Smith extends contract with Glasgow Warriors
Head Coach Franco Smith believes the 2022/23 season was just the beginning for his group of Glasgow Warriors, after putting pen to paper on a new contract that will see him remain at Scotstoun until at least the summer of 2026.
The 51-year-old made an instant impression during his first season at the helm, guiding his team to a first-ever European Challenge Cup Final and a top-four finish in the BKT United Rugby Championship.
His efforts were recognised with the 2022/23 BKT URC Coach of the Season award, becoming only the second coach in Glasgow Warriors history to take home the prize after Gregor Townsend in 2014/15.
Smith also led his team to 13 wins from a possible 14 at Scotstoun across the course of his first season with the club, going unbeaten across the regular season in both the BKT URC and Challenge Cup; indeed, only eventual BKT URC champions Munster were able to overcome Smith’s Glasgow in front of the Warrior Nation.
On the pitch, the Warriors flourished, lifting the Scottish-Italian Shield for the first time and doing the double over cross-country rivals Edinburgh Rugby to comprehensively reclaim the 1872 Cup.
Some 12 players made their Glasgow Warriors debuts under Smith during 2022/23, with 22 players representing their respective countries – including 15 selected for the 2023 Rugby World Cup – across the season as a result of their form in Glasgow colours.
A former South African international who earned nine caps for his country, Smith has also enjoyed successful spells in charge of both the Toyota Cheetahs, Benetton and Italy during a stellar coaching career to date.
“The people, both at this club and in this city, have been fantastic since I arrived last summer,” Smith told glasgowwarriors.org following the announcement.
“I didn’t take it lightly, as I’m not the sort of person that likes to look too far ahead into the future – I’ve learnt from experience that life never tends to pan out that way if you do! It was a case of taking it one step at a time and that involved looking at the bigger picture, travelling around Scotland to understand a bit more about how our system works, how the Super Series functions and where our young players are coming from, and see how we can build some additional consistency in what we’re doing here.
“I feel like I can add value to Glasgow rugby and to Scottish rugby – winning silverware and competing at the top end of each competition is always a priority for us, but if we can bring players through and develop them to be competitive for club and country then we will only be in a stronger position.
“The community of this city was a big factor in my decision, too – I like to walk around Glasgow on my days off and get to know the city that way, as I like to understand how the wheel turns here and how people think about things.
“Rugby is just a vehicle to influence people’s lives, and I want to give as much of myself to this club and this city as I can. If we can influence people to be the best version of themselves that they can be, then that’s a success to me. Glasgow is a vibrant city full of opportunities, and I’m excited to be a part of it.
“We want to move the boundaries and expectations of what we can achieve as a group, and that’s as much a mental demand as it is a physical one. We’ve now established ourselves, but we’re by no means the complete product yet. There’s now an expectation around us for this season, so our first job is to manage that expectation and keep finding ways to improve and be consistently at our highest level.
“Last season was a stepping stone and the start of our journey – now it’s about how our players react to what we ask them to do next.”
Glasgow Warriors Managing Director, Al Kellock, welcomed the news, adding: “From day one, Franco understood not only the culture of our club, but what it means to be a Glasgow Warrior.
“He fully buys into our desire to make this a world-class environment both on and off the field, and the results last season were a reflection of the efforts that went in across the board.
“More than that, though, Franco’s drive to ensure our players are committed to social engagement across the city made this decision easy for us – one of our club’s primary values is to inspire our community, and Franco embodies that day in, day out.
“His passion for developing talent and helping this club to succeed is evident for all to see, and I look forward to working alongside him to further develop this club in the coming seasons.”