RaboDirect Pro12: Dougie Hall plays down Glasgow’s dominance

RaboDirect Pro12: Dougie Hall plays down Glasgow Warrior's dominance of Scottish rugby

Henry Pyrgos and Dougie Hall Photo: SNS Group/SRU

Dougie Hall has played down Glasgow Warriors’ dominance of Scottish rugby ahead of tonight’s crunch derby clash with Edinburgh.

Capacity at Scotstoun Stadium has been increased to 10,000 for the second leg of the 1872 Cup clash with the Warriors aiming to move second in the RaboDirect Pro12 if they can secure another win, but Hall insists form counts for nothing against their biggest rivals.

You can always throw the form book out going into a derby too, so we’re certainly not taking this challenge easily

Dougie Hall

“I think this is the perfect game to have now because it’s a derby,” said Hall. “It’s another big game—it’s a game that matters a hell of a lot to us and I imagine it will to them.

“You can always throw the form book out going into a derby too, so we’re certainly not taking this challenge easily.”

While the Warriors are riding high in the league and on a run of five straight wins, Edinburgh’s fortunes have yet to reach many heights under the leadership of Alan Solomons.

Last week’s defeat to bottom side Zebre was among the disappointments this season as they languish in the bottom half of the table and now unable to qualify for next season’s Rugby Champions Cup, but the former Scotland hooker insists that the Warriors are focused only on a win.

“You can look at those extra things up for grabs, but it’s Edinburgh at home in front of what will hopefully be a sell-out crowd,” he added. “It’s huge for the players and it’s huge for Glasgow rugby.

“We’re really excited about it as a squad and we’re trying to keep out feet on the ground in a number of respects.

“We know, over there, we didn’t actually play that well against them last time and they could have— possibly should have—beaten us if they’d taken a few more of their opportunities.

“They’re more than good: they’ve beaten Leinster, Ospreys and Munster this year in various competitions. We give ourselves a big pat on the back for beating those guys and we should do the same for Edinburgh—that’s some formidable opposition they’ve put away this year.

“We could be on that list and our job is to make sure we’re not.”

Much has been made about Edinburgh’s poor record in the clash of Scotland’s two remaining professional club sides with no win for the capital side in Glasgow since 2003, although they did manage a draw at Firhill in 2011, but lost 20-16 at Murrayfield in December despite outplaying the Warriors.

And Hall—who spent five seasons at Edinburgh between 2002 and 2007 before heading back to Glasgow—firmly believes it’s an irrelevant stat.

“Does it matter? It’s a different game,” he said. “It’s so week to week, rugby—it has to be, and the opposition will be different each week. We lost to the Dragons twice this year, a side that—on paper —we shouldn’t come close to losing to.

“I think you have to prepare for every game and one of the things we’ve done well this year is prepare for every game and every opposition as if they’re a top four side in the league.”

Solomons’ arrival at Edinburgh has seen a glut of southern hemisphere imports join him, which has been roundly criticised for denying young Scots the chance of developing at a Scottish club.

The case in Glasgow is the exact opposite with their strong squad dominated by Scottish internationals under the leadership of Gregor Townsend with a smattering of foreign players – notably a trio of Fijians in Niko Matawalu, Jerry Yanuyanutawa and Leone Nakawara, and Canadian wing DTH van der Merwe, all of whom have become an integral part of Townsend’s squad, but not at the expense of homegrown talent when it comes to the match-day squads.

This summer will see a trio of experienced Scottish internationals already confirmed to be heading south from Glasgow to the Aviva Premiership for a new challenge—outside-half Ruaridh Jackson to London Wasps, scrum-half and occasional captain Chris Cusiter to Sale Sharks and tighthead prop Moray Low to Exeter Chiefs.

But Hall insists the strength of the squad is what makes the Warriors the formidable side they are.

“This squad is so talented and so strong in depth, if you don’t play well one week you’ll be out,” he added. “If you play really badly you might not even be on the bench. That’s good, it’s probably what has made us competitive, has made us capable of reaching the top half of the league. It’s a real strength.

“When you look at the guys who don’t get to play sometimes week in week out in this squad, they would get into a lot of teams.”

“I know how hard I work. It’s always great to be starting, to be involved. You can’t be surprised when you put in the hard yards. Sometimes you’re rewarded with a start, sometimes a place on the bench.

“There are some guys here working incredibly hard don’t even get a shot to put it out on the field. That puts an onus on the guys who do get a shot to play well, I’m always conscious of that.”

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