Glasgow Warriors boss Franco Smith named URC coach of the season

Sam Johnson added to Barbarians squad for clash against World XV

Franco Smith was overall content with Warriors' performance Image: © Craig Watson -
Franco Smith was overall content with Warriors' performance Image: © Craig Watson -

FRANCO SMITH has been named URC coach of the season after a vote of fellow head coaches and directors of rugby.

The South African has overseen a remarkable turnaround in fortunes at the club following their catastrophic end to the 2021-22 campaign which reached its nadir with a 76-14 hammering by Leinster in Dublin, which cost previous head coach Danny Wilson his job.

Under Smith’s stewardship, Warriors finished fourth in the URC and reached the final of the Challenge Cup, although there was no fairytale end to the campaign as they lost at home to Munster in the league play-off quarter-finals and to Toulon in last Friday night’s European denouement.

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“This is season one for this group. This is not the end for us, this is just the start. It’s a stepping stone,” said the 50-year-old, who joined Glasgow Warriors last summer on a two-year contract following a spell as head of high performance with the Italian Rugby Federation.

This award was voted for by the BKT 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 so far:

  • OFX Top Try Scorer: Tom Stewart (Ulster)
  • Tackle Machine: John Hodnett (Munster)
  • Turnover King: Thomas Young (Cardiff)
  • Elite XV: Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls), Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors), Daniel du Plessis (DHL Stormers), Simone Gesi (Zebre Parma), Ross Byrne (Leinster), Grant Williams (Cell C Sharks), Gavin Coombes (Munster), Scott Penny (Leinster), Vaea Fifita (Scarlets), Federico Ruzza (Benetton), Niall Murray (Connacht), Finlay Bealham (Connacht), Dan Sheehan (Leinster), Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers).
  • Next-Gen Player of the Season: Tom Stewart (Ulster)
  • Vodacom Fans’ Player of the Season: Manie Libbok (DHL Stormers)
  • Try of the season: Joaquin Riera (Benetton @ Cell C Sharks, Round 17)
  • Gilbert Golden Boot: Johan Goosen (Vodacom Bulls)
  • Ironman: Quan Horn (Emirates Lions)
  • BKT Coach of the Season: Franco Smith (Glasgow Warriors)


Meanwhile, Sam Johnson has been added to the Barbarians squad for this weekend’s Killik Cup clash against the World XV at Twickenham (kick-off: Sunday at 2pm).

The Scotland centre, who was released by Glasgow Warriors after eight years at the club, will join former Warriors club-mates Sione Vailanu and Enrique Pieretto in the invitational line-up.

Meanwhile, Glasgow and Scotland front-rowers Fraser Brown, Oli Kebble and Allan Dell, along with Edinburgh’s Fijian back-row Viliame Mata and Scotland and Gloucester stand-off Adam Hastings are in the World XV squad.


Forwards: Nic Dolly (Leicester Tigers and England), Taulupe Faletau (Cardiff Rugby, Wales, British & Irish Lions), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, Wales, British & Irish Lions), Stephan Lewies (Harlequins and South Africa), Steven Luatua (Bristol Bears and New Zealand), Enrique Pieretto (Glasgow Warriors and Argentina), Carlü Sadie (Cell C Sharks), Rob Simmons (London Irish and Australia), Harry Thacker (Bristol Bears), Sione Vailanu (Glasgow Warriors and Tonga), Aaron Wainwright (Dragons Rugby and Wales), Alex Waller (Northampton Saints), Tom West (Leicester Tigers), Kai Yamamoto (Tokyo Sungoliath)

Backs: Gareth Anscombe (Ospreys and Wales), Quade Cooper (Hanazono Kintetsu Liners and Australia), Aaron Cruden (Tokyo Sungoliath and New Zealand), Francois Hougaard (Saracens and South Africa), Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors and Scotland), Samu Kerevi (Tokyo Sungoliath and Australia), Tevita Li (Tokyo Sungoliath), Jack Maunder (Exeter Chiefs and England), Adam Radwan (Newcastle Falcons and England), Taichi Takahashi (Toyota Verblitz and Japan), Seta Tamanivalu (Toshiba Brave Lupus and Fiji)


Forwards: Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors and Scotland), Niccolò Cannone (Benetton Rugby and Italy), Elliot Dee (Dragons Rugby and Wales), Allan Dell (Glasgow Warriors and Scotland), Harry Hockings (Tokyo Sungoliath), Wyn Jones (Scarlets Rugby, Wales, British & Irish Lions), Oli Kebble (Glasgow Warriors and Scotland), Michele Lamaro (Benetton Rugby and Italy), Viliame Mata (Edinburgh Rugby and Fiji), Jordi Murphy (Ulster Rugby and Ireland), Sebastian Negri (Benetton Rugby and Italy), Api Ratuniyarawa (London Irish and Fiji), Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs)

Backs: Bryn Hall (Shizuoka Blue Revs), Adam Hastings (Gloucester Rugby and Scotland), Israel Folau (Urayasu D-Rocks and Tonga), Ngani Laumape (Kobelco Kobe Steelers and New Zealand), Sbu Nkosi (Vodacom Bulls and South Africa), Rhys Patchell (Scarlets Rugby and Wales), Nick Phipps (Green Rockets Tokatsu and Australia), Charles Piutau (Bristol Bears and Tonga), Semi Radradra (Bristol Bears and Fiji), Kaminieli Rasaku (Aviron Bayonnais and Fiji 7s)

Tributes paid to Scottish rugby coaching guru and Glasgow Hawks stalwart John Roxburgh

About David Barnes 4030 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Well deserved award. I think this is also a vote of confidence for the rest of the coaching and backroom staff.

    As others have said the next step is to see how good he is at recruitment.

  2. What a difference a year makes, great turnaround.
    URC playoffs – tick
    Heineken Cup qualified – tick
    Challenge cup play offs – tick
    1872 cup – tick
    Scottish/Italian thingy – tick
    Hope he kicks on from there and doesn’t decide he fancies an attack coach role. ; )

  3. Well deserved Franco, a remarkable turnaround in Glasgow’s fortunes since he arrived.
    Yes, our season kind of petered out at the end, but it should not be forgotten the state of the team/club post the Danny Wilson period?

  4. Well deserved….now lets give him time to build his plan. This year was, for me, a real result. If he can polarise that for next season Glasgow will be the team to watch in the URC.

    I will be interested to see who he brings in or forward in the closed season. In dire need of a seasoned 10 and maybe a bit more cover in the 2nd row.

  5. Abolutely deserved, the stand out candidate. If he carries on the current trajectory, Glasgow will be crowned European, URC champions this time next year. In fact, they’ll probably win the Top 14 as well.


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