Under-fire Danny Wilson convinced he can still take Glasgow Warriors forward as time left on contract revealed

Twitter can be an unforgiving place and so it was in the aftermath of Glasgow Warriors’ loss to Edinburgh last Saturday night.

Being pulled apart by your local rivals is hard to take at the best of times but with so much riding on the match at Murrayfield, the defeat prompted an outpouring of anguish and anger on social media.

In losing 28-11, Glasgow saw their 13-point lead from the first leg overturned as Edinburgh regained the 1872 Cup. Worse for the Warriors was the fact that the result meant the capital side finished above them in the United Rugby Championship and so claimed the Scottish-Italian Shield and a place in next season’s Heineken Champions Cup.

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It will be the first time since 2006-07 that Glasgow Warriors will not be taking part in European club rugby’s premier competition.

Danny Wilson, the Glasgow coach who found himself in the crosshairs of supporters, says he appreciates why they were upset but believes he is still the man to take the club forward.

He has a year remaining on his contract and insists progress is being made despite some compelling evidence to the contrary.

“I understand that social media will respond to a derby loss when so much was on the game,” he said. “I take responsibility as head coach that that was a game they [the fans] and we [the squad] are all very disappointed to lose.

“But I also look at the fact that for 80 per cent of this season, we have made some big strides and we are in a really good position.

Glasgow Warriors head coach Danny Wilson. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

“The league is becoming tougher and tougher with the South African sides in it, and we’ve been top four the majority of the year. The only two sides that have beaten us at home are the two sides that contested the European Cup final, so our home record has been outstanding this year.

“Where we need to improve is, obviously, getting games done on the road – we are performing well in parts of games on the road but we’re not winning those games consistently enough.

“And we’ve had some good wins on the road – like Newcastle and Connacht in bad conditions – but we just haven’t had enough of them.”

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Disappointment for Glasgow Warriors captain Ryan Wilson as he is applauded off the pitch following the defeat by Edinburgh. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

Glasgow have won only three away games all season – the other was against Zebre – and the vagaries of the fixture scheduling mean they have been on their travels for almost two months.

The Warriors have not played at Scotstoun since April 1 and they will have a sixth successive away game when they take on Leinster in the URC play-off quarter-finals on Saturday.

With travel sickness such an issue, a trip to Dublin to take on the four-in-a-row champions is not exactly what the doctor ordered. Wilson accepts his team are underdogs but points to Glasgow’s victory over Leinster in the Rainbow Cup a year ago as proof of their opponents’ fallibility.

“Leinster are a quality outfit,” said the coach. “They wouldn’t be in a European Cup final and top of the league if they weren’t. And they’ve got more depth than anyone else in the league.

Danny Wilson takes inspiration from Glasgow Warriors' win over Leinster last season ahead of their URC quarter-final. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

"But I’d also say that we have beaten them and we’ve beaten them recently - the last game of last season here.

“So I do think we have the squad and the capability to go there as underdogs and throw everything at that game. The boys have trained well this week and I know they’ll be keen to show that at the weekend after we didn’t perhaps show it against Edinburgh.”

Wilson is in his second season in charge of the Warriors and believes he is on the right track. Elements of the club’s support remain to be convinced and there is no getting away from the fact that Glasgow – Pro14 finalists as recently as 2019 – are now a mid-table side.

Asked if he felt confident there would be an upturn next season, Wilson said: “Yes, 100 per cent. Right now we’re focusing on that last 20-25 per cent of the season when we haven’t picked up the results we needed to kick on and become a top four team. We’ve made the top eight on the back of the 70-80 per cent of the season when we have played well and got some really good results, especially at home.

“I think we’ve seen the likes of Jack Dempsey, Sione Tuipulotu and Josh McKay add to the younger players and Rory Darge’s first full season with us. You’ve got Murphy Walker and some of the younger guys starting to come through and we’ve got another crop of recruitment done. It’s a stepping stone effect, you do it over a period and I think our squad is going to be stronger next year.

“Ollie Smith is someone else who has established himself this year, so I think there are a lot of positives and we’re moving in the right direction. But I also appreciate and accept that the last five games away from home have not given us the results and that’s frustrating for us and the supporters. I understand that.

“I’m here for another year. Post that, we’ll obviously have to wait and see.

“The top end of the league is tight and difficult to get into. That means any side on their day who are in that top eight can be dangerous. That applies to us as well.

“We’ve had some big wins in the past where we’ve been underdogs. Beating Exeter this season would be an example. We took La Rochelle pretty close as well away from home. We beat Leinster at home last season when we were underdogs. So we’ve proven we can do it.

“But we’re not hiding away from the last four or five games. We need to bounce back from that performance against Edinburgh because it wasn’t up to our standard.”

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