WHEN Ryan Wilson headed off to work last Wednesday morning, he knew that it was going to be a slightly different day to normal, but he could not possibly have anticipated what the next 72 hours would bring.  He and his Glasgow Warriors team-mates headed over to Edinburgh to run against the Scotland team ahead of their trip to Paris to take on France in the final match of this year’s Six Nations, and when Matt Fagerson picked up an ankle injury during the session, the veteran No8 was the right man in the right place at the right time. 

Wilson had been in the international wilderness since Scotland’s 2019 World Cup flop and admits that he had more or less given up on a recall to Gregor Townsend’s squad. He has channelled his frustration into helping Glasgow Warriors through a turbulent Covid-disrupted season, so when the opportunity to return to the Scotland fold arrived out of the blue, he wasn’t immediately sure that he wanted to travel to Paris if he wasn’t going to make the match-day 23. 

“We trained against Scotland over at Oriam on the Wednesday before they flew out, and normal when you send a Glasgow team over there it was quite a feisty session, with Matt injuring his ankle right at the end,” explained Wilson. “Then Gregor came over and said: ‘Listen, I think we might need you to go to France’.  

“My first reaction was that the boys might need me for Glasgow so I’m not sure. “I’d done all the preparation with Glasgow that week and I wasn’t quite sure what my role was going to be with Scotland, but I ended up on the bench and got on to make my 50th appearance.  

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“I had to phone my wife, Bex, and say: ‘You need to bring my passport, I’m going to France’. She said: ‘No, that’s next week you play Montpellier [with Glasgow]’, and I had to explain what had happened. She grabbed the little one and jumped in the car, and then missed the school pick-up, so I was in all sorts of trouble’.”

“Luckily, I had most of my training stuff with – my boots and everything like that - so it was just pants, passports and I was off.” 

In truth, Mrs Wilson was more than happy to drive cross country without a moment’s notice on this occasion having seen first-hand how much her husband’s exclusion from the Scotland set-up had hurt him. 

“She sees everything, from me on the field and at training to the worst bit of me back home,” he acknowledged. “I was sat there dark at some points, wondering 'what am I going to do?' Because I was desperate to get back in there.  

“The biggest time it hit me was when we were training with Glasgow over there towards the beginning of the Six Nations. I don't want to make myself sound bad but I had almost managed to make myself believe I didn't care that I wasn't involved [with Scotland] and would just get involved with the stuff in Glasgow and see what happened, but running into the likes of Sean Maitland, Stuart Hogg, Beelsy the kit man, and all those guys I had spent so much time with, and it really hit me.  

“I went home that night and Bex asked what was up, and I just said that it had made it hurt even more seeing all those guys and knowing I wasn't part of that. So, she sees how hard I’ve worked to try to get back there and she wasn’t complaining about having to drive to Edinburgh, she would have done anything. She would have driven me down to Paris with the kids in the back it needed.  

The rest is, of course, history. He got on for the last 14 minutes, carrying the ball four times for 22 yards, including three times in the mammoth passage of play leading up to Duhan van der Merwe’s dramatic match-winning try. The celebrations went on long into the night, and through to the early hours of Saturday morning, with the clean-living Townsend boasting the next day that outlasting jack-the-lad Wilson was probably one of his proudest moments. 

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“Well, I had a 15-minute cameo on the pitch, so I’ll blame it on that,” protested Wilson. “And the excitement – I spent every last bit of energy making sure I enjoyed it up until that point when I finally hit the hay. It was a good night – a brilliant night.  

But the world turns quick in professional rugby and yesterday morning he was back in training with Glasgow as focus now turns to Friday night’s European Challenge Cup last 16 match away to Montpellier. 

“It’s been a whirlwind of a weekend, but we’re back in here now and its straight back to business, with all the boys are ready to do a job,” he said. “They’re not doing great in the French league table at moment but they had a big win away to Toulouse at the weekend. So, it is a difficult team to go up against, but we’ve definitely got the squad to do the job.  

“There’s a lot of hungry players here wanting to push on in a competition which is going to be a fresh start for us.”