Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Glasgow prepare for visit of Montpellier

Sam Johnson
Sam Johnson was one of a number of players who impressed - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

To quote the Cambridge News: insert generic Vern Cotter blurb here.

Scotland’s old coach comes to town with his new club Montpellier to face the new brand of taciturn Kiwi in residence at Scotstoun. It’s a “good buggers” head to head if you will.

Vern, we hear, has lightened up considerably since returning to the south of France and sleeping nightly atop a big pile of cash.

Surprising that.

In a race to see if he can become a Scotstoun favourite in time for Christmas, Huw Jones starts his first game for the Warriors alongside Sam Johnson. First choice half backs Finn Russell and Ali Price return from Scotland duty alongside Tommy Seymour who will be looking to try and turn his form around as we know he can. He’ll be without his usual sparring partner Stuart Hogg who is still recovering from the hip flexxor injury that kept him out of the Australia game but that’s no bad thing if you are the in-form Ruaridh Jackson.

Leonardo Sarto is also in fine fettle and he starts on the other wing. Given injuries it’s about the strongest backline Rennie could put together.

Up front Ryan Wilson resumes the captaincy from Calum Gibbins and now that he’s fit, big hitter Samuel Vunisa slots in at number 8. Jonny Gray, Jamie Bhatti and Zander Fagerson all had very positive autumns with Scotland and will be looking to continue that if Glasgow are to have any chance of some sort of useful European campaign.

The bench features a number of players ideally suited to put the boot into tired and lumbering forwards, with Pete Horne’s skills at controlling a game improving almost week on week while younger brother George and Niko Matawalu will bring the crazy late on. The pack replacements are perhaps not as strong as Rennie might like but at least he has enough fit hookers, which was an issue earlier in the week.

Any talk of concentrating on the PRO14 – where Glasgow remain unbeaten after Round 10 – is perhaps put to bed with this team. Lose at home and it might be a different story next week over in France, but for now Glasgow are still acting like they’re in it to win it.

Glasgow Warriors: Ruaridh Jackson, Leonardo Sarto, Huw Jones, Samuel Johnson, Tommy Seymour, Finn Russell, Ali Price; Jamie Bhatti, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray, Ryan Wilson (c), Callum Gibbins, Samu Vunisa
Replacements: James Malcolm, Alex Allan, Siosiua Halanukonuka, Kiran McDonald, Matt Smith, George Horne, Peter Horne, Niko Matawalu

Montpellier: Jesse Mogg, Benjamin Fall, Frans Steyn, Jan Serfontein, Nemani Nadolo, Aaron Cruden, Enzo Sanga; Mikheil Nariashvili, Bismarck Du Plessis, Johannes Jonker, Nicholaas Van Rensburg, Jacques Du Plessis, Kelian Galletier, Julien Bardy, Louis Picamoles (c)
Replacements: Romain Ruffenach, Grégory Fichten, Mohamed Haouas, Konstantine Mikautadze, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Benoit Paillaugue, Gabriel N’gandebe, Henry Immelman

Coverage on Sky Sports, kick off: 19:45

Referee: Matthew Carley (England)

56 Responses

  1. Good to see G Horne on the bench for a big game over Pyrgos (assuming not injury related). Shows attacking intent for 80 minutes and the back subs should have decent impact. Maybe a little too much to expect Hastings over Horne at the moment for this sort of game.
    Forwards will have to play very well to compete, but if they manage to maintain parity it should be a cracker.

  2. Looking forward to seeing Huw Jones in action. I think he should slot in fine given he has played with pretty much everyone around him for Scotland. All in all a decent team. Vern will have a pretty good idea of how we will play. Horne^2 and Matatwalu on the bench is quite a prospect if the game breaks up a bit later on.

  3. I watched Montpellier capitulate against Leinster 12 months ago and i’m hoping if Glasgow get a fast start we will see the same again.

