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21st May 2015

Opinion: Glasgow Warriors title win would be best for PRO12

Gregor Townsend's side have played great rugby this year

Patrick McCarry

The league’s best club have a chance to prove it.

If you were to believe the pundits on RTE’s Against the Head, Ulster have a great chance of turning Glasgow Warriors over at Scotstoun on Friday.

Neil Doak has made 11 chances from the Ulster side that fell away to Warriors in the second half of their league clash, last Saturday. Ulster have the big guns back and the cherry of a home final, at Kingspan [Ravenhill] Stadium, if they can upset the form guide.

No team in the Guinness PRO12 – whatever the tournament sponsor – has won an away semi-final. Ulster have been in top form since they were eliminated from Europe. They feel that destiny awaits.

For Glasgow, the feeling is mutual.

No Scottish team has ever won the league. Warriors made the final last year but were well beaten by Leinster.

Gregor Townsend’s men were also eliminated from Europe much earlier than they would have liked. They have been impressive in the league, however, and, in Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg and Richie Vernon, possess the most potent backline.

Townsend is a coach with a clear, attacking philosophy that has his team on the brink of their greatest ever achievement.

In 13 seasons, there have been eight Irish winners and five from Wales. A Glasgow Warriors would be just reward for the investment the club has put into the competition. It would also breathe new life into the PRO12.

REPRO FREE***NO REPRODUCTION FEE*** Team Belfast & PRO12 Rugby Media Briefing, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast 15/4/2015 Pictured (L-R) Glasgow WarriorsÕ Tommy Seymour, UlsterÕs Rory Best, Leinster's Kevin McLaughlin, Ospreys' Tyler Ardron and MunsterÕs Donncha O'Callaghan at today's Guinness PRO12 Final & Play Offs media briefing on the progress towards the Guinness PRO12 Final at Kingspan Stadium, Belfast on Saturday May 30th. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

Were Ulster to be knocked out on Friday, it will be interesting to see if the PRO12’s punt of staging the final in a neutral venue pays off. Having been denied a European odyssey this season, Munster supporters can be sure of heading up to Belfast if their boys can overcome Ospreys, on Saturday.

If Ospreys, who blitzed Connacht for 40 minutes last week, can sustain that level of intensity for 80, they have a chance against Munster. Would an Ospreys v. Glasgow final, in Belfast, sell out? The tickets are already bought, so yes, but expect to see some empty seats.

The last league winner outside of Ospreys, Leinster and Munster was Mark McCall’s Ulster, in 2006. The league could do with a new name on the cup.

Such a feat may even stir an Italian club into credible action.

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