Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Racing 92 14-23 Glasgow

Finn Russell - pic © Al Ross
Finn Russell - pic © Al Ross

A sparkling night in Paris to lift the gloom that had descended on the Warriors camp after 3 defeats on the bounce? Gregor Townsend certainly hoped so, with 6 internationals returning including Finn Russell and Simone Favaro. The Racing side read like a ‘who’s who’ of world rugby from the late naughties to the present, with Dan Carter starting alongside Juan Imhoff, Joe Rokokoko and our very own former Warrior Leone Nakarawa.

It was the All Black legend Carter who drew first blood in this encounter, with a sublime miss pass taking the whole Glasgow defence out of the equation. Imhoff touched down, Carter added the extras, and Glasgow looked in trouble having barely touched the ball.

Stuart Hogg looked uncomfortable in his positioning defensively for the majority of the game, and if we are being honest his chances of taking the Lions 15 shirt will really depend on how Gatland wants to approach the tests. Go out to win, Hogg is a shoe-in, Go out not to lose, then Halfpenny takes the shirt. Given Warren’s propensity towards ‘percentage rugby’ I fear Stuart might miss out yet again.

Anyway – enough doom and gloom! Glasgow finally got hold of the ball, and it is no exaggeration to say the there was a large chunk of the game from then when they were simply better man for man than their illustrious opponents. Finn Russell was at his magnificent best, directing play and keeping the Racing defence guessing. He also kicked very well, and 2 penalties brought the score back to 7-6 after 15 minutes.

The Warriors continued to press their opponents, and some incredible line speed, particularly from Favaro (including highlight of the day – Favaro smashing Dan Carter to force a turnover), ensured that the Warriors continued to play the game in the Racing half. Favaro was ably assisted by Zander Fagerson, the Scotland tighthead continuing his mercurial rise with another barnstorming performance in both attack and defence.

The key to unlocking the French defence was always going to be Russell, and the Scotland international delivered in style, delaying a pop pass until the very last moment before picking out Alex Dunbar on a ‘steam-train’ line in midfield. A beautiful try, and an excellent example of the quality and composure that Russell gives. Extras added, and Glasgow looked good for a 6 point lead.

The final play of the half saw Racing set up a driving maul on the Warriors 5m line. Last season the French scored 3 tries directly from this against Glasgow, but this year the Warriors defence was more than up to the task. Jonny Gray lead the way on this, with incredible workrate to get involved and disrupt every maul opportunity. The whole pack deserved plaudits for this, and also for the scrum which held firm on all occasions bar one.

Half-time: Racing 7-13 Glasgow

Glasgow started the second half no doubt expecting the Parisians to come flying back at them, but it was the Warriors who showed their quality and control over the game in the “championship minutes”. Ali Price had a cracking game at scrum half, and is well on his way to becoming first choice given Henry Pyrgos struggles with injury and form. The young 9 clearly knows his rule book as well, using the post protector as his friend to secure the Warriors second try after only 43 minutes. Russell again added an easy 2 points to stretch the Glasgow lead to 13

The French side rung wholesale changes at this point, with a complete front row revamp (plus Gerbrant Grobler for the dreadfully subdued Leone Nakarawa in the second row) but it was the Warriors who continued to threaten the scoreboard. Hogg missed wide to the right from a penalty attempt that was all of 55m,  but Russell nailed the next attempt, which was a little closer, to stretch the Glasgow lead past the ‘2 converted scores’ mark with 15 minutes remaining. 7-23. History on the cards?

Racing finally got a grip of the game, but the Warriors defence was incredible, indicated by 9 turnovers and 124 successful tackles – 20 of which were from Jonny Gray. The pressure on the Glasgow line was mounting, and finally Carter was able to skip past a couple of tired Warriors defenders to score. Funnily enough he was able to make his conversion in 15 seconds, instead of the usual 100, giving his side a further 7 minutes to score twice.

What should have been a nail biting few minutes for Warriors fans turned out to be fairly relaxed, with the experienced squad playing down the clock, making their tackles and shutting out the game. No panic, no mistakes, and a famous win. Amazing the difference having the 1st XV available makes.

Not the perfect performance, but not far off. Glasgow from 1-23 were outstanding. I had mentioned to our own Gav Harper that i thought this was the make or break game of the Glasgow season, so here is hoping!

FT – Racing 14 – 23 Glasgow

Referee: JP Doyle (RFU)

SRBlog Man of the Match: Pick your Warrior here? Finn Russell got the sponsors award, and he was outstanding. I also thought Favaro, Gray or Price could have been in contention, but my pick for the award is Zander Fagerson, who was brilliant in the loose, solid in the scrum and excellent in defence. How long before the French megabucks owners are sniffing around for a 20 year old tighthead with potential to go right to the top of the game?