    Huw Jones should make an instant impact. His running lines are incredibly dangerous and he can hopefully add the final bit of quality that was lacking against Exeter and Leinster to turn pressure into points.

    1. In both those games, Glasgow were bossed up front which meant they couldn’t settle and forced it almost from the off. Jonny Gray has come on leaps and bounds in terms of form since then so I’d argue it’s the pack needs to make the difference at the weekend or it wouldn’t matter with a backline of Joneses!

      1. I don’t know about that. Both games were fairly even through the first hour and an extra bit of quality to get over the try line in that time would have made a difference. Jones rather than Grigg is a massive upgrade will have a direct effect on the score board in most games.

        The biggest problem for Glasgow against Leinster was sheer stupidity. Russell asking Hogg to go for goal from 50 yards with no one talking them down and Harley completely unnecessarily taking out men beyond the ruck 5m from the line after half time. All the injuries also gave the large Leinster players – who already have a Sarriesesque combination of brawn and mysterious aerobic capacity -plenty of time to rest.

        Against Exeter there was really no way to halt their exploitation of the new breakdown law. Their form this season is remarkable and will surely lead to more teams copying their zero risk style. It’ll be interesting to see if Leinster can stop them trundling forwards.

  4. Biggest pack we could put out:

    Kebble 124kg
    Malcolm 109kg
    Fagerson 128kg
    Gray 125kg
    Big Brian 135kg
    Cummings 115kg
    Wilson 105kg
    Vunisa 120kg


    That’s what I would have done.

    1. In the loose this may work but think again in the scrums, some of the best props / hookers I’ve seen are short guys, a think that appears to be very overlooked nowadays!

    2. You certainly like fighting fire, with fire Scrummo. I’m not sure if putting the heaviest Glasgow pack possible together, would work though. That’s what they do in France and it leads to some dire rugby. We need to get enough ball to move these beasts around, and give our backs a chance, nothing more.

  5. No Dunbar is a surprise. Johnson has looked good but perceived fans wisdom I think would have expected Dunbar.

    Other than Fraser Brown and Hogg it looks full strength to me (excluding the new props who may or may not be better)

      1. He played last week and isn’t listed as injured.

        It was my immediate reaction too. Interesting

  6. On a separate note did anyone see Archie Russell playing in the varsity match on BBC? Outstanding and scored two tries, future Scotland prospect?

      1. A Russell at 10 and 12? That’s something to look forward to if the younger brother is anywhere near as good as Finn.

      2. Probably fairly unlikely now you would think, no? He’s what, 22/23 now and hasn’t ever had a pro contract (I’m not sure he’s looked for one to be fair, as he seems to be quite academically focused). Forwards sometimes still make it turning pro at that kind of age, but I’m not sure I can think of a back that has done so recently.

        As a comparison, Chris Dean (who isn’t really a standout so far) has over 50 pro caps and Scotland U20 and sevens experience by a similar age. Mark Bennett, who was a standout at that age had what, 15 Scotland caps, a World Cup and two Six Nations under his belt by then.

  7. Glasgows Achilles heel strikes again. Always going to be up against it when the opposition centres are bigger than 2/3 of our back row

      1. It was as dumb as Kepu’s the other week. Another frustrating match from Warriors. And Carley. His decisions have been pretty bad, but Glasgow have been their own worst enemies.

      2. I think the ref has been decisive but is not managing the tempo of the game well , he should be picking up on montpellier intentionally slowing the game down repeatedly.

        Turner… if that does not happen i think we win.

        Positive – the scrum , huge improvement.
        Sarto a beast.
        Line speed was very good , Particularly in the forwards where i thought we were 50/50
        Keeping Nandolo quiet (prices tackle on him reminds me of when Damien mckenzie got him)
        Things to work on.
        Skillset under extreme pressure, alot of dropped balls.
        Lineout was brutal can’t remember glasgow ever being that bad before (may be due to Cotter and co.
        Backs defense, yes we kept Nandolo quiet but Mogg , Sefortein and Steyn were having way to much space and breaking tackles

        I think it was hugely unlucky to lose Gibbins before the game started, Smith done ok but not the same impact.
        Also losing Sam Johnson 3 minutes in.

