With both clubs still sore from this weekend’s European defeats, the clouds seem determined to linger over Central Scotland. Just when Glasgow fans thought things couldn’t get much worse than a 42-point roasting from Exeter, the next bombshell had hit.
The rumours of Adam Hastings moving to Gloucester at the end of the season were true. In fact, the Scotland stand-off – still recovering from a double dislocation of his shoulder against Wales – may not reappear in a Warriors jersey given that their last scheduled fixture falls on January 24th 2021.
“What Adam said to me and what he said in public is very much aligned, which is he wanted to play in the Premiership. Glasgow and Scottish Rugby worked hard to get Adam to stay, in terms of trying to make a good offer for Adam, and I believe that was done.
“He has developed really well and become a really good player and done well on the international stage and when that happens clubs will come looking. It is an opportunity he deemed too good to turn down, so he has made that decision.”
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but this will leave Glasgow short of another Scottish internationalist in a key position. One which Wilson has been looking to fill for some time.
“At the end of last year that was one of the three players we were looking to bring in once the finances got cut. At the end of the season we wanted to bring another ten to go with Hasto and Brandon and Horne. Horne is a twelve playing ten. The target was another ten then and the target is to do that now. There is a fair bit of work to be done around ten and hopefully we can confirm something around that sometime soon.”
Wilson confirmed that interest in Munster’s Scottish qualified fly-half Ben Heatly had not progressed any, but that nationality would not be a primary factor in negotiations.
“There’s the opportunity to sign non-Scottish-qualified. The obvious aim for all of us, and part of my role, is to make sure that we bring through Scottish-qualified players to add to the talent pool and to the depth that Scotland needs to create.
“But it’s a Catch-22, isn’t it? If you fill your squad with Scottish internationals, that’s brilliant for the big picture, which we all want to support, but it’s also very, very tough for Glasgow during those periods as we’re seeing right now.
“That’s the next stage for me. We’ve got to get that bit right. Leinsters, Ulsters, Munsters – yes, they’ve got great academy systems and great depth of Irish internationals, but they’ve also got sprinklings of real quality foreign signings that help the younger players coming through and help when the internationals are away.”
Edinburgh may have put up a sterner fight in their European loss, but the gossip wasn’t all around Glasgow, Hastings and Gloucester.
Duhan van der Merwe, the titanic, Teutonic, totemic blunderbuss has been linked with a move to Worcester Warriors, only a few short weeks after his first televised burst of “Flower of Scotland”. Unsurprisingly, Richard Cockerill doesn’t want him – or a few certain others – going anywhere.
“Like all our players who are out of contract and we want to keep, we are having discussions and we don’t really comment on speculation.
“There is going to be lots of guys interested in certain players because they are very good players, so at this point there is nothing to report other than we want to keep our best players and we’re doing everything we can to achieve that.”
“Our thoughts are around keeping all our players. We’re working with the Union and that narrative changes on a weekly basis around [the return of] potential crowds. Can we get half-crowds into Six Nations, potentially? We don’t know yet.
“It’s a bit of a moveable feast at the moment around what’s happening, so you’ve got to be a little bit flexible and a little bit patient. We’re working with all the players as best we can to try to keep the squad together and keep our best players in Scotland.
“We want to be competitive as an Edinburgh team. Guys want to play for their country and this is a good place to be to play for Scotland. We’re all here to compete but there is only one team that can win a trophy each year in the Pro14 so there are always going to be 13 who will be disappointed.
“We’re not going to be a team who buys 30 superstars and wins the trophy in 12 months’ time. We’ve got to build our squad and keep it together. That may be difficult at times because all teams, you are always vulnerable to others trying to recruit your players. That’s the nature of the business.
“We’ve recruited well, we’ve managed to keep our squad together and as we saw on Saturday against a very good side when we’ve got players available and we are all fit and healthy we are more than capable of competing.”
Although both sides have struggled desperately at the start of this season, both head coaches saw no need to go full panic mode yet.
“It’s what you make of it, isn’t it?” Cockerill answered when asked about despondency seeping in to Scottish fans.
“Scotland lost a couple of tough games against good opposition, before that it was five on the bounce and everyone was telling us how good our strength in depth was, so it is how you want to play the narrative.
“We’ve not started as well as we’d like in the league as an Edinburgh team, however we’ve had 13 or 14 guys playing I the international team. If you look at the English Premiership, there is nobody losing 14 players to go and play Test matches.
“There’s a lot to be positive around Scottish rugby. We just have to keep doing what we’re doing and trying to get better.”
His West coast counterpart, who if we had to compare has been dealt the hand you’d be more likely to fold with, isn’t ready to toss his cards away just yet.
“The whole season has elements of frustration for a whole host of reasons. From covid, budget, injuries, international release. All I can do is keep standing up and going again, standing up and going again. It is tough and in tough times you see the true character of people. We want to keep fighting despite the frustrations and difficulties.
We’ve a period now with this group of about 6 weeks before they all disappear again for Six Nations. It is – and I’m sorry to repeat myself, – a very, very, strange and different season. But there’s no way we accept losing games. I can assure you it’s an extremely hurt group of players.”