GLASGOW Warriors coach Gregor Townsend has spoken of his disappointment at the alleged involvement of some of his team in a late-night incident in a kebab shop and revealed that his squad have been reminded of their “responsibilities as professional rugby players”.
However, Townsend insisted that the disciplinary action that the club has taken against seven employees – at least four of whom are current players – has not affected morale and cannot be used as an excuse for the team’s disappointing performance in last Friday’s home defeat to Newport Gwent Dragons.
Details of who has been punished and what the sanctions were remain sketchy, with the risk of prejudicing an impending court case a major concern – but the matter almost certainly relates to a recent incident in Glasgow’s West End.
Scotland internationals Ryan Grant, Sean Maitland and Ryan Wilson, plus youngster Rory Hughes, are all due to appear at Glasgow Sheriff court next month charged with seriously assaulting Ally Maclay, an amateur club player from Glasgow Hawks, and another person.
Speaking ahead of Glasgow’s Pro12 match against Ospreys tonight, Townsend said: “Obviously, it is disappointing. Anything is when it involves a disciplinary process and people are disciplined from it. But we have come together this week and drawn a line under it and have reaffirmed our responsibilities as professional rugby players. Our goal is to bounce back after a very disappointing performance last week,” said Townsend.
When asked whether the incident may have had a bearing on the team’s insipid performance against the Dragons, Townsend replied: “No, we knew that, during November, there would be disruptions. We handled it very well over in Galway, it [a 19-12 win over Connacht] was one of our best performances of the year, but we did not get things right last week. It started from me as head coach not getting the preparations right to getting our actions and effort during the game right. We lost to a team that fought harder than us to win the game.”
Townsend added that the disciplinary process had not influenced his team selection for tonight’s match in Swansea, borne out by the fact that Wilson is in the squad for the first time this season after recovering from a shoulder injury picked up on Scotland’s summer tour in South Africa. He starts on the bench.
Grant is back from international duty to start at loosehead prop, while Maitland has been rested after playing all but three minutes of the Autumn Tests.
In total, seven players who were on international duty in the last month have been brought straight back into the side as Townsend tries to get the Warriors’ title challenge back on track after losing two out of their last three games. The coach does not think fatigue is likely to be an issue. He said: “The majority of the players we have selected have not played that much.
“Ryan [Grant] has played less than 80 or 90 minutes over the three games. Tommy [Seymour] and Sean [Lamont] are different but we are more affected by injuries in those areas, so that is the main reason both those guys are involved.
“It is a very important time for us. We have 55 days together as a group before the Six Nations kicks in and there are eight games, four in the Heineken Cup and four in the league. This weekend is our immediate focus but it is a great run of games.”
THE SCOTSMAN RUGBY SHOW IN ASSOCIATION WITH GINGER GROUSE