        Im excited to see what this side can do with Kebble, Brown , Gibbins , Dunbar (weird omission imo) and Hogg missing from that game, with those players back i think our Scrum gets alot more powerfull , our Breakdown work through Brown , Gibbins and Dunbar improves massively, and then Superstar Hogg with his 50 m+ boot and speed terrorising defenses.
        Also for the centre combinations to develop more.

        It’s a shame Russell is going and Gray might be as i genuinely think this full fit squad can be european favourites in the future.

      3. I think the ref had a decent game and the TMO advised a ‘minimum yellow card’ for Turner. The line speed was inconsistent rather than good.

  8. That was woeful from Glasgow tbh. Error after error and missed tackle after missed tackle. The steak and chicken orders through Warriors kitchen needs to be upped considerably.

  9. Though the ref was terrible, but Glasgow didn’t deserve to win anyway. Seems the football crowd was in tonight – no place for that in rugby.
    Handling errors were atrocious.
    Moment of madness from Turner and the line outs were a mess (especially with sub hooker).
    Seemed to kick possession away aimlessly far too often.

  10. Another sad European night, with a close but deserved defeat against a very large but uninspiring Montpellier. It certainly went downhill as soon as Turner was yellow carded. Nothing much to be said about that. He will learn, and he does look good in the loose, but that was the very definition of stupidity.
    The line-out was a complete car crash, but the scrum was mostly solid.
    Too many of the returning Scotland players looked jaded and lacking in energy to me.
    A big ‘well done’ to Ali Price on ‘winning’ his head to head tackle with Nadolo, and a kick in the ass to the Sky cameraman who kept doing close ups of several players while the game was still being played.
    The return match next week might be painful as well.

    1. That cameraman was awful , about a minute interviewing Hines while the game was in play, and a close up of seymour shaking his arse for about 10 secs at a kick off

    2. I think Nadolo will be pleased Finn Russell gave that back pass to Turner. He was never going to be agile enough to stop him. i suspect he is not too clever at holding his ground in the tackle.

  11. No question, the game was lost with the 2 yellow cards. Turner’s card entirely justified however Jonny Gray’s card was harsh – there was no deliberate attempt to pull the maul down. The penalty try was enough of a sanction and I doubt whether that was justified. One of the Refs many poor decisions. The handling error rate was much higher than usual but maybe just reflects good line speed from the opposition. The same was true for Montpellier – they had loads of handling errors.
    George Horne seemed slightly out of his depth and the error count increased when he came on. Shame because I normally rate him highly. The scrum held up well despite expectations that it would be under pressure. Indeed Glasgow’s defence of the rolling maul generally faired well – a traditional failing of all Scottish teams of the recent past.

    Russell had an off game and I think also swung it away from us.

    1. Falling down at the line and taking the maul with you is just too obvious….or maybe the Monties cleverly all fell over on purpose…

      If JG is going to look like a blatant cheat he may as well be one but do it well. Needs to get a Kieran Read “lowlights” reel.

      On another note, I’d like it to be a yellow card to harass the ref for a yellow card decision….du plessis

      Respectful question by the captain ok of course.

  12. Warriors came a poor second, the score is deceiving. Montpellier were better in key positions and Picamoles, Du Plessis and Cruden are huge names . Their forwards were blowing in the second half but with wind in our faces,20 minutes with 7 forwards and a very rusty replcement hooker at the line out , it was pushing water uphill. We were there for the humping not the humoring. A fitter side would have humiliated them tonight. Still a great side and a lot of rugby to be played.

