URC Grand Final: Bulls v Glasgow: selection consistency is key for Warriors

Head coach Franco Smith has named the same starting XV for the third week on the bounce

Glasgow Warriors will field the game starting XV for the third consecutive week in Saturday's evening's URC Grand Final. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Glasgow Warriors will field the game starting XV for the third consecutive week in Saturday's evening's URC Grand Final. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

GLASGOW WARRIORS head coach Franco Smith has selected the same starting XV for a third consecutive week ahead of his team’s quest for URC glory against Vodacom Bulls at a sold-out Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria tomorrow [Saturday] evening.

There are two changes to the bench following last weekend’s win over Munster at Thomond Park, with Nathan McBeth recovering from concussion to provide loose-head cover, meaning Murphy Walker misses out, while experienced stand-odd Duncan Weir‘s inclusion means that Edinburgh-bound Ross Thompson has played his last game for the Warriors.

Smith has a reputation for being an enthusiastic squad rotator during the regular season, but he was typically hard-nosed about the need to disappoint some players this week by leaving them out of the campaign finale.

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“Obviously we have different objectives during the season, it’s about getting new players used to this level of play, it’s about developing the squad, it’s about freshness, enthusiasm and managing 20 Scottish internationals,” he said.

“It’s a long season, if you include the World Cup preparations these guys have been at it for a very long time, so obviously it was all built into place to allow us now in the last part of the season to have the best available team out there to represent a very competitive squad.

“They were competing to play in the final from the start. No team in this competition set out just to participate, so it was clearly communicated to the players that everybody had a chance to play in it and everybody has got to perform at their best. I’ve got a good relation with the players and they would understand the process and the plan.

“And the players that have been selected must take that responsibility on board: they represent more than just the club and themselves, but also their team-mates who have to deal with the disappointment of not being chosen.”

“I think we’ve learned a lot from last week’s game,” he added. “There was 20,000 Irish supporters at Thomond Park and it could have been intimidating. But I think we’ve taken a lot from that in our preparation for this week. We know that we’ll face a pretty hostile crowd over here as well. It’s just double the number that we saw last week. But again it’s about focusing on the task in hand and not getting engulfed by the occasion.”

Having said all that, Smith also stressed that his team’s performance level will have to rise again if they are to cause an upset against the Bulls – who are comfortable favourites with the bookies – this weekend.

“I don’t think what we did last week would be enough to beat the Bulls here and to make a step up is going to be a big challenge,” he said.

“I’m South African so I know how their hearts beat and I know how the blood goes through their veins and I know how they desperately want to succeed. So we face another challenge. It’s comparable [to Munster] but we definitely see this as a different challenge and we must step up if we want to be competitive until the end.”

Glasgow Warriors (versus Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday @ 5pm BST): K J McKay; S Cancelliere, H Jones, S Tuipulotu, K Steyn ©; T Jordan G Horne; J Bhatti, J Matthews, Z Fagerson, R Gray, S Cummings, M Fagerson R Darge, J Dempsey. Replacements: G Turner, N McBeth, O Kebble,  M Williamson, E Ferrie, H Venter, J Dobie, D Weir.

Unavailable for selection: Fraser Brown (knee), Allan Dell (arm), JP du Preez (knee), Ally Miller (calf), Alex Samuel (head), Ollie Smith (knee), Lucio Sordoni (foot), Sione Vailanu (knee).


  • Our friends at Base Scotland (owners of The Dukes Umbrella and Maison by Glaschu) are showing Saturday’s URC Grand Final at BAaD (Barras Art and Design) in their outdoor backyard area from 3pm. They are open from 12pm with food and drinks available. It’s on a table-booking/first-come-first-served basis so get there early or click HERE to secure your spot.
  • Please note that Saturday’s European Championship matches will be shown on the indoor screen



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URC Grand Final: Bulls v Glasgow: 10 things you need to know about the Bulls


About David Barnes 4026 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The 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.


  1. Last minute drop goal winner from Sir Duncan of Weir to win the game is my prediction. Good luck to the lads, if they front up and play their game then they’ve got this.

  2. Was a very canny performance in Limerick, the same XV fully deserve the chance to go and replicate that in Pretoria. We all know how big a challenge this is, the Bulls have a trophy laden history and are at home in that high altitude with a squad full of quality and numerous Springboks. I think Glasgow need to start and acclimatize well, stay in the game and impose their own gameplan on the Bulls. That Bulls team as everyone knows will look at dominate up front but their backline also has more gas and direct running threat than the Munster backline by comparison, Glasgow need to make sure they dont go through spells of being very altitude leggy and scunnered in big moments by those electric broken field runners. Should be a great final and may the best team win, hopefully that team will be Glasgow Warriors!

  3. The team is as expected as for the most part is the bench. I understand why wee Duncy has got the nod, experience and a reliable goal kicker to bring on if things are tight with minutes to go. Personally I would have preferred Ross Thompson. If we have a back line injury and TJ goes off or shuffles to centre Duncy for all his assets sits too deep and our attack suffers.
    Overall we have been consistently good over the last couple of outings, we out Munstered the men in red and had the Bulls Sh**ing themselves with our comeback just over a month ago. As others have said Munster and the mighty Benetton gave them problems recently as well. There is no reason whatsoever why this group cannot go down to South Africa and bring home the silverware.
    Mon the Warriors.

  4. We need to not allow them to dictate the game, we also need
    – lucky bounces
    – Lack of breakdowns keep the ball alive
    – stay away from giving them set piece platforms to launch from
    – wee cheeky bulls red caird
    – Steyno to be on fire
    – another TJ defense masterclass
    – Rub of the green from the refereezia
    – Tuipolotu bulldozing
    – to play like Glasgow – Devil may care.

    Jokes aside i cant wait for this one, its truly massive for Scottish rugby and would rank very highly on the otherwise scarce success sheet – to win a title the hard way would be truly exceptional.

    Only wish more warriors fan had more of an opportunity to go to this one, seems unfair to have a quick turnaround abroad at such cost but there isn’t anything we can do about that and at least we are there at the big dance.

    Biltong and Tennants in front of the box it is.

    Enjoy all, lets do this !

  5. The total absence of any article about this final on the BBC Rugby Union webpage this week is shocking and yet sadly not surprising. No Irish or Welsh team in the final = no interest. Plenty of space for news of possible selections for England and Wales though.

    • Yep disappointing that people in Scotland who are taxed to fund the BBC at the same rate (or more in relation to income tax) than their English or Welsh cousins don’t get the same wall to wall coverage of of their professional rugby team that makes a league final as Northampton and Bath enjoyed a couple of weeks ago.

    • But that isn’t true, article about the logistical challenges yesterday and one on the back of team selection today.
      In a week of intentional and Olympic rugby news it’s pretty well represented.
      That’s on top of articles earlier in the week after semi final victory.
      I make that at least 3 articles this week.

  6. Benetton were within 4 points with 73 mins on the clock, Munster did the business during the regular season, this is winnable but we have to be on it from start to finish. C’mon the Warriors.


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