Glasgow Warriors face a huge United Rugby Championship clash with the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday as Franco Smith's side aim to cement their place at the top of the table. 

Both sides go into the match off the back of good wins, Glasgow a 40-9 triumph over Zebre two weeks ago, and the South African franchise a 61-21 thumping of Ospreys. 

Here are some of the key stats ahead of a crunch clash at Loftus Versfeld. 

  • Glasgow have held the lead with 70 minutes on the clock in each of their last 12 fixtures – winning nine and losing three.
  • The three defeats (Edinburgh, Exeter and Harlequins) have all been to tries scored in the final ten minutes with the Warriors’ missing their own opportunities late on.
  • Altitude and climate will be against them but, if they are able to work themselves into a good position, finishing strong will be a real focus for the team.
  • With 1,422 previous appearances for Glasgow and 1,144 games played in the URC/PRO14/PRO12, this is the most experienced Warriors’ matchday squad so far this season.
  • Of the three units (backs, forwards, bench) the substitutes are the veteran group with combined tallies of 502 appearances for the club and 457 games in the league.
  • Glasgow have lost their last six matches away to South African sides, by an average margin of 20 points.
  1. 2018: Kings 38-28 Glasgow
  2. 2019: Cheetahs 48-14 Glasgow
  3. 2022: Stormers 32-7 Glasgow
  4. 2022: Bulls 29-17 Glasgow
  5. 2022: Sharks 40-12 Glasgow
  6. 2023: Lions 35-24 Glasgow
  • This is the lightest starting pack selected by Franco Smith for any game during his tenure – 882kgs. The forwards that finish the game could weigh as much as 916kgs.
  • At the heart of the action, Scott Cummings is the Warrior to Watch.

The teams

Scotland Rugby News: (players in CAPITALS are full capped internationals, numbers in brackets are previous appearances for Bulls/Glasgow)

Head to Head

Scotland Rugby News:

Glasgow Greetings

The Warriors’ starting front row have had to wait a while since their most recent starts:

  • 85 days – Jamie Bhatti is back for the first time since becoming a Warrior centurion against Dragons in February.
  • 513 days – Murphy Walker returns to the line-up with his previous start for the club coming against Perpignan in December 2022 (his most recent appearance was as a sub against Edinburgh that same month).
  • 1,157 days – since the last time Grant Stewart started a game for Glasgow, versus Ospreys in March 2021.
  • Gregor Brown will make a first start in the second row for the Warriors.

Matchday Milestones

Two players will mark their 50th appearances for Glasgow, although with markedly different routes to picking up their milestone cap.

Sione Tuipulotu debuted against Ulster at the start of the 2021/22 campaign – game number 630 for the Warriors in the pro era and brings up his half century in game number 702 for the club.

Meanwhile, Grant Stewart has had to be a little more patient when it comes to notching his 50. He made his first appearance in a Champions Cup match in Dublin v Leinster in January 2018 – game number 545 in Glasgow’s professional history.

Zander Fagerson’s four outings from the bench during 2023/24 are more sub appearances than he made for the club in the previous five seasons combined.

Warrior to Watch

Nine years into his Glasgow career, Scott Cummings has racked up 121 appearances for the club, including more than 100 starts. And he is still only 27 years old.

Many of Cummings’ most eye-catching moments have been in attack where he loves to arrive at pace on an aggressive line. His contributions in the wide open spaces (eg the initial break for Sione Tuipulotu’s try against Exeter earlier this year) also belie the big man’s size.

Even with back-to-back tries scored against Scarlets and Harlequins, it’s actually the lock’s defensive contributions that have stood out most during the current campaign.

In the URC, he boasts a tackle completion rate of 97% - which is approaching Jonny Gray territory – with an average of 11.3 tackles per 80 minutes.

The 10 turnovers he has won for the Warriors rank him in the league’s top 10 for this stat, in a list that is largely dominated by back rows.

With injury absences stretching Glasgow’s second row resources, Cummings is a key player for the club and they will need him at his very best to take on the Bulls.

URC form

Scotland Rugby News:

Track record…

…away to South African sides in the PRO14/URC era

  • Two wins
  • Six losses
  • Four Try BPs
  • Twelve points out of a possible 40 (30%)

Previous match-up v Bulls in South Africa


Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU, 99th league game); Assistants: AJ Jacobs and Dylen November (both SARU); TMO: Craig Evans (WRU)

Ben Whitehouse’s regular season record for 2023/24:

  • Matches: 10
  • Average penalty count – 19.0 per game
  • Home side penalties conceded percentage – 44.7%
  • Average card count – 1.6 per game
  • Penalties per card – 11.9

This will be Whitehouse’s 12th time refereeing Glasgow, five more than his dad Nigel managed back in the day (1998-2005).

This will be relatively unusual in being an away game though, with six of the last seven encounters between the Warriors and the ref being at Scotstoun.

The Welsh whistler does have recent experience of South African conditions, having taken charge of Sharks vs Ulster at the end of March.

That game saw three sin binnings – part of a recent trend that has seen Whitehouse issue ten cards in his last three matches. He is a relatively low penalty count official but quick on the draw for heavier sanctions.

Glasgow cannot afford to play shorthanded at any stage against the Bulls on top of the unavoidable disadvantages of travel, altitude, plus the away ground and support.