Glasgow Warriors coach creates framework to exploit ‘unbelievable flair and natural ability’

Nigel Carolan has taken an ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ approach to his work with Glasgow Warriors as he seeks to finesse the side’s approach to winning games.

Glasgow Warriors showed plenty of attacking intent in the win over the Sharks, with Sione Tuipulotu impressing at outside centre. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
Glasgow Warriors showed plenty of attacking intent in the win over the Sharks, with Sione Tuipulotu impressing at outside centre. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

The new attack coach recognises the strong tradition of offensive rugby at the club and is keen to ensure the creative players have licence to keep creating.

But he also identified the need for a more balanced approach as Glasgow look to build on an encouraging start to the new United Rugby Championship season.

Danny Wilson’s side blew the Sharks away in the opening 50 minutes of Saturday’s 35-24 win. The bonus point was secured before half-time, with the tries split between the backs and forwards as Ross Thompson, Ryan Wilson, Jamie Bhatti and Cole Forbes all touched down.

“What we saw at the weekend, certainly in the first 50 minutes, is the template for how we want to play the game,” said Carolan, who joined Glasgow in the summer from Connacht.

“There has to be an element of unpredictability. Our tries coming from set piece, from turnovers, from multiphase and being relentless when we get into the opposition 22. We are trying to add strings to the bow but I haven’t changed a whole lot.

“The word that sums up what we are all about is ‘balance’. Not only the balance between attack and defence, but in attack and there is a balance between playing and overplaying. My view of the historical Warriors was that it was flamboyant and ambitious and fast, but there was a lack of balance. A few years ago you would get away with that, but defences are so well organised now. When you do get turned over in your own half it can have repercussions.

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Attack coach Nigel Carolan wants to tap into Glasgow Warriors' 'natural flair'. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

“I haven’t changed a whole lot in terms of the attack. I’m just looking at it through a different lens. In some ways, simplifying it. I haven’t come in with a template from my previous role to say this is how it needs to be done. I’m working with what’s there and there is really strong DNA in Glasgow for ambitious rugby. I want to tap into that and challenge myself to adapt to their style.”

Carolan is keen that the players learn to make their own attacking decisions on the field.

“Coming in, I’m very conscious that their game wasn’t broken and their attack wasn’t broken,” he said.

“Our attack is very much a framework. I don’t tell the players what I want them to do in training or in a game. I just set them up in a certain way and they decide what the best options are.

“There is unbelievable flair and natural ability here and things you couldn't coach. So it’s all about the framework and having multiple options.

“What we reviewed from the weekend was moving things a little quicker off the ball, so if the space opens up it’s up to them to organise and find that space on the pitch. I’m certainly not telling them where it’s going to be, I’m setting them up so that wherever it is they can find it.

“I’ve certainly got to tap into the natural flair that’s here and it’s more important that I adapt to their way than they adapt to my ways.”

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