IT might not have been quite the same sort of party atmosphere as downtown Buenos Aires, but Glasgow Warriors’ Argentinean contingent of Sebastian Cancelliere, Domingo Miotti, Enrique Pieretto and Lucio Sordoni, along with their countryman based at the other end of the M8, Emiliano Boffelli, and Celtic footballer Alexandro Bernabei, were determined to celebrate Sunday’s dramatic football World Cup triumph in style, so they braved the winter conditions to hit George Square’s Christmas market.
Come Monday morning, the players were still bouncing off the walls at seeing their country end a 36-year wait for glory, but according to Warriors assistant coach Pete Horne, focus had already moved back to rugby responsibilities, and particularly this coming Friday night’s match which will see Boffelli line-up against his Warriors chums at Scotstoun in the first leg of this festive season’s 1872 Cup double-header.
“We really should have given then the rest of the season off,” joked Horne, when asked if a rare lie-in had been granted. “But all four of them were in today with their Argentina football strips on. It was class. We all celebrated it in the team meeting this morning, and they are buzzing, of course.
“Someone said: ‘Do you think they had a couple of beers?’ And I said: ‘Imagine Scotland had won the World Cup, what would we be like?’
“But these Argie boys are salt of the earth, they are such good lads and model professionals, so they were in this morning and ready to go. Everything was on point.
“They were buzzing, and every time somebody came in and said something to them about the win, you could hear them get their wee chant going.”
Friday’s clash will see Warriors back in action one home appearance since hammering Benetton 37-0 in the United Rugby Championship at the end of October, and Horne was publish about his team’s prospects of a derby day success for team coming off three wins away from Scotstoun on the bounce.
“It is great that it’s the Friday before Christmas,” said the 33-year-old, who hung up his boots just over a year ago. “Those were always the ones that I loved because you’d get all the hype and if you play class then you can totally enjoy Christmas.”
The most recent of those consecutive away successes was against Perpignan in the Challenge Cup last Friday night, played in front of a crowd of less than 700 following a switch of venue away from frozen Scotstoun to Murrayfield. Horne admits that the performance fell well short of the level he expects of the team but draws confidence from how the players made sure that they got what they needed out of the game.
“I think the crowd and atmosphere on Friday night did affect the players more than they’d like to admit,” Horne added. “It was so flat, a smaller crowd than you’d get at some schools under-16s game, and when things don’t go your way that’s when the crowd can sometimes get behind you and give you a wee boost, so I think we did miss that.
“I oversee ball-carry and breakdown stuff, and when we talked about breakdown before the match, I put up the Mr Messy picture because that’s all they want to do – they are not amazing at jackaling, they are not amazing at holding the tackler up, but there are just bodies everywhere, and they did it really well.
“So, I was gutted after the game because everything we talked about they did, and we coughed up so many balls at the base or were blasted off the ball.
“But it was a good lesson for us and this week will be another good challenge in that area because Edinburgh are brilliant at that stuff with Jamie Ritchie and Luke Crosbie, who is on fire at the moment.
“And it was great that we showed a bit of resilience against Perpignan,” he added. “The last couple of seasons we’d have taken our foot off their throat and ended up losing, so it wasn’t pretty, but we showed that we’ve got a bit about us to manage to get over the line.
“Now we are in almost the ideal situation because we can fire a few shots in training at the start of the week, which sharpens everyone up a bit. Whereas if we’d hosed them by 50 then a bit of complacency might have sneaked in. We’re in a good place, I think.”
Meanwhile, Horne expressed sympathy veteran back-row Ryan Wilson, who will be out of action for “a number of months” due to a knee injury suffered against Bath two weekends ago according to a medical bulletin issued on Monday afternoon, and backed his old pal to bounce back from the disappointment.
“He was gutted, and it is a measure of the man the way he responded after the game at Bath,” said Horne. “He put on a brave face and smiled. We had a hug after the game and I could see he was close to tears because he was really, really upset, but he said: ‘Don’t set me off’. Then he went into the changing room, led the song and got everyone going.
“You would never have known how he was feeling under the surface. But he’ll be back. It is just a couple of months then we’ll get him back in and get him going again. He’s just such a good boy to have around the place
“The good thing is that it’s his knee, so a mechanism injury. Whereas I was tearing calf, hamstring, calf – three in a row – so it was like my body was telling me that it’s time to call it quits. At least for him, it’s not like he’s breaking down.
“It will be tough for him because pre-season was really brutal and at 33 he had to really hang in there then he came out the other side as fit as a flea. It showed his resilience, but he’ll be gutted that once he gets back from this then he’ll have to go through that again to get reconditioned, but he’ll be fine.
The update also confirmed that prop Zander Fagerson is expected to be out until February with a hamstring injury, meaning he is likely to miss at least the first two rounds of next year’s Six Nations against England and Wales.