Glasgow Warriors Issue Warning To Emirates Lions In EPCR Challenge Cup


As if their 73-33 demolition of Welsh side Dragons wasn’t proof enough of Glasgow Warriors’ form heading into their EPCR Challenge Cup quarterfinal against the Emirates Lions on Saturday night, the side has now sent out a warning - they can be better.

Franco Smith’s rugby revolution at the Scotsoun is gaining momentum and the record-breaking playoff win has made them massive favourites against a Lions side that needs to travel from South Africa for Saturday night’s match.

Smith’s side is keen on claiming their first-ever European semifinal and it was clear as the head coach warned them they hadn’t won anything yet. 

But on a winning streak that has seen just one loss in their last 14 matches - that one to the same Emirates Lions in Johannesburg, Glasgow have qualified for the quarterfinals of both the Vodacom United Rugby Championship and the EPCR Challenge Cup. 

And now are intent on going further.

Smith challenged his side to be more clinical when they meet the Lions, a team that shocked them in Johannesburg with some long-range tries.

“There are a lot of things we can do much better, but for tonight we must take the joy out of the win,” he said.

“There was a conversation in the changing room – I don’t want to say we are disappointed, but we are not completely happy with how it went. That’s the group, not me. The fact that we’ve allowed them to score three tries with only 14 players on the field hurts.”

“The fact they scored any points hurts for us because it’s our objective to be as good as we can be on both sides of the ball. For tonight there is a lot of joy we must take, but it is not our objective to chase records. If it happens, compliments to the players and coaches, definitely.

“But our objective is to be the best we can be. We took some good strides but we can still be a lot more clinical.”

And this was echoed as the build-up to the Lions game started by assistant coach Pete Horne. If they let their guard down now, it could all be for nothing.

“There is a real steely determination to make sure we aren’t content with what we have done so far. Franco summed it up when he asked what’s different between last season and this season up to now?’ And the answer is ‘nothing’. If we bomb out of the Challenge Cup against the Lions and lose our last couple of games in the URC then it will end with a similar sort of feel to last year.” Horne said.

Before Smith arrived Glasgow lost their final five matches last season and was demolished by Leinster in the URC quarterfinals 76-14. It was a loss that cost Danny Wilson his job and brought Smith to the helm.

Horne said the team were in a very good spot at the moment. “When you look at our squad on paper, we absolutely should be here. At the start of the season, we were pretty excited but there have been some people who have really surprised everyone, they maybe just needed a new lease on life. 

“Last year it was a case of ‘that should never have happened and we can’t let it happen again’, so it wasn’t that we needed to change our expectations – this is where we believe we should be. It is exciting when you look at the team and some of the guys we are leaving out – we’re in a good spot.”

Horne is also not taking the Lions lightly, especially as they were beaten in Johannesburg.

“It will be a real challenge. The Lions are so unpredictable, they’re loose as anything with dangerous runners. The tries they scored against us last time came from absolutely nothing – just someone beating a couple of guys and making an 80-yard linebreak. It will be a big test but we’re looking forward to it. It won’t be at altitude and 30 degrees so it will hopefully suit our boys a little bit more. The good thing is that we want to play rugby, so hopefully coming into the tail end of the season with better weather, it will allow our skills to be a little bit sharper. Fingers crossed it will suit our game.

“This was always my favourite bit of the season. We’re getting to the tail end, with huge games on two fronts. This is exactly where you want to be. Training is a bit spicier, everyone is on it and desperate to play, nobody wants to be rotated out anymore, and nobody is looking for a rest. Everybody is gunning for it and hopefully, we can sell out the stadium this weekend. It would be a massive occasion if we were to make a semi-final, but Franco has been really good about not looking too far ahead. He’s all about the process, let’s go smash the Lions this weekend and see what happens.”

The message is loud and clear: The Lions can’t say they haven’t been warned.