Iain Morrison: Toulouse your kit on the way to France is no joke for Glasgow
The good news is that Glasgow's players and management arrived safe and sound at their city centre hotel in Toulouse around 1am yesterday, albeit a mere nine hours later than scheduled.
The bad news is that all their luggage is somewhere in transit between Glasgow and Toulouse, most likely lost in Heathrow airport, the only black hole scientists have discovered on earth.
The Heineken Cup pool match that was due to kick off yesterday was initially rescheduled for this afternoon but then postponed again last night. A new date has yet to be agreed. All flights from Heathrow to Toulouse were cancelled yesterday, which led to frantic phone calls from the Glasgow management to British Airways in an attempt to trace their luggage and then, somehow, anyhow, have it forwarded by planes, trains or automobiles to Toulouse in time for this afternoon's kick off. Suffice to say that the poor kit manager, Dougie Mills, has had better days, especially since most people's mobile phone chargers were also in with the kit.
Glasgow have already been offered the loan of kit from their hosts, whose sponsors would no doubt be delighted to see both teams sporting their name, and boots are readily available in any sports shop but the situation is not that simple in these professional times. According to a Glasgow spokesman, 40 per cent of the players have special orthodontic implants in their boots, the players all have their own fitted gum shields and there is the added problem of strapping and contact lenses, with most of the above going around and around one of those Heathrow carousels even now. To play without all the paraphernalia that professional players are used to means risking injury.
It's perhaps just as well today's match isn't going ahead. Glasgow were forced to endure a long journey which proved highly eventful and not in a good way. Upon landing in London, the players waited on the tarmac at Heathrow for two hours until a spot opened up for them to disembark. They then legged it through the airport at high speed to catch their connection to Toulouse only to sit for a further six hours on the same Heathrow tarmac while they waited for their next aircraft to be de-iced. If the Warriors never see Heathrow again in their lives it will be far too soon but that was only the start of what turned out to be farcical 24 hours, with an appearance by Frank Spencer the only missing element.
After arriving at their hotel in Toulouse in the early hours of the morning, the tired and hungry players were met with the smell of smoke which was their meal going up in flames. After food was eventually re-arranged everyone agreed a long lie in on Saturday morning was the best cure to all their ills but a fire alarm at 7:30am, a false alarm of course, ensured that the Glasgow players were up with the lark whether they liked it or not.
Trips to Toulouse have always proved eventful for Glasgow. Back in 2008 they shocked the rugby world by beating the French giants on their own park and four years earlier the entire squad was forced to spend a night in Amsterdam on the return trip after more travel chaos.
"Look, we can't control what has happened," said coach Sean Lineen before last night's second postponement. "We just have to get on with it. Toulouse has three indoor facilities, and we will just have a walk through in trainers because we still don't have any kit. There are two flights from Heathrow on Sunday morning so we hope to get our luggage on one of them."
Lineen confirmed that conditions in France were well nigh perfect, with the thermometer above freezing and the sun in the sky. All Glasgow needed was their kit.
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 21 C
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