THE Dragons cannot afford a repeat of the start of this season after learning their schedule for the 2024/25 United Rugby Championship campaign.

Dai Flanagan already has one eye on next year when they finish another disappointing season against the Scarlets at Judgement Day on Saturday.

Of his matchday 23 at Cardiff City Stadium, only substitute wing/centre Sio Tomkinson is a confirmed leaver and there is plenty of young talent in the team.

The Dragons, who have finished as the worst Welsh team again and could be spared the embarrassment of finishing bottom of the table if Zebre fail to cause an upset at Glasgow on Friday, are planning for what they hope will be a much-improved season.

There will be a new backroom team, most notably with a no-nonsense defence coach in Filo Tiatia.

There has been a big recruitment drive that isn’t yet finished, with centre/full-back Harry Wilson, hooker Oli Burrows, lock Steve Cummins and back rowers Shane Lewis-Hughes and Solomone Funaki the confirmed arrivals.

There will be a batch of young talent aiming to take the next step in Ryan Woodman, Joe Westwood, Harri Ackerman, Che Hope, Morgan Lloyd, Brodie Coughlan, Ewan Rosser.

However, the Dragons need to provide some early season hope… which they failed to do last October.

The 2024/25 URC fixtures were announced at 10am on Thursday with Flanagan’s men kicking off against the Ospreys at home.

South Wales Argus: The Dragons' first block of the URCThe Dragons' first block of the URC (Image: Newsquest)

They host Toby Booth’s men, who are once again Wales’ top team this season, on Saturday, September 21 (kick-off 3pm).

The Dragons then travel to Leinster on Friday, September 27 (kick-off 7.35pm) before a trio of Rodney Parade fixtures present a chance to get points on the board.

The Sharks and Lions head over from South Africa on Saturday, October 5 and Sunday, October 13 before Benetton head for Newport on Saturday, October 19.

The first URC block finishes with a trip to Galway to take on Connacht on Saturday, October 26, which is followed by a break for the autumn internationals.

The Dragons get back under way with a derby against Cardiff at the Arms Park on Saturday, November 30 – with the return fixture in Newport on Boxing Day (kick-off 3pm).

Flanagan’s men travel to Llanelli on New Year’s Day (kick-off 5.15pm) and are set to ‘host’ the Scarlets at Judgement Day on Easter Saturday, April 19.

The double-header is set to return to Principality Stadium after being shifted to Cardiff City Stadium this season.

They then have a tough finish in South Africa against the Stormers in Cape Town and Bulls in Pretoria.

It is imperative that the Dragons rack up some points in what is a relatively friendly first block in which five of the six must be categorised as winnable.

They have largely been competitive in Newport this season but the next step must be turning those battling performances into victories.

With South Africa finishing their Rugby Championship campaign in late September, the Sharks and Lions squads will be Springbok-less.

The Dragons beat the Ospreys this season and Benetton are a quality team that are now always in the play-off mix but this is in Newport.

The trip to Galway is a tough one but if Flanagan’s men have got the home results to build confidence then there is no reason why they can’t win at the Sportsground, which they did last time they travelled to Connacht in 2021.

The Dragons have won just three games this season – I would argue they need to match that tally in the first block.

They can set the tone for the campaign on home soil and cannot lament missed opportunities as they did last autumn.

South Wales Argus: WOE: The Dragons after they collapsed in the final quarter against Edinburgh on opening weekendWOE: The Dragons after they collapsed in the final quarter against Edinburgh on opening weekend (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

The Dragons fluffed their lines when in a commanding position against Edinburgh on opening weekend and then froze versus Cardiff in a low-quality derby that was there for the taking, with the Blue and Blacks deserving their win.

Defeats to Munster and Leinster followed with a home win against the Ospreys then followed by drubbings in South Africa by the Sharks and Lions.

The Dragons headed into the winter playing catch-up and low confidence would play a part in their early Challenge Cup exit.

Make no mistake, Flanagan will be under scrutiny in his third season at the helm and this will truly be his squad after summer changes.

The Dragons need to change the record in 2024/25, and that starts in Newport in the first block.


Round 1: Saturday, September 21 - Ospreys (home, 3pm).

Round 2: Friday, September 27 – Leinster (away, 7.35pm).

Round 3: Saturday, October 5 – Sharks (home, 5.15pm).

Round 4: Sunday, October 13 – Lions (home, 2.30pm).

Round 5: Saturday, October 19 – Benetton (home, 7.35pm).

Round 6: Saturday, October 26 -Connacht (away, 7.35pm).

Round 7: Saturday, November 30 – Cardiff (away, 5.15pm).

Round 8: Thursday, December 26 – Cardiff (home, 3pm).

Round 9: Wednesday, January 1 – Scarlets (away, 5.15pm).

Round 10: Saturday, January 25 – Munster (home, 7.35pm).

Round 11: Saturday, February 15 – Glasgow (home, 7.35pm).

Round 12: Friday, February 28 – Zebre (away, 7.35pm).

Round 13: Saturday, March 22 – Ulster (home, 5.15pm).

Round 14: Friday, March 28 – Edinburgh (away, 7.35pm).

Round 15: Saturday, April 19 – Scarlets (‘home’, 5.30pm).

Round 16: Saturday, April 26 – Ospreys (away, 3pm).

Round 17: Saturday, May 10 – Stormers (away, 5.15pm).

Round 18: Saturday, May 17 – Bulls (away, 2pm).