Technically, Glasgow still have a chance of reaching the Guinness Pro12 play-offs but it is the kind of theoretical mathematical possibility that would form the basis of a Professor Stephen Hawking lecture or perhaps even the plot of a Doctor Who episode.
The reality is that Friday’s trip to face Leinster in Dublin and the following Saturday’s derby clash with Edinburghrepresent the last chance to send coach Gregor Townsend off to the Scotland job in the best possible manner.
The return of the 1872 Cup to the Scotstoun trophy cabinet after a two-year absence – Glasgow hold a 13-point lead from the first clash at BT Murrayfield on Boxing Day – would be a fitting end to Townsend’s successful five seasons in the job but a win this Friday would be just as satisfying.
“It’s a big challenge against Leinster away, where we haven’t won for five years,” said co-captain Henry Pyrgos as he looked ahead to the RDS clash with the Pro12 tabletoppers.
“We still have two big games. Leinster away is massive and Edinburgh at home is another big one. Some of the guys will be leaving and obviously coaching staff are moving on. There is a big couple of weeks coming up for the club and the guys will be excited to finish off the season really well.”
Townsend has spoken in the past that Leinster are the team in the Pro12 he enjoys pitting his wits against the most. There have been some titanic clashes between the two sides over the coach’s tenure but a win in Dublin has proved elusive, with semi-final and final losses adding extra salt to the wound.
The closest Glasgow have come in the Irish capital is the thrilling 34-34 draw a couple of years ago and Pyrgos is anticipating another humdinger. “We haven’t seen their team sheet yet, but they have threats all over the place,” said the scrum-half. “If you watched the game at the weekend, they have some really big ball carriers in the forwards and they play a pretty simple gameplan. They play with a lot of tempo and they move the ball with width.
“The physicality against Clermont [in their European Champions Cup semi-final loss] was huge. They were both going at it hammer and tongs. We know we will have to be physical and match that challenge first and foremost. If we can do that we can impose our game on them.”
Pyrgos views the remaining two games of the season in terms of professionalism rather than pride and said: “I don’t know about pride. Whenever you play you just want to play really well regardless of the situation you’re in. There are loads of different things at stake for us. There are guys who are going away with the Lions, with Scotland, younger guys playing to push their claims for next season. There are lots of things to play for.
“I’ve been fortunate to play at Leinster a couple of times in the past and it is a great place to play rugby. The RDS is a great venue and obviously they are a quality opposition. If selected, it will be great to be involved. It will be a big challenge for us.”
We have got used to this being the time of year when Glasgow’s season ramps up and Pyrgos admitted there was frustration with the way things have turned out. He still classes it as a positive season, however.
“I think it has been a great year in terms of getting through [to the Champions Cup quarter-finals] in Europe. Obviously we haven’t won anything, and getting to the quarter-final doesn’t get you a trophy but ,as a marker for the club, it was huge. It was great to see so many fans go down [to Saracens].
“It’s frustrating because we want to be playing in the semi-final.
“Obviously, we have had a great couple of years. When you do well, teams target you and they are coming at you all the time. We’ve seen that over the past couple of years and the standard in the league has been very high. We found it tough to beat the top teams. We are just going to have to work really hard in pre-season.There will be a lot of motivation from not getting to where we wanted to get. We will want to come back harder and push on next season.”