There is a long history between Glasgow Warriors and Munster, with these sides having met each other on 42 previous occasions dating back more than 20 years. 

From their first meeting, a Celtic Cup quarter-final in October 2003 won by the Warriors, the Irish side lead the head-to-head by 25 wins to 16, with one drawn – although the last 11 years have seen the results moving closer to an even split with 10 victories and 12 losses for Glasgow.

There have been just four wins (from 19 attempts) on Irish soil by the Warriors, with three of those victories coming at Saturday evening’s venue, Thomond Park.

Here are five classic match-ups from one of the URC’s biggest cross-border rivalries.

1. Munster 5-22 Glasgow Warriors

PRO12 regular season; Thomond Park, April 12 2014

More than eight years had passed since Glasgow’s solitary previous win at Thomond Park but the Warriors were right in the midst of a purple patch of form that would see them win nine games in a row, only coming up short when they met Leinster in that season’s Grand Final in Dublin.

It was an afternoon when the visitors’ big carriers stepped up and outmuscled their hosts, with Jonny Gray and Josh Strauss to the fore as both men crossed for tries.

Josh Strauss was one of Glasgow's outstanding performersJosh Strauss was one of Glasgow's outstanding performers (Image: SNS)

The duo were exactly what was needed to counteract the Irish side’s physicality. Across three matches (and three Glasgow wins) versus Munster in 2013/14, Gray and Strauss contributed 82 carries in total, throwing themselves into contact time and time again to drive their team to victory.

There was a real first-half blitz from the Warriors who went into the break with a 22-5 lead that they would hold onto for the second 40 minutes, no matter what Munster threw at them.

It was a historic weekend for Glasgow with a number of high-profile players (including Niko Matawalu and Mark Bennett) winning the Melrose 7s at the Greenyards within a matter of hours of the club securing their best 15-a-side win of the season to that point.

Lesson for Saturday: Munster are maybe not quite as ferociously physical as past iterations of their side, but they still need to be matched or bettered at the set-piece and breakdown contests to make a win a realistic possibility.

2. Glasgow Warriors 16-15 Munster

PRO12 semi-final; Scotstoun Stadium, May 16 2014

There have been many glorious nights at Scotstoun – by turns raucous, exhilarating and jubilant. There may never be another passage of play where all the drama and intensity of the 80 minutes was distilled into the very final all or nothing moments of a game.

The stadium was a wall of noise as the fans tried to will their side to hang on to a lead that had been built early in the second half through Gordon Reid’s try, but whittled away to just a single point with 14 minutes remaining.

The explosion of joy (and relief) on the final whistle was one of the most incredible single moments in the club’s history. It wasn’t a pretty performance – champagne rugby was right off the menu – but the Warriors demonstrated how they had progressed and that they could bring the physicality and mental toughness required to win a play-off fixture.

Glasgow Warriors' Tommy Seymour celebrates at full-timeGlasgow Warriors' Tommy Seymour celebrates at full-time (Image: SNS)

It was Man of the Match Jonny Gray that led the charge. The lock made 25 carries, 10 more than any other Glasgow player. He passed more than anyone bar the half-backs, as well as chucking as many offloads as Leone Nakarawa.

In defence though, even the younger Gray had to play a supporting role to Rob Harley. The Warriors’ flanker was everywhere, particularly towards the end of the game, spoiling and harassing Munster forwards and backs alike.

This game was a real coming of age for Gregor Townsend’s men. There was even better still on the horizon though!

Lesson for Saturday: The pack will need its workhorses. Everyone will need to put in a shift but at least a couple of players will have to take the lead and do something extraordinary to help their side.

3. Glasgow Warriors 31-13 Munster

PRO12 Grand Final; Kingspan Stadium, 30th May 2015

Unquestionably the greatest day in Glasgow’s history came at the end of a regular season that had seen them edge top spot from Munster on tiebreakers after collecting exactly the same number of points in the PRO12.

Pretty much every Warriors’ fan heading to the Kingspan for the Grand Final (and there were an awful lot of them) would have expected things to be similarly close if their side were to somehow find a way to actually lift the trophy.

Would the lessons have been learned from a chastening defeat by Leinster 12 months earlier or would there be more pain to ruminate on when travelling back across the Irish Sea again?

