Pro14: Glasgow Warriors 'love' artificial pitch despite Scarlets criticism

By Jamie LyallBBC Scotland
Zander Fagerson in action for Glasgow Warriors
Zander Fagerson enjoys playing on Scotstoun's artificial pitch

Zander Fagerson says Glasgow Warriors players "love" the artificial Scotstoun surface and suffered "not a single wound" from the pitch in their Pro14 semi-final loss to Scarlets.

Visiting full-back Johnny McNicholl claimed such surfaces "should be illegal" as several Scarlets complained of burns and blisters.

"Absolutely fine," prop Fagerson said when asked whether Warriors' squad were also nursing sores.

"None of our players had any issues."

Glasgow are "entirely happy" with their playing field, which they state "is fully compliant with World Rugby's performance specification".

Johnny McNicholl hopes no more artificial surfaces are introduced to rugby after he and his team mates suffered burns against Glasgow

Pro14 counterparts Cardiff Blues, as well as English Premiership sides Saracens, Newcastle Falcons and Worcester Warriors, also play on synthetic pitches.

And while Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac labelled the Scotstoun surface "very bad", Scotland tight-head Fagerson, 22, insists Warriors enjoy the attacking platform the surface provides.

"We've trained on that pitch near every week of the year," Fagerson told BBC Scotland.

"We've played on it when it's been hot, we've played on it when it's been cold. I've got nothing but positives to say.

Rhys Patchell's knee looks sore during Scarlets' win at Glasgow
Fly-half Rhys Patchell skinned his knee during Scarlets' win at Glasgow on Friday

"I think a plastic all-weather pitch is great for the forwards - the surface doesn't change whether it's hot or rainy, it doesn't give way.

"We love it. For the fast-flowing game we want to play, it's one of the best surfaces to play on. More teams down south are turning to them and it's only a matter of time until more teams do that."

In their first year under Dave Rennie, Glasgow finished bottom of their European Champions Cup pool, but topped Pro14 Conference A before losing to Scarlets in the play-off semi-final.

Fagerson believes Warriors' ball retention and decision-making must improve and says his side will benefit from a full pre-season with the New Zealander, who only arrived in August 2017 due to his Super Rugby commitments with the Chiefs.

"If you look at the year we won the league [2015], the two or three years before we always came up short," he said.

"This year, it's not been a transition year, but new coaches, new set-up, we didn't actually get our head coach until into the season. We're building nicely, semi-final this year, next year we can go one better and win the final.

"A few little things - silly off-loads that would go amiss. I think just keeping hold of the ball and building phases could be one. Little lapses in defence have cost us a lot at the business end of the season.

"Look at that semi-final, we made a lot of yards through pick-and-go phases. We need to be a bit more selective about when we need to go wide and go out to the backs and when we need to just keep it in the forwards and pound away. We can definitely develop that for next season."

Meanwhile, Glasgow have announced a pre-season game against Harlequins in Perth on 18 August.

Zander Ferguson was in Perth to promote a 'pop-up' friendly with Harlequins
Ferguson was in Perth to promote a 'pop-up' friendly with Harlequins