Dai Young says it is “a real shame” Saturday’s derby between his Cardiff side and the Dragons will see both teams missing their Wales squad players.
And he has revealed how he will be without his Welsh stars once again for next month’s two-match trip to South Africa.
None of Wayne Pivac’s home-based autumn squad members will be available to the regions for United Rugby Championship action this weekend as they will be in camp preparing for the campaign opener against New Zealand on October 30.
That means Cardiff will be without 10 players, plus the long-term injured Josh Navidi, while the Dragons will go into the Arms Park clash minus six, all forwards.
So the likes of Josh Adams, Ross Moriarty, Willis Halaholo, Aaron Wainwright, Tomos Williams, Elliot Dee, Rhys Priestland and Will Rowlands will all be absent.
As a result, one of the biggest games of the regional season will be played out between significantly depleted teams, much to the disappointment of fans.
Cardiff director of rugby Young commented: “I understand why we haven’t got our internationals, but I think it’s still a shame.
“We all look forward to the derbies and to having all our best players on the field for them.
“That’s a real shame, but it is what it is.
“It doesn’t change the fact that when Cardiff go out to play the Dragons it’s a big rivalry and everyone wants to get that result.
“It is a challenge, but one most clubs in this league are used to.
“You would like to think the boys stepping up are looking forward to their opportunity.”
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One piece of positive news for Cardiff is they will have fly-half Jarrod Evans back following the sternum injury he picked up in the league opener against Connacht just under a month ago.
After the Dragons showdown, the Arms Park outfit will have four weeks without a game before resuming URC action with back-to-back away fixtures against the Lions and the Stormers in the last week of November and the first week of December.
Originally, those matches were due to played in Italy, but they will now take place in South Africa, as that country has been taken off the UK’s Covid red travel list.
That recent switch has presented some significant logistical issues, while Cardiff will have to head out missing their Wales Test stars.
No player involved in the final autumn international against Australia on November 20 will fly with the main party and it’s unclear if they will join up for the second match, especially as Europe kicks off the week after that with defending champions Toulouse heading to the Arms Park on December 11.
“What I expect to happen is discussions will take place with Wayne going into Wales’ last game, the week before we fly out,” said Young.
“We would probably look at it on an individual basis in terms of how much rugby the guys have played. They are obviously still going to be needed there until the end of the week.
“I don’t envisage anybody that plays against Australia on the Saturday to be part of our squad for the first game in South Africa.
“Another spanner in the works for us is after the second game against the Stormers we have got to fly back and play in Europe a few days later.
“Time will tell, on an individual basis, whether we look to involve those Wales players (who figure against Australia) in the second match or whether we don’t involve them and make sure they are right for Europe.
“We have got to make sure the prep is right for that as well as playing the two South African games.”
The Scarlets will face similar Wales player availability issues when they head out to play the Sharks and Bulls over the same two weeks.
As for the switch of venues from Italy, Cardiff boss Young had this to say.
“I think it’s the right decision to go out and play in South Africa,” he commented.
“It would have been totally unfair to ask their teams to come to Europe again to play their home games.
“They wouldn’t have been happy with that situation and understandably so. We have welcomed them into the competition and it’s only fair that we treat them fairly.
“Once it had been deemed safe to travel there and it’s off the red list, I expected us to be going there and it’s right and proper we do that.
“The disappointment is how long it actually took for the league to make that decision.
“Logistically, that has put us under a lot of pressure to try and get flights down there.
“It is a little bit annoying and frustrating that it has taken so long to make that final decision.
“The hardest thing has been getting flights. That’s what we have been chasing our tails around over the last five or six days. We’ve managed to do that now. Not the ones we would have liked and not at the times we would have liked, but it’s just a case of getting them at this stage.
“The next thing then has been rushing around trying to book hotels. It’s not a case of taking the kids, is it? It’s not as easy as that. You are taking a lot of kids on this trip.”
Giving an update on luckless Wales and Lions back rower Josh Navidi, Young said he would be out for up to five months after undergoing surgery on the shoulder he dislocated against the Bulls last week.
As for autumn squad member Ellis Jenkins, there is no further update on the popped rib cartilage he suffered in the Arms Park victory over the Sharks on Saturday.