Danny Wilson’s appointment as Glasgow Warriors’ head coach has not been met with universal approval by supporters of the Scotstoun side but the new man has tasted success in club rugby, and on the European stage to boot.
Wilson delivered the second-tier Challenge Cup in 2018, with his Cardiff Blues side pipping Gloucester 31-30 in the final in Bilbao thanks to Gareth Anscombe’s 79th-minute penalty. The Welsh side had trailed 20-6 at half-time so whatever the coach said to his players at the interval worked.
The problem for Warriors fans is that they had been holding out for a so-called “big name” to replace Dave Rennie and Wilson does not quite fit the bill.
Rennie, whose long expected departure for the Australia national job was finally confirmed late on Tuesday night, was all that and more, coming to Scotstoun with a reputation as one of the most successful coaches in the southern hemisphere.
There was a sense that the SRU had really pushed the boat out to land Rennie, who took over in summer 2017 when Gregor Townsend left Warriors to become Scotland coach.
The Kiwi, who will remain in charge of Glasgow until the end of the season, has a cv which includes two Super Rugby titles and a hat-trick of Under-20 World Championships with the Junior All Blacks.
The new man’s resumé is less impressive and there is concern among sections of the Warrior Nation that the SRU may have had one eye on the bottom line when they opted to redeploy Wilson who will remain as Scotland assistant coach until the end of the season.
His chief role with the national side has been in charge of the forwards but the 43-year-old has plenty of head coach experience, most notably his three-year spell with Cardiff.
Prior to his role with the Blues, Wilson had coached at Scarlets and Dragons, with over eight years’ experience in the Pro14, as well as bossing Wales’ Under-20s side.
His familiarity with the league is clearly a big plus in the eyes of Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson, who yesterday praised Wilson’s work with the national side. He said: “Danny has worked hard to develop Scotland’s set-piece into a real area of strength and his technical expertise, aligned with his working knowledge of many of the Warriors players, will be key to maintain the club’s progression in the coming years.
“He has a depth of experience from previous roles with Pro14 teams and we feel this, alongside his recent international coaching, makes him the right person for the club at this time.”
Rennie took Glasgow to last season’s Pro14 final where they lost narrowly to Leinster in front of nearly 50,000 fans at Celtic Park. Four years earlier Warriors enjoyed their finest hour under Townsend, winning the Pro12 final against Munster in Belfast.
Wilson has a couple of tough acts to follow.