Need to Know: Glasgow v Munster Match Preview (CC 2016/17)

KO 5.30 at Sold Out Scotstoun Stadium, Saturday 14th January 2017
Live on Sky Sports 2

  • The Warriors have never won more than 3 matches in a single Champions Cup campaign – can they make it 4 in 2016/17 against Munster?
  • Glasgow have also never won all 3 home matches in a European pool stage.
  • The home side have 3 wins from 11 fixtures against Irish opposition in the Champions Cup.
  • This will be just the second time that the club’s European matches have attracted over 20,000 fans in a season.
  • The Warriors are looking for their 10th Champions Cup win at Scotstoun (from a total of 17 matches played).

Team Talk:
Toony Tombola seemingly doesn’t apply when it comes to Glasgow’s European campaign. Even an ardent backer of rotation like Gregor Townsend, who has used 51 different players already this season, has found a settled side he likes the balance of and has, by and large, stuck by it.

Of the forwards only Josh Strauss has not started every single match, taking bench duty for the away fixture against Racing 92. In the backs injuries to first choice wings have seen some alterations (and Leonardo Sarto remains on the absentees list) but until this match the only other change had been Ali Price seizing the number 9 jersey from Henry Pyrgos.

This will be the first time in Toony’s reign that the club have named a starting XV entirely composed of Scottish capped internationals. The entire 23 are also qualified to play for Scotland with the uncapped trio of D’arcy Rae, Matt Fagerson and Nick Grigg all good prospects to play Test rugby in the next few years.

Starting XV stats:

  • Average age – GLA 25.7   MUN 26.2
  • Capped internationals – GLA 15   MUN 10
  • Test caps won – GLA 289   MUN 259
  • Scottish / Irish qualified players – GLA 15   MUN 13
  • Pack weights – GLA 893kg   MUN 880kg


15 Stuart Hogg
14 Tommy Seymour
13 Mark Bennett
12 Alex Dunbar
11 Lee Jones
10 Finn Russell
9 Ali Price
15 Simon Zebo
14 Andrew Conway
13 Jaco Taute
12 Rory Scannell
11 Keith Earls
10 Tyler Bleyendaal
9 Conor Murray

1 Gordon Reid
2 Fraser Brown
3 Zander Fagerson
4 Tim Swinson
5 Jonny Gray (c)
6 Robert Harley
7 Ryan Wilson
8 Josh Strauss

1 Dave Kilcoyne
2 Niall Scannell
3 John Ryan
4 Jean Kleyn

5 Donnacha Ryan
6 Peter O’Mahony (c)
7 Jack O’Donoghue
8 CJ Stander

16 Pat MacArthur
17 Alex Allan
18 D’arcy Rae
19 Matt Fagerson
20 Chris Fusaro
21 Grayson Hart
22 Nick Grigg
23 Peter Murchie

16 Rhys Marshall
17 James Cronin
18 Thomas Du Toit
19 Dave Foley
20 Billy Holland
21 Duncan Williams
22 Ian Keatley
23 Francis Saili

Head to Head:
For the head to heads from the previous match click here.

Back 3 – ADV Glasgow
Centres – ADV Glasgow
Half Backs – EVEN
Front Row – ADV Munster
Second Row – ADV Glasgow
Back Row – ADV Munster
Subs – ADV Munster

There are a handful of changes in the starting line-ups from the last time these 2 sides met. The return of Tommy Seymour is a big boost for Glasgow whereas on the other side Munster have lost possibly their breakout player of the year in Darren Sweetnam. Andrew Conway is a more than able deputy though and will have serious intentions of hanging on to a starting jersey.

In midfield Sam Johnson’s omission means he misses his first European game since last January. Not having that second distributor will change the Warriors approach in attack and also leaves Mark Bennett with a big responsibility in defence.

The Glasgow pack are unchanged from that match at Thomond Park and will be looking for revenge, having been bullied up front by Munster. The visitors have a couple of different faces on show but Jean Kleyn for Billy Holland and Jack O’Donoghue for Tommy O’Donnell has little impact on their quality and will make no difference to the kind of physical gameplan they will look to impose at Scotstoun.

The Munster bench is probably stronger than it was for the match in Round 2 but Glasgow’s absentees will leave less room for manoeuvre for Gregor Townsend. Could this be a crucial factor when games between these sides in Scotland have often been decided by just 1 or 2 points?

Glasgow Greetings:
D’arcy Rae will become the 200th player to feature for Warriors in the Champions Cup when he makes his European debut off the bench.

