With Saturday’s game against Leinster becoming the second of their games in recent weeks to have been called off, Glasgow Warriors find themselves in a tricky position. The Champions Cup match with Racing 92 will be played in early January which means another Pro 12 fixture (away to Zebre) has to be rescheduled. With only 5 weekends potentially free between now and the final regular season fixture there isn’t much room for manoeuvre.
This is not the first first time that the Warriors have had to find space for delayed games. In December 2013 back to back games at Scotstoun were cancelled due to some fairly extreme weather conditions. Glasgow’s round 10 and round 12 fixtures (against Treviso and Edinburgh) had to be accommodated by moving them back to April and into the weekends scheduled for the Champions Cup. This left the team facing a run of 9 consecutive weeks with a match to play – a challenge they responded in fine style to by winning all 9 games (and this immediately after losing two in a row during the Six Nations period).
As things stand if the 2 postponed matches were to be moved into the international window then Glasgow are looking at the following potential fixture list without their Scotland players:
w/end 29/30/31 Jan – Ospreys (A) / Scotland players in camp?
w/end 5/6/7 Feb – Zebre (A) or Leinster (H) / Scotland v England
w/end 12/13/14 Feb – Ulster (A) / Wales v Scotland
w/end 19/20/21 Feb – Munster (H) / 6N rest week
w/end 26/27/28 Feb – Dragons (A) / Italy v Scotland
w/end 4/5/6 Mar – Blues (H) / 6N rest week
w/end 11/12/13 – Zebre (A) or Leinster (H) / Scotland v France
w/end 18/19/20 – rest week? / Ireland v Scotland
This would be an intense schedule and by the time it’s completed Glasgow would have had to get through 12 of their 17 games this season without their full complement of Scotland players. Of even more concern for the club (and the league) is likely to be that 6 of their 8 fixtures against the other perennial playoff contenders (Leinster, Munster, Ospreys and Ulster) would be played shorthanded. The Warriors will in all likelihood have been handicapped to a larger degree by international call-ups than their great rivals and the league will have lost out on some of the biggest clashes of the year.
With this campaign’s fixtures already congested by the World Cup it’s essential that Glasgow’s management are pushing for any decision on new dates to be delayed until the European fates of the clubs involved are decided. If it is possible then the Warriors will benefit far more from a schedule that sees the Champions Cup quarter final and semi final weekends being used for subsequent attempts at playing these games. The coaches will have far closer to a full squad to select from than if the fixtures are moved into the 2 free weekends during the 6 Nations. There are also ancillary benefits arising from the team and coaching staff having more time together, better conditions for Glasgow’s style of rugby and, for the home game against Leinster, potentially a larger capacity at Scotstoun. Whatever happens the Warriors are facing a very challenging second half to the season that will test them to the limit.