DURING Dave Rennie’s three years as Glasgow’s head coach, the team’s biggest achievement was reaching the PRO14 final last year. By the same token, their biggest disappointment was losing that final to Leinster: not so much because of the simple fact of being beaten in that game at Celtic Park by excellent opponents, but because, having played so well for months beforehand, they failed to do themselves justice when it mattered most.

As he prepared to head home to a spell in quarantine in New Zealand before going on to take over as national coach in Australia, Rennie held one last media conference yesterday to look back on his time in charge at Scotstoun. Inevitably, he felt obliged to single out that 18-15 loss to Leinster, viewing it with a mixture of pride and frustration.

“The final last year was a huge disappointment, because we had played such good footy for a couple of months and were really on top of our game,” he said. “I was really proud of how we finished the year, playing under pressure each week as we tried to stay ahead of Munster [in Conference A]. A number of those victories were pretty emphatic and I was incredibly proud of that.

“The amount of effort that went in, not just by the 23 who got stripped but the full squad, was as good as I’ve seen. Guys who weren’t in the mix were still contributing massively to help the team prepare well on the weekend. I was really proud of the whole squad, but it was obviously disappointing not to get it right on the day and not come away with any silverware.”

Rennie’s overall Warriors record is remarkably similar to that of his predecessor Gregor Townsend, the key difference being that the current Scotland coach won a PRO12 title. But the 2015 win against Munster in Belfast was an altogether more open kind of game, and on that day at least, Munster were less formidable opponents than Leinster would prove to be four years later.

“We weren’t as accurate as you need to be in a big game like that,” Rennie continued. “Leinster chased the life out of us and they were really good at hanging onto the ball. We didn’t play a lot of rugby that day, and obviously they came in with that intention.

“It was an amazing atmosphere: it probably wasn’t the greatest spectacle. They’re a good side and they’ve played in a lot of big finals and their experience showed on the day. We had a couple of opportunities in the first half where we could have put them under more pressure on the scoreboard, but we didn’t take them and against good sides you have to do that. Lesson learned, I guess.”

As Danny Wilson gets set to take over as head coach from Rennie on Monday, a question mark remains over how precisely this season will conclude. A month into the pandemic, with no sign of rugby resuming, Rennie suggested it would be fairest for the PRO14 to award the title to Leinster, who have won all 13 of their matches to date.

Now, though, while nothing has been decided, the league looks set to be concluded one way or another, meaning that Glasgow, currently third in their conference, could at least in theory go one better this year than they did in 2019. If they did that, even with Wilson at the helm, a lot of credit would clearly be due to Rennie for steering the squad back into contention after a difficult start to the season.

In other words, it is too early for a definitive assessment of the departing coach’s time in charge. And the man himself, of course, will have altogether different concerns if and when a conclusion to this PRO14 campaign comes around. Rennie always seemed unflappable at Glasgow, even in the heat of battle, and that quality will certainly be needed in his next job.

Racked by rancour and controversy over the past couple of years, the Australian Rugby Union recently parted company with chief executive Raelene Castle. Any notion that Rennie would refuse to take up his post in sympathy with Castle was always going to be wide of the mark, but the coach went out of his way yesterday to praise the official, and to suggest that the criticism of her went well beyond what is acceptable.

“She was a big part of the reason that I signed. It was disappointing that people had a crack at her in the media who really have no idea of what is going on. For years we had media having a crack at her and various other people, high profile, having a crack at her, just bullying her, really.

“I’m disappointed that I won’t get a chance to work with her, but she went out with massive dignity.”

Rennie, too, leaves Glasgow with massive dignity, albeit in a more harmonious fashion.