Memory Lane | The indestructible Mr Stortoni
25 April 2009. Warrior number 163 Bernardo Stortoni starts for Glasgow against Leinster at the RDS.
That's not in itself an unusual fact to read. What makes it extraordinary is the fact that the Argentinian full back would fill the 15 jersey in every one of the Warriors’ fixtures until a trip to the Parc Y Scarlets some 18 months and 36 matches later.
Possibly the most remarkable thing about Bernie’s streak of starts is that this wasn’t even the longest sequence without missing a match of his Glasgow career. The fearless full-back started 43 games in a row following his debut against Cardiff Blues in September 2007, before finally being unavailable for an away fixture against the Scarlets due to concussion. After completing his return to play protocols, he was back on the bench against Ulster. A week after that came the beginning of his 36 match run in the starting XV.
Throughout his time at the club, Bernie was a commanding presence for the Warriors. Already a veteran when he arrived at Firhill (he turned 31 not long after arriving following spells with Narbonne, Rotherham and Bristol), his experience was to the fore in helping to guide a new generation of backs just starting to cut their teeth at the club including the likes of Ruaridh Jackson, Peter Horne, Peter Murchie, DTH van der Merwe, Duncan Weir and Stuart Hogg.
Bernie had many fine qualities, frequently defending in the front line and bagging some crucial tries. It was under the high ball where he truly excelled, though. He was a master of his craft, with a seemingly reckless disregard for his own safety and a preternatural ability to pouch catches safely to defuse the opposition’s efforts or spark Glasgow’s own attack. The Warriors have been fortunate enough to have some very fine full backs in their ranks, but in this aspect of the game Stortoni was absolutely peerless.
Undoubtedly, consistency and durability were the watchwords for Bernie. In his first three seasons he only missed one game out of 74 for the club, starting in 72 of them.
In his last campaign he was rested for another trip to the Scarlets – this time to give Peter Horne a turn at full-back, in what remains his only start in the 15 jersey to date!
In February 2011, Bernie was benched to allow a young fella by the name of Stuart Hogg to make his first appearances for the club at full-back. In the final months before he retired, Bernie missed three out of the last four games – one of them with a stomach bug – as Sean Lineen looked ahead to the following season.
Overall, the Pumas international featured in 96 out of the 101 games Glasgow played during his four seasons at the club, starting 93 of them. No-one else even comes close to playing in such a high percentage of fixtures for the Warriors. Yet despite throwing himself into everything he did with reckless abandon, Bernie only missed one match through injury. He really was the indestructible Mr Stortoni.
Top 5 longest runs of consecutive starts for Glasgow Warriors:
1. Bernardo Stortoni – 43 (September
2007 to March 2009)
2. Jon Petrie – 37 (August 2000 to October 2001)
3. Bernardo Stortoni – 36 (April 2009 to October 2010)
4. Sean Lamont – 30 (October 2003 to October 2004)
5. David Hilton – 27 (August 2000 to May 2001)