This club has an unbelievable culture - du Plessis
In the 24 year-professional existence of Glasgow Warriors, 310 players from around the world have pulled on the club’s colours in a competitive match.
Yet whilst each supporter will have their favourites, very few players have endeared themselves quite so universally to the Warrior Nation in as short a space of time as Petrus du Plessis.
It’s a feeling that is most definitely reciprocated by the recently-retired former tight-head prop, as he prepares to leave the club he joined – initially on a short-term basis – in October 2018.
“This club has such a phenomenal culture,” du Plessis told glasgowwarriors.org.
“The players and fans were so welcoming to me, right from day one. Scotstoun is such a great place to play, because the fans are so passionate about their club.
“For me, running out for my debut against Saracens and hearing ‘Enter Sandman’ – that was it, I knew it was the place for me!
“To work with the players and see the things we worked on transferred out onto the pitch, and seeing how the fans reacted - it’s such a great environment to be in and I loved every single second of it.”
A successful campaigner on the pitch, it was off the pitch that the former Saracens and London Irish front-rower began to forge his burgeoning reputation as a scrum coach. Fans and pundits aplenty have noted the improvements in the Glasgow set-piece in the last two seasons, something to which du Plessis is proud to have contributed.
This is why we love rugby...! In great spirit @Nigelrefowens offered me his shirt to speed up the game! What a gentleman! 🤧🩸 pic.twitter.com/wBcB9k7vJN
— Petrus du Plessis (@PetrusduPlessis) January 6, 2020
“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities Glasgow gave me,” he said.
“I joined as injury cover, then after five or six games Dave [Rennie] asked me if I’d stick around as a scrum coach. I’d been working with Jonathan Humphreys to try and correct some technical things at the scrum, so it was then a case of just taking that and developing it further. It’s been something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.
“Dave and the team were phenomenal with me. There’s a lot of autonomy, which allows you to put your own spin on things and bring your own expertise. That comes with a lot of trust, and so you work that bit harder to make sure your area doesn’t let anyone down.”
Even as a coach, however, the man renowned as one of rugby’s great polymaths continued to keep his hand in on the playing field. It was a decision that paid dividends back in January, as circumstance intervened to provide du Plessis with a memorable final appearance for the club.
“That game against Benetton was pretty unexpected!” he laughed.
“It was an unbelievable day, though, even if my body disagreed afterwards!
“I just enjoyed every bit of it really, though, and that extends to my entire time at the club. The fun and games we had in meetings, the camaraderie on the training field, all of it. It was a really nice way to ease out of my playing career whilst still being involved.”
Du Plessis’ impact has stretched beyond the confines of the scrum, however, as anyone present at February’s sold-out Scrumbags gig at Glasgow’s Hard Rock Café will confirm. Alongside team-mates Ryan Wilson, Callum Gibbins, Lee Jones, Adam Ashe, Aki Seiuli and Ratu Tagive, the septet rocked out in support of Glasgow Children’s Hospital, raising over £9,000 for the charity.
“I would say that – off the pitch – that was the best night of my professional life,” grinned du Plessis.
“Just to be able to get on stage and entertain people while making a lot of money for Glasgow Children’s Hospital, it was such an incredible feeling.
“You want to have something to occupy you outside of rugby, and to pull that off after three or four months of rehearsals with the guys was incredible. I can only thank the club and the fans for supporting it so well – it was a special night.”
Whilst the Guinness PRO14’s suspension may have called time on du Plessis’ spell at Scotstoun sooner than he’d have imagined, don’t think that you’ve seen the last of him at the home of the Warriors.
“I saw Kelly come back to deliver the match ball, and the reaction he got showed that ‘once a Warrior, Always A Warrior’ is more than just a slogan,” said du Plessis.
“I got a really nice letter from Nathan saying I’m welcome back any time, and it’s been the same with all the guys. Who knows – maybe one day I’ll be back again one day!”
New opportunities may be beckoning for du Plessis, but The Memory Remains for the Warrior Nation’s favourite Metallica fan.