Plotting a route to the 2017 playoffs – Glasgow

The Warriors’ form has been more than a touch variable this season. A couple of crucial spells in particular have put them behind the 8-ball at the halfway stage in the 2016/17 campaign. First up just 2 points were collected from Cardiff Blues (A) and Ulster (H) – 2 fixtures which generated 9 points last year. Then the Autumn Internationals returned a frankly disastrous single point from 3 games – all of which had provided a bonus point win in 2015/16. So how can Glasgow turn this around and still make the playoffs for the 6th consecutive season?

Glasgow v the corresponding fixtures last year

  1. Connacht (A) 5 points in 2016/17 v 1 point in 2015/16
  2. Leinster (H) 5 v 4
  3. Cardiff Blues (A) 1 v 5
  4. Ulster (H) 1 v 4
  5. Zebre (A) 5 v 5
  6. Dragons (A) 4 v 4
  7. Treviso (H) 5 v 4
  8. Scarlets (A) 0 v 5
  9. Ospreys (H) 0 v 5
  10. Munster (H) 1 v 5
  11. Edinburgh (A) 4 v 0

TOTAL 31 v 42

So the Warriors are 11 points behind the amount they picked up from the equivalent matches last year – a season where they ultimately finished up with 72 points and 3rd place in the league.

Glasgow v the same(ish) stage of the season last year:

There’s no direct comparison as the Warriors had only managed to complete 9 games by the 27th of December rather than 11. But taking the first 50% of the 2015/16 season’s fixtures Glasgow only won 29 points, before storming through the other half of the campaign, winning a further 43 in that part of the year. This is slightly more encouraging for Warriors’ fans, but bear in mind that big away trips to Dublin, Limerick and Swansea fell into the front end of last season but have still to come in the remaining matches for 2016/17.

The target

For the last 3 seasons the side that placed 4th has collected 70, 69 and 69 points so the initial goal has to be to at least match the lower of these totals. With just 31 points on the board from the first half of the season there is little room for manoeuvre for the Warriors to get 38 points out of a maximum of 55 from the remaining 11 fixtures.

Glasgow’s run-in

The expectation will be that the Warriors should be stronger in the 2nd half of this season – but it’s important to take into account the opposition they will be facing. Taking a final points total of 69 as giving a really strong chance of making the playoffs the Warriors are likely to need to win 8 of these 12 games and collect 6 bonus points.

  • Home comforts: Glasgow have already lost 3 times at Scotstoun this season – as many defeats as in nearly 4 years prior to that most recent reverse against Munster. Put simply they must win every single one of their remaining 6 games at home if there is to be any chance of reaching the playoffs.
  • Bonus points: wins alone will probably not be enough to see the Warriors into 4th (or better). 4 or 5 try bonus points (from 8 wins) added to 1 or 2 losing bonus points (from 3 defeats) will help to make up some of the ground lost in the early part of the season. Previous try BPs under Gregor Townsend:
    • Treviso away – 4 wins, 3 BPs
    • Cardiff Blues home – 4 wins, 2 BPs
    • Scarlets home – 2 wins, 0 BPs
    • Dragons home – 3 wins, 2 BPs
    • Connacht home – 4 wins, 2 BPs
    • Zebre home – 4 wins, 3 BPs
    • Edinburgh home – 3 wins, 1 BP
  • Away days: The final piece of the puzzle is success on the road. 2 wins are required, with the most obvious target for one of those victories being Hogmanay’s game against Treviso. After that though it becomes very tough. Glasgow’s romp at Parc y Scarlets is the only time they have beaten another top 6 side on the road in the last 2 seasons. The remaining away days are at some of the most intimidating venues in the Pro 12:
    • Ulster at the Kingspan (where Toony has 1 win out of 4)
    • Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium (2 wins out of 4)
    • Munster [venue tbc but likely to be Thomond Park] (1 win out of 4)
    • Leinster at the RDS (0 wins out of 4)

The Ospreys would seem the most likely opportunity for upsetting the odds – but of the 4 fixtures mentioned that is the one that will see the weakest Glasgow squad on show, taking place as it does on the day after Scotland face off against Wales at Murrayfield…

The route to the playoffs

Putting all this together gives a target fixture list that looks like this:

Pre-Six Nations fixtures:

Sat 31 Dec – Treviso (A) *
Sat 7 Jan – Cardiff Blues (H) *

Fixtures during Six Nations:

Fri 10 Feb – Scarlets (H) / France v Scotland (Sun)
Sat 18 Feb – Ulster (A) / 6N rest week
Sun 26 Feb – Ospreys (A) / Scotland v Wales (Sat)
Sat 4 Mar – Dragons (H) * / 6N rest week

Post Six Nations fixtures:

24/25/26 Mar – Connacht (H)
7/8/9 Apr – Munster (A)
14/15/16 Apr – Zebre (H) *
28/29/30 Apr – Leinster (A)
Sat 6 May – Edinburgh (H)

Fixtures in blue represent targeted wins. Fixtures with an asterisk represent targeted try bonus points. The 4 away games need to produce 1 further win and a couple of losing bonus points. (NB this would give a total of 38 points for these 11 games, compared with the 30 won from the same fixtures last season.)


Clearly this is just one possible route. An extra win reduces the need for bonus points and being extremely efficient with the BPs could see the target achieved from 7 wins. But looking at the fixtures remaining and what is likely to be required to make the playoffs this seems the most straightforward way of achieving that goal.

With the way the league has effectively divided itself in two, there are likely to be 6 sides chasing 4 qualification spots. Glasgow have a very small margin for error if they want to maintain Gregor Townsend’s 100% record of making it to the post season. And that’s before even considering that in the history of the Pro 12 placing 3rd or 4th has only ever lead to losing in the semi-finals…

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2 comments

  1. I think it is going to be a bridge too far this season unfortunately: particularly if we have designs to be playing knock out CC rugby as well. The last minute Munster loss and and/or the shocking performances against Scarlets and Ospreys will prove costly.

    We will just have to seek solace in Glasgow winning the Champions Cup and Scotland getting a slam!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah a Champions Cup quarter final instead of a week off just after the Six Nations would have huge implications for rest protocols and the strength of sides we could put out for 3 or 4 rounds of Pro 12 games! We need some of the fringe players to really step up.

      Like

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