THE news that we will be venturing up to Ebbw Vale for our Guinness PRO14 match against Edinburgh in February got me thinking about the potential for other grounds in the region.

I’ll be honest, when we were told that we’d be playing our biggest home game of last season against Cardiff Blues in Caerphilly my reaction was far from delight.

Some of my favourite memories at Rodney Parade have been against the Blues in front of a packed stadium, one of the best being April 2011 on the day of the royal wedding when we beat the Blues 28-15 in glorious sunshine.

But it’s fair to say the closer we got to last year’s game, when it was clear the amount of work that had gone into preparing the ground, all of us started to get excited about playing in a new venue which had the potential to provide a fantastic atmosphere.

As it happened we had great weather, a capacity crowd and a ground that looked fantastic after the hard work of many volunteers.

Then in August we had a pre-season friendly in Ebbw Vale against Glasgow, and again the crowd was impressive for a friendly game and there was a well-prepared Eugene Cross Park pitch to play on.

The Blues game was in spring and the Glasgow one in summer; I think it’s great we are looking to get around the region to play on our supporters’ doorsteps, but we all know what happens to pitches without full-time groundsmen during wet winter periods.

All players ask for at the highest level is the platform to perform to their highest ability, and a mudbath is not that platform, as we all know from the game versus Newcastle last season.

Fingers crossed that the weather plays ball and it allows the Ebbw Vale officials to provide a venue that can allow an enjoyable game of rugby for everyone.

There aren’t many supporters who are as passionate and committed in numbers as the Ebbw fans these days in the semi-professional set-up, so let’s hope the work undertaken by the hierarchy to reach out shows in the ticket sales for what will be an important league match.

The other venues which I would love to see given a go include Pontypool Park, Abertillery RFC and Cwmbran Stadium… this isn’t to say these are better than others, it’s just personal preference.

When I hear stories about the games played in front of the famous Pontypool Park crowd, who would fill the entire hill overlooking the pitch, you can only imagine what the atmosphere would have been like.

I can’t imagine the away team felt too comfortable either! I’ve only ever played there as a youngster for Pontypool Schools, but it’s a natural sporting amphitheatre and I hope one day to see the Dragons play a game there and overcome the obstacles that currently mean it’s not viable.

While I’m talking about Pontypool, I’ll add that whatever comes of this WRU Premiership review, I hope we see Pooler back in the top flight where they belong.

Abertillery Park is similar in that it’s built in its natural setting. Wikipedia says it has a capacity of around 15,000, which took me by surprise and I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t quite fit that many in now.

I remember when playing there as a youngster the access to the stadium was always an issue, and that is probably the reason why taking modern regional rugby there will struggle to be an option even if the setting is superb.

Last but not least, there will be many people in south Wales that will have probably never heard of Cwmbran Stadium.

I remember going there with my parents to watch Cwmbran Town put up a valiant fight against a star-studded Manchester United team in the 1990s and it was close to capacity that day.

It’s a much more modern stadium than the others – listed with a capacity of 10,500 – with good indoor facilities and transport links, so you would think it ticks many of the boxes needed.

Going back 10 years it used to be a training base for the Dragons, but it was still never utilised for a match day.

I’m sure there are many reasons for this, and now there is a 3G football pitch in place, but surely it’s an idea worth looking into?

We live in a region blessed with rugby arenas and history so it will be interesting to see if the club pushes the regional agenda further each season and looks at playing one or two games a year in these stadia.