Franco's Warriors slowly emerging as a European force

rugby04 April 2024 15:45| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel
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Franco Smith © Getty Images

As attention turns away from the Vodacom United Rugby Championship and firmly focuses on the Investec Champions Cup, South African-born coach Franco Smith is slowly crafting his Glasgow Warriors side into a silent force that will need to be reckoned with.

Smith’s team concluded their second straight away win at Scarlets last weekend, moving them past the Vodacom Bulls into second spot on the URC log, but they are also looking to book themselves a quarterfinal spot in the Champions Cup as they face Harlequins this weekend.

Ironically the English side are coached by Smith’s predecessor Danny Wilson, who would know the ins and outs of the Glasgow players pretty well, but it doesn’t detract from a chance to show the rugby world just how much the Scottish side has progressed under his leadership.

When Glasgow ran in seven tries away from home to demolish Scarlets on Saturday night, it was just another reminder that while many sides are focusing on log leaders Leinster and their own fight to be in the top eight, the Warriors are a dark horse in both tournaments that can’t be written off.

Smith has slowly crafted the side into a more consistent beast than they were when they made the Challenge Cup final last year, losing to Toulon.

Now in with a shout in the big knockout tournament, his side are fully loaded and have momentum to give it a go.

And one thing driving him is a hunger for success, even though his side has already impressed so much this season.


“We are looking forward to keeping on improving and with Harlequins next it is going to be an important test for us,” he said in setting the bar higher.

“Europe is going into a stage that feels like a final, which is a bit different to where the URC is currently. Of course, there’s going to be a do-or-die match to be played and we will have to lift our standard once again.

“I’m not going to make too much about them [Harlequins]. For us going into the final part of the season we have to play better. I think it will be important for us to become consistent, to have everybody integrated and to have our processes functioning so we can challenge ourselves at the best level.

“I’m happy with the win [against Scarlets] but there are still a lot of things that we can improve on which makes it fantastic. I’m happy with the way the boys presented themselves, the energy, the eagerness and the willingness to work hard for each other. That made me very proud.

“I do feel that on Saturday night there was some good stuff but we also missed a lot of opportunities. We created a lot but we weren’t always able to convert that to points.”

Three of those tries came from the rolling maul, something that Smith prides himself on and a successful weapon for him team this season.

“We always work hard in the maul but other teams work much harder to stop them,” explained Smith.

“So compliments to the people who prepare to stop us from scoring from them. That takes a lot of work in the week as it does for us. It’s good to have a reward on Saturday night. Because teams saw that we had a good maul they worked out plans to try to prevent us but to find that opportunity again was heart-warming.”

There may be bigger and more appetising clashes this weekend but Friday night’s opener for a massive weekend couldn’t be a more interesting clash.

And it offers Smith, and his Warriors side, another chance to be counted among the big guns.