Glasgow Warriors head coach Danny Wilson feels that the extra training time he’s had with a full squad should stand in his team in good stead as he looked forward to the guaranteed block of three Rainbow Cup matches, on the day it was announced he had also expanded his coaching group.
Former Edinburgh and Scotland international loosehead Alasdair Dickinson will join the Warriors in the summer as a scrum coach in the summer, after a spell with current Gallagher Premiership leaders Bristol Bulls.
“I’m really excited and pleased with that recruitment. Al’s somebody I did a little bit of work with for the World Cup in terms of the specialist work around looseheads, and I was impressed with his scrum knowledge and his scrum ability. His playing background speaks for itself – he’s a proud Scotsman and he’ll add passion. To get him back from a Premiership giant, the Premiership leaders, is really pleasing.
“Pat [Lam] has been extremely positive. I’ve spoken to Pat a fair bit about Al and it was all done very amicably, which is good.”
Having retired from playing after a string of injuries, Dickinson will now be giving orders to the likes of former Edinburgh teammate Simon Berghan – also joining the Warriors in the summer – and Zander Fagerson, who was starting to break into the national side when Dickinson’s career was starting to wind down.
“In that area as a scrum coach, a very technical and detailed area, I think that his knowledge of recently playing and playing with those boys will be a real plus.
“He commands respect because remember he was a senior player when those guys would have been slightly younger in their careers. We’ve seen many examples of that the world over, senior players going into coaching roles. I think if that coaching role is too big a role too early, that can not always work, but I think in this example it’s perfect.
“It’s a very specific area of the game and he’s a very knowledgeable ex-pro who’s gone to Bristol and done a good job, and that’s another big step coaching in an environment with full-time, top end pros. That in itself will have been a great experience which will add to us.”
The short-term arrangements for the competition are still to be decided due to the South African sides being unable to travel, but after being without large chunks of his squad throughout this bizarre season, Wilson is viewing the Rainbow Cup as something of a fresh start.
“If we look at the player base at the moment, ours has increased by about 14 international players. We have a period with those boys in the building.
“When the boys are back you think: ‘Great, they’re back in the building’, and they make a huge difference because of the standard of player, but going into Montpellier for example, we got them on Monday, for playing on Friday. You have one main day’s training – you still pick them, they’re the best players and you’re playing against good sides so you want them out there – but they’re not quite as gelled as you’d want them to be, they’re not quite on the same page, so going into this period it will allow us to do that.
“At the start of the season we’ve had them for that pre-season window with Edinburgh, then we played Connacht and Scarlets. One of our best performances was Scarlets, we blew them away and it was a good strong Scarlets team. We’d had them for four weeks which gave us the chance to do that.
“We’ve got that same opportunity now, started with Montpellier, now we’ve got Treviso rolling into two derbies. It’s a bit more broken, we kind of go game; game; no game; two games and so on, but I’m over the moon we’ve got them for this period and it’s that first chance of a pre-season where you get 5-6 weeks together to get on the same page.”
After Treviso will come a double-header with Edinburgh, the first part of which being an 1872 Cup decider. Knowing the value that supporters will place on it, and the confidence that a bit of silverware will bring, Wilson has confirmed he will give the bigger boys a run-out in those games despite what knowing when the next block of games will arrive.
“Lots of people asked if I would be playing the youngsters through the competition. We’ve been playing the younger guys, or a combination, throughout this season, so now is an opportunity to play those combinations and for me to learn a lot more about them, and to play our better players.
“Having said that, it’s still about keeping the momentum going that some of those younger guys have gained – the likes of Ross and so on. So there’s a little bit of both there, but I certainly won’t be going into this competition like some people may go into this, as a development tool.
“You can’t plan quite as far ahead as you probably would but if I’m brutally honest you can make plans for 4-5 weeks’ time but they’ll change dramatically because of injuries, concussion, changes in people’s form.
“In the short term there is still some silverware up for grabs. I know the 1872 Cup is only between two clubs, but there’s the pride of winning that. Glasgow have only won it once in the last six years, and we’ve spoken about not having won it enough. Getting a win at home to win that would be great for us, and a step in the right direction.
“The derbies are always the biggest games of the season in terms of club games. We’ve had a lot of derbies, but this one has got a lot riding on it.”