38 Responses

  1. This result has really been a shot of adrenaline to the heart of Glasgow’s season. Win the follow up match and pressure is back on Munster! Townshend and Cotter will be praying to the rugby gods that Russell stays fit – he is irreplaceable at the moment.

  2. Great win, Glasgow. Defence so sharp it was unusual, and also nice, to see Racing almost completely running out of options and unable to profit from their characteristic style of play.
    And is it just me, or has Finn been putting in some serious practise since the AIs on kicking from hand? Distance and accuracy both seemed to be better than last month in the Test matches.

      1. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a combination of both, Rory. Even a 15% improvement in this aspect of Finn’s game would strengthen the case, already strong, for him to be regarded by many as the best of the four first choice 10s available to Eng, Ire, Wales and us at this time.

  3. Great win from the boys, especially with all the negativity from the fans beforehand. Ali Price had another perfect game, but Finn was just on another level; and it has got me thinking that if Farrell plays 12 for the lions I would have Russell at 10 as he can create something from nothing.

  4. Is this the best ever result for Glasgow in Europe? I think so.
    Great to see them play like this when it really matters, rather when they’re already out of the running. The front row of Reid, Brown and Fagerson were superb, and the entire pack worked as a cohesive unit. Great to see.
    The defence against the line out drive was also the best I’ve seen from Glasgow. This against a heavyweight pack and one of the tournament favourites. (Results for all the Pro 12 sides were good, apart from Llanelli at Toulon)
    Can they do it again on Friday, with Racing now pre-warned and with their backs against the wall? Of course they can if they play well. I’m expecting another brutal blood and thunder game in the pack, and hope we are up for it.
    Shame the game can’t be played at a higher capacity stadium, as I’m sure they could sell a few thousand extra tickets for this one.

  5. Predictably Glasgow, they will play well, build peoples hopes up and then screw it all up when it really matters

    “Glasgow Warriors – The proud losers..!”

      1. It’s such a relief that this is obvious trolling – not too long ago, we’d have been less sure…

  6. I would say Favaro was man of the match. It was his management of Carter that made the difference.

    1. He was indeed excellent. Looked like he was nursing his shoulder in the latter stages – hopefully he’ll be fit again this week.

      1. Looking at the injury and through experience that injury caused when he lands full force on the end of the shoulder (‘stinger’ as the daftie commentators call it ) Is likely to be an AC joint displacement, which takes at least 6 weeks, however who is to say how quickly we can get him back.

  7. A word for JP Doyle, especially given the criticism that Irish refs regularly receive. I thought he reffed really well (and not just when Glasgow were winning!). Clear communication and consistency, not reffing according to reputation, which other refs have done. I’m not sure whether we were lucky in those initial scrums with the calls as it was never really analysed in the TV footage, but I certainly felt relieved when we weren’t penalised for the first couple of scrums that went down. If we had been pinged for both of those, then it could have set an entirely different tone for the whole match.

    1. A good word. I like Doyle – think he’s one of the best around. I am very much on the side of referees that favour the ball coming out of a scrum, and when it’s available, give the order to use it.

    2. Agree that Doyle had a good game. If the scrum collapses but the ball can be released that is fine by me. The scrum should only be a way of restarting the game, rather than an end in itself. (said with no respect to props worldwide)
      Let’s face it, the ref can only offer an opinion as to what really happened at a collapsed scrum, and the minutes spent resetting scrum after scrum must be as frustrating for the ref as everyone else who wants to watch some rugby.

      1. Disagree. The scrum is only a way of restarting the game in rugby league, and that’s the main reason that rugby league is the idiot little brother of union.

        If scrums aren’t an end unto themselves, then no-one will play scrummagers. If no-one plays scrummagers, then the jaw-dropping, edge-of-seat moments caused by mismatches (think Hogg blazing through Ross and Best in the 6N Ireland game) go as well.

        Get rid of the big fat guys, the little fast guys will follow, and we’re left with 18 stone of muscle running into brick walls.

        Agree with your point about Doyle though – if the ball’s there, let’s play.

      2. Actually said with no respect, to the game of Rugby Union.which, for the avoidance of any doubt, is a 15 man game , each player with his own specialism, each respecting the specialism of his team mate.

        Have you noticed they slap each others backs when they get a result? They dont run up into the stand and slap your back for turning up.

        The day that our game stops becoming a game for all shapes and sizes is the day it dies.

        The scrum is not about restarting the game. The Rugby Union scrum is about competing for the ball and the laws need to change to allow that to happen.

        Referees need to stop telling blokes who put their necks in the way of several tons of heaving, sweating, humanity how to play the game . Let me assure you they will work it out.

        Everyone hates restarts , even the ugly front rows, however the solution is not to further mute the scrum, the solution is to broaden the rules and the tactics to allow it to compete, will follow.

