TALK about starting the season with a bang - it has been more like a whimper with the four Welsh regions going down in four of the seven matches played in the Celtic League so far.

And already the excuses are arriving thick and fast, not so much because of injuries, as every team has those, and not so much owing to an enforced rest because of the British Lions' New Zealand tour in the summer because that is the same for all, unless you play in England where clubs are ignoring calls for a rest period.

It's more because of the extra competition in the shape of the Powergen Cup introduced this season, giving a minimum of three extra top quality fixtures.

Whereas the clubs or regions, particularly the chief executives and directors, have welcomed the new competition because of the extra money generated by the Powergen competition, coaches are not so sure for it means added pressures on already stretched squads.

In some cases squads are pretty thin on numbers anyway, Newport Gwent Dragons probably being a fair example, so it means coaches have to be even more careful about overplaying players.

The Powergen competition means extra domestic matches in midweek in Wales, for part of the deal eventually thrashed out with their Celtic rivals was that there would be no major league matches involving them during international periods.

That means all-Welsh matches like the Dragons against the Ospreys and Cardiff Blues against Llanelli Scarlets had to be played this week.

In the case of the Ospreys it has resulted in three matches in eight days while the Dragons face away games against their Welsh rivals and Leinster within three days.

Consequently key players have to be rested because they can't be expected to play all the time. Hence the low key start to the season and the excuses before we've gone a few weeks.

Be that as it may, only Newport Gwent Dragons have a 100% record, and they have played just one match!

Cardiff Blues are in real trouble having lost both their games against Irish pair Connacht and Ulster with two very below par performances, toothless in Galway and profligate with their errors at home next time around.

That has already heaped the pressure on to head coach David Young especially when the Blues promised so much this season after two years of under-achieving.

To be fair, they are without Lions Gethin Jenkins, Martyn Williams and Tom Shanklin while others are out injured or not available.

But the fact remains that they still have a load of internationals on the field and their error count has been unacceptable.

It just goes to show that all the pressure is not solely on the Dragons, though my suggestion in last week's column that the sale of Rodney Parade ought at the very least be put on to the agenda given the declining state of the ground (not the pitch) has been taken up elsewhere.

Welsh Rugby Union group chief executive David Moffett and BBC Wales' Scrum V have taken up the point and advocated something be done about it.

Of course, there is a great deal to be debated and, sure, Rodney Parade is not the Dragons' property to sell, more Newport Rugby Club's and its shareholders.

But if the overall aim is to make the team playing out of this part of the world the best and the ground up there with the best, then nobody can be hung for that.