SCOTTISH rugby’s main hopes for club success this year are centred on Glasgow Warriors, and The Rucker is delighted to pass on his latest exclusive piece of gossip, namely that the Scottish Rugby Union have been speaking to some of Glasgow’s football clubs about possibly hosting the quarter-finals or semis of the Champions Cup should Warriors make those stages.
Overconfidence? No, just shrewd business planning because if Warriors do progress in the competition there will be huge demand to see their matches which Scotstoun would not be able to handle.
It is therefore instructive to look at the huge task facing Warriors as they try to secure a quarter-final place and a home tie berth, which will almost certainly mean having to beat Leicester Tigers at Welford Road a week on Saturday. First up, however, Warriors must beat Munster in Glasgow on Saturday and prevent them gaining a bonus point, or that home tie prospect disappears. No matter what happens in the Warriors v Munster match at Scotstoun, there can be little doubt that the Irish side have been the team of the season so far, for reasons that have been about emotion and tragedy as much as rugby.
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To come back from the loss of head coach and club legend Anthony Foley, who died suddenly in Paris on October 16aged just 42, has been an extraordinary achievement by Munster.
It would have knocked the stuffing out of lesser squads, but in a way Foley’s death seems to have spurred Munster on to greater heights.
Look at the facts: in their competitive season they have lost just three matches, shocked by Cardiff Blues back in early September when beaten by the odd point in 47, and going down 14-25 to Leinster in Dublin on Saturday, October 8, the week before Foley died.
Since then Munster have not looked back.
They have won all but one of their matches in the European Champions Cup and Guinness Pro-12, the exception being the narrow 16-18 loss to Leicester Tigers just before Christmas, the last-gasp loss to an Owen Williams penalty almost inexplicable after they had roundly thumped the English side 38-0 at Thomond Park the week before.
To cap it all, Munster brilliantly defeated a Maori All Black side in Limerick, the visitors from New Zealand going on to hammer Harlequins in their next match.
At times Munster have been imperious, but mostly they have simply gone out and battled their way to victory.
They have beaten Glasgow twice already this season and clawed their way back to second place in the Guiness Pro-12 with a game in hand on leaders Ospreys. But it is the Champions Cup they want and Warriors stand in their way.
All rugby people mourn the passing of Foley, but for their own good, Warriors must set aside all emotions of whatever kind and be disciplined and clinical on Saturday.
Above all, they must win.