Ryan Wilson: Glasgow & Scotland back-rower - 'I wanted to call my son Wilson'
|European Champions Cup: Glasgow Warriors v Cardiff Blues|
|Venue: Scotstoun Date: Sunday, 13 January Kick-off: 15:15 GMT|
|Coverage: Live commentary on Radio Scotland & online; Text commentary on BBC Sport website & app|
There are three kids in Ryan Wilson's family, although his wife, Bex, might argue that there's a fourth in the shape of her 29-year-old husband, the Glasgow Warrior who will play his 150th game for his club on Sunday in a must-win Champions Cup affair with Cardiff at Scotstoun.
There's wee Bella - "the devil child" - who is two. There's Ava, the aficionado of Gaelic poetry, who is six. And in between there's the boy, Jaxon. "An absolutely massive child," says his dad. "He's four and he's wearing the clothes of an eight-year-old. He's bigger than me. Bigger than George Horne anyway."
The naming of Jaxon tells us a little about the fourth kid that Bex has to look after in that house of hers. "When Jax was born I actually wanted him to be called Wilson," says the number eight. "My wife goes, 'No way are we calling our son Wilson Wilson' and I was like, 'No, no, just one name - Wilson. You know, like... Ronaldinho'. I was deadly serious.
"I even asked about it officially. I said, 'As a matter of interest, if I just wanted to call my boy Wilson...' Then Bex says, 'Don't be so stupid' and that, kinda, was the end of that."
All going well, you'll see the three kids on the pitch at Scotstoun on Sunday afternoon. Rob Harley will lead the team out, as is his right given that it will be his 200th game for Glasgow, but Wilson will be next and the children will be with him as he takes to the field.
This is big time. If Glasgow win and manage to grab a bonus point in the process they move on to 19 points with a trip to Saracens to come in their final group game. In each of the last five seasons, 19 points has been enough to take a team through to the quarter-finals. This is a glorious opportunity for the Warriors.
Scotstoun will be heaving, of course. And there'll be a pocket of Wilsons in attendance. "Normally, they sit just over there," says Glasgow's co-captain, pointing to the area of the main stand where his family set up camp for every home game.
"And they scream at me. 'DADDY!!!' Jax says afterwards, 'Can you hear me?' And I say, 'Yeah, definitely'. And he goes, 'Well, why don't you wave at me?' I say, 'I can't, Jax. The boss (Dave Rennie) will kill me. I'm supposed to be concentrating on the game'.
"Having them walk out with me on Sunday will be lovely. Playing 150 games for this club is something that I'm very proud of. Glasgow's been a big part of my life and a big part of the life of my family."
'We're not worried... there's no panic here'
These are challenging times for Glasgow. Three defeats on the bounce - two against Edinburgh and one against Benetton - and suddenly their big lead at the top of their Pro14 conference has evaporated. Until recently they looked certainties for a home semi-final in the play-offs, but now they're second in the group behind Munster and they have the Ospreys and Connacht bearing down on them in third and fourth.
Wilson isn't exactly going around with his hair on fire over this, it has to be said. He's bright and breezy and self-mocking. Wilson's wise-cracking has its limits, though. Underneath the jokes he's a very serious rugby player with a very clear focus on what he wants.
"The media are saying a few things about us, but these things can turn around very quickly. The wheels aren't falling off. It takes one game to change it and we want it to be Cardiff on Sunday.
"We're not in a bad position, are we? Second in the conference and in with a very decent shot of making the quarter-finals of Europe if we get our stuff right. We're not worried about what people are saying on the outside. There's no panic in here. We're in a good place, we're all right.
"If we're brutal around clean-out and carry, if we get quick ball and then look after that quick ball then we're a hard team to beat. What's gone wrong the last three games? We haven't looked after the ball well enough. Silly mistakes in key areas. Not controlling the tempo. We know what we need to do."
'Everybody needs a kick in the arse'
Wilson is 29, but tells people he's 28 because he's getting close to 30 and doesn't want to be reminded of it. He laughs at the logic of it and says that age is irrelevant right now in any case because he's intending to play until he's 40 even if it means he's scraping a living on five grand a year. He's joking, but only partly. He loves the rugby life so much that he knows it'll be hard to leave it behind.
"I've played rugby all my life and I suppose it's the only thing I know. Providing for my family is what gets me out of bed in the morning and I'm very lucky to be doing a job that I love while being surrounded by great people every day.
"It hits you sometimes. When we came back from the November series with Scotland the boss said to me, 'We're putting Ashey (Adam Ashe) in ahead of you next week [against Lyon in the Champions Cup] and I was gutted because it means so much to me to play and when you don't play then it hurts.
"It was right that Ashey played because he'd earned it, but it gave me a kick in the arse. Everybody needs a kick in the arse on occasion."
'Barclay's never off my TV screen. It's disgusting'
These are compelling days for Glasgow and Edinburgh. Both bang in contention, both on the edge of qualification. Two Scottish teams in the last eight of Europe's elite competition? Only a madman would have predicted it, but the chance exists for the pair of them.
One of his great mates is Edinburgh's John Barclay. You sense that getting to know Barclay, and people like him, are at the heart of why Wilson loves his life as a rugby player and why he's intending to go on for as long as he possibly can. They room together with Scotland, they holiday together with their families, they're a double act in the style of The Odd Couple, forever winding each other up.
While recovering from injury, Barclay has done media work. "Tell me about it!" Wilson hollers. "He's a telly star now, eh? I saw him going around in Canada Goose shoes the other day. What's going on there?
"Honestly, he's never off my TV screen. It's disgusting. Me and Hamish Watson text each other about him. 'He's on again!' He's taking over the industry."
Barclay will get a laugh out of that. They might play for rival clubs, but he'll be rooting for his mate on Sunday, no doubt about it.
"It's going to be another full house and it's going to be loud," says Wilson. And that's just his kids. The rest of Scotstoun will be in full voice, too, as Glasgow attempt to take a significant step down the road to the last eight.