South African coach crowned the best in URC
NEWS: Former Springbok flyhalf Franco Smith has been named the United Rugby Championship Coach of the Season for 2022/23.
The 50-year-old Glasgow Warriors boss has had a stunning debut campaign in charge, leading the team to the Scottish/Italian Shield and a top-four finish as well as guiding them into their first European Final.
Smith, who joined Glasgow Warriors last year on a two-year contract from the Italian Rugby Federation, also helped the Warriors go the whole URC regular season unbeaten at Scotstoun.
Glasgow Warriors did suffer their only home defeat in any competition when losing 5-14 to Munster in the URC quarterfinal and were then beaten 19-43 by Toulon in the final of the EPCR Challenge Cup at the Lansdowne Road last Friday.
Afterwards, Smith said: “This is season one for this group. This is not the end for us, this is just the start. It’s a stepping stone.”
The former South African international led Italy in 2020 and 2021.
Smith was previously head coach of Benetton from 2007 to 2013 and spent several spells as a player, assistant coach and head coach of the Cheetahs in his native country.
This award was voted for by the URC’s 16 head coaches and leaves only one prize still to be announced – the Players’ Player of the Season.
URC Awards 2022-23 Winners:
Top Try Scorer: Tom Stewart (Ulster)
Tackle Machine: John Hodnett (Munster)
Turnover King: Thomas Young (Cardiff)
Elite XV: 15 Kurt-Lee Arendse (Bulls), 14 Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), 13 Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors), 12 Daniel du Plessis (Stormers), 11 Simone Gesi (Zebre Parma), 10 Ross Byrne (Leinster), 9 Grant Williams (Sharks), 8 Gavin Coombes (Munster), 7 Scott Penny (Leinster), 6 Vaea Fifita (Scarlets), 5 Federico Ruzza (Benetton), 4 Niall Murray (Connacht), 3 Finlay Bealham (Connacht), 2 Dan Sheehan (Leinster), 1 Steven Kitshoff (Stormers).
Next-Gen Player of the Season: Tom Stewart (Ulster)
Fans’ Player of the Season: Manie Libbok (Stormers)
Try of the season: Joaquin Riera (Benetton v Sharks, Round 17)
Golden Boot: Johan Goosen (Bulls)
Ironman: Quan Horn (Lions)
Coach of the Season: Franco Smith (Glasgow Warriors)
🏆 @URCOfficial Coach of the Season for 2022/23 – and thoroughly deserved 👏
— Glasgow Warriors (@GlasgowWarriors) May 23, 2023