THE Dragons will start their Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup campaign with three Welsh derbies.

The new competition, which includes the PRO14 teams plus South African sides Vodacom Bulls, the Emirates Lions, Cell C Sharks and DHL Stormers, begins on the weekend of April 24.

Changes to scheduling and format have been made to limit travel where possible, with the opening three rounds accounting for derby fixtures across Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa and Wales.

Dean Ryan’s Dragons kick-off at home to the Scarlets (weekend of April 24) before going to Cardiff Blues (weekend of May 8) and then hosting the Ospreys (weekend of May 15).

Rounds four to six will see the four South African ‘Super’ franchises play their away games in Europe, those fixtures being revealed once all appropriate travel approvals have been confirmed.

This format means that no teams from Europe will travel to South Africa for Rainbow Cup games.

A total of six rounds (eight games per round) will take place with all teams ranked in a single league table.

The top two teams will then play each other in the final on June 19.

PRO14 Rugby is currently consulting with their broadcast partners to select kick-off times.

David Jordan, PRO14 tournament director, said: “Everyone is glad that we can now put some certainty into the rugby calendar in what has been an unpredictable period.

“Planning for a cross-hemisphere competition where the situation has been so fluid has provided many challenges, but we believe we have found a solution that is practical and safe to deliver a unique competition that supporters can get excited about.

“Throughout the Guinness PRO14 season have liaised with our unions and their governments to ensure we are meeting the conditions set out for elite sport to operate.

“We are very grateful for that support, without which a cross-border competition such as ours could not have taken place.”

SCHEDULE

Round 1: Dragons v Scarlets (weekend of April 24)

Round 2: Cardiff Blues v Dragons (weekend of May 8)

Round 3: Dragons v Ospreys (weekend of May 15)

Round 4: Weekend of May 29

Round 5: Weekend of June 5

Round 6: Weekend of

June 12 Final: Weekend of June 19