Scottish Daily Mail
Relief and regret for Warriors back on home soil
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