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Tigers take the high road north of the border

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All roads - and railways and airways for that matter - head north this week as Leicester Tigers take a first-ever trip to the city of Glasgow.

It is amazing how few times the Tigers Family have been able to take the high road north to follow their team, with just one game against Edinburgh at a frozen Murrayfield back in 2007/08 and a European Cup Final at the same venue the following season as the only Anglo-Scots clashes in the last decade.
In that same period Tigers fans have adopted first-name terms with the locals in Treviso and followed a well-worn path to the home towns of Ulster, Ospreys and Clermont Auvergne.
Seeing Scottish club rugby will be new to almost all of the travelling supporters on Friday, though there is noticeable strength and experience within the Glasgow Warriors ranks and with the national squad concentrated on just two professional teams many of the names will be very familiar even if the jerseys are not.
In Gregor Townsend, the Warriors have a head coach who had many admirers as a player with a free spirit and an attacking intellect, though that soft spot was more of the quicksand variety for The Tig when he lined up in Saints colours.
Townsend always played the game his own way and, despite criticism at times, he was acknowledged in his prime among the very best playmakers in the northern hemisphere and shared in a triumphant tour with Johnno’s Lions to prove it.
The route north has been a road less travelled for the Tigers, though in Glasgow’s previous incarnations in the early years of the competition, the teams did meet several times in quick succession.
The 1997/98 meeting, at the strange Quarter-Final Play-Off stage, is mentioned sporadically   in the context of being Leicester’s record European win. They scored 14 tries in a 90-19 triumph. Even Richard Cockerill scored twice!
“I don’t think that will have much bearing on this week,” Cockers joked about that match recently. Looking back at the reports, The Tig noted that a crowd of just 6,500 was at Welford Road for the game, which shows how much the competition has changed in the years since. With the knockout stages beginning in October and the final held before then end of January, there were plenty of other changes too.
Taking a trip to a new venue is one of the highlights of European competition. Even if you don’t have to get your feet wet to get there, the Tigers Family eagerly await a new matchday experience and a new destination this week.