URC winner George Horne sets Scotland target and aims to transfer Glasgow glory to Test arena

‘Potential to be as good as anyone’, says scrum-half

Having taken on and beaten the best of Irish and South African rugby with Glasgow Warriors, George Horne is turning his attention to the national side and establishing himself as Scotland’s first choice scrum-half.

The 29-year-old is the senior No 9 in Gregor Townsend’s squad for the tour of North and South America and hopes to take his scintillating club form across the Atlantic.

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Horne was outstanding once more on Saturday, playing a pivotal role in Glasgow’s historic victory over the Vodacom Bulls in the United Rugby Championship final. It was a defining moment for both player and club as the Warriors became the first Scottish winners of the URC. It also meant he had emulated big brother Pete who was part of the only other Glasgow side to win a major honour, the Pro 12 in 2015.

George Horne with the URC trophy after Glasgow Warriors landed back at Glasgow Airport from South Africa following the win over Vodacom Bulls in the final. (Photo by Ewan Bootman / SNS Group)George Horne with the URC trophy after Glasgow Warriors landed back at Glasgow Airport from South Africa following the win over Vodacom Bulls in the final. (Photo by Ewan Bootman / SNS Group)
George Horne with the URC trophy after Glasgow Warriors landed back at Glasgow Airport from South Africa following the win over Vodacom Bulls in the final. (Photo by Ewan Bootman / SNS Group)

Horne junior intends to savour the moment, with the celebrations set to continue for most of the week. He will join up with Scotland on Saturday then fly out to Ottawa for the opening tour match against Canada on July 6.

Glasgow’s triumph over the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld was a powerful statement for Scottish rugby after the national side’s disappointments in last year’s Rugby World Cup and the recent Six Nations. Given that Warriors players make up half the Scotland team, Horne is confident Townsend’s side will benefit from the result in Pretoria.

“Everyone knows this Scotland team and the Scottish players, we’ve got the potential to be as good as anyone,” he said. “It’s just been getting it done in the big games and the big moments. We’ve not managed to get that done recently. This is something we can build on now going forward at Glasgow and hopefully we’re going to provide a lot of players for the Scotland team and can then bleed that into there as well. It’s a different dynamic playing in these knockout games against the best teams from Ireland and South Africa.”

Horne felt his game developed during the URC play-offs as the Warriors overcame former champions Stormers and Munster before beating the Bulls

“Going into these last three weeks you’ve seen a different side of my game in terms of a bit more control and accurate kicking game,” he said. “That’s been great for me personally. But all the boys have come on leaps and bounds.”

Horne started just once for Scotland in the Six Nations, in the defeat by Italy, but came off the bench for Ben White in the other games. White is not part of the tour squad but Horne will be joined by club-mate Jamie Dobie. The third scrum-half is the uncapped Gus Warr of Sale Sharks.

With 30 caps, Horne is by far the most experienced of the trio and hopes to use the trip to establish himself as first choice going forward.

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“That’s something I want to try to do,” he said. “I want to make myself number one at Scotland. But so does everyone and they’re all working really hard to do that. I’ve shown in the last few weeks that these knockout games are more like Test matches and guys like Sione [Tuipulotu], TJ [Tom Jordan] and others have all shown we can manage those big moments well. It’s something that I want to take forward to the Scotland tour and see what happens.”

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