It’s been six years to the day since Glasgow’s very first experience of the reintroduced Celtic League playoffs – a semi-final against the Ospreys. After a campaign of highs (such as a stunning victory at Ravenhill that took the Warriors to the top of the league) and lows (for example a chastening 30-7 loss at home to the Blues) it took a late season charge of four wins in a row to keep their season alive. Missed bonus points were to prove costly though and with the Os nicking 2nd place by a single point it meant a trip to the Liberty Stadium was on the cards…
This inaugural trip to the post-season was conclusive evidence of the progress made under Sean Lineen. The Kilted Kiwi’s tenure had started at the very tail end of the 2005/06 campaign which saw the Warriors finish dead last and not long after barely survive the cull when the Scottish pro sides were cut from three to two. This was version one of the Lineen project, largely based on more experienced players (as can be seen from the fact that two thirds of them are now retired!) imported from outwith the club’s structures. The presence of MacArthur, Weir and Horne on the bench hinted at the direction that would be followed in subsequent seasons and which would form the basis (after a year off for rebuilding) for version two and launch the Warriors towards five consecutive trips to the playoffs.
15. Bernardo Stortoni – retired
14. DTH van der Merwe – Scarlets
13. Hefin O’Hare – retired
12. Graeme Morrison – retired
11. Rob Dewey – retired
10. Dan Parks – retired
9. Mark McMillan – retired
1. Ed Kalman – retired
2. Fergus Thomson – retired
3. Moray Low – Exeter Chiefs
4. Tim Barker – retired
5. Al Kellock – retired
6. Kelly Brown – Saracens
7. John Barclay – Scarlets
8. Johnnie Beattie – Castres
16. Pat MacArthur – Glasgow Warriors
17. Kevin Tkachuk – retired
18. Dan Turner – retired
19. James Eddie – retired
20. Duncan Weir – Glasgow Warriors (soon to be Edinburgh)
21. Peter Horne – Glasgow Warriors
22. Colin Shaw – retired
The game itself was something of an anti-climax for Glasgow fans. Given the depths the club had risen from it’s understandable there may have been an element of ‘mission accomplished’ in simply getting to the post season. The Warriors also had the misfortune of coming up against the Ospreys at the height of the ‘Galacticos’ era. As an example this was the season of peak Killer B in the back row for Glasgow but they came up against an Os unit containing two All Blacks and a British Lion – the late Jerry Collins, Marty Holah and Ryan Jones – supplemented by the ageless Filo Tiatia off the bench (still the toughest back rower I’ve ever seen play in the Magners League / Pro 12).
There weren’t too many highlights for the Warriors – although Fergus Thomson played possibly his best game for the club and did his best to drive the team forward at every opportunity. It may have been 80 fruitless minutes of effort but there was no disgrace in losing to an Ospreys’ side that would go on to pull off a stunning victory in the final, toppling Leinster on their own turf at the RDS. Ultimately this season and the experience gained in reaching and participating in the playoffs was another brick in the foundations that built the 2015/16 Championship winning squad.
Next up, on Monday, a look back at Glasgow’s first home playoff and 5 tension-filled minutes that sealed the game against Munster.