THE Glasgow Warriors team which finished second in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 table this season is virtually unrecognisable to the side which finished eleventh in the league ten years ago.
The only two survivors from that pitiful 2003-4 campaign are winger Sean Lamont and forwards coach Shade Munro.
While Lamont has not been there every step of the way, having taken a six year sabbatical from the club to play for Northampton Saints and Llanelli Scarlets, Munro has been at the pit-face all the way through this remarkable transformation in the club’s fortunes.
Throughout Munro’s time at the club he has rarely hogged the limelight – but his longevity of service indicates that he has clearly been doing something right.
The Warriors now have a pack which is a match for any team they come up against in this competition, and a lot of the credit for this must surely go to the man that puts the Glasgow forwards through their paces on a daily basis.
Typically, the 47-year-old deflects attention away from himself when talking about the progress the club has made during the last decade. “We were looking through the tables earlier on and Glasgow, Borders and Edinburgh were the bottom three teams in the league ten seasons ago. You can see in the investment from the SRU that they’re learning about pro rugby,’ said the man who earned seven caps in the second row for Scotland between 1994 and 1997.
“When I speak to Sean Lineen [who was head coach between 2006 and 2012], that is the thing that always comes up. We put a team down to the Melrose Sevens full of quality a few weeks ago, plus we were resting people at the same time, plus we had a big league game that same weekend. That gives an indication of the strength in depth there is here now. We have two or three players vying for every position. There is not necessarily a weakness in any position.
With recent success has come an upturn in interest in the Warriors, so it is not only on the park that Munro has detected a real sea change in the culture of the club. “It’s taken a while, as we all know there was a bit of a transition between the amateur and the pro game, but I would say we are building a huge support base here now,’ he reflected.
And as he looks ahead to Friday’s play-off match against Munster, he knows exactly what needs to be done this week in training. “This week has been pretty much like any other week. One of the difficult things as a coach is not to do too much. Not to give the players far too much information. So, we’ve treated it very much like another game because our goal is to win the thing. This is not the be-all and end-all. It is a home semi-final. It’s about winning the Pro 12, so that’s what we are focussing on,’ concluded Munro.