Once A Warrior 2020 part 5: The Fortysomethings

Rory Hughes

Warrior number – 226

Appearances – 49
Tries – 6

Debut – Connacht at Scotstoun, 9th February 2014
Last game – Cardiff Blues at Scotstoun, 12th October 2019

Rory Hughes – Rozza. An authentic Weegie voice in the dressing room and a suitably gallus presence on the park. This was a man who once scored a try on one leg (against the Dragons in 2017) and another with one working arm (against Cardiff Blues in 2018).

The wholehearted way Rory played the game must have contributed to his misfortune in the number of injuries he suffered. He lined up every hit like it was his last and occasionally came off the worse for it.

Along the way in his Warriors’ journey there were some pretty memorable moments. A first ever try against the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium. Being stopped inches short of scoring one of the club’s all-time great European tries against Leicester at Scotstoun. Arms outstretched in front of the West Stand after a perfect line took him through the Benetton defence untouched. (As the man himself said “The crowd went mental, so I just went mental too”)

If you can’t see it you can’t be it. For the last six years Rory has shown that kids from a non-traditional rugby background can go on to be professional players. They can go on to be capped by Scotland. Hopefully one of the areas that Rozza has impacted is opening up rugby a bit more in Glasgow and the surrounding areas. That would be a hell of a legacy to show for his time with the Warriors.

Moving to – unconfirmed

Callum Gibbins

Warrior number – 287

Appearances – 47
Tries – 13

Debut – Ospreys at Scotstoun, 9th September 2017
Last game – Leinster at the RDS, 28th February 2020

There were some big boots to fill for Callum Gibbins when he arrived at Scotstoun. The former Hurricanes’ player was a direct replacement for departed fan favourite and Exocet missile of a tackler, Simone Favaro. Cully brought a similarly wholehearted commitment to the cause, exemplified by his first outing in a Glasgow shirt when he tried his best to fight as many Ospreys’ players as possible.

* Please note – artist’s impression only, not actual game footage.

He was a teak tough defender; an inspirational leader; and he had skills. If there’s any big takeaway for young Scottish players who’ve been mentored by Cully it’s hopefully that ability to be comfortable on the ball, to beat a defender with a catch and pass that Kiwi rugby players seem to have as second nature (really a result of years being expected to do more than hit the next contact as hard as possible).

Cully skippered Glasgow on 22 occasions – only a handful of men have lead the club more often. Warriors’ captains have always helped to set the tone; the level of work expected; the standards required. They’ve also been influential on the wider culture of the club, keeping the playing unit a tight and welcoming group. Cully’s participation in Scrum Bags, the Warriors’ band, was emblematic of a group of players who want to stick together.

Cully and Ryan Wilson’s leadership and influence on maintaining the family ethos of the club provides a selling point to persuade players to stay, join or rejoin – even though the wages on offer may not match up to other teams.

In a few years’ time hopefully Cully can visit Glasgow and see the influence his attitude and playing style have had on the next generation of Warriors’ players. Just as long as it doesn’t extend to their hairstyles…

Moving to – unconfirmed

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