  13. Without Hogg, Dunbar (whom if he wasn’t injured, DR must have been “told”) & Gibbins feared Glasgow would struggle.

    Still think it was funny to let Strauss leave

  14. Incredibly frustrating game to watch. Glasgow were well on top just before Turner’s moment of madness, and after that it was painful. Too many forced passes, simple handling errors and missed tackles. We saw “Bad Finn” tonight where he was trying to do too much although Montpellier forced him to play that way. I’m a big fan of George Horne but he looked a bit frantic when he came on although his passing from the base of the ruck is very good. Cully was a big miss, and Ruaridh Jackson had his worst game since returning from down south.

  15. How annoying. Turners moment of madness didn’t have to change the game and it nearly didn’t. After Sartos 2nd we were well in the game but too many mistakes and a woeful lineout ended our chances. Though Jonny Grays binning was a bit harsh it didn’t look to be deliberate, the penalty try was justified but is it an automatic yellow if there’s a penalty try? Thought the referee wasn’t great but his decisions went both ways so we can’t really complain.

    Was Jackson even playing? anonymous. Russell was a bit ropey and Jones made a few mistakes, he can really shift when he gets going though. To be fair Montpellier were piling the pressure on and forcing errors.

    A better lineout and less handling errors and it was ther for the taking, you can’t really expect to play quarter of the match a man down and still win though. Never mind all focus on the league now.

    1. While I think Glasgow lost themselves the game with those yellow cards, which resulted in them playing ‘catch up’ and Finn forcing things, I think they can feel aggrieved at some of the refereeing. Before Turner’s YC the penalty count was 1-7, without even a sniff of a warning of a YC for persistent infringement, and he incorrectly awarded a few line outs and scrums.

      Huw Jones was pretty disappointing, I thought he was largely anonymous and made a few mistakes. We really missed having Brown playing, too. I thought Sarto (my MotM, and a victim of Carley’s inconsistency as to what constitutes a completed tackle), Price, George Horne and Jonny Gray were good, and I can understand JG’s frustration at being awarded a penalty at one maul and then penalised for doing the exact same thing at the next maul. And what happened to the lineout?! I was pleasantly surprised to see the scrum looking good, though.

      I also think that Picamoles milking that ‘injury’ was pretty damn shameful. I hope he gets as much stick as people continue to give Hogg for that. All-in-all, it was a disappointing game, albeit one with some good moments in. It does feel like even if we win the Pro14, Warriors will still be seen as a ‘Tier 2’ side for failing in Europe. It’s a real shame Russell’s leaving – if he’d stayed I think next year’s ERCC would have been great.

      1. To be fair to Jones, the reason he was anonymous was that he wasn’t given anything good to work with. He did make a few mistakes, but no more than most of the rest and he did good work for Sarto’s second try.

        I was very surprised Picamoles didn’t get pinged for tripping Smith – completely unacceptable and the ref just seemed to laugh it off as nothing.

      2. Isn’t tripping a straight yellow card? Whenever I’ve seen it penalised before (e.g. Haskell in the 6Ns, McCaw against Argentina in the RWC), it’s been a yellow card. Like I said, the ref didn’t lose us the game, but he certainly influenced it in favour of one team over the other, and laughing off a YC offence as “six of one” is extremely unprofessional and a dereliction of duty.

  16. I suspect Dunbar was rested under SRU rotation policy.As for Strauss he was an incredibly expensive asset and on balance not enough value for money.Lets move on and in that theme I have to say Finn was playing for Racing last night so lets see Hastings.We need to look forward and be ruthless.

  17. Rennie’s comments after the game were interesting – said Glasgow were trying to go round them too early without punching through them first and forcing too many miracle offloads. So it seem his message isn’t quite getting through to the team as these are the same failings we’ve seen in previous rounds. I can see that when/if it clicks Glasgow could be superb but we need it to click soon if we are going to beat Leinster or Munster in the pro-14 play off rounds.

