Glasgow Warriors support act Sean Kennedy takes centre stage

Scrum-half says he understands his role in the squad and has kept himself ready to step up when required

Sean Kennedy in action for Glasgow Warriors against Ulster on Saturday night. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Sean Kennedy in action for Glasgow Warriors against Ulster on Saturday night. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

GOOD THINGS do, indeed, sometimes come in threes, as Sean Kennedy will testify. The 32-year-old scrum-half added gloss to an eventful period in his life by marking his return to the Glasgow Warriors starting XV for the first time since March 2021 with an impressive try-scoring performance in Saturday night’s home win over Ulster.

This came hot on the heels of he and his partner, Claire, moving into a new house, and their second child – a little girl called Addie – arriving on Wednesday. Clearly Kennedy has been juggling a few balls this week, but it is abundantly clear that he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Claire had a C-section, so we knew she would stay in overnight on Wednesday. We got home about 4pm on Thursday and since then I’ve been at the coalface. Having had the C-section, she can’t really move so I’ve been up and down all night,” he explained. “I had Thursday off, which was nice, then back in Friday and played today.”


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The lack of sleep certainly didn’t seem to adversely effect Kennedy on Saturday night, although he did walk rather gingerly into the press room afterwards and replied with “Sore!” when asked how he was feeling.

“I definitely did enjoy that,” he quickly elaborated. “I’ve not played many games this season, or last year, or the year before that, or the year before that. [So] it was good to get a runabout and after we went two tries down early on we had to pull something out and get going.”

Kennedy’s elevation back into the Warriors starting XV after three-and-a-half years of playing fourth fiddle at Warriors is the consequence of Ali Price‘s sudden departure to Edinburgh on a season-long loan, quickly followed by Jamie Dobie picking up a three month ankle injury and George Horne tweaking a hamstring.

There has been talk of a scrum-head crisis at Scotstoun, but the veteran’s crisp service and assured all-round display on Saturday has provided reassurance that Warriors will be able to muddle through until such time as head coach Franco Smith feels he is ready to bring in reinforcements – although it would have been nice to see youngster Ben Afshar get more than four minutes off the bench on debut.

It is a testament to Kennedy’s mental fortitude and professionalism that he has been able to step up the plate so well, and his analysis of his own role in the squad is refreshingly down to earth and honest.

“I don’t find it too hard. I know the situation, especially before Ali left, with the quality of the nines here. I’m pretty realistic around where I am compared to those boys. I just said to Franco that if he needs me, I’ll be ready,” he said.

“That’s my role in this team. If I can help those boys, helping prep the team to win games, I’m still doing my job.

“I’m pretty lucky to be playing rugby for a living – I’m well aware of that as well, especially at my age. I don’t want to take it for granted, and I also need to pay my bills and my mortgage! So I don’t find it too hard to stay motivated.”

Kennedy also highlighted that the coaching climate at Glasgow under Smith helps ensure that nobody in the squad ever feels like a full-time rucking-shield holder.

“The way we train, you can get better as an individual every week, no matter whether you’re playing or not,” he said. “That’s one thing I’ve noticed is massively different here compared to other environments. Week to week, we still train as a team, then the guys who aren’t going to play run the plays we think the opposition are going to run. There are loads of opportunities to get better, then if you’re 24th man or whatever, you get an opportunity to travel … and get a good night’s sleep away from the kids.”

“It’s mad how it’s all changed all of a sudden,” he added. “Ali went, then Jamie picked up an injury then George got a wee niggle, but I’m delighted for Ben [Afshar] to get his run-out as well. He’s a quality nine with a massive future ahead of him. He’ll hopefully get more minutes in the coming weeks as well.”

 

Afshar is currently on a partnership contract shared between Warriors and the Stirling Wolves Super Series franchise, where Kennedy happens to be an assistant coach – a post-playing career path he is interested in pursuing.

“Yo be fair, I only coach there one night a week so Ben and I don’t cross over all the time [but] we’re spending a lot of time together here – I try to pick up things in his game and in training to help him out. He’s really good, he’s keen to learn. I think he’s going to be quality.

“I started coaching at Stirling to see if it was something I enjoyed and if I was any good at it. It’s definitely something I love doing, and I then got a chance to do the Scotland Sevens team for the Youth Commonwealth Games with Craig Dodds. That’s given me a flavour for the younger lads as well and I’m now going to try to do a few sessions with the junior academy lads here. There might be an opportunity down the line if there are more A games or whatever.”

In the more immediate future, Kennedy is just enjoying the ride of being back playing regularly, some 12 years after making his professional debut for Edinburgh. He had a loan spell with Warriors during the 2012-13 season, and then joined the Scotstoun outfit after being released by their rivals at the other end of the M8 in 2019, initially on a partnership contract with Stirling County before being taken on full-time.

“It’s a different experience now,” he reflected. “When you’re younger, you’re really nervous about playing and you worry about what might go wrong instead of focusing on what you can do.

“Maybe it’s the fact that there’s not much pressure on me to perform – because there are no other nines apart from me and Ben! – but I’m really enjoying being in the team.

“I might as well enjoy it and focus on what I can do, because it’s when you start worrying about what might go wrong that you don’t play very well. That’s something I’ve learned over time – I definitely had that problem when I was younger.

“I’ve been down the partnership route where you’re thinking you’re probably done at the end of the year,” he adds. “Every year, I’ve been given another one, but I’ve been staying in Edinburgh the whole time I’ve been with Glasgow, thinking that it was going to come to an end.

“Luckily they gave me two years last time so I’ve had a bit of security around my mortgage and stuff like that.

“I have loads of mates who have retired because they were in a similar situation to me or just got fed up of rugby. Almost all of them tell me to do it as long as I can, because they’re maybe not enjoying it, or they’re finding it really hard if they are going to do a trade or whatever it is.

“Those are real jobs. Rugby is not a real job to me. I get paid to go in the gym, stay fit, run about and see my mates. I will never take that for granted.”


Not content with imparting some words of rugby wisdom to help his career development, Kennedy also gave Ben Afshar’s musical sideline a boost on Saturday night by choosing one of five tunes the tyro scrum-half has listed on Spotify as his try-celebration song.

“It’s a catchy wee tune called ‘Like’,” Kennedy revealed. “At the start of the season, you get to pick what you want played when you score. I was thinking I wasn’t going to play, and I certainly wasn’t going to score any tries, so I might as well put Benny’s song down.

“He told me gets something like 0.002 pence per play or something like that, so hopefully he gets a few more plays off the back of tonight!”


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About David Barnes 3818 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

3 Comments

  1. Yes. No worries going forward now. Sean – you deserve this moment. Well done for keeping your game in tip top condition.

  2. Great game for Sean on Saturday and a very gracious interview too. Well done that man and congratulations on a wonderful week!

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