Fresh start for Glasgow Warriors 2022/23 United Rugby Championship

Fresh start for Glasgow Warriors 2022/23 United Rugby Championship
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The Glasgow Warriors 2022/23 squad will be the ones to get the United Rugby Championship new season underway, as they travel to Treviso to face Benetton in round one on Friday night.

They will be hoping that a positive result in Italy will be the good start they need this year, to have a strong campaign and put the disappointments of last season behind them. Their ‘underwhelming’ 2021/22 season leaves them with a lot to work on yet, also gives them a fresh opportunity and a new chance to build towards success this time around. 

So, what lies in store for the Glasgow Warriors 2022/23 squad?

Yet before fans can raise expectations, it might pay to reflect on where the side has to improve the most now, by looking back at what did not work last season.

Stay focused, look ahead after a poor 2021/22 season

In the URC (United Rugby Championship) last season, Glasgow Warriors only just managed a playoff place in the competition after finishing eighth in the standings after 18 games; beating Ospreys to the spot despite winning and losing the same number of games. Mind you, they started the year well, winning three of their opening five games but heavy defeats in the closing rounds to the Stormers, the Bulls, and their country rivals Edinburgh meant they could only manage a mid-table finish. Therefore, Glasgow missed out on the lucrative Heineken Champions Cup Qualification for 2022/23.

With fans already disappointed with the side recording their worst league finish since 2011, the playoff quarter-final game against Leinster, although a tough match, was one that Glasgow needed to win. Instead, Leinster ran in 12 tries at the RDS Arena to win the game 76-14 and finally bring a dismal season to a close.

In the Champions Cup, Danny Wilson’s men managed just one win out of four in their pool games and were quickly dropped into the round of 16 phases in the Challenge Cup. They won the tie 27-17 against Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park but were beaten in the quarter-finals 35-27 by Lyon. 

Domestic and European disappointment; which included recording their second-worst defeat in their history,  saw Wilson’s reign at the Warriors come to an end after 19 months in charge. Truly a season to forget for both players and fans, of course, but now the only way is up.

Talking points ahead of ‘this’ Season (2022/23)

Glasgow Warriors face three different nations in the opening five games of their 2022/23 campaign starting with an away game against Benetton, a side they lost to by just one point 19-18 when they traveled to the Stadio Monigo last November. The first game back on home soil comes in round two when Glasgow host Cardiff Rugby at Scotstoun, who narrowly beat them 32-28 last time the two sides met.

Newly appointed captain for the upcoming season Kyle Steyn then takes his side to Swansea to take on the Ospreys in round three, before returning home to face the Bulls in Glasgow for round four. 

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Glasgow will favour their opening four fixtures this year, managing to avoid the powerhouses of the league; such as last season’s URC winners the Stormers, Champions Cup finalists Leinster and old foe Edinburgh Rugby until after they have found their feet in the 2022/23 campaign. If they can build a steady run of good results in the early stages of the competition, structure a balanced team that works well together and begin to play the kind of rugby that we know they can display, Glasgow could quickly become a tough team to stop. 

Franco Smith’s men find themselves in the group stages of the Challenge Cup for the first time since the 2006/07 season. Although the fantastic run of competing at the highest level of European rugby year on year has come to an end, it may also be somewhat of a blessing in disguise for Scotland’s largest city club. They have been drawn in a pool with good sides such as Bath, Bristol and Toulon but will fancy their chances to qualify and, alongside good performances in the URC, could push to become the first Scottish club to reach a European final. 

Glasgow Warriors 2022/23 squad changes

Glasgow Warriors have been busy this summer, in both the incoming and outgoing departments of the club ahead of 2022/23 calendar.

In the pack, Murray McCallum, Grant Stewart, Kiran McDonald, and Rob Harley have all moved on after serving the side well but the coaching setup at Scotstoun will be happy with the replacements they have brought in. Former Edinburgh Rugby prop Allan Dell joins the squad after three years with London Irish, while big South African lock JP du Preez and Tongan back-rower Sione Vailanu have also swapped the English Premiership in favour of a move further north. 

In the backline, there have been permanent departures for Robbie Ferguson, Nick Grigg and Ratu Tagive, while the highly rated young scrumhalf Jamie Dobie has been out on loan over the summer at Bay of Plenty in the Bunnings NPC in New Zealand, in order to get some more first team rugby. Peter Horne has also called time on his playing career and will not feature again for the Warriors this season but will remain part of the club as a skills coach.

After a year at Harlequins, Scotland International Huw Jones returns to Glasgow and will be set to make his 50th appearance for the side later this season. Flyhalves Joel Hodgson and Will Hunt also join, to add a real strength and roster depth in key areas for the Glasgow Warriors 2022/23 squad.

Alongside the first-team additions, Glasgow has also added 10 players into their academy setup for 2022/23; with five forwards and five backs joining a prestigious development setup that has seen a number of excellent players blossom in recent years. Regardless of first-team form, one thing Glasgow can always be proud of is the number of players they nurture and develop in their academy year after year.

As well, strong links they have built with Scotland’s Super Six teams will allow them to continue this trend and further improve Scottish Rugby as a whole for years to come. 

Recognizing ‘key players’ across the park

There have been numerous changes at Glasgow recently but nevertheless, fans will feel confident that the squad is in good shape to rectify the ghosts of seasons past. When looking at the squad list, Glasgow not only has a powerful starting XV but has a lot of talent waiting in the wings to come on and make a significant impact when the side needs an extra push.

George Turner could have a big role to play this year. With the Six Nations and Rugby World Cup just round the corner, Scotland is yet to have someone nail down the hooker position and claim the number two jersey for their own. Zander Fagerson, Oli Kebble, Simon Berghan, and Jamie Bhatti will all also be battling it out for first-team appearances in the propping department this year, with the hope of catching Gregor Townsend’s eye.

Of note: Matt Fagerson and last year’s player of the season Rory Darge will need to be two of the few players to try and replicate their form from 2021/22 to kickstart a memorable season, ahead of the Glasgow Warriors 2022/23 schedule. 

Young Scottish stars Ross Thompson, Ollie Smith and Rufus McLean can bring a bright spark of pace and grit to the side, while the more experienced Ali Price, Sam Johnson and Kyle Steyn can steer the ship and do what they do best. This could also be a vital season for centre Stafford McDowell, who will be itching to show his quality to the new coach and edge himself back into the side.

2021/22 was a long and painful season for Glasgow and one they will be eager to forget. With that said, however, you have to look back in order to move forward. The Warriors will have to channel their disappointment from last year into bettering themselves every week for the upcoming season. New additions, both on and off the pitch, as well as a chance to improve in the league and potentially make history in Europe, could just be enough to light a fire at Scotstoun that those around will find very hard to put out. 

Round One: Benneton v Glasgow Warriors – Trevisio, Friday September 16

 

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