DRAGONS boss Dean Ryan will return to Worcester after being drawn against the Warriors in the European Challenge Cup.

The Rodney Parade region will face the Gallagher Premiership club, French side Castres and Enisei-STM in Pool One of the tournament.

The Dragons played the Warriors in the 2016/17 tournament, losing 33-20 in the Worcester rain before triumphing 22-7 in Newport.

The draw means a return to Sixways for new director of rugby Ryan, who had a three-year spell in the West Midlands between 2013 and 2016.

His assistant Ceri Jones is also a former player and coach at Worcester while loosehead Jack Cosgrove has headed to Rodney Parade from the Warriors.

Campaign Series: ON THE RUN: Adam Warren breaks through for the Dragons against CastresON THE RUN: Adam Warren breaks through for the Dragons against Castres

The Dragons played Castres, who finished seventh in the Top 14, in the 2015/16 tournament when they qualifed for the quarter-finals.

Lyn Jones' men were edged out 32-29 at Stade Pierre Antoine before getting revenge 31-18 on home soil.

Castres, Top 14 winners in 2013 and 2018, were in the Champions Cup last season and beat Exeter, Munster and Gloucester in France.

None of their players were named in Les Bleus' World Cup squad but they boast the likes of scrum-half Rory Kockott, livewire wing David Smith and imposing lock Christophe Samson on their roster.

Like the Dragons, they will be rebuilding next season after the departure of coach Christophe Urios to Bordeaux-Begles.

"It's going to be great to go back to Sixways to take on a club I know very well," said Ryan. "Castres will be a challenge for any side as heavyweights in the competition.

"They're a small-town club, where everyone gets behind their team, however they are going through change and I'm sure they will look to use the competition as they help re-shape themselves and build for the future."

Enisei-STM is a team that the Dragons would have liked to avoid because of the travel challenges, even though the Russians present a good opportunity for 10 points.

They faced the minnows in 2016/17 and 2017/18 and after being stunned in Krasnodar in the first meeting have won the last three meetings, although they have had to battle for the spoils.

Even the Dragons do the double over Enisei and take the spoils against Castres and Worcester in Newport then they will be in with a shot of repeating their 2015 and 2016 qualification.

On the first of those occasions they beat Cardiff Blues in the quarter-finals before losing to Edinburgh and the following year they stunned Gloucester at Kingsholm before being overpowered at big-spending Montpellier.

The schedule of fixtures is yet to be decided.

Campaign Series:

EPCR weekends – 2019/20 season

Round 1: November 15/16/17

Round 2: November 22/23/24

Round 3: December 6/7/8

Round 4: December 13/14/15

Round 5: January 10/11/12

Round 6: January 17/18/19

Quarter-finals: April 3/4/5

Semi-finals: May 1/2/3
 

2020 finals – Stade de Marseille

Challenge Cup final – Friday, May 22

Heineken Champions Cup final – Saturday, May 23