URC: Rory Darge ready for “massive” end to the season as Glasgow welcome Sharks

Flanker also gives his thoughts on the Scotland summer tour

Scotland co-captain Rory Darge will return to club action with Glasgow Warriors against Scarlets tomorrow [Saturday] night. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Rory Darge is ready for a big end to the season Image: © Craig Watson

AN unwanted, unplanned free weekend may inadvertently have given Glasgow a timely reset heading into their remaining season-defining fixtures.

Rory Darge spent his day off enjoying a barbecue with teammates, rather than watching Edinburgh’s Challenge Cup exit, and he has returned hungry to tear into the final five matches of the regular United Rugby Championship season and then the playoffs beyond that.

It is those same Sharks who ended Edinburgh’s European aspirations who will provide the first of those challenges at Scotstoun on Friday night, although, with their looming Challenge Cup semi-final in mind, the Durban outfit are expected to spare many of their Springboks the trip to Scotland.


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Still, Warriors can only beat what is in front of them, something they have managed to do in every regular-season URC game played at home since Franco Smith became head coach.

Their only league setback so far arrived in the form of the quarterfinal loss to Munster last year, a result that, alongside the Challenge Cup final defeat to Toulon, still rankles. Darge wants the team to use their remaining matches to secure home advantage for the playoffs while building up a head of steam along the way.

“Yeah it’s massive,” said the back-rower of the six-week period ahead. “Where you finish is obviously massive and then how you prepare for those knock-out games. But how you play in the build-up to those is very important as well. Every game is important in terms of performance not just result.

“It’s tough to tell [what the Sharks approach will be]. I mentioned our mindset going into these five games and how important our performances will be getting close to the quarter-finals to give yourselves belief.

“I don’t know what theirs will be for this one but they’re now into a European semi-final which will be huge for them. We just have to wait and see later in the week.”

Knock-out ties have been no friend to Glasgow in recent seasons, with the Champions Cup exit at the hands of Harlequins last time out another painful night of “win or go home” rugby. It is a defeat that will serve as motivation, both against the Sharks but also come the playoffs.

“It’s hard the first couple of training sessions after a loss that felt like a bit of a gut punch,” said Darge of that narrow reverse at the Stoop. “We felt like we missed a couple of opportunities in that one. When a game is close like that you always rue not taking those chances. So the boys have plenty motivation after that one.

“In that Munster game in the quarter-finals there was the early red card but we looked at it after and there were loads of things we could have done better. The final against Toulon also sticks out as the game where we didn’t really fire a shot.

“We didn’t show what we were about. We’ve got better in that regard and we fired some shots in the Harlequins game but there were still a couple of chances we left out there. And discipline in the first half was also a big issue. But we’re all desperate to win these games.”

Dealing with an MCL (medial collateral ligament) injury that kept Darge out of the Six Nations opener against Wales means the Scotland co-captain feels fresh heading into this crucial period. He is keen also to go on the national team’s summer tour to North and South America but suggested the call might not be in his hands.

“I had that mid-season MCL injury that kept me six weeks away from rugby,” he added. “It was relatively short-term and I got back quickly from it and I’m fine. But that break was good to allow me to mentally recharge. I feel good and mentally ready for all the games coming up.

 

 

“Of course I want to go on tour. Any time you get to play for Scotland is an absolute honour. But we’ll wait and see. I’m not sure what’s going to happen. Obviously I want to go and I’m sure most of the boys do. Aside from the privilege of playing for your country there are some cool places to go and see that you might not otherwise visit.”

With no game, Darge took the chance to expand his cultural horizons last weekend at an Argentinian-style barbecue hosted by Lucio Sordoni.

Tom Gordon and I were the only non-Argies there,” he revealed. “It was good, Lucio can cook to be fair to him.

“It was pretty cool although because it was an Argentinian barbecue in Glasgow we had some wind and rain too! But it’s cool having different cultures among the squad. Tom can speak a bit of Spanish but not me. He’s been trying for a bit.

“I’ve said lots of times I might start to learn Spanish or French but it’s never got further than that.”


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About Graeme Macpherson 43 Articles
Graeme Macpherson is a freelance sports writer who covers rugby for a number of outlets.

3 Comments

  1. There’s a nice “edge” to Glasgows play these days, more of which Edinburgh could do with. My monopoly money on the Warriors in a tight hard match 👍 Looking forward to the remainder of the season for Glasgow

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