Once a Warrior 2018 part 2: Lions

Only six men have earned their British and Irish Lions number while playing for the Warriors. The second part of On Top Of The Moon’s thank you to this season’s departees bids a fond farewell to two players from that elite group.

Ryan Grant

Appearances – 112
Tries – 8

Debut – Leinster at Firhill, 3 September 2010
Last game – Ulster at Kingspan Stadium, 21 April 2018

Ryan Grant leaves the Warriors as a Centurion, a Scotland international, a Lion and one of the club’s all-time greats at loosehead prop.

There was little expectation of such remarkable achievements to come back in 2010 when he followed the trail blazed by Al Kellock and Dougie Hall in moving from Edinburgh to Glasgow. Unlike his predecessors, Ryan hadn’t been able to really make his mark on the capital club’s first team with just 2 starts after joining from the Border Reivers. Warriors’ fans might have been forgiven for thinking they were maybe getting a squad player at best but some powerful scrummaging and all-action performances in the loose soon disabused them of that notion!

The real peak for Ryan came between 2011 and 2013 when he played 55 games across two seasons for Glasgow and Scotland and came as close as the bench to a Test cap for the Lions. Injuries (and a short spell with the other Warriors of Worcester) had a pretty significant impact on his remaining time with the club but he still added another 44 appearances and joined the ranks of the Centurions against Treviso towards the end of 2015.

Ryan was just the fourth player to feature for the British and Irish Lions whilst a Glasgow Warrior. He became Lion number 802 when he came off the bench against the Combined Country XV in 2013.

Moved to – Retiring from rugby

Finn Russell

Appearances – 81
Tries – 7
Points – 600

Debut – Zebre at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, 10 February 2013
Last game – Scarlets at Scotstoun Stadium, 18 May 2018

It’s just been a lot of fun watching Finn. The entertainment value (not to mention the what the…hell factor!) have been high whenever he’s been on the pitch.

For an overnight success there was a bit of a slow burn before Finn burst through for Glasgow. There was a spell in NZ when positive feedback started to filter through to the Warriors’ hardcore; a first taste of action in a Glasgow shirt against Zebre; the early starts at centre as Gregor Townsend eased him into the first team.

Towards the end of the 2013/14 campaign he was sharing time in the 10 shirt with Duncan Weir and Ruaridh Jackson but it was becoming undeniable that he was Glasgow’s first choice. He cemented this by starting the semi-final and final of that season’s playoffs, going 100% from the tee across the 2 matches (in fact until his final game against the Scarlets, Finn hadn’t missed a single shot at goal in the post-season).

From that point it was confirmed – he was Glasgow’s number one number 10, leading them to the Grand Final the following season with “The Pass” followed by “The Kick” against Ulster in the playoff semi-final. In tandem with this club success he also nailed down the stand off role for Scotland, making a huge impression on the Scottish attacking threat. In his 37 Tests so far the national side have only failed to score a try once. In the 37 Tests pre-Finn the dark blues couldn’t make it over the tryline in 16 of their matches.

The idea that he might return after a few years in the Top 14 has been mentioned by a number of people. The thought of an older, wiser Finn coming home to the Warriors is a fascinating one. Whatever he does hopefully he never loses that gallus nature and continues to play the game with a smile on his face.

Until the summer of 2021 Finn will be the most recent British and Irish Lion (number 835) after his appearance as a temporary replacement against the Hurricanes in New Zealand.

Moved to – Racing 92

Part 1 – Legends is here taking in Pat MacArthur, Henry Pyrgos and Richie Vernon

Part 3 – La Dolce Vita is here looking at Leonardo Sarto and Samuela Vunisa

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