Finn Russell shines as Glasgow Warriors blow Racing 92 away

Finn Russell shone for Glasgow in their second win over Racing 92 in a week
Russell was impressive for Glasgow in their second win over Racing 92 in a week

In the aftermath of the routing of Racing on Friday night, Finn Russell stood chatting to his family at the back of the main stand at Scotstoun.

Russell was still in his gear and impossibly chilled. He carried himself with the modest air of a guy who'd had a good night out instead of a great one.

There was no debate. In his controlling of a tumultuous Champions Cup tie and his hands-down victory over Dan Carter, one of the greatest 10s who ever walked the earth, Russell put in one of his finest ever performances for his club.

Creatively, defensively, psychologically, he bossed it.

If Racing's owner, the fabulously wealthy Jacky Lorenzetti, was watching - and he would have been - Russell's performance would not have been lost on him. This is a man who spent one fortune to bring Johnny Sexton to Paris for two seasons and then doubled up - paying a reputed £1.4m a year - to bring in Carter.

Watching Russell make the great All Black look ordinary, Lorenzetti might have had notions. All the elan on the night came from the Scots not the French - and Russell led it.

This wasn't just another big result for Glasgow, it was a big result for the Champions Cup. There were times, over the past few seasons, when it was easy to feel concern about the changing nature of the tournament and how it might start to become the personal fiefdom of the monied clubs of England and France.

Compared to the Pro12, cash washes through their leagues like water from a tap. In 2014-15 only one club from the Pro12 - Leinster - made it to the last eight in the Champions Cup. Last season, no Pro12 team made it.

Pool One
Racing 9230

This season, the picture looks different. Glasgow are in the hunt, so are the four Irish provinces. The Champions Cup is looking truly European again.

Racing had the turbulence of the Johan Goosen affair to deal with in the preamble on Friday. It can't have helped them. Their player of the year - and indeed the entire Top 14's player of the year last season - dropped a bombshell by announcing his retirement at the age of 24. Nobody at the club knew it was coming.

Ronan O'Gara, the former Ireland fly-half and now a member of Racing's management team, said the first he heard about it was when he read it on Twitter.

Ali Price touched down Glasgow's third try at Scotstoun
Price touched down Glasgow's third try at Scotstoun

Lorenzetti then sent out his own statement, criticising Goosen while suggesting there could be a legal action taken against him for breach of contract.

All the money in the world can't buy togetherness. As a team, it can't always give you a soul. It can pay for glamour, of course. It can get you some of the world's great players, but there's more to building a spirit than shelling out on superstars.

A bottomless bucket of cash can do a lot of good, but it isn't everything in rugby. It did nothing for Racing's karma in Glasgow.

Carter's annual salary is a little under a quarter of Glasgow's entire playing budget. Throw in Joe Rokocoko's wages and you're getting closer to Glasgow's spend. Lob in Leone Nakarawa and four or five more on top of that and you're nearly at the limit of what Glasgow are able to pay.

Six, maybe seven, Racing players equate to a full squad at Scotstoun. And yet Friday night happened, just as last Saturday happened in Paris.

Carter - frustrated and outplayed by Russell. Nakarawa - hard-working but rendered ineffective by a brilliant Glasgow pack. Brice Dulin, Maxime Machenaud and Camille Chat, the France international trio, not in the same league as their opposite numbers, Stuart Hogg, Ali Price and Fraser Brown.

Glasgow fly-half Finn Russell
Glasgow have never progressed to the knockout phase of Europe's premier contest

This Racing team are champions of France and were runners-up in the Champions Cup, but some of them seemed to grow old in front of our eyes. They had six men of 30-something in their starting line-up - that great old stager Chris Masoe in the back row is 37 - and four more came off the bench.

They couldn't ask a question of Glasgow until it was miles too late. Glasgow were a blur of movement; pace and power and invention. Racing had to scrap hard to keep it to 23-0 after 47 minutes. It was a demolition job.

The only let-down for Gregor Townsend's team was their inability to take a bonus point. In such a tight group, that's sure to go the distance, a fourth try could have done them a power of good.

There is still much work to done in a brutally tough Pool 1 before Glasgow can allow themselves to think about making the knockouts of the Champions Cup - and making history into the bargain.

We don't know which of Munster, Glasgow or Leicester are going to make it, but what we know for sure is that Racing's hopes of making the knockouts are now over. They were done in by a team playing the kind of rugby that made you fall in love with the game in the past, not the type of brutality that dominates it too often in the present.

In January, Glasgow have Munster at Scotstoun and Leicester at Welford Road. Between them, their next two opponents have appeared in nine European Cup finals, winning four of them, two apiece. Glasgow might not have the same kind of back story, but theirs is a compelling journey all the same.