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'Toulon must be the favourites... the players they bring into the club'

Toulon's Italian number eight Sergio Parisse celebrates after scoring the last try during the Top 14 rugby match Toulon (RCT) vs Perpignan (USAP) at the Mayol stadium in Toulon on April 15, 2023. (Photo by Christophe SIMON / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP via Getty Images)

Franco Smith admits his Glasgow side will go into Friday’s Challenge Cup final against Toulon as underdogs.


Warriors are playing at this stage of the competition for the first time, while their French opponents have won the Champions Cup three times in the past decade and have reached four other European finals, including last year when they lost to Top 14 rivals Lyon.

Although well aware that Glasgow lack the continental experience of Toulon, Smith is excited about leading his team into the showpiece at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

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“I’m really glad for the team, the players, the staff and the coaching group,” said the Warriors head coach. “It’s also important for the city.

“Toulon must be the favourites, this is their fifth (Challenge Cup) final, the players they bring into the club have always played at a high level, World Cup winners, they definitely have a lot of experience and I think that goes without saying.

“I appreciate that they are definitely the favourites and I think they will know the environment a lot better than us, but we get to learn.”

South African Smith feels Glasgow’s run to the final is further evidence that Scottish rugby is moving in the right direction.



“I definitely feel there’s been a lot of work put into Scottish rugby the last few years, the way that the national team has grown over the past seven or eight years with Gregor (Townsend) at the helm there and the quality of the players and how the product has been developed has been noticeable,” he said.

“For us now, and for the Scottish rugby environment, I think this has been a reward for all the hard work and some of the money spent and effort put in. I think it comes down to a longer process, and I am proud to be part of it.”

Captain Kyle Steyn believes Glasgow must trust the style of rugby that helped them get to the final and should not allow the occasion to prompt a change in their approach.

“The goal was to be playing rugby that inspires the people of Glasgow, that represented Glasgow city as a whole,” he said.


“We’ve spoken about the fact this is going to be a battle and we need to be excited and inspired by that challenge.

“The focus is on doing what makes us good and doing what we’ve done all season to get to this position. We don’t want to change too much of that going into the final.”



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