Matchday Milestones:
34 matches seems an odd number for a milestone but when he comes on it’s the number that will take Pat MacArthur into 4th (equal) on the all-time list for Warriors’ Champions Cup appearances. Only John Barclay (36), Tommy Hayes (36) and Gordon Bulloch (41) are still ahead of him.

99 Glasgow players have picked up points for the club in European competition. Can Lee Jones, Gordon Reid, Zander Fagerson, Ryan Wilson or any one of 6 players listed among the replacements become the 100th scorer against Munster?

Warriors One to Watch:
It’s rare that Robert Harley finds himself confronted by a player who revels as much as he does in the unseen and unglamourous dirty work. That will be the case this weekend though with Peter O’Mahony one of the Northern Hemisphere’s premier exponents of putting his body on the line for little more reward than making his teammates look good.

Big Bad Bob will have to be at his reductionist best if he is to help the Glasgow pack dismantle Munster’s rucking and mauling efficiency in attack and he’ll need to counter POM’s huge workrate in their individual battle. The Ginger Ninja is also one of the keys to the Warriors’ own effective presentation of possession at the breakdown – a duty he can solely focus on in attack with a number of strong ball-carrying options elsewhere among the Glasgow forwards.

Toony’s Track Record…
…against Pro 12 sides in the Champions Cup:

    • 2 wins, 5 losses. 1 Try BP, 1 Losing BP. 10 points in total out of a possible 35.
    • Scarlets are the only Pro 12 side that Gregor Townsend’s men have beaten in European competition.

Key stats from Round 2:
The Good
94%: Tackle completion. Bizarrely, in a game that ended up as their biggest defeat of the season, Glasgow put in their best tackling numbers of the campaign – only 7 tackles were missed. What this illustrates of course is that not all tackles are created equal – if ground is being lost and no pressure is being put on the subsequent breakdown, simply bringing an opponent to ground is not enough. The Warriors need to be far more aggressive in defence to keep their line intact this time out.

The Bad
10: Number of kicks. It’s rare that OTOTM will advocate more kicking – usually a scourge of the game – but Glasgow played huge swathes of the Thomond Park fixture in the wrong areas of the pitch and at all turns were confronted by a stifling Munster defence that made them fight for every metre. Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg’s kicking from hand, allied to the chase put in by their teammates, has to be absolutely on the money to keep the Warriors on the front foot.

The Ugly
5: Tries conceded. It was more than 3 years since Glasgow had given up as many scores – not since another European away day against Toulon in fact. Almost all areas of the Warriors’ game were just that 5% or so below where they should have been and Munster needed no second invitation to take advantage. It’s unlikely the home side will be as accommodating this time around but if there are any areas that are misfiring they have to be able to adapt and make changes on the field before the match gets away from them.

Home and Away:
Glasgow last 6 pool matches (H) – W L W W W W
Munster last 6 pool matches (A) – L L L W L W

Referee: Luke Pearce (Eng)
Assistant Referees: Matthew Carley (Eng), Wayne Falla (Eng)
TMO: Graham Hughes (Eng)
Citing Commissioner: Andy Blyth (Eng)

Mr. Pearce was the youngest man to referee an Aviva Premiership match when he made his debut as a 23 year old in 2011 and is now in his 4th season in the Champions Cup. Even the occasionally tetchy Scotstoun faithful should hold no fears for the Pontypool-born whistler who had a punch thrown at him by a fan after an English Championship game early in his career.

He is pretty much right on the average for a Premiership ref at just under 1 card per game, although he has yet to sin bin anyone in this season’s Champions Cup…In his only previous Warriors fixture, Mr. Pearce did demonstrate he will whistle a team off the park if they get on his bad side. Fortunately it wasn’t Glasgow on that occasion but rather Montpellier who conceded 19 penalties and 2 yellow cards at Scotstoun in a disinterested performance that could only have been more quintessentially French if they had all stood around shrugging while smoking Gauloises.

For any Glasgow fans who will be at Scotstoun on Saturday night – here’s the noise level that’s required from the start right through to the final whistle…


  1. Loved your description of the French team above and enjoyed your preview overall, will be interesting to see how many of the RedArmy end up with tickets to the game and what that does to the noise levels throughout. Both teams will give their supporters plenty to shout about anyway with so much at stake and so many internationals on both teams. Can’t wait for kickoff, my second visit to Scotstoun 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It should be a great game. There were plenty of Munster fans over for the Pro 12 semi-final and I think both sets of supporters spurred each other on to make more noise! That was possibly the best atmosphere I’ve experienced at Scotstoun and also a great advert for the level the Pro 12 can reach.


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