United Rugby Championship: Franco Smith named new Glasgow Warriors head coach

David Skippers

Glasgow Warriors have confirmed that they have appointed former Italy boss Franco Smith as their new head coach.

He replaces Danny Wilson, who was fired from his position in June, and the former Springbok international has signed a two-year contract with the Warriors.

Winless at Test level

Smith was recently working as the Italian Rugby Federation’s head of high performance after losing all 13 of his Tests as the Azzurri’s head coach in 2020 and 2021.

He also coached fellow United Rugby Championship outfit Benetton between 2007 and 2013 and had stints as a player, assistant coach and head coach with the Cheetahs in South Africa.

Smith is set to join the Warriors at the end of August and is keen to make an impact in his new position.

“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,” he told Glasgow Warriors’ official website.

“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.

“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 am looking forward to joining the club and getting to know the coaching staff and players as we begin working together.”

Nigel Carolan, Peter Murchie, Alasdair Dickinson, and Pete Horne will serve as Smith’s assistant coaches. Smith represented South Africa in nine Tests and made a try-scoring debut against Scotland at Murrayfield in 1997. Apart from the Cheetahs, he also played for Newport, Bologna and Benetton as well as several South African clubs.

As a coach he has had several highlights, including two years as Allister Coetzee’s assistant with the Springboks and he won two Currie Cup titles with the Cheetahs and two national titles with Benetton.

Depth of knowledge crucial

Glasgow’s managing director, Alastair Kellock, said Smith’s “depth of knowledge in the game and his experiences at professional club and international levels” stood out.

“I know Franco will bring an exciting identity to our game based on high tempo and hard work, and he will bring the best out of the talented group of players we have at Scotstoun,” he said.

Scottish Rugby Union chief executive Mark Dodson added: “Throughout our recruitment process Franco stood out as a strong technical coach who wants to play positive rugby, which fits with the DNA of Glasgow Warriors and how we want to develop our squad, especially the exciting group of younger players, at Scotstoun.”

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