Having failed to make the Pro12 play-offs for the first time in six years, every member of the Glasgow Warriors squad will feel they have a point to prove when they bring the curtain down on a disappointing campaign at home to Edinburgh tomorrow evening.
They will want to send head coach Gregor Townsend and the several stalwart players who are moving on during the summer off on a high; and although the 1872 Cup is a pretty meaningless bauble in the grand scheme of things, it does not sit comfortably with the squad that their neighbours on the east of the country have held on to it these last two seasons.
Then, of course, there is the small matter of staking a claim for a central role in Scotland’s summer tour to Singapore, Australia and Fiji.
And for hooker Fraser Brown, there is an extra edge brought about by the fact that he started his professional career with the capital club, but was discarded six years ago after a series of injuries and operations prevented him playing a single game.
Thrown on the professional rugby scrapheap before his 21st birthday, he went off and worked on the family farm before taking his first tentative steps back into the sport he loves with Heriot’s in the BT Premiership. Glasgow Warriors clearly saw something that Edinburgh had missed and the rest is history.
“I grew up and went to school in Edinburgh. They were my club when I was growing up, and I can’t lie and say that I have fond memories of leaving – but I was welcomed in at Glasgow by Gregor Townsend, the other coaches and the players, and I love all the staff and the whole culture here. So, I look back on that time and I’m not sore – I’ve moved on – but its not something that I can just let go, there’s always going to be a bit of rivalry there,” he reflects.
“And it’s not just myself, there are a couple of other guys – like Lee [Jones] and Alex [Allan] – who have come across from Edinburgh and been rejuvenated by joining Glasgow, so I suppose there is that extra bit of spice in the game.”
Brown’s rugby rebirth has seen him usurp Ross Ford – his opposite number tomorrow – as Scotland’s first choice hooker, but he knows better than anyone that in the brutal world of professional sport it is foolish to take anything for granted.
“I don’t think you can ever, or should ever, look at the jersey as being yours. If you ever get to the stage where you think you know you are in the team before selection then your levels will start to drop – when you get comfy you get complacent,” he reasons.
“Ross has been there for 107 games, you can’t move him no matter how hard you try, and there’s other guys coming through like Stuart McInally at Edinburgh and Pat MacArthur has been playing really well here the last couple of weeks – so you have to go out every week and attack it like you are starting from scratch.”
Brown’s form this season saw him propelled into the reckoning for a Lions call-up. A rash yellow card at Twickenham cannot have helped his cause, but the player is not inclined to dwell too long on whether he has been short-changed by coach Warren Gatland.
“The Lions wasn’t something that came into my reckoning this year. When I started the season I wanted to play well with Glasgow and take the number two shirt with Scotland,” he says.
“It would have been a bonus but at the same time we have a game this weekend then a big three games for Scotland. For me that is the next progression. To be spoken about in those terms is a massive confidence boost and now I have to work hard to make sure my name stays up there.”