What’s eating Glenn Bryce?

Full-back swapped Scotstoun for LA during lockdown and is living the dream playing for the Giltinis, but the end of his time in Scotland still rankles

Glenn Bryce in action for the LA Giltinis
Glenn Bryce in action for the LA Giltinis

HE spent two weeks at a pre-season training camp in Hawaii and he has a spot on the roster of the Los Angeles Giltinis – a sports franchise named after a cocktail, for Heaven’s sake! – in the new, bolder and better Major League Rugby (MLR). He lives on the stunning stretch of West Coast real estate known as Venice Beach although he concedes that his ‘guns’ (biceps) may not be up to the task given the raft of body builders that frequent the area. 

Moreover, the Giltinis squad are the ‘Galacticos’ of the MLR, backed by an Aussie billionaire Adam Gilchrist, the man behind the F45 gym franchise, and packed with superstar, one-time Wallabies like Matt Giteau, skipper David Dennis and Adam Ashley-Cooper … a tricky one for commentators since Adam Ashe is also on the roster.

The team plays in the famous 93,000-seater LA Memorial Coliseum which hosted the 1984 Olympics. From the top row of seats you can see the whole of Los Angeles including that iconic Hollywood sign. As he concedes, it has been “quite a journey” for the boy from Alloa, so what’s eating Glenn Bryce?


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Throughout our hour long, oft-interrupted conversation from LA, Bryce repeatedly insists “I’m not bitter” … a little too often perhaps. Something is definitely gnawing away at his insides and it turns out he is seriously disgruntled with the way that Murrayfield treated him at the tail end of his Glasgow career.

“I had done well with Glasgow and a few years ago I was signed (by Alan Solomons) at Edinburgh. But Solly left the club and Cockers (Richard Cockerill) didn’t give me the time of day. That second season (with Edinburgh) was a write-off,” Bryce recalls.

He was tempted to walk away from the game but his career was salvaged by John Dalziel, then coach of the Scotland sevens squad.

He spent a couple of seasons in the short game. It was a positive experience, helping Bryce develop as a player while he helped the Scotland sevens side record back-to-back victories at Twickenham. The crowds were good, the pre-Covid travel was fun, and the squad was tight and competitive wherever they pitched their tent.

Fast forward to Dave Rennie’s time with Glasgow and Bryce is back in harness for his old club, partly because the Warriors were missing half their squad in Japan for RWC’19. Stuart Hogg signing for Exeter for the 2019-20 season (post RWC) should have been good news.

Instead, Bryce sat out the opening nine weeks of the season in the stands, able to play despite tendinitis in both knees, but overlooked as Ruaridh Jackson and Tommy Seymour shared the full-back duties.

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Every dog will have its day and Bryce’s moment duly arrived on 11th January 2020 when Glasgow welcomed Exeter to Scotstoun in the Heineken Champions Cup with the visitors fielding former Scotstoun favourite Hogg at full-back.

“I said to myself just play as if you will never wear the jersey again,” Bryce recalls. “That was probably the biggest game of my life, a Champions Cup start. It was a hell of an opportunity to show what I could do and it couldn’t have gone any better. I was just as good as these guys and that was my first opportunity in my whole career to show it. I expressed myself.”

In the best shape of his life, and facing the best full-back in Europe, he raised his game. It may have been a one-off performance but Bryce was the better of the two No 15s on the day and he made at least one paper’s Heineken Cup Team of the Week.

Some players are late developers and it looked like Bryce was basking in his very own Indian summer but Rennie moved on to coach the Wallabies and, once again, Bryce was back to square one, having to prove himself all over again to the new gaffer, Danny Wilson.

Bryce was not helped by the onset of Covid-19 and the first lockdown in March of last year, which prompted Murrayfield boss Mark Dodson to call a halt to all contract negotiations.

“Throughout the whole of the lockdown period I was just being strung along,” Bryce complains. He was also furloughed and having to train ‘voluntarily’ on the back pitches away from the bulk of the Warriors’ squad, further undermining his confidence. “’We’re not sure if we want to keep you or not? We might have something for you…or not?’ I was just getting so frustrated because I had put everything into this (Glasgow team).

“My old man was the one who kept me going, he’s always backed me. I said to him one day that I just couldn’t carry on like this, not knowing what was happening?”

