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'Depth of knowledge stood out': Glasgow appoint Franco Smith

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Silvia Lore/Getty Images)

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Glasgow have appointed Franco Smith as their new head coach on an initial two-year contract. The 50-year-old joins from the Italian Rugby Federation where he has served as head of high performance since 2021. He took on that role having previously been the Italy national team head coach from 2020 only to be replaced by Kieran Crowley.

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The Warriors had been linked with a host of names in recent months since sacking Danny Wilson on the back of their humiliating URC quarter-final exit at Leinster, a knockout match that they lost 76-14 in Dublin.

Seasoned coaches such as Dean Richards and Todd Blackadder were mentioned as possibilities to succeed Wilson, but Glasgow have instead gone for Smith who will arrive at Scotstoun at the end of August after a short notice period.

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Smith will start work prior to the club’s two pre-season fixtures and he will be in close contact with his assistant coaches – Nigel Carolan, Peter Murchie, Alasdair Dickinson, and Pete Horne – in the coming weeks.

Smith said: “I have followed Glasgow for a long time since coaching at Benetton when they joined the PRO12 in 2010 and the way they play has always appealed to me because their style is embraced by the fans.

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“In coaching, I always have these objectives: to play a winning brand of rugby, to have a style that is good to watch and that the fans can associate with – it is the Warrior Nation’s team and our responsibility through the coaches and players is to represent them.

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“There are also opportunities at Glasgow to contribute to the pathway for up-and-coming players, making sure we are developing creative, fit, and knowledgeable rugby players from a young age that we will bring all the way through to Scotland. I’m looking forward to joining the club and getting to know the coaching staff and players as we begin working together.”

The ex-Springboks player made a try-scoring debut against Scotland at Murrayfield and won nine caps for his country between 1996 and 1999. During his club career he played for Free State Cheetahs, Griquas, Blue Bulls and The Pumas in South Africa, as well as Newport, Bologna and Benetton Treviso in Europe.

Smith began coaching soon after retiring, first as backs coach for Cheetahs before returning to Italy in 2007 as Benetton head coach of Benetton. In Treviso, he won two National Championship of Excellence titles and he returned to Cheetahs in 2014, leading them to two Currie Cup titles in 2016 and 2019. He also spent time as an assistant coach with South Africa during 2017 and 2018.

Glasgow managing director Alastair Kellock added: “We are delighted to be signing a head coach with Franco’s club and international experience to lead our squad in the coming seasons. After an extensive search, it was Franco’s depth of knowledge in the game and his experiences at professional club and international levels that stood out. Thank you to the Italian Rugby Federation for their willingness to make this appointment possible.

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“I know Franco will bring an exciting identity to our game based on a high tempo and hard work, and he will bring the best out of the talented group of players we have at Scotstoun. Franco is also known for developing players from a young age, and with five recent graduates from the FOSROC Academy and a number close behind growing these players remains a key focus for the club.”

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