Glasgow Warriors' next head coach: Four possible candidates rated over likelihood and suitability

Glasgow Warriors appear to be closing in on a new coach and hope to make an announcement within the next couple of weeks.

The squad returned to pre-season training on Monday under the auspices of assistant coaches Nigel Carolan, Pete Murchie, Al Dickinson and Pete Horne.

Danny Wilson was relieved of head coaching duties on June 6 in the wake of the heavy loss to Leinster and the search for his replacement has been led by Jim Mallinder, Scottish Rugby’s performance director, and Al Kellock, Glasgow’s MD.

Whoever comes in will have to work largely with the squad that is in place. The Warriors have recruited five new players for next season and there is unlikely to be much of a budget left to augment the signings of centre Huw Jones, prop Allan Dell, No 8 Sione Vailanu and locks JP du Preez and Sintu Manjezi.

The same goes for coaching assistants, with a full coterie already assembled. It could dissuade potential candidates, particularly those already in a job who have a recognised backroom team that they would want to bring with them.

Nevertheless, it remains an attractive position given the quality of players in the squad. Here are some of the candidates:

Dean Richards

Hugely experienced, having worked as a head coach/director of rugby for 24 years with Leicester Tigers, Grenoble, Harlequins and Newcastle Falcons. Stepped down from the latter at the end of the season but Falcons say he will still be utilised as a part-time consultant.

Dean Richards is among the frontrunners for the Glasgow Warriors head coach vacancy. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

The 59-year-old former England No 8 may want more than that and Glasgow could appeal. Has enjoyed copious success, winning multiple league titles and Heineken Cups with Leicester before leading both Harlequins and Newcastle back to the top flight at the first attempt.

More than a whiff of notoriety about his career thanks to involvement in Calcutta Cup kickabout in 1988 and ‘Bloodgate’ scandal of 2009.

Suitability: 7/10. Likelihood: 8/10.

Dan McFarland

Has done impressive work in four seasons at Ulster. Took them to the brink of the URC final in June after a third-place finish in the regular season. Defeated Munster in the quarter-finals but then edged out by Stormers in the semis in Cape Town.

A former assistant at Glasgow and Scotland so has strong links. Counting against is the fact he signed a new contract at the end of the season. It would take an awful lot of money to shift him and the SRU are not known for being spendthrifts.

Suitability: 9/10. Likelihood: 3/10.

Roddy Grant

McFarland’s forwards coach at Ulster and relatively green insofar as he has never held a head coach’s role. Young and ambitious and well versed in Scottish rugby after a very solid playing career with the Borders, Edinburgh and Scotland A and Sevens. Would be a bold move by Glasgow and possibly too much of a gamble.

Suitability: 5/10. Likelihood: 5/10.

Franco Smith

Former Italy coach, now head of high performance for Italian rugby. Has also been in charge of Treviso and Cheetahs. Was at the helm for the 2020 and 2021 Six Nations when Italy lost every game. A former South Africa international, he was capped nine times, making a try-scoring debut in the Springboks’ 68-10 record win over Scotland at Murrayfield in 1997.

Suitability: 5/10. Likelihood: 7/10.


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