        Enjoy the game and do look out for them enjoying themselves.

      3. Bulldog, Angerine,

        Law 20 Scrums
        The purpose of the scrum is to restart play quickly, safely and fairly, after a minor infringement or a stoppage

        So it is a restart, but you are correct it is also a contest, and as such has a part to play. It is not however an opportunity to milk penalties simply because you have an advantage in this area. It is a way to get the ball back into open play – a restart.

        If you have second rows who are only 5’8″ and they are jumping against 2 boys a foot taller do you risk a penalty every line out? No, you are just less likely to win the ball. It is still a re-start, it is still a contest, but it is not a penalty-milking opportunity. So why is the scrum allowed to be one?

        If the ball is at the back foot then play it, don’t stand there waving at the referee. If you have won the ball back, then your front row have already exerted dominance in that set piece – let the other guys on the park play with the ball as well. No need to lose the fatties in the tight five, but emphasise that it is a 15 player game by involving the rest.

        Also, how do the laws of the game need to be changed, or broadened, to make scrums work? Surely by introducing more laws in this area it just gives coaches more opportunities to cheat referees and milk penalties (for example the Welsh “soft hit” of a couple of years ago that they pulled against Scotland and then crowed about in the press after)

        Instead, why not apply the existing laws rigourously. Scrum put-ins should be straight down the middle of the tunnel – Law 20.6 (d)

        Then take away the “hit” completely. The new engagement has improved things, but as is their wont, coaches are finding ways round it, and some games are back to being a lottery at scrum time, with numerous resets, then penalties, when the whole purpose of the scrum is to “restart the game quickly” as per the laws

        So make the scrums form a line at a time as they used to in the 70s/80s – props in and engaged, then locks, then back row. Get it steady, 9 puts the ball in, hookers contest, ball comes out, game is on. Still a contest, still a restart. The added bonus is that you take out one of the injury inducing collisions in the game, and replace it with a situation which requires strength, technique, and understanding of your opponents weaknesses. Surely this is better than watching beefed up gym monkeys slamming into each other for 3 or 4 minutes at a time followed by 2 minutes of a single bloke kicking at the posts?

        Also Bulldog – for how long has a full back running 30/40 metres to slap a prop on the shoulder been a part of the game? Did it happen in the 80s? 90s? 00s? Or is it relatively recent? I think it has no place in rugby as it is a piece of provocative intimidation, intended to goad a reaction from frustrated opponents which may result in a punch being thrown and a subsequent yellow/red card. The authorities need to stamp it out.

      4. Well a front row who can think and explain it in writing, that is a rarity. I am laughing at the thought of players congratulating an experienced and well trained spectator on his fit mouth :)

        You have a point , all over the country this weekend players will be performing in front of no one.I get your logic about players being the future of the game. From one to fifteen rugby players have different levels of speed , strength, agility, stamina and flexability dependent on position. Rugby celebrates that diversity better than any other sport I know. Point taken B Dog.

        I hate being used but spectators are funding their habit but the sustainability is about players. The game can survive without spectator moans.

      5. Ade,

        Yep. Broadly agree with that. Not really what we were objecting to though. It was more the whole “scrums should be uncontested and I have no respect for props” thing.

        I particularly like the idea of removing the “hit” element of the scrum. It’s obviously been dampened over the years, but there are good player safety reasons for removing it altogether.

        I also agree that the bar for penalties in scrums is too low. But dominance in the lineout also leads to penalty-milking opportunities. You never seen a catch and drive? After the last world cup I still have nightmares about them.

        Finally, if you punch someone for patting their own player on the back you deserve a card.

        Other than that, these sound like good ideas. Rules in the scrum are always going to evolve, and teams will always find ways to take advantage of them, but they’re a totally pivotal part of the game we love.

      6. Ade: I feel I should respond however ,in all of your note I cannot find too many things where we are substantially opposed !!!!

        We are agreed the union scrum is competative, if not ,lets just play touch rugby or lord help us, 7’s. We disagree on relaxing the laws , or do we? I am not sure you do !

        I am saying is stop referees regulating it and let the players compete. You were almost getting into the spirit of it when you mention one of many tactics (the hit).

        About the only thing I agree with Pragmatic Optomist on , is that refeess havent a clue what is going on in there. So get them out the road and let the players play.

        I often debate with one of the most respected props in the premiership and he is clear that they want to do the things that used to happen without being penalised for it.

        Hookers hooking and strikes against the head, should be an opportunity not a liability , wheeling would be an alternative to collapses allowing wing forwards to break and withdraw, will all add to the competition, the startegy, the tactis and protect half back playmakers. All 8 will be involved, in fact all 15 will be involved.

        All of it keeping the game moving. Its a win win , even those spectators that think it is all about them will love it.

