Wilson reacts to 2021/22 fixture announcement
Glasgow Warriors Head Coach Danny Wilson is relishing the start of the 2021/22 United Rugby Championship, following today’s confirmation of fixtures by the competition’s organisers.
An opening weekend visit to Ulster kicks off a first block of fixtures that will also see the Warriors host two of the new South African franchises in a mouth-watering double-header, with the Glasgow boss believing the returning Warrior Nation could be crucial in tipping the balance in favour of his side.
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“Looking at the first block of five games through to the autumn internationals, it’s a really exciting blend of new teams and we know pretty well,” Wilson told glasgowwarriors.org.
“Ulster away first up on a Friday night at the Kingspan is a tough but exciting opener – they beat us twice last season and we haven’t won over there in a long time, so it’s a great test for the boys for a first run out.
“To then come home and have back-to-back matches with two of the South African sides – two teams that we haven’t played before – is another exciting prospect for all involved. Hopefully they’ll be in front of a sold-out Scotstoun, too.
“Then it’s Zebre away and Leinster at home, and both of those fixtures present their own unique challenges. Going away to Italy to face either Benetton or Zebre is always a test, and everyone knows how tough an opponent Leinster are. We played really well to turn them over in the last match of last year, so we know they’ll be coming over to try and put that right and that we’ll have to be just as good as, if not better than, the last time we played them.”
The new competition format sees fixtures aligned to accommodate the international calendar, including a full month with no fixtures during the Autumn Nations Series in November. Whilst Wilson was quick to underline the importance of managing player welfare, he was also keen to praise the new format of the competition.
“Aligning the club and international calendars is a real positive,” he said.
“The structure this season is much better for us. We know that we’ll still have to manage players as playing week-in, week-out for club and country will be intense.”
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The festive double-header for the 1872 Cup is also likely to be amongst the first dates circled on the calendars of Glasgow supporters, with the Warriors hosting the opening match of the 2021/22 series at Scotstoun on Monday 27 December.
“Playing Edinburgh at Scotstoun is always a big occasion in the season,” said Wilson.
“The match last year in the Rainbow Cup was one where our emotion and pride in playing at home was right to the fore, and you saw the result of that. Any match against Edinburgh is always going to be tough, though.
“Hopefully the Warrior Nation can give us the extra boost in what’s always a tight game.”
Before the URC campaign gets underway, though, Wilson’s squad have a brace of pre-season fixtures to focus on, beginning with the visit of Newcastle Falcons in just a week’s time.
Whilst the full playing group is unlikely to train together for a couple more months, the Glasgow boss is nevertheless excited by the potential of his squad as the new season moves ever closer.
“We know we won’t have everyone in the building until November at the earliest – Josh McKay won’t be here until November, our Argentinian boys are away competing in the Rugby Championship and our Lions have still got a bit of time off,” he explained.
“The first block is going to be an opportunity for the players who are here now to stake a claim for positions and it’s an exciting group we’ve got here.
“There’s been a fair bit of change since last season, and it’ll take a bit of time to settle and gel as a squad, but we believe we’ve got a strong group who are ready to compete.”