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Franco Smith's advice for SA franchise coaches

By Jan De Koning
Franco Smith - PA

Glasgow Warriors coach Franco Smith has celebrated the addition of South African teams to Europe, saying they have added ‘real value’.

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The Warriors clinched a first-ever EPCR semifinal as they triumphed 31-21 over the Lions in the Challenge Cup quarterfinal at Scotstoun Stadium at the weekend.

The Lions were on top for large spells, but struggled to make their pressure count.

The Warriors coach said he was not surprised by the Lions’ ability to ‘stay in the fight’ and keep coming back – despite leading by 14 points for a large chunk of the first half and by 17 points with about five minutes remaining.

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However, it is the bigger picture the Scottish team’s mentor is looking at.

He said despite the obvious ‘logistical obstacles’, the South African teams added real value to the European competitions.

“It is an important competition for them to be a part of,” the nine-times capped Springbok said.

While he was cautious not to step on any toes, he admitted there are ‘some things’ the SA coaches could change in their approach.

“My philosophy is based on my experience of Super Rugby and now in Europe,” he told @rugby365com.

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“I attempt to marry the two [competitions] to get a balance.

“The Stormers have a good recipe with what they are doing.

“The challenge in Europe, if you want to compete in both competitions, is to have an allround squad that is well developed.

“You must have the confidence to use them.”

Turning to his own team, the Warriors, the 50-year-old said he does chase success, but believe in “significance”.

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“There are a lot of building blocks for this season to be put in place,” he said of a a Glasgow outfit that are now into the Challenge Cup semifinals and well positioned for a top-four finish in the United Rugby Championship, perhaps even a top-three or top-two spot.

“To put the first 80 percent of a team in place is easy and usual takes six months to a year.

“The last 20 percent takes another year or two.

“There is still some important growth [to be done] and the important aspect for us is to develop a good squad.”

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Jon 7 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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