THE Dragons European fate is not in their own hands on Friday night – a narrow win for Worcester in a try-fest would see the region denied in their bid for the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup, writes Chris Kirwan.

It had previously been believed that a bonus-point win against Enisei-STM in Newport would be enough to put Dean Ryan’s men through to the last eight regardless of events at Sixways, as they win their head-to-head with Worcester.

It was thought – and was even reported as such in news stories on European Professional Club Rugby’s website – that the Dragons were guaranteed to be through either as Pool One winners or one of three best runners-up.

However, EPCR have now clarified their rules – leaving the region in peril.

The Dragons could win with a bonus this weekend but crash out if Worcester also score four tries when beating Castres with the French side also grabbing a pair of bonus points.


Castres currently lead Pool One on 18 points with the Rodney Parade region and Worcester both on 15.

The rules state that head-to-heads come into play if clubs are level and the French side come out on top against both the Dragons and the Warriors, while the Welsh team edge out Worcester.

However, it’s a different story if there is a three-way tie.

If Castres, Worcester and the Dragons end on 20 points then the French side win Pool One based on the total of match points from the games between the three clubs (Castres 11, Worcester 10, Dragons 10).

The Warriors and Ryan’s men would be level and the next criterion is aggregate points difference from games between the trio, excluding whipping boys Enisei-STM.

The Dragons are on -11 while Worcester are on -9 and can only get to 20 points by winning the match, which would knock out the Welsh region.

The scenario leaves Ryan’s team needing either a drab encounter at Sixways or one side to run away with it.

Whatever happens, the Dragons cannot earn a home quarter-final in the last eight but Friday night has suddenly got a lot more complicated and nervy.

Meanwhile, Castres are heading to the West Midlands with a strong squad despite their battle at the bottom of the Top 14.

The French side took command of the pool by hammering the Dragons at the Stade Pierre-Fabre and will travel with the established first-teamers that did the job last weekend.

A travelling party of 26 includes influential ex-France half-back Rory Kockott, giant tighthead Wilfried Hounkpatin and powerhouse wing Fijian wing Filipo Nakosi.