Lee Byrne: Paris the dream Euro opener for Dragons

Lee Byrne: Paris the dream Euro opener for Dragons

Lee Byrne: Paris the dream Euro opener for Dragons

First published in Sport
Last updated

CAPTAIN Lee Byrne believes Newport Gwent Dragons have been handed the perfect start to their European Rugby Challenge Cup campaign with a Saturday night challenge in Paris, writes Chris Kirwan.

The Rodney Parade region take on Stade Francais at the Stade Jean Bouin on Saturday, October 18 (kick-off 7.45pm) before hosting Newcastle Falcons the following Friday (kick-off 7.30pm).

Full-back Byrne, 34, was yellow-carded when he was playing for a Clermont Auvergne side that were beaten 23-16 by Stade in Paris last September.

And he is relishing the prospect of leading his new teammates out in their most glamourous Pool Three encounter.

"It will be a great challenge," said the 46-times capped full-back. "It was tough when I went there with Clermont last season.

"They've got some great players and are led by (Italy icon) Sergio Parisse but it will be a great experience for the boys.

"A Saturday night kick-off in Paris, the atmosphere will be electric and the boys will remember that game for a long time I can tell you."

The Dragons will hope that their qualification hopes are still alive when they play a December double-header against either Calvisano or Bucharest, who clash for a place in Pool Three in September.

They travel to Kingston Park – complete with its new artificial pitch – in January before finishing against the French giants at Rodney Parade.

The five group winners plus three best runners-up will qualify for the quarter-finals.

Dragons' fixtures

Round one: Stade Francais (away) – Saturday, October 18 (7.45pm)

Round two: Newcastle (home) – Friday, October 24 (7.30pm)

Round three: Calvisano/Bucharest (away) – December 4/5/6/7

Round four: Calvisano/Bucharest (home) –December 11/12/13/14

Round five: Newcastle (away) – January 15/16/17/18

Round six: Stade Francais (home) – January 22/23/24/25

- Former Newport Gwent Dragons full-back Martyn Thomas is on trial at London Irish.

The 27-year-old, who made 83 appearances and scored 14 tries for the Rodney Parade region between 2007 and 2012, featured for the Exiles against Montpellier last week.

The elusive runner is without a club after spending the last two seasons with Gloucester.

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