The answer, of course, was that Glasgow delivered what may well be their finest performance in any of the 705 matches they have played so far during the professional era.

While the action was unfolding on the pitch there was still huge tension, almost disbelief among the Warrior Nation as to what was happening but rewatches with the result as a known factor reveal that Glasgow were in control of the game almost throughout.

Glasgow Warriors captain Al Kellock lifts the Pro12 trophyGlasgow Warriors captain Al Kellock lifts the Pro12 trophy (Image: Getty Images)

Everything was on point. The tactics; the mentality; the selections; the subs. It all just worked. Every player contributed and were at or close to the peak of their game. Even amongst all this excellence though, Leone Nakarawa stood out.

An unplayable chaos factor that all the plans Munster must have made couldn’t even begin to pin down.

Lesson for Saturday: Leone Nakarawa was one of a kind but that chaotic unpredictability is something that the Warriors can bring to elements of their play to keep the Munster defence from taking control.

4. Munster 26-38 Glasgow Warriors

URC regular season; Thomond Park, March 25 2023

Athletes often talk about trying to get into a flow state where they’re in the moment and there’s no need to worry or force what they do, everything just happens naturally and instinctively and performance is maximised.

More than any other 40 minutes during the Franco Smith era, the opening half at Thomond Park last year felt as close to getting all 15 players in that mindset at the same time. Almost everything the Warriors tried came off.

Munster simply had no answers as they were picked apart time and again for a simply staggering half-time score of 28-0 to the away side.

In their only start together, the half back pairing of Ali Price and Domingo Miotti ran the show, ably assisted by the distribution, carrying and decision-making of centre, Sam Johnson, at the tail end of his Glasgow career, but still incredibly influential.

Glasgow Warriors centre Sam Johnson was outstanding in the Thomond Park winGlasgow Warriors centre Sam Johnson was outstanding in the Thomond Park win (Image: SNS)

Flow can be an ephemeral sensation to hang on to and, allied to a Munster fight back to try and restore some pride, the second half didn’t feature anywhere near the same level of play in attack from the Warriors (although they did manage an incredibly rare drop goal, the 50th in the club’s history).

They were able to fall back on their defence and good old-fashioned hard work though, to do enough to keep a resurgent home side at bay. Nine of the starting XV hit double digits for tackles made, with Rory Darge racking up 21.

Lesson for Saturday: Try to shut out all the noise and pressure around a knockout, no tomorrows fixture and let the performance flow.

5. Glasgow Warriors 5-14 Munster

URC quarter-final; Scotstoun Stadium, May 6 2023

The most recent knockout match between these sides was the first one ever to finish with the result in Munster’s favour. The men in red put in a powerhouse performance in defence after building an early lead.

There were actually plenty of missed tackles (42 out of 260 attempted) but the swarming nature of the visitor’s defensive line and Glasgow’s tendency to play a lot of rugby in their own half kept actual scoring opportunities to a minimum.

When the Warriors did break into the Munster 22 the intensity just cranked up even further, forcing turnovers and errors that left the home side scoreless. In fact, for much of the game it felt like Glasgow were going to be nilled for just the fourth time in their history.

The game was really shaped by a six-minute spell early in the second quarter. The opening 20 minutes had been relatively evenly matched with both sides creating opportunities, although the Warriors would have felt they had the better chances to build an early lead.

Munster were able to strike first through an efficiently created score for Malakai Fekitoa with 22 minutes on the clock. Carelessness from Glasgow then saw them lose control of the ball in midfield which left Tom Jordan stranded one-on-one against Conor Murray and a poor tackle led to the visitors’ player departing for an HIA and the home team’s man being sent off with 25 minutes gone.

Tom Jordan's early red card was the game's turning pointTom Jordan's early red card was the game's turning point (Image: SNS)

With no fly-half cover on the bench (for the first time that season), the Warriors were particularly exposed in the event of losing their number 10. Another Munster try just two minutes later put the visitors in almost total control.

It would have been easy to fold under the pressure of a 14 point deficit with just 14 players on the pitch but Glasgow stuck in at their task and made things as difficult as possible.

They will know that much of what made their own performance so challenging was within their control though and the opportunity for another famous win was there until they lost the momentum of the match in the space of just six minutes.

Lesson for Saturday: Don’t get a red card…