Wilson couldn’t help him as nothing was sanctioned by his Murrayfield paymasters. Bryce believed his on-field rugby had merited an extension but, he insists, all he wanted was clarity. If Murrayfield didn’t want him then they had to say so rather than string him along.

“The SRU shouldn’t treat players like that,” he says.

Bryce is a member of a star-studded LA Giltinis team.
Bryce is a member of a star-studded LA Giltinis team.

What was eventually put on the table in front of him was a five month contract at the start of this season, covering October 2020 to February 2021 and, even then, only after Bryce had downed tools, refusing to continue to train voluntarily.

“It seriously f**ked me right off if I’m being honest,” he says with obvious emotion. “I didn’t want to take it, I was so angry. I’ve never been involved in anything like that in my life. The biggest thing for me is being valued and they didn’t value me. But my agent persuaded me to take it even though I was being asked to prove myself all over again.

“The most important thing is that I had aspirations of winning a Scotland cap because most of the guys I played with at Edinburgh and Glasgow had played at the top level and I was holding my own. I felt this was the last opportunity to do that given my age.”

It wasn’t to be. Bryce – who is 29 – showed up pretty well for Glasgow this season, or so the fans seemed to think as they bestowed the Player of the Month award for November 2020 on the full-back after a fine run of games in his favoured shirt.

“Glenn really stood up to be counted over the month of November,” said head coach Wilson at the time. “His running game was a real asset to us, and he was really calm and composed under the high ball. He’s been a real positive addition to the squad. He’s conducted himself really well in training and impressed out on the pitch.”

Despite these plaudits from the boss, Bryce didn’t hang around when his five month contract expired in February of this year, despite Glasgow offering him another contract that he, again, felt failed to reflect his worth on the field.

Bryce catches up with fellow Scot Dougie Fife of New England Free Jacks.
Bryce catches up with fellow Scot Dougie Fife of New England Free Jacks.

His move to the West Coast of California was made, Bryce admits, with one eye on his post rugby career. He has aspirations to get involved in real estate in Los Angeles, a cut throat business that makes negotiating contracts with Murrayfield look tame by comparison.

For now he is enjoying his rugby again and who wouldn’t? The Giltinis are two from two in the MLR, he plays for a team of super stars and, looking at the highlights on YouTube, the weather looks a good deal warmer than Alloa.

“I believe that everything happens for a reason,” says Bryce from LA. “I enjoyed my time at Glasgow and I wish them all the best going forward, it’s just unfortunate how things worked out.”

Unfortunate! It may just be the best thing that has ever happened to Glenn Bryce.

There is a big Australian influence in the squad, with Adam Ashley-Cooper and Matt Giteau two of the star names.
There is a big Australian influence in the squad, with Adam Ashley-Cooper and Matt Giteau two of the star names.

Scots in MLR:

Adam Ashe and Glenn Bryce @ LA Giltinis

Steven Longwell and Mungo Mason @ DC Old Glory (where John Manson is Operations Manager at the club 28% owned by the Scottish Rugby).

Dougie Fife and Sean Yacoubian @ New England Free Jacks

James Malcolm @ Seattle Seawolves

Scott Murray @ Co-Head Coach at San Diego Legion.

Steve Lewis @ General Manager of Rugby United New York.


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About Iain Morrison 44 Articles
Iain was capped 15 times for Scotland at openside flanker between his debut against Ireland during the 1993 Six Nations and his final match against New Zealand at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa. He was twice a Cambridge ‘Blue’ and played his entire club career with London Scottish (being inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2016). Iain is a lifelong member of Linlithgow Rugby Club. After hanging up his boots, he became rugby correspondent for The Sunday Herald, before moving to The Scotland on Sunday for 16 years, and he has also guest written for various other publications.

