DRAGONS chairman David Buttress has spoken of his delight as rugby make a successful if unusual return to Rodney Parade – and admitted he cannot wait for the day fans come back through the turnstiles.

After nearly six months without action, Rodney Parade hosted a regional double-header of Guinness PRO14 action at the weekend.

The Dragons faced Scarlets on Saturday before Cardiff Blues and Ospreys followed on Sunday as the regular league season came to a close in Newport.

After months of uncertainty, Buttress, speaking to Dragons TV, praised the operational team at the stadium for all the hard work and professionalism which had gone into the last few months.

“It’s great to be back for all of us, if a little surreal,” he said.

“It’s incredible the work that has gone in behind the scenes. This is the best operational team I have ever worked with.

“We also hosted Cardiff here so I think the team has done a phenomenal job to make sure it was safe to play, safe for the players and safe so we can film it to get it to our fans.”

It was another milestone in the history of Rodney Parade on Sunday as the stadium hosted Cardiff Blues as the home team – with the Arms Park currently part of Dragon’s Heart Hospital at the Principality Stadium.

“It’s a funny one for us because, ultimately, they are rivals on the pitch,” said Buttress.

“But we all love rugby and we all want Welsh rugby to succeed.

“When we got the call from them we were more than happy to accommodate and do whatever we could to make it work.

“In a strange way, it is a great little moment in Rodney Parade’s history.”

Looking further afield, Buttress admits the hard work to recover from the crisis is still ahead of the region.

However, he remains optimistic that if all four regions work together then brighter days are ahead.

“It’s been enormously challenging off the field,” he said.

“The financial pressure that Covid-19 has created for all four regions and the WRU is unprecedented in Welsh professional rugby.

“There is a ton of work in front of us. We are not out of the woods financially; we are going to have to work really hard the next year or two to recover.

“We shouldn’t underestimate that or flower it up – it is going to be challenging financially for all the regions.

“But having said that, what I am pleased to say is the vast majority of us are trying to work together. You can see that with the Cardiff fixture being here, so that gives me a sense of optimism.

“If we do all muck in together, both the WRU and the regions, then hopefully over the next year or two we can build our way out of it. We are going to have to roll our sleeves up.”

And as for the potential return of fans to Rodney Parade, Buttress is determined to do all his power to make sure that happens as soon as it is safe.

“I can’t wait to have fans back,” he said.

“I think about the Christmas fixtures and not to have people for a derby breaks your heart. The atmosphere at Rodney Parade is electric.

“We will get people back as soon as we can. Let’s see what happens as we move into the autumn, what happens with the virus and the pandemic.

“We are working as closely as you would expect with the health authority and the Welsh Government and UK Government so as soon as we can get people back in, we will get them in.

“Our priority, as is right, is to make sure it is safe to do so, but hopefully as soon as possible.”