Glasgow in the Celtic League – 5 Milestone Matches

As the Warriors reach the 20th anniversary of their first ever game in the Celtic League, On Top Of The Moon reflects on five regular season matches marking milestones in their journey.

First game

Leinster v Glasgow at Donnybrook
17 August 2001

It was 20 years ago today that Glasgow played their first match in the newly formed Celtic League. After a couple of seasons of the Welsh-Scottish League it was the addition of the Irish sides that inaugurated the league that has now developed into what will be the United Rugby Championship.

Glasgow’s first ever chance to tackle Irish heavyweights, Leinster at Donnybrook didn’t go too well as the Dubliners emerged victorious by 39-11! Skipper Andy Nicol scored the Weegies’ only try with the boot of Tommy Hayes adding six points.

The team that day was:

15. Graeme Kiddie, 14. Jon Steel, 13. James McLaren, 12. Andy Henderson, 11. Rory Kerr, 10. Tommy Hayes, 9. Andy Nicol; 1. Dave Hilton, 2. Gordon Bulloch, 3. Lee Harrison, 4. Steve Griffiths, 5. Jason White, 6. Gordon Simpson, 7. Donnie MacFadyen, 8. Jon Petrie
Subs – Gavin Scott, Cameron Blades, Nathan Ross, Gareth Flockhart, Chris Black, Ian McInroy, Jonathan Stuart

First win

Glasgow v Pontypridd at Hughenden
31 August 2001

It took until the club’s fourth game in the new league structure before they grabbed their inaugural win. Oddly, this fixture also counted as Round 2 of the final season of the Welsh-Scottish League as well as being Round 4 of the debut Celtic League campaign!

At Hughenden, Pontypridd were smashed 59-14 (just two days after Glasgow had themselves conceded 50 in a heavy defeat away to Bridgend). The home side crossed for 9 tries (7 of which were converted by Tommy Hayes). Roland Reid – playing on the wing in this game – had a starring role, bagging a hat-trick. There were also tries for Lee Harrison, Tommy Hayes, James McLaren, Glenn Metcalfe, Jon Steel and Jason White.

Big Al’s first win

Glasgow v Munster at Hughenden
15 September 2006

The Sean Lineen era was when the heavy lifting really began in turning the Warriors into championship contenders. Almost certainly the biggest signing of the coach’s reign was bringing Al Kellock across from Edinburgh. Adding new faces like Thom Evans, Andy Newman and Justin Va’a to the existing homegrown talent meant there was some real positivity around the club after the disappointments of finishing last the previous season.

The first win of this era ought to have come in the opening game against the Dragons but after building a big lead inexperience saw it slip away. There would be no repeat two weeks later when a Munster side travelled to Hughenden expecting the Glasgow pack to still be soft touches but then found themselves facing off against Kellock, Newman and Va’a any time they tried to niggle or needle the home forwards!

Euan Murray and Sam Pinder were both yellow carded in a bruising and sometimes ill-tempered match. This was where the Warriors established that they would not be taking a backward step for anyone and the foundations started to be built for the culture that would carry them to the PRO12 title 9 years later.

Slaying the Dragons

Glasgow v Dragons at Firhill
4 April 2010

Over the years the Dragons have proved to be somewhat of a bogey side for Glasgow. In the first 9 years of the league the club only managed to win 3 of their 13 fixtures against the Welsh side. What’s more Glasgow came into this game on a run of 4 matches without a victory and their ambitions of reaching the newly instituted playoffs were beginning to fade.

It wasn’t easy but the Warriors’ back 3 proved the difference with Bernardo Stortoni, DTH van der Merwe and Colin Shaw all crossing for tries. This sparked a streak of 4 straight wins that propelled the club into 3rd place and a trip to play Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium in the playoffs.

Finishing first

Glasgow v Ulster at Scotstoun
16 May 2015

The climax to the 2014/15 regular season was a tense affair. Glasgow and Ulster were both hunting for a home playoff semi-final. Being the hosts in Round 22 should have meant advantage to the Warriors but it certainly didn’t pan out that way.

The players were off the pace. The crowd was anxious. Ulster were in front. Even nice lad Jonny Gray managed to get on the wrong side of the ref and pick up just the second yellow card of his career. Pretty much nothing was going Glasgow’s way – until Stuart Hogg picked up the ball.

After 54 minutes of pretty turgid rugby, Hoggy brought Scotstoun to its feet with a chip, chase, pickup and score. It was a moment that lifted the whole side and they never looked back as they racked up the 4-try bonus point to clinch a home semi-final.

The coup de grace was delivered after the final whistle. Ospreys had started the day at the top of the table and had been leading 24-0 (with 3 tries on the board) away to Connacht at half-time. They were dead certs to finish first. To general disbelief – and then an eruption of joy – the announcement came over the tannoy that the Os had failed to secure their BP. Glasgow Warriors had finished top of the PRO12 table.

If you fancy a bit more nostalgia that takes in some key post season matches OTOTM has you covered with the playoff memories series:

Ospreys, 14 May 2010:

Munster, 16 May 2014:

Ulster, 22 May 2015:

Munster, 30 May 2015:

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