GLASGOW Warriors head coach Danny Wilson says he is desperate for the United Rugby Championship to provide some clarity on when his team’s two postponed 1872 Cup matches are going to be played.
This double-header against inter-city rivals Edinburgh couldn’t go ahead in its traditional festive slot this season because of a Covid outbreak in the Warriors squad and it is anticipated that the games will now have to be rescheduled to a date which clashes with the Six Nations.
That would mean both teams playing their biggest match of the league campaign without their top international players, which would undermine the credibility of these showcase events.
“The team manager has been on the phone trying to find out when these games are going to be rescheduled,” said Wilson yesterday. “We desperately need to find out because I don’t know if we’re playing the week after next at the moment.
“I don’t know whether we’re giving the boys time off or if we have travel to arrange, and all those sorts of bits and pieces. We’re hoping for confirmation soon.”
A broader rejig of the fixture timetable might be required. For example, Glasgow are currently scheduled to host Munster and Edinburgh are to visit Leinster on the final weekend of the regular URC season, so an option might be to bring those games forward into the Six Nations window and then finish the campaign with those teams playing in Scottish and Irish derbies. That would mean at least one 1872 Cup match being staged as an event which can really capture the imagination of supporters and showcase the full quality of the two sides.
“We’re going into a period where I think we will have more games than originally planned so that will test our squad,” added Wilson. “The original plan was no games on the Six Nations game weekends, only in the fallow weeks, but now there’s a chance that we might have two games.
“If that is the case, it’s an opportunity to get a look at other boys and allow them to show what they are capable of. That starts with Connacht away this Saturday.
“They are a side who are going really well, and it will be testing conditions – but it’s a game that the boys are up for.”
While the Connacht match falls outside the international window, Wilson is resigned to being without most of the 11 players who are currently away at Scotland’s pre-Six Nations training camp – even those who are not going to feature in the national team’s opening match of the championship against England at Murrayfield the following Saturday.
“A lot of the Exiles will have to go back to their club so a lot of the Scottish-based players will probably have to stay in camp to fulfil training needs,” he explained. “So, we’ll find out later in the week if there are a couple of boys who need games and who Scotland might want to play for us,
“Hopefully we’ll get a couple back, but we’ll just have to wait and see how the week goes on.”
Wilson also confirmed that Kiwi full-back Josh McKay is an injury concern for this weekend.
“He’s a doubt if I’m honest – he’ll have to wait and see,” said the coach. “He’s in a boot to give him the best chance to recover, and then we’ll go from there. It’s a minor ankle scenario so I don’t know how that is going to pan out.”
Those recent European defeats to Exeter Chiefs and La Rochelle cost Glasgow a place in the last 16 of the Champions Cup, but Wilson insisted that morale in the squad has not been damaged by the set-back.
“We’ve looked back at Saturday game [against La Rochelle] and after 42 minutes we were in the lead having just scored a really nice try,” he reasoned. “Games have ups and downs and you’re never going to dominate from start to finish. You’ll have good and bad patches. Our problem on Saturday was we conceded two tries in about eight minutes. And at Exeter it was a lot worse than that.
“It’s those patches in the games we need to get better at dealing with. It’s not that we’re not performing or creating opportunities or scoring tries. We dominated the set-piece here against a massive La Rochelle side.
“So, I’m not looking at it and thinking we’re not competitive or anything like that. We’ve just had bad patches that have really cost us. All off a sudden you go from a 16-14 lead to 30-16 down and you’re going, ‘where did that come from?’
“We’ve had some good wins in the league and had a good home win against Exeter, but we’ve had a couple of blips that have hurt us more than they should have.”
Glasgow will now have an opportunity to make some emends for their patchy Champions Cup campaign in the second-tier Challenge Cup, although they won’t know who they play in the last 16 of that competition until April.
“It’s in the future so we’ll concentrate on the league for now,” shrugged Wilson, who has clearly had his fill of fixture uncertainty.