Celtic Rugby’s tournament director David Jordan gives his view on a truly outstanding start to the new season.
“What a start to the new season! I was in Glasgow on Friday night to see the Warriors battle back to beat the Grand Final runners-up Leinster and then went to Italy to see Benetton Treviso’s debut against the Scarlets.
“There was a carnival atmosphere in Treviso with the whole town full of posters and banners welcoming their introduction to the Magners League. You really got a feeling that they were stepping into the big time.
“There was a crowd of 5,000 at the ground – almost double what there had been at Firhill Stadium the night before – and they certainly got good value for their money. After a very nervous start, in which they fell 22-9 in arrears, they recovered magnificently after a half-time dressing down from coach Franco Smith.
“They scored 25 points in the second half and were full value for their victory in the end. It was a dream start for the Italian champions, who now move on to face Grand Final winners the Ospreys in Swansea this weekend.
“If anyone felt the Italian challenge wasn’t going to be strong enough to make an impact in the Magners League then this result proved otherwise. And don’t forget that Aironi Rugby were drawing 11-11 at half-time in Munster in their opening fixture before going down 33-17.
“I found there was a huge desire among both the players and fans to be a part of the Magners League and on this evidence there are going to be no easy games against either of the Italian teams.
“It was interesting to see that all the home teams won on the opening weekend and that both the 2010 Grand Finalists, the Ospreys and Leinster, were beaten.
“In Round 2 we expect to welcome our five-millionth fan through the turnstiles for another great weekend of Magners League action. Can Aironi follow up Benetton’s example and beat Ulster at Stadio Zaffanella on Saturday?
“Watch this space!”