THE Dragons will face English Premiership runners-up Wasps and French big guns Bordeaux-Begles in next season’s Heineken Champions Cup.

The Rodney Parade region are getting ready to play in Europe’s top tier for the first time since 2011 after the tournament was boosted to 24 teams because of the coronavirus pandemic.

There will be four rounds of group fixtures, followed by four rounds of knockout rugby with the clubs in two 12-team pools.

The top four from each group will qualify for the quarter-finals with the teams ranked five to eight dropping into the Challenge Cup.

The seeded draw in Switzerland left them with the possibility of playing Exeter or Wasps from the Premiership plus Bordeaux or Lyon from the Top 14.

They have avoided going up against Champions Cup holders Exeter, who beat Racing 92 in the final, and will instead lock horns with Wasps, who were edged out by the Chiefs in the Premiership final last weekend.

The draw raises the possibility of the Dragons playing Wales lock Will Rowlands, a transfer target who has been linked with a move to Newport next summer.

South Wales Argus: DANGERMAN: Wasps' former All Black Malakai FekitoaDANGERMAN: Wasps' former All Black Malakai Fekitoa

Their squad also includes Wales flanker Thomas Young, All Blacks Malakai Fekitoa and Lima Sopoaga, England lock Joe Launchbury and highly-rated back rower Jack Willis.

Director of rugby Dean Ryan, who won the English title with Wasps in 1996/97, will also take his team to face Bordeaux, who were leading the Top 14 before the 2019/20 campaign was cancelled because of coronavirus.

They have provided flanker Cameron Woki and fly-half Matthieu Jalibert to the France squad for the autumn internationals and boast huge Tongan prop Ben Tameifuna, Australia forwards Kane Douglas and Scott Higginbotham and Argentina speedster Santiago Cordero on their books.

The Dragons faced Wasps last time they played in the top tier, when they were whitewashed by the then Wycombe-based side, Glasgow and Toulouse. The region were also doubled by the Englishmen in the 2012/13 Challenge Cup.

The Dragons went up against Bordeaux-Begles in the 2018/19 second tier tournament, losing 36-28 at the Stade Chaban-Delmas before an excellent 33-17 bonus-point win at Rodney Parade.

Dates for the fixtures, set to be played behind closed doors in the UK and Ireland, are yet to be announced.

European fixtures

Round one: December 11/12/13

Round two: December 18/19/20

Round three: January 15/16/17

Round four: January 22/23/24

Champions Cup quarter-finals, 1st leg / Challenge Cup Round of 16: April 2/3/4

Champions Cup quarter-finals, 2nd leg / Challenge Cup quarter-finals: April 9/10/11

Semi-finals: April 30, May 1/2

Finals: May 21 and 22