Glasgow Warriors’ bid for a first EPCR trophy in the EPCR Challenge Cup next season will be led by Franco Smith, who has been appointed as the club’s new head coach on an initial two-year contract.

The 50-year-old South African joins the Scottish outfit from the Italian Rugby Federation, where he has been head of high performance since 2021 and was previously Italy head coach from 2020.

Smith told the club website: “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.

“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.

“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.”

Smith, who won nine caps for South Africa between 1996 and 1999, played for Free State Cheetahs, Griquas, Blue Bulls, and The Pumas in South Africa, as well as Newport, Bologna and Benetton Treviso in Europe.

He began coaching soon after retiring, first as backs coach for Free State Cheetahs, before returning to Italy in 2007 as head coach of Benetton. Smith then went back to Cheetahs in 2014 and led them to two Currie Cup titles in 2016 and 2019, as well as spending time with South Africa as an assistant coach.

Glasgow managing director Alastair Kellock commented: “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.”