Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors: Veteran Rob Harley expects plenty of intensity in inter-city derby part 6

When Rob Harley first started playing for Glasgow Warriors Al Kellock was his captain and the team played their home games at Firhill. Kellock is now managing director but Harley plays on, a mainstay in the pack.

Rob Harley is readying himself for another intense inter-city derby with Glasgow Warriors. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS

He will make his 250th Warriors appearance on Saturday in the Rainbow Cup match against Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield, the clubs’ sixth meeting of a strange season.

Harley and Glasgow got the better of their old adversaries in the 1872 Cup decider at Scotstoun last Friday, winning 29-19 in a feisty encounter which saw seven tries and two red cards.

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Harley, who was sin-binned, expects a similarly torrid encounter in the capital. The one constant in his decade-plus playing for the Warriors has been the intensity of this fixture.

Glasgow's Rob Harley tackles Edinburgh's Mesu Kunavula during the Warriors' win at Scotstoun which secured the 1872 Cup. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

“It’s funny looking back, since my first season playing at Firhill it’s always been one of the biggest games on the calendar for me,” he said.

“It’s a natural rivalry, and like you saw at the weekend, the intensity spikes and both teams bring a lot of physicality and intensity.

“Both teams have had changes in coaches, changes in players, but that’s the thing that’s stayed constant: it’s still the biggest game for both teams, and both are going to come out and try and smash each other.”

The Warriors website described it as “a ferocious night of rugby” and Harley was yellow-carded in the first half for repeated lineout infringements.

“I thought at the time I was hard done by, but I’ve watched it back and the referee’s got it absolutely right and I was completely wrong,” admitted the 22-times capped Scotland international.

Glasgow prop Oli Kebble and Edinburgh centre Mark Bennett both saw red at Scotstoun and each has been banned for three weeks meaning the pair will miss their clubs’ remaining Rainbow Cup matches.

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Harley has witnessed plenty of comings and goings but was delighted to see the return of Kellock earlier this year.

“When I was in the academy, Al was club captain – very much the presence player – and now he’s chief exec, so it’s the guys moving on that makes me feel old,” said the 30-year-old who intends to play on for as long as he can.

“He’s not been in the job long, and so far he’s stayed pretty much how he was as a player, he’s willing to come in and have a coffee and talk, hopefully that’ll continue. He’s not asked to be called ‘Sir’ yet!”

At the other end of the spectrum, Harley has been impressed by Glasgow’s young guns who have helped illuminate a difficult season, with the likes of Rufus McLean, Ross Thompson and Ollie Smith graduating to the first team.

“It’s great to see the young talent coming through, although we’ve suffered some bad results this year there’s a lot of positivity from the way they’ve played,” he said.

“A lot of things haven’t gone our way this season and we haven’t been performing quite the way we’ve wanted, but derby matches are huge and it was all on the line.

“It’s a bit strange having the cup already, but we’re going to Edinburgh again this week but we expect derby intensity again. It’s inevitable with these matches.”

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