THE Dragons will go up against Wasps and Pau in next season’s Challenge Cup.

Dean Ryan’s men will lock horns with the English and French sides home and away in the second-tier European competition.

The group stages will take place in December and January with fixtures or schedule yet to be decided.

The Dragons beat Pau home and away in the 2015/16 tournament while they faced Wasps in the Champions Cup in 2020 when hit hard by Covid absentees.

They beat the English side in a friendly in Coventry last summer and will welcome them to Newport for a tune-up on Friday, September 2.

Wasps finished ninth in England last season while Pau were 10th in the Top 14.

“We’ve learnt a lot from our European experiences in recent seasons and it’s always interesting to see who you get paired with in the pool stages," said director of rugby Dean Ryan.

“Wasps are a talented and powerful side who we know well from the Champions Cup fixture in 2020, when our preparations were badly disrupted by Covid.

“We’ve already agreed a friendly fixture with them at Rodney Parade in September, so the draw certainly adds an extra dimension to that game.

“Pau are a traditional French side and former winners of the Challenge Cup so they’ll provide a stern test over two games and a big challenge that we will all look forward to.”

The competition is split into two pools of 10 – A and B – with the six highest-ranked clubs progressing to the round of 16 where they are joined by a quartet of Champions Cup sides.

The Dragons reached the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup in 2007, 2015 and 2016 and lost to Bristol in the last eight two years ago.

Last season they suffered a Euro whitewash after losing to Perpignan, Lyon, Benetton and Gloucester.

FIXTURES

Round one – December 9/10/11

Round two – December 16/17/18

Round three – January 13/14/15

Round four – January 20/21/22

Round of 16 – March 31, April 1/2

Quarter-finals – April 7/8/9

Semi-finals – April 28/29/30

Final – Friday, May 19 (Aviva Stadium, Dublin)