Former Glasgow and Scotland hooker Dougie Hall is relishing the 1872 Cup double header but admits the prospect of some well-deserved indulgence is what really has his mouth watering this week.
“It will be wonderful to enjoy my turkey, with all the trimmings, and maybe a glass of wine or two. That will be a really nice change this year,” said Hall yesterday as he looks forward to his first Christmas since retiring from rugby at the end of last season.
The 35-year-old, who won 42 caps for Scotland and spent eight years with Glasgow from 2007, has plenty of 1872 Cup experience but is looking forward to enjoying this year’s inter-city showdown with Edinburgh from the comfort of the stands after ending his career on a high in May’s Guinness Pro12 final win.
He said: “I think they are shaping up to be very interesting games. Both teams have been good in flashes this season but maybe struggling a bit for consistency. But it’s the old cliché about form going out the window in derby matches and it will just come down to which team gets most things right over the two games.
“The rivalries always make them fun games to watch and play in. That will be heightened this year off the back of the World Cup with so many of the guys spending so much time together. There should be some good battles.”
Hall was a member of the Glasgow squad which lost its grip on the trophy for the first time in six years last time around when Edinburgh’s 20-8 second-leg win secured a 26-24 aggregate win. The hooker admits that, in a season of glory for the Warriors, it was a tough one to take.
He added: “You’ve got to love these games and it’s not just hype, the players really do love them. Though I think it would be true to say that, in the past two or three years, with Glasgow competing up the top of the league and with Edinburgh going well in Europe last season, it maybe has taken a back seat slightly.
“If you go back five years then winning this and being the top Scottish side was the only tangible thing the two teams could realistically aim for so it maybe felt more important then. But I think the fact Glasgow had won it so many years in succession [since 2009] gave it an edge last season. I’m sure that was burning a hole in the Edinburgh players’ guts and you could see how much they wanted it in that second game last season.
“You would never wish to lose one of these games, and it did really hurt. It was embarrassing to be honest, but sometimes you need a reminder that you are fallible and in a way it was the making of our season. It give us a wee kick up the backside at a good time and we responded to it and we know how the season turned out in the end.”
Now fully qualified as a financial adviser and working with Warriors’ sponsors McCrea Financial Services, Hall is enjoying his post-rugby life.
“As much as people tell you how different it’s going to be you don’t quite realise until you’re in it and it does feel strange working in an office,” he said. “But I’m with a great company and I’m really grateful and enjoying every minute. I was ready to finish playing rugby and I feel challenged, I’m learning loads and the people are great.
“The good thing is, through our sponsorship, I still feel connected to the club and see the guys most weeks.”
Glasgow have suffered a bit of a hooker injury crisis of late, but Hall laughs when asked if he was half expecting a call from coach Gregor Townsend to get his boots back on.
“I think Gregor knows full well that I’ve been sat on my backside too much,” he quipped.