1872 Cup: Rennie relishes return of Warriors’ fighting spirit

Dave Rennie (left) and Richard Cockerill share a lighter moment as they and their players are forced to leave the stadium after a fire alarm. Image: ©Fotosport/David Gibson.

DAVE Rennie never gets carried away even after spectacular victories, so it was no surprise that he kept his feet firmly on the ground after his team’s 17-0 win over Edinburgh. But the Glasgow Warriors coach was quietly satisfied with the attitude shown by his team, especially when contrasted to their display a week earlier in losing at Murrayfield, and was particularly pleased with the solid, workmanlike way in which his players secured the four points.

“It wasn’t about being flash tonight,” the New Zealander said. “We wanted to earn a little respect back, we wanted to see some resolve, and I think we did that. I thought we did a real good job up front, set piece, played the game at the right end of the field, then clicked the points on to add a bit of pressure, forcing them to play from a long way out.

“There were a lot more positives, mostly about attitude. Mostly we talked about how the conditions were going to be really difficult. We expected a lot of rain and a lot of wind, so I’m happy with the attitude. Sometimes you just have to come out with a result, and it’s not often you play a game where the opposition end up with zero, so I’m happy with our defensive effort. I thought we were a lot better tonight and got the rewards.”

There was a strong wind and some heavy rain until not long before the game, and as Rennie suggested, those conditions affected the thinking of both teams. “We won the toss and decided to play into the breeze, which we thought was going to be a hell of a lot stronger than it was,” he explained. “The idea was to get a bit of ball in our hands and get our game going and get a bit of confidence from that – come home with a wet sail, type of thing.

“For about five minutes were were a little bit manic, taking quick throw-ins and that type of thing. But once we were up 9-0 the pressure was on Edinburgh: they were the ones who had to chase the game, and I thought we controlled the last 12/15 minutes pretty well.”

While the squads were prepared for the conditions, the one thing they could not have foreseen was the fire alarm and the evacuation of the stadium which began just before half-time. A sensible decision was made by the match officials with the agreement of both teams to chalk off the remaining two minutes before the break and restart the match with the kick-off for the second half. The fact that Glasgow were due to take that kick-off helped them focus throughout the half-hour delay.

“We knew it was going to be our kick-off and just going straight to half-time was the right thing to do,” Rennie explained. “We knew it was our kick with a slight breeze up our backside and the idea was to try and force a bit of pressure down there.”

The coach acknowledged that his team’s display had been well short of perfect, but the lasting impression that he took from the match was the commitment of his players. They are now 16 points clear of Munster at the top of PRO14 Conference A, and a full 30 points ahead of fourth-placed Cardiff. Both those teams have a game in hand, but it is obvious that the Warriors are heading for the play-offs. More immediately, there is Friday’s game against Zebre in Parma for Rennie to think about, and in that context he has to be encouraged by his players’ return to winning ways – and with their resumption of a far fiercer competitive spirit than they showed a week earlier.

“I thought we turned over quite a lot of pill today, but I thought it was better,” he added. “We got a bit of ball stripped, which was frustrating. We lost a little bit of pill from a couple of clean-outs which the referee didn’t like, which he felt gave us an advantage. But overall I thought the decision-making was better than it was the other day and we definitely showed more backbone.”


About Stuart Bathgate 1407 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.