While the presence of two Americans in the visiting side changes the perspective substantially, tonight's Celtic League match at Hughenden is, in a rugby context, hugely important to both Glasgow and Llanelli.

A minute's silence will take place before kick-off as a mark of respect following the atrocity which took place in the homeland of Dave Hodges, who led the USA at Murrayfield last year, and Luke Gross, his fellow tourist on that trip.

With the Welsh club not yet at full strength, both will once again set aside their personal feelings as they did on Tuesday night when, with the full horror of events in New York, Washington, and Philadelphia still unfolding, they played against Swansea.

''It was a hard game to get up for,'' Hodges has admitted. ''We just had to do our best.''

Their inclusion reflects the prevailing mood in the USA, that people must get back to normal as quickly as possible to demonstrate that terrorism cannot bring their nation to a standstill.

Furthermore, as professional sportsmen, Hodges and Gross are aware that this match is as vital as any could be for them right now. Victory means a home quarter-final draw for Llanelli, and could mean the same for Glasgow, though they would have to wait for the result of Ulster's trip to Pontypridd tomorrow before finding that out. Defeat for either side could yet mean they would be denied a place in the quarter-finals altogether.

Piquancy is added to proceedings by Llanelli's inclusion of Robin McBryde, their Welsh international hooker, for his first start of the season on a night which also sees Chris Wyatt, his fellow Wales cap, return to the side.

McBryde's inclusion in the British & Irish Lions squad ahead of Gordon Bulloch, his opposite number tonight, was greeted with scorn across the UK, not least in Wales, the Scot going on to earn a Test cap after McBryde dropped out with the thigh injury which has prevented his return before now.

However, Bulloch - who returns the captaincy tonight to Andy Nicol, who has also shaken off a thigh injury, while Jon Steel returns after a hamstring problem - made it clear that there was no personal animosity, seeing the timing of McBryde's return as merely coincidental.

''We shared a room in Manly just before Robin left the tour, which was strange at the time,'' he admitted.

''However, he has to come back at some point and there's not that much rivalry between us. I've only played against him once or twice. He's a nice enough guy and it (Lions selection) was not his fault. I was good friends with Dorian West (the Englishman who, as fifth-choice hooker for the tour, was preferred to Bulloch on the bench for the second and third Tests) while we were out there. It's not down to us who is picked or who is selected.''

But their duel will be highly competitive and Bulloch is pleased he has the advantage in terms of match practise.

''You are head-to-head in the scrums and you can noise each other up about who is missing what throw or whatever at the lineouts,'' he acknowledged. ''However, this is just another game which happens to be the most important of the season for us so far.

''After two games getting to the last eight wasn't looking very likely, but now the ball is in our court and we have the chance of a home draw.

''If we'd said that would be the case after three games a lot of people wouldn't have believed us.''

Yet he noted that considerable numbers of his fellow Glaswegians have shown faith.

''I don't know if I would have gone to watch a game on a Tuesday night given the events of that day, so it was great for us that more than 2000 turned out,'' he said of the attendance at their 58-22 win over Ebbw Vale three days ago. ''A few of us went for a quick shandy after the game and people were buzzing about it, coming up in the pub and saying how well we'd done, which has not been heard of before in Glasgow.

''Last year people thought the Reds was one team, Glasgow another and Caledonians another. We are Glasgow now and people are starting to find an affinity with the team as we establish our identity in the local area. Hopefully they will turn out tonight.''

All of which has helped him to cope with a much shorter off-season than he had expected.

''I'm enjoying it,'' said the hooker. ''We are top of the Scottish/Welsh League, pushing for qualification in the Celtic League and starting to play a brand of rugby which is enjoyable to watch, enjoyable to play and is working.''

That is apparently transmitting itself to supporters, and while the crowd may not reach capacity tonight, with Hughenden capable of holding less than 6000 spectators, officials believe all-ticket matches may take place before the end of the season, such is the interest.