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Franco Smith ditches Italy to coach one of URC's top teams

NEWS: Glasgow Warriors have appointed Franco Smith as the franchise’s new head coach on an initial two-year contract.


Smith, 50, joins from the Italian Rugby Federation where he has served as Head of High Performance since 2021, and previously as the men’s national Head Coach from 2020.

He will arrive at Scotstoun at the end of August, prior to the club’s two pre-season fixtures, after a short notice period. In the coming weeks he will be in close contact with his assistant coaches – Nigel Carolan, Peter Murchie, Alasdair Dickinson, and Pete Horne.

Welcoming his appointment, 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.

“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.”

Smith, a former Springbok flyhalf, made a try-scoring debut against Scotland at Murrayfield and won nine caps for his country between 1996 and 1999, and brings with him a wealth of knowledge both as a professional player and coach, with experience working with backs, forwards, and on set piece.

During his playing 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 Free State Cheetahs, before returning to Italy in 2007 as head coach of Benetton. In Treviso, he won two National Championship of Excellence titles, prior to the club joining the Pro12.


He returned to Cheetahs in 2014 and led them to two Currie Cup titles in 2016 and 2019, and also spent time as an assistant coach with South Africa during 2017 and 2018.

As Italy’s head coach, he was responsible for capping a wealth of talent, including the current national team captain Michele Lamaro, and the talented playmaker Paolo Garbisi.

Others that won their first international caps under Smith include Juan Ignacio Brex (centre), Monty Ioane (wing), and Niccolo Cannone (lock) all of whom were involved in Italy’s recent 22-12 victory over Wales in the 2022 Six Nations.


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