Match Preview | Montpellier
A visit to one of France’s modern heavyweights awaits Glasgow Warriors this Friday night, as Danny Wilson’s squad makes the trip to the south of France for their Challenge Cup round-of-16 clash with Montpellier.
It will be the first time the Warriors have competed in the competition since the 2006/07 season, when a Sean Lineen-led side made the quarter-finals of the competition.
The 2020/21 squad will be looking to emulate their counterparts from 14 years ago this campaign, with Wilson’s squad knowing that a home tie against either Benetton or Agen awaits them in the last-eight if they can overcome Montpellier.
However, with a squad packed with international talent at Head Coach Phillippe Saint-Andre’s disposal, there’s no doubting the scale of the challenge facing the Warriors on Friday night as the two teams resume their acquaintance in European competition.
Here’s how the French side shape up ahead of the match:
??? ??? ??? ???? ???!
???? ??? ??% ??? ???? ??? ?
— Glasgow Warriors (@GlasgowWarriors) March 27, 2021
Montpellier form guide
Les Cistes currently sit 11th in France’s TOP14, having claimed seven wins from their 20 matches so far in the competition.
A disappointing start to the campaign saw Montpellier slip to defeats in their opening three matches in the French top-flight, before eventually getting off the mark with back-to-back victories against Agen and Brive.
Yet those wins would be Montpellier’s sole triumphs in 2020, enduring a run of nine straight defeats that saw Saint-Andre’s men go winless between October 2020 and February 2021.
Since snapping the unwanted streak with victory over Stade Francais, however, Montpellier have been reminding their opponents of the threats they possess; indeed, the French outfit come into Friday’s match following impressive wins at home to Clermont and away to Toulouse in the last two matchdays.
The COVID-19-enforced shortening of the 2019/20 TOP14 campaign meant that Montpellier fans – like their counterparts at Scotstoun – were unable to say farewell to a host of their favourite sons at GGL Stadium. Chief amongst them was the unmistakable figure of Nemani Nadolo, the giant Fijian winger making the switch to Leicester Tigers prior to rugby’s resumption.
World Cup-winning South African Francois Steyn was another to depart as he returned home to join the Cheetahs, whilst wing duo Timoci Nagusa and Benjamin Fall joined Grenoble and Oyonnax respectively.
Established internationals Kahn Fotuali’i and Julien Bardy also departed the GGL Stadium, hanging up their boots for their final time as they retired from professional rugby.
As has been the case in recent seasons, Montpellier were at the forefront of transfer season in the TOP14. World Cup winner Cobus Reinach was tempted to the south of France after establishing himself as a premier scrum-half at Northampton Saints, with Les Cistes winning the race for his coveted signature.
French international winger Vincent Rattez was also lured to the south of France, making the switch from TOP14 rivals La Rochelle at the end of the 2019/20 season.
Meanwhile, two members of the relegated Saracens squad decided to link up with Saint-Andre’s side upon rugby’s resumption; USA prop Titi Lamositele joined on a permanent deal from the Championship outfit, whilst England centre Alex Lozowski was signed on a season-long loan deal.
Ones to watch
Capable of playing at fly-half, full-back and in the centres, South African international Johan Goosen has been back to somewhere near his best form in recent weeks. A canny tactical kicker, his acceleration and eye for a gap makes him a danger whenever he has hands on the ball in opposition territory.
Having caused Glasgow problems in last season’s Heineken Champions Cup, the threat of Rattez on the wing is one of which the Warriors will be all too aware. With a sharp sidestep and pace off the mark, the 28-year-old has a keen nose for the try-line for both club and country.
Whilst Montpellier as a club has undergone vast amounts of change in the last decade, Fulgence Ouedraogo has remained a constant in the back-row. Now 34, the former France flanker – with over 250 appearances for Montpellier to his name – has remained faithful to his first professional club and continues to provide a dynamic presence around the park.
The two sides last met in the group stage of the 2017/18 Heineken Champions Cup, with Montpellier doing the double over a Glasgow side then led by Dave Rennie.
A Leonardo Sarto brace was ultimately in vain for the Warriors in a 29-22 defeat at Scotstoun, before a free-flowing match in Montpellier ended 36-26 in the home side’s favour.
However, it’s Glasgow who hold the upper hand in the Challenge Cup meetings between the two teams, winning both matches in the 2003/04 competition.
Tries from Sean Lamont, Donnie Macfadyen and Sam Pinder saw the Warriors earn a 30-11 win in France, before Lamont’s brace and scores from Andy Henderson and Gordon Bulloch secured a 38-13 triumph at Hughenden.
England’s Karl Dickson will take charge of Friday night’s clash, with the former Harlequins scrum-half now firmly established amongst the Premiership’s match officials.
Maxime Chalon and Vincent Blasco will be his assistants, whilst Ian Tempest will be on hand if required as the Television Match Official.
Glasgow Warriors supporters can watch the match live on BT Sport ESPN on Friday night, with kick-off scheduled for 8pm (UK time).
You can also follow all the build-up and action as it happens in our Live Match Centre on glasgowwarriors.org.