Saracens v Glasgow: Ali Price says Warriors 'have players to stress them'

Ali Price was central to Scotland's revival at Twickenham earlier in March
Ali Price was central to Scotland's revival at Twickenham earlier in March
European Champions Cup: Saracens v Glasgow Warriors
Venue: Allianz Park Date: Saturday, 30th March Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio 5 live extra & online; text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

Ali Price knows that even if he lives to be 100 and plays rugby until his dying day he's never likely to experience another Test match quite like the howitzer at HQ a fortnight ago.

He might never feature in a comeback like that again, but the insane Calcutta Cup meeting of Scotland and England will retain a relevance in his career forever more. It'll be with him when Glasgow, who had six men on the field at Twickenham, play Saracens, who also had six, in the quarter-final of the Champions Cup on Saturday. Put simply, the moral of the story is that no matter how wretched things are, never give up.

"That's the lesson - always believe," he says. "Maybe I didn't believe at half-time that day. I just wanted to crawl into a hole. Honestly, walking into the tunnel I didn't know what to do.

"I was thinking, 'We could end up getting gubbed by 60 here' and we have to go back up the road and how do you answer that? We've been picked to represent our nation against England and we're getting battered."

'We need to get in their face and play'

In the last few weeks, Price has enjoyed hearing the stories of the day from those who weren't at Twickenham. Yarns that reflected the madcap nature of it all. He says that some of the tales from some of the pubs were so fantastic that he half-wishes he was in there with them, lowering pints and revelling in the vibe.

He laughs at the Finn Russell stuff as well. When Russell said that he'd had a half-time argument about the game plan with Gregor Townsend, the media latched on to it like limpets.

"I said to Finn, 'Why did you say, 'argument'?', and he said, 'It was the first word that came out of my mouth'. We didn't go rogue, we just did everything better and space suddenly appeared.

"This is something I'll always remember. The last thing we said when we ran out for the second half was, 'Look what's on our chest here, we're men, we have to have a bit of pride'. If we had come in conceding 50 or 60 points, we wouldn't have been able to look at ourselves. I don't know if we'd have been allowed back in the country. The fight-back showed a lot about us as a team.

"There are a lot of Saracens boys who were involved in that England team. An up-tempo style really stressed them. That's how Scotland played and that's how we try to play at Glasgow. It shows what can happen to players when they don't get the armchair ride.

"I saw traits in [England and Saracens fly-half] Owen Farrell in that second half that I have never seen before in him. He's a brilliant player when he's going forward and he has the ball on a string and he's finding holes everywhere. It's amazing what happens when the momentum is with the other side. That's what we'll need to do on Saturday. Give them no time. Get in their face in defence. Pin them back - and play."

Ali Price
Price says Glasgow will travel south with a different attitude this year

Saracens have won the last three meetings - a quarter-final two years ago and two pool games this season - the last of them being a 38-19 home win at Allianz Park. The game was a lot closer than the final score suggests.

"We're closing the gap," Price says. "This time there's less of this 'Oh, we're going down to play Saracens, a big, big team'. You can't not respect them as a side because look what they've done, but there is certainly more belief that we can do something as long as we play to our ability."

'I did it to myself. I dug my own grave'

Price's industry and threat helped spark the revival at Twickenham and, in some ways, it was the full stop on what had been the toughest year of his career. Since losing his way with Glasgow and Scotland - a detour into the darkness that he calls the digging of his own grave - he says he has spent the last year of his life learning lessons.

Rugby - no matter how much you think you've cracked it, you never have. Confidence - no matter how invincible you think you are, you're vulnerable. Adversity - no matter how hopeless something looks, there's always a way of changing it.

In building up to what is to come at Allianz Park against the double-European champions - the reunion with Farrell and chums - it's as well to go back to the last time Glasgow played a game of knockout rugby, the semi-final of the Pro14 against the Scarlets at Scotstoun last May.

Price was sitting in the back of the stand that evening. Not injured, but chastened. From first-choice with Scotland to third-choice at Glasgow. What was it that his coach Dave Rennie had said about him? "Overweight, heavy, sluggish. He let himself down. He suffered the consequences."

George Horne was preferred to Price for Warriors' last knockout match
George Horne was preferred to Price for Warriors' last knockout match

The scrum-half, in his own words, had been riding a wave up until the beginning of the 2018 Six Nations. He'd been starring for Glasgow, he'd become The Man with Scotland. He'd beaten Wales in the Six Nations, he'd beaten Australia in Sydney and at Murrayfield, and had almost beaten the All Blacks.

He had a pace and a verve about him that was made for Scotland's style of play. Price in full flow is a whirling dervish of danger and invention and those were good times. Then, he went to the Principality for the opening game of the 2018 championship and everything started to unravel.

"It's been a year getting back to where I wanted to be," he says. "The criticism, getting dropped, being forced to look at myself - it was the best thing that could have happened to me. It woke me up. I don't take anything for granted anymore. It made me a better player.

"The fall I had, it was my own fault. I had no one else to blame. I lost my position in the Scotland team, I lost my position in the Glasgow team, I was sitting up in the stand for that Scarlets game and no player wants to be up there. That's what happens when you get sloppy. I did it to myself. I dug my own grave."

'We think we have the players to stress them'

Maybe Lazarus wore the number nine jersey because Price has definitely risen again. He's going to Saracens with respect but no fear, with a huge regard for the serial winners he's up against but also belief in what his own team is capable of.

It would be an upset if Glasgow won, but the challenging events of the last year, culminating with that wildly unpredictable day at Twickenham, taught him that there are no certainties in this game, no sure things.

"We think we have the players to stress them, but we'll see," he says.

Another 76-point epic like Twickenham? No. He'd take a 3-0 this time and go home a very happy man.

Top Stories