Gregor Townsend to retain Glasgow Warriors ‘culture’ - Shade Munro
GLASGOW supporters should not witness much change to the Warriors’ style under a new head coach, according to the Glaswegian who has played a key role in the team’s rise in recent years.
There was nervousness around the west of Scotland when it first emerged that Sean Lineen was being replaced by Gregor Townsend as part of an SRU shake-up while Lineen was piloting Glasgow through a run of victories and towards a second play-off spot in three years.
The waters have since calmed, and Townsend has spent his first ten weeks in place bringing his own philosophies to the Glasgow camp while Lineen has started a new post within Murrayfield. But what can the Warriors fans expect this season? Shade Munro, who started alongside Lineen nine years ago, admits that there has been a new focus on improving the team’s attacking threat as well as stiffening the rearguard with new defence chief Matt Taylor, but the forwards coach rules out a radical change.
“One of the things we’ve tried to create over the past nine years is a Glasgow Warriors culture around how we work and how the club is perceived on and off the field,” Munro explained.
“On the pitch the priority was making us a very tough team to beat, stemming from the defence. Obviously, we have worked on a good attack and strong set-piece, but from my perspective it’s the traits of working hard for each other, respecting each other, players and coaches, and that no-one can expect to beat us anymore that everything now starts from.
“So, Gregor has come into a set-up that already has that ethos and a confidence from it, where everyone knows what we stand for, rather than us all sitting back and waiting to see how Gregor does things.
“He’s a great character and coach, and has a lot of ideas, and we talk regularly about what kind of rugby we want to strive towards, but it’s not going to be hugely different to what supporters have been used to seeing, just with a few little new things here and there.”
The Paisley-born Donald Shade Munro played for Glasgow High Kelvinside and Glasgow, while working as a civil engineer, and had stints in New Zealand. The 6ft 7in lock won seven caps for Scotland and represented his country at sevens, a bit of a forerunner to modern second rows who need to have good ball skills and pace.
He played alongside Townsend before a bad knee injury forced retirement in 1997 and a move into coaching. He enjoyed swift league and cup success with Glasgow Hawks before joining Lineen – as two of the best club coaches at the time – as Glasgow assistants when he was 36.
Munro says he was unconcerned at being passed over for the head coach role, and is simply excited about the new season.
“No-one can take away what Sean, myself and Gary [Mercer] achieved with the rest of the staff and players here over the past few years. We are seen as a real contender now for the RaboDirect PRO12 and are taken seriously in the Heineken Cup, and that is the legacy we have left.
“But changes happen and I’ve been given the chance to play a part going forward and it is really exciting. I’ve known Gregor a long time and we get on well, and he will be good for Glasgow. He’s very focused and knows where he wants to go, but he’s also easy-going and likes input from others. He hasn’t tried to come in and re-write the book, but listened a lot.
“He puts in ideas, I put in ideas and so does Stuart [Yule, fitness coach] and the players, and some we say ‘let’s try’ and others we say ‘nope, tried that and it didn’t work’.
“That’s the benefit of nine years with a consistent coaching team. We started with a blank sheet and so tried everything to make us competitive with the best sides, and some things worked, others didn’t.
“We have the benefit of that now and Gregor has taken that on board. But at the same time he has brought ideas from working with the international squad for a few years, things he’s seen work at other clubs he played or coached with or against.” The squad returned last week from what Munro felt was a productive week in the south of France, culminating in a close match for almost a shadow Glasgow side against a near full-strength Castres.
On Sunday, supporters turned out in force for an open day at Scotstoun, and a new supporters club, called the XVIth Warrior, has been formed and is running a bus to the first pre-season warm-up on home soil, against Exeter at Ayr’s Millbrae ground next Thursday, 23 August (email@example.com).
It is a relatively young Glasgow management, with Munro the elder statesman at 45, Townsend and Taylor both 39, and Yule, a former Commonwealth Games weight-lifter, just 35, but Munro finds that irrelevant.
“Age doesn’t matter … but the fact that I’m the oldest is a concern. Gregor definitely looks a lot older.
“It’s a sign of the times perhaps, but, like playing, it’s about ability rather than age. I bring my experiences, Gregor has great experience from the international game, and Matt brings experience of Super 15 rugby. We’ll see how it develops.
“It is a new era, but the theme is the same as it has been in all my time here: we want to win things.”
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Friday 24 May 2013
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