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Page last updated at 06:18 GMT, Friday, 15 May 2009 07:18 UK

Dragons boss rues play-off fate

Coach Paul Turner says the Dragons are strong enough to win in Italy
Coach Paul Turner says the Dragons are strong enough to win in Italy

Newport Gwent Dragons coach Paul Turner has criticised the season structure and the play-off system his side now has to endure to qualify for the Heineken Cup.

As the lowest placed Welsh side in the Magners League the Dragons face the third-placed Italian club on 29 May for an elite Heineken place next season.

"It's not ideal, I suppose it's not a great way to run a business," he said.

"[There's] too many games in one patch, which we've had during the season, and then not enough in another."

The Scarlets' Magners League win over the Blues on Wednesday left the Dragons as the bottom Welsh region for the season, meaning they must enter the play-off.

Their opponents for that 29 May game will be either Calvisano, Treviso or Viadana, the Italian league's own play-offs will determine their identity on 23 May.

The Dragons squad now has to remain together until then, meaning that their four players picked for Wales' tour of North America will have to withdraw from the national squad.


The first Test against Canada is the day after the play-off and Wales then face the USA the following week.

Uncapped Dragons Jason Tovey, Dan Lydiate and Lewis Evans, plus lock Luke Charteris, were all included in the Wales squad but they will have to wait for another time for the honour of representing their country.

"Everybody would have preferred to have wrapped it up come this Saturday but it's something we've got to go and do now," Turner added.

"We've got a good enough squad to go out to Italy and win, there's no question about that.

"What the mind-set will be, well that's down to me, I've got to be quite positive about this and whether it's Calvisano or Treviso it's places we've been to before and won.

"We've obviously got boys out of contract two days after that game and looking for pastures new, so it's not ideal, but I suppose we've got to get on with it."

The Dragons wrap up their Magners League campaign at home to Leinster on Saturday, before beginning preparations for their Italian job.

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see also
Dragons sign ex-Wasps front-rower
14 May 09 |  NG Dragons
Dragons v Leinster (Sat)
13 May 09 |  NG Dragons
Blues 9-30 Scarlets
13 May 09 |  Welsh
Scarlets v Dragons for Cup spot
10 May 09 |  Welsh
Injury forces Parks to quit rugby
12 May 09 |  NG Dragons
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
RaboDirect Pro12
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Anglo-Welsh Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union

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