8 Comments

  1. Unfortunately I would suggest almost without exception the person least able to adjudicate ability is the individual concerned, harsh a comment though that may appear.
    BUT that isn’t the nub of the matter it is the way that the player was dealt with by those responsible either at the SRU or at Club level, although primarily there only appears to be one side to the article. Times and circumstances have been difficult and it wasn’t as if Bryce was up against ‘Rabbits’, if you get my drift, as FF suggests in his post there are about half a dozen players that any selector would select in front of him.
    Perhaps the SRU either directly or through the Clubs should have made more of an effort to communicate properly with the player [or the Agent] perhaps they did. Players Agents bring I’m afraid another ‘Soapbox’ of mine: why do they need agents, I have always considered there is a parasitical aspect to that so called ‘profession’.
    All too often the agent ‘bigs up’ the player [no doubt to the player himself and the other party] and all too often the temptation is for the agent to push for a fiscal reward that is higher than the realistic value, the more he demands for the player, the more he gets for himself, perhaps it was the agent that failed Bryce.
    However reading the article and the comments I couldn’t help but remember the line from the Paul Newman film Cool Hand Luke “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” It was a line from the officious Chain Gang Boss to justify a flogging for the Newman character.
    Obviously any suggested similarity between the officious Chain Gang Boss and anyone at the SRU is, of course, out of the question.

  2. Professional sport is an insecure profession, but that’s no excuse for not at least keeping people in the loop about their own situations. Not the first time the communication between an SRU and the player appears to have been shoddy. See also Matt Scott.

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  3. The very best of good fortune to Glenn Bryce, and the others….!

    That whole MLR venture is clearly superficially attractive, but remains quite a high-risk gamble, aiming to gain traction in the huge US sports market, which nevertheless didn’t represent enough of a financial platform to save Rugby USA from bankruptcy quite recently.

    Iain – you’d referred to the SRU’s (mysteriously value-less*) 28% stake in Old Glory DC. No doubt most readers could theorise as to the reason for the Governing Body of rugby in Scotland’s investment of £661,000 Union funds in a speculative United States of America-located start-up….

    *28%, perhaps – but this is how the SRU’s 2019 / 2020 Financial Accounts statement described the “investment” ….
    “Scottish Rugby Union Limited, acquired a shareholding in Washington DC Professional Rugby LLC through a wholly owned subsidiary, Scottish Rugby (USA) LLC. At 31 May 2020, the group’s resultant shareholding in Washington DC Professional Rugby LLC was 28.4%, acquired at a total cost incurred over the year, including professional fees, of £661k. The group’s share of this company’s profit for the year was nil. The group’s
    share of this company’s net assets at 31 May 2020 was nil.” Speculative, indeed!

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  4. Another moment of cringe from the SRU.
    They really do know how to make a mess.

    However, I think if Glenn Bryce was a more complete player then he would have found himself starting more games. One could argue he wasn’t managed properly I suppose.

    Perhaps it was bad luck and he just wasn’t the kind of player to fit into Edinburgh and Glasgow’s style very well at that time. Surely, if we had more pro teams with differing styles he would still be playing in Scotland?

    At any rate, he never stood out, in my eyes, as an international class player. The SRU have to be cutthroat with limited resources and it is sad to see the black cloud of bitterness a situation like this creates.

    Buck stops with SRU at the end of the day. They need to do infinitely better to prevent players and staff feeling so let down when things don’t work out.

    It’s good to see Bryce enjoying himself now though! Must be fun playing in that ever-growing MLR league.

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  5. Unfortunately not an unfamiliar story from the SRU. Dodson et al seem to view most players as cattle. I think this has led to many a good player getting rightly fed up with it, and subsequently going non-home union to fulfil their ambitions.

    I wish him the best of luck. Hope it works for him.

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    • I mean realistically this is life for a fringe player in pro-sport. Even more so because of covid, financial contractions and uncertainty. It’s rubbish, Bryce got a rough deal, but if he was more highly valued they’d have given him better offers and more opportunities. Pro-sport is a cut throat business, whether he deserved better is hard to say. He might have got a cap at some point but realistically he’d be behind Hogg, Maitland, Graham, Kinghorn and now Huw Jones at 15, not to mention younger players coming through.

      Good luck to him in LA.

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      • Indeed FF, tough one for Bryce who was playing some solid rugby at the time but by no means the brilliant player he is being made out to be here, not good enough to earn a Scotland cap, and for a lot of his career was a pretty average pro player (although it likely did not help he was in Hoggs shadow for a lot of his career).

        Perhaps some learnings for the SRU from this in terms of providing clarity, i think it is understandable to a point that this was happening during early/mid covid but should not continue now we are coming out of it.

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