Scottish Daily Mail

Re­lief and re­gret for War­riors back on home soil

- by ROB ROBERTSON

Glas­gow war­riors’ play­ers and of­fi­cials ar­rived back in scot­land yes­ter­day fol­low­ing the post­pone­ment of their Euro­pean Cham­pi­ons Cup match against Rac­ing 92 due to the Paris atroc­i­ties.

It is now likely that the match will be re-ar­ranged be­fore Christ­mas, pos­si­bly even in mid­week slot.

on his ar­rival back at glas­gow air­port, head coach gre­gor Townsend, who played for three French clubs and is flu­ent in the lan­guage, said that al­though it was a re­lief to be back on scot­tish soil, his thoughts and prayers were for the peo­ple of Paris and all those in­volved in the tragedy.

The ex-scot­land in­ter­na­tional also re­vealed how events un­folded at the glas­gow team ho­tel in the spa town of Enghien-les-Bains, nine miles north of the city cen­tre, which was well out of harm’s way.

The ma­jor­ity of the play­ers had gone to bed early, as is usual the night be­fore matches, but the man­age­ment team led by Townsend as well as club leg­end al Kel­lock, had stayed in the lobby mon­i­tor­ing events.

It was only when the first-team squad came down for break­fast the next day did they re­alise the enor­mity of what hap­pened. Know­ing the Euro­pean match had been can­celled, war­riors held a train­ing ses­sion near the team ho­tel on satur­day af­ter­noon be­fore hav­ing a team din­ner in the evening.

They left early on sun­day morn­ing to fly home via Heathrow.

Townsend, who played for Brive, Cas­tres and Mont­pel­lier, said: ‘we were pretty much shielded from events, so I’m just glad ev­ery­one was safe and our supporters are oK. I think hav­ing the game called off took a bit of the pres­sure away from hav­ing to deal with what might have gone on that day.

‘we were some dis­tance from the in­ci­dent and in a pretty quiet sub­urb, but the French foot­ball team were in the ho­tel next to us, so there was a fair bit of se­cu­rity around. Com­ing back from our train­ing ses­sion on satur­day af­ter­noon you could see the mil­i­tary in the area. ‘we were re­lieved to get a flight back and ar­rived at Paris air­port pretty early on sun­day be­cause there’s a lot of se­cu­rity and queues. we came back via lon­don.

‘we may be home but this was a very sad day for the peo­ple of Paris and the thoughts and prayers from ev­ery­one at scot­tish Rugby go out to all those in­volved.’

Townsend said talks had al­ready started over when the fix­ture against Rac­ing 92 could be fit­ted into an al­ready busy cal­en­dar and a de­ci­sion was ex­pected pos­si­bly as early as later this week. among the op­tions are putting back a pre-Christ­mas do­mes­tic fix­ture un­til a rest week in the six Na­tions and re­plac­ing it with the Euro­pean match.

‘when it looked like it was just go­ing to be our game called off, we were discussing po­ten­tially mov­ing a Pro12 and Top14 game to a gap dur­ing the six Na­tions,’ said Townsend (pic­tured be­low ar­riv­ing back in the UK with sean la­mont). ‘Now that all the Euro­pean games in France have been called off, it af­fects the French league more than the Pro12. ‘There are not many free satur­days in the sea­son and none be­fore the be­gin­ning of Fe­bru­ary, when all the group games will be fin­ished by. ‘It seems that only two so­lu­tions would be ei­ther to move leagues games in both leagues to when there is a gap dur­ing the six Na­tions and re­place it with the Euro­pean match or play the game mid­week, which would be a real chal­lenge for ev­ery­one. ‘If the league game is put back to dur­ing the six Na­tions, we know we will lose many of our play­ers who will be away on scot­land duty but, if it hap­pens, it hap­pens.’ Townsend said it was too early to say what im­pact hav­ing the Rac­ing 92 match can­celled would have on what is now their first Euro­pean match against Northamp­ton saints at scot­stoun on satur­day.

‘It is a tough call as the post­pone­ment could work for or against us,’ he con­tin­ued. ‘we watched the scar­lets against Northamp­ton, who are both in our Euro­pean group, play on satur­day night and they both had a good hit out and a good phys­i­cal test. we would have en­joyed that, but there are al­ways risks of in­jury.

‘we man­aged to train on satur­day and we did a bit of team stuff and now will now start in Europe at home, which was not the orig­i­nal plan, but the play­ers are really keen to get stuck in and I sup­pose it is good that we have no in­juries from the week­end.’

si­mon Hal­l­i­day, chair­man of Euro­pean Rugby, said it was the cor­rect de­ci­sion to can­cel two Euro­pean Cham­pi­ons and two Euro­pean Chal­lenge Cup matches due to be played in France over the week­end.

‘It would not have been ap­pro­pri­ate in the tragic cir­cum­stances to have staged the French-based Euro­pean games,’ he said. ‘we trust that the clubs and their fans who trav­elled to France will understand why we took this de­ci­sion.

‘we are work­ing to resched­ule the post­poned matches in what is an al­ready crowded cal­en­dar and we hope to be in a po­si­tion to an­nounce the new dates next week.’

We were shielded from events, so I’m just glad our fans are OK Even though we are home, our thoughts and prayers are with Paris

 ??  ?? Call­ing in: (from left) Hogg Rus­sell and Weir on their phones af­ter land­ing back at Glas­gow Air­port yes­ter­day
Call­ing in: (from left) Hogg Rus­sell and Weir on their phones af­ter land­ing back at Glas­gow Air­port yes­ter­day
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