Glasgow Warriors are in Italy this weekend to take on Zebre looking to put pressure on Leinster in first place of the URC. 

Here, Kevin Millar looks ahead to the match.

KO 1.00 at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Saturday 27th April 2024

Live on Premier Sports 1

  • Glasgow have scored 125 tries against Zebre in 21 meetings. That’s ahead of the 123 they’ve notched against Leinster (55 matches) but behind their tallies versus both Dragons (128 in 45 matches) and Edinburgh (137 in 65 matches).
  • Franco Smith Sr. and Franco Smith Jr. will face off on opposite sides for the second time in the URC. Dad had the bragging rights after Glasgow’s 45 – 17 win at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in December 2022. He’ll be hoping his Warriors’ family are victorious again with every point vital in the race for the league’s top four positions.
  • There are just two capped internationals among Glasgow’s starting forwards – the equal fewest this season (also Benetton away). The Warriors have started an all international eight on two occasions during 2023/24 (v Stormers and Ulster, both at home).
  • This is the first time during his 47 matches in charge that Franco Smith has picked a starting pack that weighs less than 900kgs (899kg v Zebre; high of 954kg; average of 926kg).
  • The eight players on the Glasgow bench have nearly as many previous appearances for the club as the starting XV combined (531 v 558).
  • International winger / full back, Kyle Rowe, is the Warrior to Watch.


Scotland Rugby News:

(players in CAPITALS are full capped internationals, numbers in brackets are previous appearances for Zebre / Glasgow)

Head to Head:

Scotland Rugby News:

Glasgow Greetings:

758 days have passed since the last time Grant Stewart ran out in a Warriors’ jersey for a competitive fixture.

Coincidentally, when the man they call Cheese made his last appearance, in April 2022, it was also against Zebre. On that occasion the game was at Scotstoun where he replaced hat-trick hero Johnny Matthews for the last 15 minutes.

Allan Dell will make his first start since Round 18 of last season’s URC, one year and five days ago.

Matchday Milestones:

Zander Fagerson will bring up 100 games in the URC (PRO14 etc.) when he takes to the field on Saturday afternoon.

In the backs, Tom Jordan will be the first Glasgow player to make 20 appearances this season, having  featured in every Warriors’ fixture so far (14 starts and 6 subs).

The next highest tally in the squad is 19 by Stafford McDowall, who has made the most starts of any player (18), while among the forwards the injured Johnny Matthews has played 17 times (10 starts and 7 subs).

Warrior to Watch:

If it wasn’t for the unfortunate demise of London Irish, Kyle Rowe almost certainly wouldn’t be playing for Glasgow right now.

That twist of fate has definitely benefited the Warriors, and the player himself is in a rich vein of form having very quickly settled into his new surroundings.

A try on debut against Connacht has been followed by another nine so far – a strike rate so good, even Johnny Matthews must be looking over his shoulder.

Kyle is the URC’s top try scorer* and his attacking threat has only increased as the season has progressed.

After an excursion at full back, he returns to his more familiar wing beat on Saturday. That flexibility to cover will be a handy attribute though. Not just in terms of selection but also increasing Glasgow’s options in game for how they use their back 3.

* Among players who don’t get to hang off the back of mauls…

URC form:

Scotland Rugby News:

Track record…

…away to Zebre in the PRO12/PRO14/URC era:

  • 11 wins
  • 0 losses
  • 9 Try BPs
  • 53 points out of a possible 55 (96%)

Previous match-up v Zebre in Italy:


Referee: Eoghan Cross (IRFU, 17th league game)
AR1: Filipo Russo (FIR)
AR2: Manuel Bottino (FIR)
TMO: Colin Stanley (IRFU)

Mr Cross’s regular season record for 2023/24:

  • Matches – 11
  • Average penalty count – 20.0 per game
  • Home side penalties conceded percentage – 45.0%
  • Average card count – 1.0 per game
  • Penalties per card – 20.0

Mr Cross refereed Glasgow’s last trip to Italy, their 19 – 9 win over Benetton in Treviso at the beginning of March.

In between these Italian jobs, the Irish official took charge of back to back Edinburgh games in Rounds 13 and 14 of the URC. The Scottish sides’ analysts will almost certainly have been sharing information about his tendencies.

The key for the Warriors is to note that a 13 – 6 penalty count and a yellow card against them very nearly allowed Benetton back into that game before Tom Jordan’s late try sealed the win.

That level of indiscipline just invites trouble. Last time these sides met in Parma, Zebre showed their maul could be a potent weapon if they were allowed to kick penalties into the 22.

There needs to be a focus on keeping the home side away from the danger zone and that means being squeaky clean while on defensive duties.

Additional ref stats from: