Barclay picks out tightest tie in URC quarterfinals

rugby06 June 2024 16:01
article image
Glasgow Warriors © Gallo Images

Former Scotland captain and current Premier Sports pundit John Barclay has hailed the Vodacom URC playoff showdown between Glasgow Warriors and the DHL Stormers as the tie of the round.

It will be fourth meets fifth at Scotstoun on Saturday night in the last of the weekend’s four quarterfinals

Having been league leaders just a few weeks ago, Glasgow slipped down the table with back-to-back defeats in South Africa, while the Stormers - finalists for the past two years - are on a four-match winning run.

“I think it’s the tie of the round and probably the tightest one to call,” said Barclay, who will be commentating on the game for Premier Sports.

“Glasgow’s form has arguably dipped a little bit whereas the Stormers seem to be hitting their straps at the right time, as they always seem to do under John Dobson.

“Glasgow were first or second in the table for pretty much the whole season and they were there for a reason. I thought they were going to have home advantage all the way through the playoffs. It feels like a huge opportunity missed and they face a harder challenge now.

“They have got to hit their straps this weekend because I think the Stormers will come to play and hit their best game. It could be a tough day.”

The 76-cap flanker continued: “We all love the way the Stormers play when it works. At times this season, they’ve been a little bit careless and sloppy with the ball.

“But of all the teams below the top four, they are the most dangerous and the most capable of upsetting the quarterfinal draw if they get it right, with the players they have, the style of rugby they play, their handling, their power and physicality.

“So, that’s the hardest one to call.

“But I still think the Glasgow lads have got it in them to iron out the creases in their game.”


Turning to Friday night’s opening quarterfinal between Munster Rugby and the Ospreys in Limerick, Barclay has given his thoughts on the Welsh region’s achievement in forcing their way into the playoffs.

“I think it’s massive,” said the former Scarlets back-rower.

“We kind of resigned ourselves to the fact that they wouldn’t make the playoffs and now they have.

“There’s quite a lot of negativity around Welsh rugby at times. You need a beacon of hope and I think the Ospreys have provided that.

“They have been in and around most games they have played this year, whereas you couldn’t say the same for the other Welsh teams.

“They have been competitive, they are playing a good brand of rugby.

“They’ve got a great scrum, they have got a great set-piece, they don’t get bullied up front by the bigger teams.

“I think they have been fantastic. I am really looking forward to seeing how they go in Munster because they have got nothing to lose.

“Maybe the season isn’t done for them yet.”

However, he concludes: “I think it will be close enough, but I think Munster will have too much in the tank. I expect them to win.”


Barclay will also be part of the Premier Sports punditry panel for Saturday evening’s all-Irish affair between Leinster Rugby and Ulster Rugby at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

“I do think Ulster have got a shot, but I just think there is going to be backlash and for Leinster to finish another season without silverware will be nagging in the background,” he said.

As for the meeting between the Vodacom Bulls and Benetton Rugby at Pretoria’s Loftus Versfeld, Barclay believes the hosts will have too much power for the Italians.

He concluded: “I am sticking with four home wins. The only one I can see as a potential slip is Glasgow-Stormers just because of the quality the Stormers have.”

Giving his verdict on the URC season as a whole, he said: “It’s been so close. So many teams have beaten each other this year which highlights the quality of the competition.

“There’s not been a runaway like there has been in previous years.

“The standard and the quality of the rugby over the last month has been outstanding and to have so many teams in contention going into the last round was great.”