  18. It was a cold (and not very cheerful) night at Scotstoun. I don’t like the attitude to the referee which has become a feature there. If a side is penalised consistently its usually because they are infringing and that’s usually because they’re under p. That said, I was puzzled by Gray’s YC. The irony was we were just back to 15. A PT seemed more than sufficient sanction. I see a lot of rolling mauls appear to be pulled down time and again yet go unpunished or when the defending side is penalised, a pen is given. I appreciate the ref had to have certainty a try is being prevented and that must have been his view but again, felt YC was excessive. Having been at the game and not heard a playback, I’d like to know what the TMO said about the close range try which looked like a hold up. It felt like a turning point.
    At the start of the campaign I committed to take my son to the away game in Montpellier – the dead rubber tour. Any suggestions what team DR will put out and what is the opposite of stoked?

    1. For next week in Montpellier id like to see a team off.



      I picked this team partly due to rotation of players , a chance to give Horne and Hastings some high level experience and see how they do, with Price and Russell to manage the game better coming off the bench if needed.

      Brown if back from concussion needs games for fitness and i think it kind of sends a message to Turner and the rest of the Squad

      Nukonaka for fagerson , i think both are good enough to start and there game time should be managed.

      Brian for cummings is the same for me and the props

      Im not sure Jackson has the speed for Europe so give seymour a shot their.

      I also just want to see Sarto and Matawalu in.

      Dunbar with Jones just to bring that familiarity and more solidness to the backline while Jones gets used to the plays etc.

    2. Just so everyone is aware, a penalty try award mandates a yellow card. Yes it is harsh but it is deemed a professional foul – preventing a score illegally.
      As for some of the other refereeing decisions I would say on balance he was 50-50. Obviously he made some mistakes but cannot see his mistakes were all against Glasgow.

  19. Glasgow and Rennie really need to sort out the attitude of the players at Glasgow. They seem incapable or unwilling, to roll their sleeves up and get involved in an arm wrestle against the bully ‘big boy’ teams. They are big enough and ugly enough to do this, but appear disinclined to do so. I do support the high octane way they try to play, and I’m prepared for the high error count and the amount of knock-ons which go with playing that type of rugby. But unless they realise that they need to fight these big teams and drive up the middle before they can start the champagne rugby, then the Leinsters, Montpelliers and Munsters of the world will not take us seriously. They already think that we’re a soft touch if they decide to play a forward driving game. They’re right unfortunately. As soon as they start constantly trundling up with the big forwards. They believe that Glasgow will simply wilt under pressure.
    I love the way that Glasgow play the game, but they need to play ‘hard yards’ in the bad weather and when it’s so cold you can’t feel your fingers. Decision making process is seriously flawed at the moment.

  20. At the moment this feels like Townsend’s team with Rennie at the reins but not in control. Russell and possibly Gray leaving in the summer may be beneficial to the development of Glasgow as a team to go deep into European competitions.
    The former is not the finished article, mixing matches of individual brilliance with others when his risk taking doesn’t come off. At present Glasgow in big games are overly dependent on Russell performing, allowing astute opposition to slow or cut off his supply and options.
    The latter has not developed from the potential of a few years ago. His play has regressed and some way short of the expectations. He may be someone who needs to be at a club where higher performance levels are required.
    The Pro 14 is an enjoyable competition but has a high percentage of weaker teams. A team can be less than 100% and still win, as Rennie himself admits. Increasing the number of teams hasn’t produced an increase in quality. Innovative thinking needs to be done to to make the competition more competitive. The current conferences ensure too many games where the results can be predicted.

    1. This is the sort of p!sh you see from Celtic in wendyball – boo hoo our domestic game brings us down. Of course this doesn’t seem to stop Munster and Leinster winning in Europe.

      We need to stop wringing our hands about Europe – the money available to French and some English clubs is always going to make it an uneven playing field.

      As to your suggestion that J Gray and Russell need to move for Glasgow to progress is quite frankly ludicrous.

