Finlay Morrison has been a fan of Glasgow Rugby since the late 1990’s. He’s 29 years old and previously played rugby for West of Scotland and Leeds Metropolitan Univeristy before being injured in 2004. He has been covering the RaboDirect PRO12 and Heineken Cup for STV Sport in Scotland for the past year and have had many adventures to far away places to write about the game he loves.
It’s been a busy summer here in Glasgow with the Warriors finally making their long-awaited move across the city to the purpose-built Scotstoun stadium in the West End.
The council-owned athletics venue is now the full-time base for Scotland’s number one Professional Rugby team and the bulk of the squad arrived back for a tough pre-season under the watchful eye of new coach Gregor Townsend at the end of June.
After narrowly losing out to Leinster in last term’s RaboDirect PRO12 Play-Off, the Warriors have been focussing on adding more spark to their attack to compliment their stubborn defence. Townsend’s emphasis is on the speed of the breakdown and making sure that the ball is recycled in four seconds or less.
With that in mind, latest signing Nikola Matawalu from Fiji will provide the necessary injection of pace and spontaneity that was sometimes lacking last season as the team ground out wins and draws around Europe with heavy emphasis on a kick and chase tactic.
The Warrior Nation should be excited however, as new coach Townsend seems to be planning a new counter-attacking game plan as three of the new signings have 7s experience. Alongside Matawalu, the Warriors have signed 7s specialists Byron McGuigan and Canadian winger Taylor Paris to add to the new signings in the pack which feature former All Blacks back-rower Angus Macdonald, Tongan number 8 Viliami Ma’afu and second row Tim Swinson from Newcastle Falcons.
There’s also been plenty of good news off the training field as the Warriors have now sold over 1,300 season tickets for the new season which is a phenomenal amount considering that the average match day attendance just three years ago was a similar figure.
This is a big year for Glasgow Warriors as there’s been inconsistency for a while now in terms of results and finishing positions; a blip in season 2010/11 when the squad were plagued by injuries was sandwiched between two Play-Off appearances.
Expectation levels have risen now, no doubt due to main rivals Edinburgh’s achievements in the Heineken cup, and it is now expected rather than hoped that Glasgow will make the RaboDirect PRO12 Play-Offs as well as the quarter finals of a European competition.
The new home at Scotstoun has a capacity of just over 5,000 seats along with additional standing room behind the posts on the running track, reminiscent of the set-up at former home Hughenden.
There are also plans to erect the two additional stands behind the goals on four occasions throughout the season – one of those being the Emirates 7s in May and the other three occasion’s likely being around Christmas when Rounds three and four of the Heineken Cup are played and Edinburgh also visit on the weekend of Dec 21st for the first leg of the 1872 cup.
After a few inconsistent seasons, now is the year for the Warriors to step up and become a big player on the European stage. Currently ranked outside the top 10 clubs, Gregor Townsend’s focus for this season is making sure Glasgow become the first Scottish club to lift major silverware and that process begins on August 31st at Ravenhill.
My all-time favourite rugby moment came in March 2010 at Croke Park in Dublin. Scotland had not won a match in the 2010 Six Nations and faced an Ireland side chasing a Triple Crown.
The match was evenly poised into the last 10 mins when Dan Parks slotted a penalty to give Scotland their first victory on 2010 and also first win in Dublin in over 20 years. A magical night ensued after the last ever rugby match played at the historic stadium.
Best addition to Glasgow Warriors: Angus MacDonald/Nikola Matawalu
Opening Day prediction: narrow win over Ulster
Season prediction: RaboDirect PRO12 finalists
Top points scorer: Duncan Weir
Top Try scorer: DTH Van Der Merve
Who’s going to win the RaboDirect PRO12: Glasgow/Leinster