        One last thing – these players slap backs out of respect for fellow players , nothing to do with antagonism. The props hug the wingers when they score. They share in what the team has achieved.

        You may have missed the point on that one , but someone will not have.

      7. I’m all for the scrum being a contest but by the time the ball is at the number 8’s feet, if the scrum is not going forward, they should use it. The contest should be when the ball goes down the tunnel straight, something that I have not seen this decade. By not applying the laws and making it a decent contest, the officials are actually hastening the de-powering by turning it into a constant arm wrestle for possession with the ball a distant second consideration.

      8. Rory: I am not sure I disagree with much of what you say either. I have no idea why we are allowing squint put ins and refs are running the game. I agree on that.

        Now the number 8 holding over long, different issue , actually that is part of the contest his domnant pack have given him the option on how he wants to attack.

        That is exactly the situation you would use a wheel tactic and disrupt. Chapter 1 page 1 in my book.

        I do not think we seen much of that last night.

      1. JP is Irish, but he is employed by the RFU, which explains why he is a cut or three above the rest!!

  8. Results this weekend strongly suggest that the Pro12 competition is at least the equal of the much-vaunted English Premiership and French Top-14 as a proving-ground for players and teams.
    Glasgow’s defence was quite heroic, and in this respect Simone Favaro deserves special recognition, as Bulldog has said — he was a super-hero! I expect Racing 92 will try to break down our defence in the return fixture by Carter cross-kicks to their on-rushing wingers, or little chips ahead….but Gregor will have devised counter-measures…….

  9. Does anyone think that it’s now time to look at where Peter Horne’s talent really lies, I can’t help but feel that he is not skillfull enough to prove himself at No.10 but when he plays No.12 he is just too soft hitting, I would suggest No.13/15 but the competition there is unbelievable (okay maybe 15 not so much)

    No.10 :

    Finn Russell
    Rory Clegg
    Hagen Schulte


    Alex Dunbar
    Nick Grigg
    Sam Johnson
    Fraser Lyle
    Richie Vernon


    Stuart Hogg
    Peter Murchie
    Peter Horne?

    1. Clegg and Schulte are not good enough back up for title challengers let alone a side with European aspirations. At the moment Horne is the secon dbest 10 in the squad and his versatility adds to the options on the bench.

      Horne was exceptional against France in the 6N and is probably the best back up to Russell at test level too.

      1. When it was announced that Clegg had returned, I was reasonably confident he would be a decent back up but his lack of game time over the past year or so really seems to have knocked him out of his stride – not sure what the solution is – perhaps a few weeks of club rugby to try and find his mojo again, but on current form, have to agree with FF that he’s not currently playing well enough, however the cupboard is very bare, especially with Horne now out till Easter. I don’t see as much club rugby as i’d like or probably should – are there any guys in the Premiership who might make a better fist of stepping up?

        I don’t actually recall having seen Schulte play, there have been a few of them over the Townsend years – guys who we took a bit of a punt on, and lost. (that’s probably a great article in it’s own right – ‘The lost boys of Glasgow Warriors’) – but if you have to go through a few Firths, Schultes, Kentales etc to find a Nakarawa or Matawalu, then I guess it’s a price worth paying.

      2. Personally I feel Glasgow and Scotland should try and look overseas for a promising young 10 as Munster have. In five years time we might be in the position where Hastings hasn’t lived up to his promise and that would leave options at 10 very bare. Also I am not 100% fan of the residency rule but as it is there now Scotland may as well try and use it. Or better try and find a young player with Scottish heritage playing abroad, like Joey Carberry at Leinster.

      3. Joey Carberry wasn’t scouted abroad, he attended secondary school in Ireland and came through the Leinster academy. Schulte was scouted abroad and is SQ but he only has a partnership contract essentially mid-way between an academy contract and a full pro contrat.

    1. We have an abundance of good 13s so thats unnecessary imo. Horne is a good utility back so could cover 15 in an emergency. Indeed, he was a 15 at school boy level. However both Glasgow and Scotland are very short of depth at 10. Horne is a great playmaker so for me he either plays 10 or “a secondary 10” at inside centre; i.e. his current positions now. The guy has made a couple of high profile gaffes at international level but I still have faith in him to be an able enough deputy for Finn.

  10. I still don’t know about Rory Clegg, he has looked a solid 10 but nothing special so far, if we are being honest we need to find someone on par with Finn (potentially a younger Finn).

  11. Interested in any thoughts about Josh Henderson at 10. Saw him play for Hawks and Glasgow A early in the season and thought he looked very promising.

    1. Why have we not signed this guy on a development contract, these are the opportunities that we are missing by become friends with our ebonies!! If you could have one chance to go back and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but the May never take our FREEDOM!!

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion