YOU would have thought that after appearing in front of thousands at stadiums as far afield as Australia and Japan as well as the passionate crowd at Murrayfield, Ryan Wilson had long since conquered his nerves.
Yet, as he he prepared to sign for another two years in the Glasgow Warriors back row, the club’s co-captain admitted that last weekend was the most nerve-wracking experience he had ever had. He wasn’t talking about leading Glasgow out against Zebre last Friday – the eight-try win was routine enough – but 24 hours later when he picked up the microphone as lead singer in the club’s rock band hosting a charity gig for Glasgow’s Royal Hospital For Children.
“I was much more nervous than for a rugby match,” he admitted. “It’s the unknown. You get nervous before every game but you know what you’re doing, you know what happens when you go out there. As soon as that ball gets kicked everything goes away and you forget about the nerves, whereas with that it was the unknown.
“I didn’t know whether the nerves would go away, but honestly, once I had that microphone in my hand, there was no way I was giving it back. I absolutely loved it.”
They are still adding up the proceeds, but know it will have brought in more than £10,000 for the charity, more than justifying the hours of practice he, Petrus du Plessis, Callum Gibbins, Adam Ashe, Lee Jones, Ratu Tagive and Aki Seiuli put in to prepare for the event.
“Plenty of preparation went into it but the worrying thing thing was the little bit of a break we had [at the start of the Six Nations],” Wilson added. “We all had three weeks off and everyone went away, so two weeks before the gig we hadn’t practised for three weeks. We pulled it back together. We had three little get-togethers in that week just to tidy a few things up.”
It was the kind of team effort and team bonding exercise that has helped make Glasgow so special for Wilson and meant he was more than happy to stay put.
“It made me more excited to stay and concentrate on my music career at the same time as my rugby career,” he joked. “When Danny [Wilson, the incoming head coach] phoned and said I was part of his plans when he comes in, that made me pretty happy. It took a little bit of pressure off, because when you knock on the other side of 30, you start to worry and you start to think of life after rugby. I think there’s a few years left in me, I’m probably hitting my prime.
“Yes, an easy decision. A big thing for me is family, my kids are all at school and, as I’ve said, many times, Glasgow’s become a huge part of my life.”
With the concert out of the way, the next task is to make sure the side capitalise on their bonus point win over Zebre by beating the Dragons at home on Saturday to put them in the best possible fettle for taking on Leinster the following week. “Our mindset is that every every game, for us, is a must-win now. We saw Ulster slip up at the weekend [v Ospreys] and Cheetahs not get a point out of their game [v Leinster] so we’re closing in on those guys at the top, which is important,” he pointed out.
“We’e got to keep the pressure on. We’ll forget the game at the beginning of the season [when the Dragons won at home], we’ve not really spoken about it. We will be going into it knowing we’re at home and what we do at home is beat teams. Ultimately we need to get five points, because it’s going to be close at the end of the season with that points tally.”