DRAGONS boss Dean Ryan has pleaded with United Rugby Championship bosses to avoid a Welsh derby clash with the Six Nations that would deprive fans the sight of Test players slugging it out.

The Rodney Parade region have had two of their three festive URC fixtures postponed because of coronavirus.

They were scheduled to travel to Swansea on Boxing Day but that fixture was called off because of positives in the Ospreys’ squad and then outbreaks at both the Dragons and Cardiff led to the New Year’s Day clash at Rodney Parade being pushed back to later in the campaign.

The derbies were scheduled to take place behind closed doors so a benefit of this weekend’s postponement is that the Dragons could still play what is traditionally their biggest money-spinner in front of supporters.

However, fitting the game, along with a raft of other postponements, into a packed schedule is a challenge for URC chiefs.

The Dragons and Cardiff have already locked horns without Wales internationals due to the Welsh Rugby Union’s extra autumn Test and there are three blank weekends in the Six Nations period.

The URC have already pencilled in rearranged South African double-headers for Cardiff, the Scarlets, Munster and Zebre on the final two weekends of the international tournament in March.

Now they must slot in the other games that have fallen due to Covid.

South Wales Argus: RIVALS: Dragons boss Dean Ryan talks to Cardiff counterpart Dai YoungRIVALS: Dragons boss Dean Ryan talks to Cardiff counterpart Dai Young

"I recognise that other people are going to be in charge of that, and I also recognise that it's going to be an incredibly complex job," said Ryan.

"There are available weekends outside the Six Nations, we're all aware that we're running out of them, but if there is a weighting applied I hope that would go against the derbies... we all know how important they are.

"They're everything that Welsh rugby is great about. Everybody from Wayne Pivac to every supporter wants to see them [international players] going at each other because it makes selection a lot easier and form a lot easier to see.”

The Dragons have been following strict coronavirus protocols but their training base has been quiet in recent days.

Ryan’s men have 17 positive cases to go along with a lengthy injury and are due to face the Scarlets in Llanelli on Saturday, January 8.

"It is difficult because we're avoiding certain types of training just until we get aware of how it's multiplying within the squad," he said.

“This week has taken a shape which has allowed us to avoid significant contact, so no scrums, no mauls and it has been a bit week to week.

"We hope by next Tuesday we get a clearer picture from all four sides over whether we can progress with a normal training week and hopefully get back to playing."

Last season the Dragons had an outbreak in the autumn and, after shutting down their Ystrad Mynach headquarters, were then given permission to postpone a fixture against Edinburgh on safety grounds due to a lack of preparation.

With a chocker calendar, clubs have little room to ease back in gently with the Scarlets fixture followed by an away game at Benetton in the Challenge Cup, a fixture the Dragons must win to stand a chance of progressing to the knockout stages… if the European competitions go ahead with the same format as planned.