SCRUM Web Columnist ‘The Pen’ looks back on the Glasgow Warriors season:
Highs, lows and crushing blows. Could be describing the Edinburgh game, could be the season to be frank with you.
The sun may have been shining over Scotstoun on Saturday, but by the end of the 80 minutes the black clouds had rolled back into town as Glasgow lost to an Edinburgh side who, simply, just wanted it more.
Full credit to Edinburgh as they came with a plan, executed it nigh on perfectly and were efficient in taking their chances.
As send offs go, this was not quite the celebration of all things Townsend and it really summed up everything that has gone wrong this season.
Poor exectution in attack, lacking a definite sense of urgency and slipping too many tackles has been the story of the campaign. There was a flatness to this particular match and it was like the players were struggling to get things going.
Indeed, when the final whistle went and Glasgow were confirmed as the 1872 Cup winners, there was almost a sense of embarrassment and the players were very subdued in their celebrations.
As season 2016/17 is consigned to the history books it will go down in history as a real mixed bag. The PRO12 table does not lie and sixth is exactly where they deserve to be. Played 22, won 11, lost 11 is the form of a middle of the table team and, this season, it’s hard to argue that the side have been anything more than that.
Failure to take points against the five teams above us has cost dearly.
The two close defeats at home and away to Munster and the defeat at the RDS, all lost by three points or less, would have pushed us to fifth and a couple of extra losing bonus points and Glasgow would have squeaked in to the top four.
Back in September, following the victories over Connacht and Leinster, there was a buzz around the place and a feeling that with Gregor heading to the top job with Scotland, this was the opportunity to send him off clutching another piece of silverware.
An impressive season on the European stage, four pool wins from six including the away win in Paris and the ‘nilling’ of Leicester on their own patch and a first ever quarter-final appearance, will live long in the memory of many Warriors fans and cemented Glasgow’s reputation as one of the top sides in Europe.
But on domestic duty? It’s just not really hit the heights we expected. The international windows were more crippling than ever and the lack of depth/lack of quality replacements showed more than ever and time and again the side was exposed.
When the team was at full strength, they often left themselves with just too much to do to get back into a winning position.
Any particular reason for this season being a dip? Not especially. It was probably just the natural progression of things to be quite honest. Townsend has taken Glasgow as far as he can.
A fresh approach is required and that is no slight on Toony. Rennie will offer a different challenge for the players, with different challengers for places and the players will have to show their worth to the new boss.
Townsend’s record is an exemplary one, 91 wins in 146 games with Glasgow is an incredible record and in five seasons to make four semi-finals, twoo finals and one PRO12 title is a record that anyone would be proud of.
His season-ticket holders meeting will be sorely missed and he will be welcomed back with open arms whenever he is at Scotstoun. But all good things must come to an end…
As for Rennie, I wouldn’t be surprised if next season is one of transition and there is no play-off place at the end of the season.
His systems will have to be learned by the players, he has to learn about his squad and the league he’s playing in, several new signings have to adjust to the PRO12 and even to the climate.
It’s just a feeling that I have. Sometimes a team has to take a step back to go forward and I wonder if that is what the Warrior Nation will see. I will be the first to be delighted if I’m wrong.
Season 2016/17 will ultimately be the end of an era and sees a number of our most successful players head for the exit.
These moments are always tinged with sadness and no one wants to see many of them leave but ultimately, that is professional sport and the nature of the beast.
One thing is for certain, I will be back at Scotstoun next season whether they win, lose or draw and I’ll be backing my team all the way.
Highs, lows and crushing blows sums it up perfectly…
‘Keep It SCRUM’ for the news and views from all areas of the game – view SCRUM 94 here
To subscribe for FREE click here