Glasgow Warriors: Dark day in Leinster but there are reasons why under-pressure Danny Wilson could remain in post

From disappointment to embarrassment to anger to despair, the emotions kept coming … at the same sort of rate as Leinster racked up the tries against Glasgow Warriors in Saturday’s United Rugby Championship play-off clash at the RDS Arena.

Glasgow Warriors head coach Danny Wilson is under pressure.
Glasgow Warriors head coach Danny Wilson is under pressure.

It was a dark, dark day for anyone with any affinity to the Warriors. The team’s worst defeat in any competition in 25 years, and as head coach Danny Wilson knows the buck stops with him – but he believes he can still rescue the situation to lead the team onto better times next season.

He is a good man and a respected technical coach who has had some success in recruiting from overseas and promoting from within during his three years in the Scotstoun hotseat – but there is something not right at the club, because the way the team performed as soon as they faced a little self-inflicted adversity in this match is not acceptable in professional sport.

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The big factor in Wilson’s favour as he fights to keep his job is that he is used to the Scottish landscape, so understands and accepts that on-field success for Warriors is of secondary importance to supporting the national team, especially in a World Cup year when Gregor Townsend will want as much access to and influence over his top players as possible.

There isn’t currently an obvious candidate within the Scottish system to step up into Wilson’s place, while finding someone from abroad with the requisite pedigree and the willingness to serve two masters is going to be difficult on such a tight timescale.

However, commercial concerns are key and the fact that Glasgow managing director Al Kellock was compelled to issue a communication to supporters last week justifying the recent hike in season ticket prices reflects a general dissatisfaction amongst the club’s rank and file supporters. Results such as Saturday’s are certain to negatively impact ticket sales and damage the club’s appeal to existing and potential partners.

If Scottish Rugby’s chief executive Mark Dodson decides that a change of coach at Glasgow is going to ease the above concern, then the fact that Wilson still has a year to run on his contract is inconsequential – just ask Richard Cockerill or Andy Robinson.

Of course, whether getting rid of Wilson will suddenly fix all Glasgow’s problems is far from a foregone conclusion. If Saturday’s performance in a knock-out match was a consequence of the head coach losing the dressing-room, then that says much more about the players than it does about Wilson.

“We were in the quarter-final, we were in the top eight, and that was built off 10 good wins this season,” reasoned Wilson. “That game in isolation is unacceptable, but I look back at our season and I know we made some progress.

“We finished the season poorly. There are circumstances. I'm not saying they are excuses. But being away from home as much as we have, and with injuries to key players meaning we have not been able to rotate our squad, we have fallen off a cliff.”

“We will review this game as a group within Glasgow Warriors as we would review any game. We'll do that and we will round up the season, then we move into a break and then pre-season.

“Right now, that break is very much needed for everybody. It is going to be a long period of time before we can put that right.”