WHAT better than a nice, gentle game of cricket to round off the first block of pre-season training?

The crack of willow on leather, some tame bowling and players patting the ball around the ground in a relaxed finale to three-and-a-half weeks of brutal, heart-pounding slog.

Only these guys just don't understand calm, tame and relaxed. These are Glasgow Warriors rugby players still on a high from winning the Guinness PRO12 last season and being competitive is built into the genes. It was proper bowling, aggressive batting and when a wicket went down, celebrations to match anything you'll see when the Ashes gets going later this month.

Highlight of the evening's knock-up, arranged by their sponsors, McCrea Financial Services at the West of Scotland cricket ground, was undoubtedly Jerry Yanuyanutawa's tumbling catch at mid on and the way he hurled the ball 50 feet in the air in celebration showed what it meant. Friendly? Don't be daft.

On the back of their most successful season ever, it should not have come as that much of a surprise to see that for these guys, sport is all about results and this may be the group left behind after the Scotland training squad left for Murrayfield and the Pyrenees but for them, this season is both a challenge and a responsibility.

So for the likes of Peter Murchie, the full-back who still harbours hopes of getting that call from Vern Cotter, the Scotland coach, there has been no time to mope. It is all about getting stuck into the Glasgow challenge and making the best of that.

"You are disappointed when the squad gets announced and you are not in it but you can't live your life wondering if you are going to get a phone call - could I still maybe get it?" he says. "It does not seem to be great fun looking at your phone wondering if you will get a phone call every time there is a little niggle over there.

"You have to accept the decision and I have just thrown myself into the stuff in Glasgow. It has been really enjoyable, I have made some gains and aim to hold them. I would love it if it [a Scotland call-up] did happen but I am not waiting by the phone."

Once again, Gregor Townsend, the head coach, has decided to do things his own way. Giving the players hardly any time off at the end of the season before calling them in for some brutal training work and then giving them an extended break through the first part of July.

Like Murchie, Lee Jones, the wing, thinks it is a good way of handling things. The fitness and skills improvements from a solid block of work have been obvious to the players and now they have every incentive to keep up the hard work even when they head away on holiday.

"Because we are so used to training day in, day out you might stay off training for a few days but you just get itchy feet, you need to get out there," he observed ahead of his first proper summer break for several years. "It is good to do a bit here and there, physically and mentally. It is a balance. It is going to be a challenging season and there will be opportunities. For the guys in training, it is an opportunity to play that they might not have got. We are going to be a targeted team so we need to keep getting better and evolving.

"There was not a lot of rest time but the guys who played most of rugby at the end of the season are away with Scotland so we have a lot of guys here who did not have a big volume of rugby. I'm keen to have some time off but it has been really beneficial to have the three and as half weeks we have had."

These guys matter. As Murchie and Jones agree, the half-dozen games before the Test squad players become available again cannot decide the league but will play a huge role in deciding the final outcome. If Glasgow can pick up results, they will be in a strong position to get back into the knock-out stages, a poor start and it becomes an uphill challenge.

"There are a lot of guys in this group who had the same experience during the Six Nations," he pointed out. "We have a lot of guys who had some really good experience then and we picked up a lot of points. We can't win it during that period of the World Cup; we can't lose it either; but we can make it very difficult for ourselves or we can make it a lot easier if we get results.

"The guys are looking really good. We have all sorts of different guys, the ones who are maybe disappointed not to be in the Scotland squad, the ones who are on training contracts, the ones who are pushing really hard to get into the first team. Everyone is coming together. We will be in a good place, we have some really good warm-up games and come the first league game should be in a good spot."

It is not just those games either. They want to be in a position to make it hard for Townsend to change a winning side and pick the World Cup guys. They may not be in Murrayfield preparing to take on the world, but they are still competitive animals, as this bounce game of cricket demonstrated. Gentle? They don't know the meaning of the word.

McCrea Financial Services, as long-term sponsors of both Glasgow Warriors and the West of Scotland Cricket Club, were delighted to help put this event together, a fantastic day out in glorious weather and great surroundings.