Taking their chance
Whilst the eyes of the world turn to France and the start of the tenth edition of the Rugby World Cup, the summer and autumn of 2023 could be the start of the next chapter of Glasgow Warriors rugby.
That’s if previous World Cup cycles are any indicator of what’s to come; as internationals prepare to show what they can do for their countries on the world’s biggest stage, new firm fan favourites lie waiting in the wings, ready to introduce themselves to the Warrior Nation.
With just three weeks until the club’s opening pre-season clash as Zebre Parma come to Scotstoun for The Famous Grouse Pre-Season Friendly (Saturday 30 September, kick-off 6pm), we take a look back at some of the talents to have made their Glasgow Warriors debuts during previous World Cup periods…
With 16 players representing their respective nations at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, a Dave Rennie-led Glasgow Warriors squad filled with new faces headed to Bloemfontein for the opening match of the 2019/20 season for a showdown with the ever-dangerous Cheetahs.
Whilst the result – a 48-14 defeat on the high veldt – will have been quickly wiped from the memory of the Warrior Nation, the match holds its own significance thanks to the introduction of two new Warriors to the fold.
An introduction off the bench in place of Grant Stewart saw Johnny Matthews become Warrior #306, the hooker kicking off a professional career that has since seen him write his name into the Glasgow Warriors record books courtesy of his try-scoring exploits for the Scotstoun side.
A young scrum-half by the name of Jamie Dobie also took his first steps on his professional journey that night in Bloemfontein, the then-18-year-old from Inverness becoming the youngest player since John Barclay to make his debut for Glasgow Warriors.
Having made history courtesy of their 2014/15 Guinness PRO12 title win just a few months previously, it was no surprise that a record number of Warriors made the trip to England for the 2015 tournament.
No fewer than 21 of Gregor Townsend’s squad would represent their countries over the six weeks of competition, handing opportunities for new fan favourites to make their mark back home.
One of those new favourites was a Glasgow boy born and bred, with a Scotland U20 standout by the name of Scott Cummings making his professional debut in the second-row – eight years on, the former Glasgow Hawk has a century of Glasgow Warriors outings to his name, and is preparing for his second Rugby World Cup in the dark blue of Scotland.
Another future club centurion would make his Glasgow Warriors debut during the 2015 Rugby World Cup window; a 31-19 win over the Ospreys at Scotstoun would see a 22-year-old Sam Johnson make the first of his 104 appearances in Glasgow colours, going on to become a fixture in the midfield for both club and country.
The Glasgow Warriors squad that took to the field for the first match of the 2011/12 campaign was one in transition, but the starting XV that lined up to take on Ulster was one filled with players that would go on to become club legends.
No fewer than 14 of the matchday 23 that day at the Kingspan Stadium would go on to become Glasgow Warriors centurions, including one player making his debut for the club against his former side.
Second only to DTH van der Merwe in the club’s list of all-time leading try-scorers, that night began Tommy Seymour’s decade-long association with the club that included 150 appearances, 49 tries and a place on the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.
The 2011/12 Player of the Season would also make himself known on that night in Belfast; whilst already holding a handful of appearances in Glasgow colours, Chris Fusaro would cement himself as part of the Warriors setup, becoming near-synonymous with the number seven jersey in the seasons that followed.
A season that started with seven Warriors helping Scotland to a Rugby World Cup quarter-final in France also saw two of Firhill’s famous flyers grace Glasgow turf for the first time, as Sean Lineen’s squad set out their stall for the season ahead.
With brother Thom having made his Glasgow debut in the 2006/07 campaign, Max Evans swiftly followed suit, the utility back scoring 10 tries in 63 appearances for the club – including an unforgettable away victory over European powerhouses Toulouse.
The opening game of the season also saw a piece of club history made – albeit one that would not become apparent until a few months down the line. By stepping onto the field at Cardiff Arms Park to take on Cardiff Blues, the unmistakable figure of Bernardo Stortoni began his club record run of 43 consecutive appearances in Glasgow colours, the Argentinian full-back becoming a cult hero during a four-year stint at the club.
With just three weeks until the Warriors step onto the field once more, who knows who we might be talking about when the 2027 Rugby World Cup rolls around?…