Glasgow Warriors confirm Franco Smith appointment as new head coach as contract details revealed

Glasgow Warriors have confirmed the appointment of Franco Smith as their new head coach, with the South African vowing to bring “a winning brand of rugby” to Scotstoun.

Franco Smith has signed a two-year deal with Glasgow Warriors.
Franco Smith has signed a two-year deal with Glasgow Warriors.

The 50-year-old joins the Warriors from the Italian Rugby Federation, where he was in situ as head of high performance. Smith, a former Springbok internationalist with nine caps, took up that role last year following a spell in charge of the Italian national team.

Smith takes over from Danny Wilson, who was axed by Warriors following a poor second half of the URC campaign, and has signed a two-year contract.

"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,” Smith said in a press release issued by Glasgow Warriors.

“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 has been away from frontline coaching since his move upstairs within in the Italy set-up after he failed to win a Six Nations match in charge of the Azzurri. He has also had spells at the helm of Benetton and the Cheetahs in homeland, where he won the Currie Cup. He has also been involved in the coaching set-up of the South African national team.

Glasgow Warriors managing director Alastair Kellock said: “We are delighted to be signing a Head Coach with Franco’s club and international experience to lead our squad in the coming seasons.

“After an extensive search it was Franco’s depth of knowledge in the game and his experiences at professional club and international levels that stood out. Thank you to the Italian Rugby Federation for their willingness to make this appointment possible.“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. Franco is also known for developing players from a young age, and with five recent graduates from the FOSROC Academy and a number close behind growing these players remains a key focus for the club.

Mark Dodson, the chief executive of the Scottish Rugby Union, added: “I would like to join Al in welcoming Franco to Scotland and Glasgow Warriors.

“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.

“Across the game people we consulted spoke very highly of Franco as a coach and a person and we look forward to him taking Glasgow Warriors forward in the coming seasons.”

Smith’s first competitive match in charge will be against his former club Benetton, in Italy, on the weekend of September 16.

Before that, he will have two pre-season friendlies as he gets to know his squad ahead of the league curtain-raiser.

Glasgow travel north to Inverness to take on Worcester Warriors of the Gallagher Premiership at the Caledonian Stadium on Friday, September 2 (kick-off 7.30pm) before welcoming fellow URC outfit Ulster to Scotstoun seven days later on September 9 (kick-off 7.30pm)