Dave Rennie predicts bright future for Glasgow Warriors

Australia-bound head coach highlights three youngsters who can lead the way as Warriors look to kick-on next season under Danny Wilson

Glasgow Warriors had a disappointing 2019-20 campaign before lockdown, but Rennie believes that the club still has the capacity to become a top contender in Europe. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson
Glasgow Warriors had a disappointing 2019-20 campaign before lockdown, but Rennie believes that the club still has the capacity to become a top contender in Europe. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson

DAVE RENNIE’S last words as Glasgow Warriors’ head coach have been directed towards those who fear that the club will never be able to consistently challenge against the top teams in Europe due to too many star names being lured away by big money deals in France and England.

There is anxiety that during Rennie’s three years at the helm, the team’s fortunes have plateaued. They lost heavily to Scarlets at the semi-final stage of the PRO14 play-offs and ended up bottom of their Champions Cup pool in his first year, then reached the final of the PRO14 before losing to Leinster and were beaten by Saracens in the quarter-finals of Europe in his second year, and they were third in their PRO14 conference and were once again knocked out of Europe at the end of the pool stage when lockdown hit the current campaign.

Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg have been the most notable departures during this period, while Jonny Gray heads off to Exeter Chiefs this summer. This would leave a big hole in any rugby squad, but Rennie insists that it is possible for Warriors to become more competitive despite this through a combination of developing fresh homegrown talent and some sharp-shooting in the recruitment market.


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“I think we’ve now got a pack that can compete, and that’s crucial in Europe,” he stated. “You’ve got to be able to scrummage, because the big teams scrum penalties. They put you in a corner, they maul and so on, and they’re good at hiding the ball, so you’ve got to have a good set-piece. And then you have to have the ability to hurt teams when you get your opportunities.

“I think there’s certainly enough X factor in our group, but there’s a lot of steel now, too. We’ve got to keep building on that and keep developing good young kids.”

“It will [also] need some investment, with other players coming in,” he continued. “Players like Callum Gibbins, for example, who had a massive positive influence on this group. Just very, very professional, a high-quality player, great example to our young men and an excellent role model.

Rennie highlighted Adam Hastings, Scott Cummings and Zander Fagerson as three home-grown players who can provide the backbone of the Glasgow team as they look to kick-on under Danny Wilson.

“I think Adam’s going to be an excellent international player,” he said. “He’s young and he’s still a little green but he’s really competitive and fit, and is really working hard on developing his skills. He’s got a great work ethic. It takes time and ideally a lot of these guys, if they’re not learning at the international level, they’re established by the time they get there.

“And maybe Scott Cummings becomes the new Johnny Gray. I think Scott has the potential to be a phenomenal international player. He’s a real point of difference with the second-rows over here, he’s a great athlete, and deceptively quick. He’s really developed an edge to his play around the physicality. He’s a very smart man, very good line-out caller, very composed.

“Scotty’s far from the finished article but he’s got a massive upside and we’ve seen his emergence at the World Cup and afterwards, and that’s exciting from a Glasgow and Scottish perspective.

“Someone like Zander Fagerson would be on the radar for a big club somewhere in the near future. He’s a phenomenal player. He’s only young but his scrummaging has come a long way, he’s got a big engine, a massive work-rate and his brutality is first-rate around the contact area.

“He’s got a really good skill set and I think he’s just going to get better and better. Maybe he’s the next challenge to try and keep in Glasgow and Scotland.”

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George Horne, Kyle Steyn, Matt Fagerson, Tom Gordon, Stafford McDowall and Bruce Flockhart were also name-checked by Rennie, and he had praise for one of the players at the other end of the age spectrum as well.

“One of the guys who’s impressed me massively here has been Rob Harley,” he said. “I reckon he’s a better athlete now than he was three years ago, he’s put a lot of emphasis on his agility and speed, he’s worked really hard on his skill set, and that’s the reason Rob plays every week.”

It all sounds very positive, but the lack of activity on the recruitment front so far this year is a cause for concern. As well as Gray, several other senior players have moved on or hung up the boots, including Gibbins, Tim Swinson, Ruaridh Jackson and DTH van Der Merwe.

Rennie indicated that there will be some good news emerging from Scotstoun on that front once Wilson gets his feet under the desk tomorrow [Monday] morning.

“I guess with this Covid-19 situation they’ve not been in a position to make any announcements, but a lot of work has been going into recruitment and retention, and Danny and the other coaches have been meeting over the last couple of months to ensure that there’s a strong squad going forward,” he said. “I know there’s some announcements to come but I’m not in a position to say what that is.”


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David Barnes
About David Barnes 1860 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

5 Comments

  1. I can only say I wish Dave Rennie well. Whether it was due to the SRU not providing funds or his belief in the existing crop of players, he’s left Warriors in a significantly worse state than he found them. Danny Wilson has a big job on his hands…I wish him well now too. I will hope to be proven entirely wrong and eat my hat publicly if he succeeds.

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    • I would say that is a questionable statement at best, it slightly overlooks progression in players and regression in others since the arrival of Rennie,

      Yes Finn, Gray and Hogg are high profile departures during his tenure but they can’t all be World Class (and never have been) and it is most likely the class World Class talent will depart teams who can’t offer top end budgets.

      A lot of players have made huge strides from where they were during Rennies tenure, the likes of Horne (G) Fagerson (M), Hastings, Stewart, Steyn and Cummings are far better and established players because of him and offer Glasgow things they didn’t have when Rennie arrived.

      As well as the emergence of those mentioned the likes of Johnson and Grigg filled the regression in Dunbar and Bennett and while not the same position etc a Seiuli and a Kebble has more than filled the void in the recruitment market left behind with the departure of Alainu’uese

      And while not solely him and his recruitment, more likely the SRU, the return of someone like Gray and retention (all being well) of Nakarawa is outstanding business for a Pro14 team – had they went to for instance Scarlets most Warriors would have looked with awe.

      Price, Fagerson (Z), Brown are now closer to genuine candidates for captaincy than they were when he arrived etc and so on.

      A new coach will also have talent like Dobbie, Gordon and a few more Scottish kids to come shortly to work with as well as a few recruits of their own.

      Looking back to where the squad was at his arrival. significantly worse is quite an overstated comment.

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  2. So sorry to see Dave Rennie go! Nice guy & great coach. Looking forward to announcement of new players.

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