Former Glasgow Warriors captain Ryan Wilson believes securing home advantage in the play-offs could be the key to the Warriors’ chances of success in the United Rugby Championship this season.  

Wilson spent 13 years at Scotstoun and is one of only two players, alongside Rob Harley, to make more than 200 appearances for Glasgow.  

He was part of the side that won the Pro12 title nine years ago and believes Glasgow could be on course to emulate that achievement this season.  

With three games left of the regular season, Glasgow sit top of the URC table and well-placed to secure a quarter-final at Scotstoun.  

Scotland Rugby News: Ryan Wilson played more than 200 times in 13 years with Glasgow WarriorsRyan Wilson played more than 200 times in 13 years with Glasgow Warriors (Image: SNS)

Wilson, whose affection for the club is such he still refers to the Warriors as ‘we’ almost a year after he left, said: said: “Leinster have one eye on the Champions Cup [final] which is good for Glasgow as we’ve got all our focus now on the URC.  

“We want to make sure we get top spot as then you’re talking about home quarters, home semis and a home final which is exactly what you want.

“If you get a home quarter then you have a better chance of coming through it, especially for Glasgow with their record at home.” 

Wilson also sung the praises of Franco Smith, the Glasgow head coach.   

Smith joined Glasgow from the Italian Rugby Federation where he served as Head of High Performance and was Head Coach of the national team.  

During his time with the Azzuri, Smith handed first caps to Michele Lamaro, the now skipper, plus Paolo Garbisi, Monty Ioane and Niccolo Cannone, to name just a few of those who’ve established themselves in the national set-up.  

Behind the scenes, Smith also laid the foundations for the pathways and Wilson believes there’s plenty those in the corridors of power within Scottish Rugby could learn from the former Springbok.  

Wilson added: "He put a lot of the foundations in place for Italian rugby and you just look at their under-20s and how well they’re going plus the Italian national team who’ve had their most successful Six Nations ever.  

“There’s a lot of talk in Scotland about grassroots and how we’re developing the younger generation.  

“The SRU will be leaning on someone like Franco Smith who did such a good job with Italian rugby to come in and do the same.” 

READ MORE: Glasgow season is exciting but nervy end is in store - The Pen

Wilson acknowledged Smith’s immediate focus will be on all things Glasgow, beginning with Saturday’s clash with the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld, some 1,350m above sea level.  

The former Glasgow skipper knows taking anything from that game could be a big ask.  

“It’s a huge game for the Bulls and they’re probably favourites,” he said.  

“I was with the Glasgow boys yesterday. There’s a bit of a chat about when they’re playing, in the heat, which coming from Glasgow, where 13C is as hot as it’s getting, they’ll feel that. And playing at altitude. So the Bulls have the upper hand there. 

“I was gutted with the boys flying out from Glasgow and thinking this is the first year I’ve not had a seat on the plane. I said they should take me for team morale!” 

Scotland Rugby News: Ryan Wilson interviews Zander Fagerson after a Glasgow match earlier in the seasonRyan Wilson interviews Zander Fagerson after a Glasgow match earlier in the season (Image: SNS)

Wilson said the title win in 2015 saw a spike in interest in a city dominated by football and believes another title win would only further help rugby’s popularity in Glasgow.  

“Glasgow is a huge football city,” Wilson said.  

“It’s amazing to see how the club has grown, but football is still the dominant sport here. It’s hard for rugby to get a foothold but it’s definitely grown. 

“We saw an influx of fans after the win in 2015 over in Belfast.  

“There were a lot of people jumped on board and wanted to come along and have a look.” 

Wilson, who works as a pundit for Premier Sports and hosts a podcast with Bristol Bears prop Max Lahiff, believes rugby may appeal more to families in the city.  

He added: "There’s such a divide with the football with Rangers and Celtic that a lot of people are leaning into rugby now, especially with the matchday experience." 

The URC has introduced Kids Round, with youngsters across all the league’s matches this weekend set to have the opportunity to ‘takeover’ match day roles, from PA announcers and carrying out the pre-match coin toss.  

Wilson added: “There’s a big push across the URC to try to get more kids involved as ultimately that’s how you’re going to grow the game. 

“A lot of families love coming to watch the URC at Scotstoun. There’s not that conflict that you get at football.” 

While he talked up their home form, Wilson also knows Glasgow must be wary. They were knocked out of the URC play-offs by eventual champions Munster at Scotstoun last season.  

He said: “If they can just hang on to that top spot they are so dangerous at home.  

“If they can go to South Africa and get at least one win and then beat Zebre at home they will be sitting pretty comfortably.  

“Although with knockout rugby – as we saw with Glasgow losing to Munster last year – anything can happen.” 

READ MORE: Preferred venues for Glasgow Warriors URC play-offs revealed

On an hour-long Zoom call, Wilson was asked why, after so many Scotland defeats to Ireland, he believes Glasgow could get the better of Leinster in a potential URC play-off showdown.  

"In knockout rugby anything can happen,” he replied.  

“Glasgow beat Leinster right at the beginning of the season so it would be quite telling if they could then do it right at the end of the season too.

“I do think Glasgow can go all the way this year."