FRANCO Smith’s first match as Glasgow Warriors coach will now be against the Ayrshire Bulls in Inverness tomorrow night [Friday] after Worcester pulled out of the fixture.

The English club are close to going into administration, and their players have not been paid this week. Last weekend Adam Hewitt, the Sixways club’s principal shirt sponsor, said he would cover the cost of the trip from the English Midlands to the Highland capital. But yesterday Worcester director of rugby Steve Diamond stated via Twitter that in the circumstances it would be unfair on the squad to insist on their fulfilling the fixture.

“We have been forced to take the hugely frustrating and disappointing decision not to travel to Inverness tomorrow for our pre-season fixture against Glasgow Warriors on Friday, as players and staff wages remain unpaid,” Diamond wrote. “The squad have worked hard throughout pre-season and are bitterly disappointed to be put in this position. We express our deep sorrow to our hosts, Glasgow Warriors, who we hope understand the unique and worrying situation we find ourselves in.

“We would like to thank Adam Hewitt for his overwhelming generosity in offering to fund the trip,” he continued. “It simply isn’t feasible to play when [the] future remains uncertain and a decision had to be taken today. It is unethical for professional players to play a full-on game with the risk of injury and the real possibility of no employment to follow.”

An initial statement from Glasgow said that they were “assessing if any alternative options are achievable”. Last night they confirmed that the Bulls, the reigning Super6 champions, would be able to provide the opposition for the match at Caledonian Stadium after it was agreed that their own game against the Southern Knights should be postponed from this Saturday to next.

“We are delighted that Ayrshire Bulls are able to help us fulfil Friday night’s fixture in Inverness,” Glasgow managing director Al Kellock said. “We have a huge amount of community activity planned in the Highlands over the next few days, and to be able to host a fixture at the Caledonian Stadium as the culmination of the week is fantastic. We’re all excited to see our new signings in action.”

The Warriors’ open training session at Highland RFC will still go ahead today as planned. Tickets for the Worcester match will be valid for the Bulls game.