  21. Glasgow do beat Pro 14 sides such as Leinster,Ulster, Scarlets and Munster all of whom have gained credibility in Europe. It is just maturity,confidence and a history of taking a few more european scalps that is missing. I also suspect that the home advantage is muted due to capacity at Scotstoun. Its early days, lets use the Pro14 as a basis for building confidence.

    Looking forward , I am sure I heard a Sky commentator say ‘O’Shea sent Sarto home early’ (assume in the AI’s) and I never heard why ?. He was by far best man on the pitch , so it begs the question, could Italy be a tougher prospect this 6N?

    1. Thing is there is beating those teams in PRO14 and beating those teams at the business end of the PRO14. We’ve done it but in all honesty, would you put us as favourites against Leinster or Munster in a final? Think we are struggling to step up a level playing a new style where we seem to be misinterpreting the coaches demands.

  22. I watched some of Glasgow v Racing from last year this morning. The striking thing was how direct Glasgow were compared to Friday (and all season).Fraser Brown and Strauss carried a lot of ball. If you look at the stats from a Friday I would be astounded if any of our forwards carried more than 10 metres in the game. Vunisa was anonymous.

    I posted recently that perhaps Scotland didn’t need a ball carrying 8, so now contradicting myself by saying Glasgow massively miss a ball carrying 8.

    They are also a hooker short and have really missed Brown when he has been injured this season.

    They continue to win on pro14 I think but the team seems unbalanced to my amateur eyes. Core of a very good side but need some recruitment. I wouldn’t replace Russell but instead invest in a hooker and an 8.

  23. We don’t need to replace Russell as far as I’m concerned, we also don’t need a Hooker or a No.8 either, I think we need to be looking for a decent quality 15 for when Hogg is injured or on Scotland duty, if you actually look we don’t have another (specialist) 15, with the advent of Kinghorn coming through at Edinburgh I think we should be recruiting the likes of the U20s or even bringing Glenn Bryce back across from Edinburgh as we are currently very weak in this area.

    1. A full back doesn’t solve the inability of our forwards to carry effectively. It’s a cliche but don’t think we’ve been ‘earning the right to go wide’ this season.

      I don’t think Turner, Malcolm, McArthur are the answer in Europe at hooker.

      1. The only question Turner asks is when is he going to do his Scott Lawson brainfart impression in a game.

  24. A really disappointing campaign for Glasgow and a wee bit of a backwards step. Hopefully Rennie will have seen enough to formulate a masterplan for cracking the European nut. Although Glasgow’s pro14 campaign is looking strong, Leinster are once again showing the way – comfortable in their conference and sitting on 14 points to group mate glasgow’s one in Europe. For now it’s a bit of a gulf to bridge.

  25. Just on Glasgows european campaign, i dont think we should be to disheartened as this is our first year with a new coach who joined after pre-season and had a number of players join late such as debutant Huw jones.

    I also believe all of Leinster, Exeter and Montpellier would qualify in all the pools bar except possibly the one containing Saracens and Clermont; surely we were the pool of death. Leinster are now my favourites to win the cup with saracens poor performances. Exeter are English champions and are very rarely beaten at home. and montpellier are a star studded team even when they are not 100%.

    We also lost Sam Johnson 3 minutes in to a broken jaw and hamstring issue, so Horne came on who is a totally different type of player and between him and Finn they missed 4 tackles each so that clearly had a big effect on the game.

    Also to be missing Hogg and Brown is a huge loss despite the decent performances of Turner and Jackson to date, along with Kebble.

    Oh and lets not forget probaly our most influential player this season in Callum Gibbins dropping out just before the game.

    Taking all the into account i think Dave Rennie has done an amazing job, next season provided we retain our big names will be the year im confident we will qualify for the quarterfinals at least.

    We will be in a better seeding position for sure as while Townsend did get us to QF we also were way down in the Pro12 which meant we got put against alot harder teams.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion