1872 Cup: Rob Harley wants Scotstoun crowd to make the difference

Glasgow are at home in opening game of series for first time in five years

Rob Harley
Rob Harley wants to use his experience to help guide his Glasgow team-mates to success in the 1872 Cup. Image: © Craig Watson. www.craigwatson.co.uk

SATURDAY’s match between Glasgow and Edinburgh will be the first time in five years that the opening fixture in the 1872 Cup has been played at Scotstoun – a factor which Rob Harley believes will benefit his team. 

The Warriors’ record on their own ground may be unimpressive so far this season, and they have lost their last two home games, to Leinster in the PRO14 and to La Rochelle in the Champions Cup. But playing against Edinburgh is a different matter at Scotstoun: the crowd is more vocal, the personal rivalry is greater, and the primordial urge to defend one’s own territory is felt all the more strongly. And certainly, Harley is confident that those circumstances could be enough to help the Warriors get back to playing at or close to their best – and get the better of Edinburgh into the bargain. 

“I think it does make a difference – you want to get out in front of the home fans and have that edge behind us,” he said. “Hopefully that sets us up for a win this week.

“We recognise that we haven’t played to our potential this year. But there’s not a panic, because we know we have the ability in the squad and we are creating chances. It’s little fixes and hopefully we have the potential to go on a run of games. It’s just about getting into that place and hopefully sometime soon we will.

“It does mean a bit more when it’s Glasgow v Edinburgh. The win tastes a little bit sweeter, the loss hurts a little bit more. And as well as that it’s around Christmas time, so you’re going back home to your family and you want to be going back in a good mood coming off a win rather than sulking because you’ve lost. For the rivalry and the time of year, it’s got that importance.”

Harley has been a Glasgow player for a decade now, and as the longest-serving member of the squad can recall a time when his team were struggling in the lower reaches of what was then a 12-team league. In 2010-11, for example, the Warriors finished 11th, ahead only of the now defunct Italian team Aironi. The following season it was Edinburgh’s turn to finish second bottom, but in more recent years both teams have enjoyed more impressive form.

“I think down the years we played, one team was usually playing well while the other would be lower down the table,” Harley continued. “I think, last few seasons, both teams are always pushing to be in the play-offs and push through in the European tournaments. I think that’s good for Scottish rugby, there’s a quality there that adds a bit to the rivalry.”

That having been said, there have been times when the 1872 Cup has been less about quality, and more about the sheer, visceral desire to win. The match at Firhill at the end of 2010, won 30-18 by Glasgow, was a case in point: remembered by many for the sending-off of the Warriors’ Chris Fusaro and Edinburgh’s Scott MacLeod after they traded blows late in the game, it is recalled by Harley as an example of the need to be unrelentingly physical.

“I was involved in the game when Chris was sent off – I think that emphasised the physicality of the game, it’s often won by the team that’s willing to be really aggressive and brutal in the clearout. I think you’ve seen that in the last few years, you win the contact area and the collisions in midfield. If you do that and get faster ball, it goes a long way towards winning.”

About Stuart Bathgate 1412 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.