BOSS Dean Ryan insists says the Dragons would relish being in the Champions Cup next season, even if Europe's big guns would put them under pressure with their spending power.

The Rodney Parade region could play in the premier tournament for the first time since 2011 if it is expanded for a season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

European chiefs are mulling over a 24-team Champions Cup for 2020/21 with eight clubs from the Guinness PRO14, English Premiership and France's Top 14.

Under normal circumstances, the PRO14 would provide seven of 20 teams and that was set to lead to a play-off between Connacht and the Dragons in Galway.

The Dragons sat fifth in Conference A but the fourth-placed Cheetahs, from South Africa, are not eligible for Europe. The Irish province were fourth in Conference B.

The Dragons are only one curtailed season into Ryan's reign and the director of rugby has made no secret of the size of their rebuilding task.

However, he believes it's important for his squad to dream of facing Europe's best.

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"Aspirationally for the players it would be really important," said Ryan. "What the format would be, I am sure there will be a lot of debate.

"Whether it actually happens (we will see) because we have had versions of all sorts of different things.

"For me, it's about creating an aspirational environment for the Dragons. We want to qualify for everything we can and win every game we can.

"I've got to work out how we resource that – we'd be one of the smaller budgets operating in the Champions Cup, especially given the current climate – but I wouldn't hold anyone back from aspiration."

If the Champions Cup remains at 20 teams then there remains the possibility of the Dragons heading to the Sportground.

"There may be a EPCR play-off game as well, depending on how many teams we have in the Champions Cup next season," said PRO14 chief executive Martin Anayi to WalesOnline.

"It sounds like we might go to 24 teams, with us having eight places, which would mean we wouldn't need a play-off, but we will learn more about that in the next week or so."

The PRO14 rules state that there would be a play-off between the Dragons and Connacht even though Cardiff Blues, in Conference B, have more points than the Rodney Parade side.

Anayi didn't rule out a late change in a shortened season: "Once we know how many teams we have, we will need to decide how they qualify.

"We will need to agree with our teams and our board who makes up the eight. Let's see how many we have first."

The Ospreys were Wales' sole representatives in the Champions Cup this season and endured a whitewash after being grouped with Saracens, Munster and Racing 92.

The Dragons have played in the Challenge Cup for the last nine seasons since suffering the same fate as the men from the Liberty Stadium in 2010/11. Paul Turner's side were doubled by Toulouse, Glasgow and Wasps.

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The region were given a taste of life in the top tier last season after being drawn against Clermont Auvergne and Northampton, two traditional Euro big guns, in the Challenge Cup. The Dragons suffered four heavy defeats and shipped 26 tries.

However, the chance to welcome Europe's elite to Rodney Parade would provide a much-needed boost to the coffers as all of rugby feels the pinch because of coronavirus.