreak that forced their Boxing Day clash with the Scarlets in the capital to be postponed and are unable to raise a team for Newport.

South Wales Argus: DENIED: Supporters would not have been allowed into Rodney Parade for the Cardiff gameDENIED: Supporters would not have been allowed into Rodney Parade for the Cardiff game

The postponement could be good news for the Dragons, who were facing a huge financial hit from the Cardiff game being played behind closed doors.

Chairman David Buttress said that the Welsh government’s decision to only allow 50 fans in for games was “devastating for professional rugby”.

“I may not be thanked for being frank, but this is horrendous news for us. This is brutal news,” he said.

The hope will be that the Dragons will be able to welcome fans to Rodney Parade for the rescheduled fixture against their nearest and fiercest rivals.

The last time that they welcomed Cardiff to Rodney Parade in front of fans was October, 2018 when the attendance was 7,376.

Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Steve Phillips outlined the financial impact of fixtures being played behind closed doors in professional rugby.

“Given the popularity of the derby matches and upcoming European matches, we estimate that each lost match will be a net reduction in profit of well over £100,000,” he said before Christmas.

“There will be a further loss of revenue to suppliers, pay for staff, value for sponsors and pleasure for fans, in addition to the longer-term consequences of fans getting out of the habit of going to games.”

The Dragons are next scheduled to be in action against the Scarlets in Llanelli on Saturday, January 8, with that game also behind closed doors.

Finding spare slots in the schedule will be a challenge for URC chiefs with Cardiff already having been given a rearranged double-header in South Africa during the Six Nations.

- The Irish derby between Ulster and Leinster on Saturday and the Scottish clash between Edinburgh and Glasgow have also been postponed.