BOSS Dean Ryan believes it's "mad" that the Dragons don't yet know if fourth place in their Guinness PRO14 conference will be good enough in the race for the Champions Cup.

The PRO14 season ends this month with the Rodney Parade region finishing at Principality Stadium against Ulster tomorrow evening, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Their chances of catching the third-placed Ospreys, who sit in the last of the guaranteed Champions Cup spots, are slim.

However, they are a point back on the fourth-placed Warriors and next weekend's clash with Glasgow will be vital.

If they can edge out the Scots then it will then be a waiting game for the Dragons, who returned to Europe's top tier this season courtesy of an expanded Champions Cup.

The Dragons returned to European rugbys top tier in the Champions Cup this season

The Dragons returned to European rugby's top tier in the Champions Cup this season

European Professional Club Rugby have yet to decide on the format of next season's competition and whether the PRO14 will have six or eight clubs.

That leaves the Dragons and Glasgow – and also the Scarlets, Cardiff and Edinburgh in Conference B – not knowing what they are playing for in the run-in.

"It's a bit mad," said Ryan. "We've got three games and one of them is after the PRO14 final, which could be influential on three of the regions' qualification for Europe subject to what comes out.

"Just saying that out loud sounds mad. We can only control what we can control."

The Dragons' return to the Champions Cup lasted just two games and those were disrupted when a coronavirus outbreak impacted selection.

The return fixtures against Wasps and Bordeaux-Begles were cancelled in January and Ryan's men will instead drop into the Challenge Cup, with a mouth-watering last 16 clash with Northampton on the first weekend of April.

Dean Ryan in Bordeaux

Dean Ryan in Bordeaux

"Champions Cup was a big loss for us," said Ryan. "We are really keen to get back into it so there is no lack of motivation."

Those chasing spots in the premier tournament have a lack of clarity but the Dragons boss isn't playing the blame game.

"It's a tough year to judge other people. I don't know the moving parts so let's not use this year to judge anyone else," he said.

Ryan has stressed a game-by-game approach will get the best out of his side rather than ramping up the pressure of European qualification.

"We got a lot of mileage and played a lot more freely last weekend just by focusing on ourselves and not on what was happening elsewhere," he said.

"We'd be mad to change that, let's try to play with the same freedom against a good opponent in Ulster."