Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Gregor Townsend not worried about Paris security measures

Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend insists he is not worried about strict security measures distracting his players as they prepare to return to Paris.

The Warriors were in the French capital on the night of the November 13 atrocities which left 130 victims dead.

The Guinness Pro12 champions were preparing for a European Champions Cup clash with Racing 92 but the match was postponed while France came to terms with horrific attacks carried out by Islamist extremists.

The crucial Pool 3 fixture at the Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir has now been rearranged for Saturday but even two months on from the devastating scenes, there remains a nervous air in Paris.

The first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks on Friday witnessed yet further alarm when a man was shot dead by local police after trying to enter one of the city's police stations while carrying a knife and wearing a fake suicide vest.

However, Townsend believes his players will be well guarded during their stay.

"It's the anniversary of Charlie Hebdo and we saw on the news [that there had been another incident in Paris], so security will be a priority for us and for Racing," he said.

"We are certainly aware there will be more security on show around the game and around our hotel.

"But I'm not worried about it being a distraction. The best security is the security you don't see. As a playing group we get on a bus and go straight to the stadium, so it won't affect us.

"It will be more the supporters who have to take that little bit more time getting through security for the game."

Among the targets of the November attacks was the Stade de France, where Les Bleus were playing Germany in an international football friendly.

The days after saw a show of defiance at Wembley as England stood shoulder to shoulder with their neighbours across the Channel when they visited London for another friendly fixture,

But Townsend feels emotion will play less of a part in his side's clash this weekend.

He said: " We felt for all the people of Paris. Having our game called off was an inconvenience but it was nothing compared to what happened that night.

"But that weekend in Paris seems a long time ago now. We've got a huge game coming up against Racing, who are the current best team in France, so it will be a tough challenge.

"I don't think there will be too much emotion around the match though. Racing have played at home since then and time has moved on. We'll just be treating this like any other game and I'm sure Racing will be too."

Townsend certainly has enough to be concerned with as he prepares to face the Top 14 leaders and their superstar squad.

Townsend - whose side are likely to require at least two wins from their remaining three games if they are to make the quarter-finals for the first time - said: "I'm expecting the strongest team they can put out.

"It looks like for their European games they have gone for the guys in their ranks who have international experience such as Dan Carter and Joe Rokocoko from the All Blacks or their French internationals.

"But it raises everybody's focus when you know you are up against some of the best players in the game now, or in Carter's case to have ever played it.

"Dan is in great form. He had a great World Cup and has been outstanding in the couple of games he has played for Racing. We know their threats but they like to play rugby so we reckon it will be a positive game to watch."


From Belfast Telegraph