DRAGONS supporters that endured another grim night at Rodney Parade last Friday may have been tempted to use the words of European Council president Donald Tusk, “please do not waste this time”.

Loyal fans have already granted the region extension after extension and have grown weary of folk that promise sunlit uplands.

This period of Rodney Parade grace following the appointment of a new head honcho must not be frittered away.

Supporters that trudged to the exits after an hour of the depressing 38-14 loss to Connacht won’t have wanted pleas for patience. They’ve heard it all before.

But the undeniable fact is that the Dragons are in another rebuild phase, and this time they must get it right and reward the punters who have shown remarkable loyalty.

It is the ones that have stuck by the team that are suffering while those in the ‘Newport Gwent Dragons’ era that claimed there were barriers to their presence at Rodney Parade still guffaw at defeats from the sofa.

As one suspected back then, it is only wins that will encourage them to put their money where their mouth was and head down.

The sad thing for the loyal, but diminishing, hardcore is that it is likely that they face at least another year of testing times.

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Dean Ryan has made no secret of that but the hope is the new boss can at least help provide a few highs in the short term while thinking long term.

The Dragons need to see this through be because there are no silver bullets; the board decided that Ryan is the right man to move them forward and they must sit and back their judgement for three years in the hope that things will improve.

The two years following the appointment of Bernard Jackman ended up being wasted through a variety of reasons. A repeat of that and one fears what will happen to professional rugby in these parts.

The only way out of this is by waiting to see how things stand in 2022, not acting in haste in 18 months’ time or at the end of next season.

Let Ryan shape his squad and backroom team, and that needs to be done gradually rather than flinging in youngsters too soon at the expense of those deemed to be dead wood.

The director of rugby will have that familiar challenge of trying to convince his international-standard players to stay put while attempting to persuade better quality recruits to head to Newport, a task not helped by his lack of spending power.

Ryan knew that it wasn’t going to be easy but has the experience and qualities to make improvements, while his position on the board should ensure that there is no panic and help the rugby department’s argument for more financial backing.

The director of rugby is faced by failings that are familiar to those of us who have watched enough of the Dragons through the years.

Ryan isn’t daft, he may have made public declarations that he arrived without preconceptions, but he would have been braced for these shortcomings.

Solving the problems in his squad – lack of depth, lack of power – is the tough part given the budgetary constraints that mean there is a dent in his office wall where Paul Turner, Darren Edwards, Lyn Jones, Kingsley Jones and Jackman have all banged their heads.

What Ryan would give for a bruising lock to rise like Aaron Wainwright or for his players of promise to follow the lead of Andrew Coombs, Cory Hill and Elliot Dee in suddenly kicking on to the next level.

The director of rugby previously worked at Bristol, Gloucester and Worcester, so he is blessed to not have the English Premiership pressures of relegation or demands for an immediate and dramatic upturn in fortunes.

Ryan needs to be given the full three years and nobody said things were going to be easy, but for many Dragons supporters this will be their final leap of faith.

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THE Warren Gatland era should contain three more games, Wales just want it to end at the final in Yokohama on Saturday, November 2 rather than 24 hours earlier in Tokyo when battling for third.

Gatland's team face France this weekend, his 118th game at the helm, and it would be a failure if this World Cup campaign ends at the quarter-final stage.

Four years ago there was relief at getting out of Pool A containing Australia, hosts England and dangerous Fiji.

Injuries stretched the squad and there was disappointment but little frustration after the loss to South Africa in the last eight.

There was also the realisation that had Fourie du Preez not scored in the closing stages then Gatland's walking wounded would have been given the mother of all beatings by New Zealand in the semis.

This time it is different and the expectation is that Wales will avoid a French banana skin and then have a real crack at the Springboks, who should have the nous to make it past Japan in the last eight.

The Boks are much, much better than in recent years but a record of four straight wins since that World Cup clash at Twickenham would ensure there is no Welsh mental barrier to making it to the final.

In my eyes this Wales team is not Gatland's best – that would be one featuring Sam Warburton, Taulupe Faletau, Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones – but it's one that has a golden shot at providing his biggest moment of a trophy-laden reign.

France have the talent but should not scupper the bid of any genuine World Cup contender.

Gatland ensured that Martin Johnson's glittering career ended in a crushing low when Wasps beat Leicester in the 2005 Premiership final.

Wales' head coach, who will become the boss of the Chiefs in Super Rugby, shouldn't get a taste of his own medicine on Sunday morning.