That Champion Feeling

That Champion Feeling

Matt Fagerson’s Player of the Match medal sat proudly alongside his BKT United Rugby Championship winner’s medal as he walked off the Loftus Versfeld field, yet neither could compare to the brilliance of the grin that adorned the back-rower’s face at the full-time whistle.

For after 21 matches – the last of which saw 80 intense minutes of high-octane rugby played out against the backdrop of a raucous crowd of 50,000 on the high veldt in Pretoria – Glasgow Warriors had finally achieved their goal; champions.

“It’s pretty incredible,” said Fagerson just under 24 hours on from the result many are hailing as the best in the club’s history, the grin still present even following the night’s celebrations.

“This is one of those things that you dream about growing up, and to do it with this group is such a special feeling.

“To come away from home, come to Loftus Versfeld and come away with the trophy is just outstanding.”

As if the preceding 78 minutes weren’t enough, Glasgow’s last stand will live long in the annals of Scottish rugby history – and with stunningly good reason.

Camped on their own try-line with a blue wave intent on breaching the black wall, the Warriors stood firm, Fagerson and company unyielding until the final whistle sparked scenes of unmitigated jubilation.

“It’s funny really, because we all just knew what we had to do,” reflected the flanker.

“We have so much trust in our processes and what we can do as a group, and even though we were under the pump in the last two minutes we knew that our maul defence was a real strength of ours.

“The boys coming off the bench too – especially someone like Gregor Brown, who stepped up at the last minute and made a massive impact when he came on – gave everything and we had full trust in each other to get the job done.”

To a man, the Warriors stood up to be counted, with Fagerson’s back-row colleagues no exception.

The all-Scotland trio of Jack Dempsey, Rory Darge and Fagerson more than took the victory in a heavyweight back-row bout that had supporters and pundits alike salivating pre-match, each member of the triumvirate turning in totemic shifts under the Loftus floodlights.

“As a trio, Jack, Rory and I gel really well,” said Fagerson, somewhat modestly to say the least.

“Jack’s an incredible carrier and puts himself about so well, Rory is one of the best over the ball that I’ve ever seen, and I love playing with them.

“We knew that playing against the Bulls back-row of [Elrigh] Louw, [Marco] van Staden and [Cameron] Hanekom was going to be a challenge because they’ve had an unreal season together, and to come out on the right side of the result is such a brilliant feeling.”

Yet one final, crucial, irreplaceable component of Glasgow Warriors is still to have its moment in the spotlight with their heroes – not to mention the extra piece of luggage making the flight home.

With the support from the Warrior Nation back home felt nearly 14,000 kilometres away in the South African capital, the homecoming promises to be electric.

“This trophy is just as much theirs as it is ours,” said Fagerson.

“We can’t wait to celebrate with everyone back home – to be able to lift the trophy in front of our friends, family and supporters is going to be absolutely unbelievable.”

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